When you’re a well-known and successful tourism operator with a reputation for innovation, continually making sure your visitor experience is fresh and exciting can be a challenge.
But Go Orange has outdone themselves again with the new-look Milford Haven.
Guests on board enjoy a top-notch experience on the most unique boat around - a perfect marriage of design, art and outstanding hospitality.
From velvet-soft seating in jewel-like shades to café-style booths, eye-catching artwork, chilled music (this is a largely commentary-free zone), and an AstroTurf top deck with wooden bench seating, outdoor bar and beanbags – this is a cruise boat like no other.
General Manager Luke Taylor says their aim was to “surprise and delight” passengers when they stepped on board.
“The concept was born from a desire to be different,” he says.
“We want people to chill out, relax, and enjoy the uniqueness of the Haven and what it has to offer just as much as the scenery outside.
“Our passenger numbers are limited to 200, even though our capacity is for double, to showcase one of the best places on earth, without the crowds.
“We’ve been able to create more open spaces and seating areas that actually face the windows, as well as significantly improving how people move around the boat.
“Everything that was obstructing the top deck view has been cleared to create Milford Sound’s only full 360-degree viewing area with comfortable, practical seating and AstroTurf, which everyone loves!”
Achieving visitor sustainability through consistently enhancing the visitor experience falls under goals 3 and 4 of the Tourism Sustainability Commitment. It's a commitment that benefits both the visitors and the company because new products attract visitors. Active engagement with your visitors to understand what they want is so important when running a sustainable business.
Brought in to spearhead the refit were the owners and designers of Queenstown hospitality hot-spot Yonder.
Emily and Gary Livesey both originally have engineering backgrounds, but Emily admits Luke’s decision to choose them for the job rather than a marine engineer was intriguing and terrifying at the same time.
“If he had chosen anyone else he would have got boat-category furniture and material and a boat that looked like all the others,” she says.
“He said he wanted a fresh set of eyes and different design features which was so refreshing. It gave us the confidence to design rich and luxurious-looking curved seating that felt like you were in a lounge, a relaxed restaurant style and feel to the whole boat, and engaging pieces of art and photography from Kiwi artists.
“The devil is in the detail, right down to the white trim around the windows and the grey wool with diamond stitching on the café booth seating, which has been raised so people get a better view than they did before.
“The wooden seating on the top deck, with its two levels, is a great bit of fun but very practical, so people can sit comfortably with a drink or some lunch and no-one gets a bad view.”
Highlights on board include a green wall lit with ‘Go Beyond’ neon lighting, evocative framed images from photographer Troy Tanner, vintage-style prints from Lisa Nicole-Moes and Kiwiana prints by Glenn Jones.
The hospitality is an experience like no other in Milford Sound with barista made coffee, tasty delights from Queenstown’s Empanada Kitchen and Plant B, and an exclusively brewed Haven XPA from Canyon Food & Brew Co.