Sarah Kennedy is a bit like a real-life version of Sex and the City’s Samantha Jones, albeit a happily married one.
During the working week, the stylish businesswoman lives in her privately owned luxurious apartment at Auckland’s five-star Pullman Hotel. Come Friday, Kennedy switches off and returns to her country house and husband Geoff, in Matakana, 45 minutes north of Auckland.
“This is just perfect for me. It’s my city weekday pad,” says Kennedy, CEO of natural health product company Lifestream.
“It’s a ‘woman’s apartment’. It’s nice, elegant; there are no newspapers left lying around or clothes on the floor. It’s entirely my space during the week.
“Geoff has one drawer here. He’ll come down once a week to head out to a movie, date night or a function. On Friday, instead of turning my steering wheel to the right, I turn it to the left to drive to Matakana.”
Kennedy loves not having to battle Auckland’s traffic, with it taking her just 15 minutes from her North Shore office to get home again.
“It’s divine and incredibly peaceful. At night I climb into bed and sometimes say, ‘Oh, thank you,’ ” she says.
Kennedy’s weekends are spent enjoying country living, outdoor strolls in the couple’s small vineyard or heading to the local markets. When Monday rolls around, Kennedy returns to her city “haven”.
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“I have the freedom to go out during the week to work drinks and dinners. I’m used to apartment living,” says Kennedy, 54, whose international career has seen her live in apartments in Beijing and Boston.
The Kennedys had previously owned a large house in the upmarket Auckland suburb Parnell and were looking for a change. After purchasing their Matakana house, an inner-city apartment appealed.
Having the apartment based in the hotel includes its perks. There’s the concierge and dry-cleaning services at hand, a gym, spa and a bar downstairs to meet friends for drinks and access to the 24-hour kitchen.
“The other night I invited friends over for dinner but I didn’t have time to cook. Instead I gave them each a menu and ordered up room service,” she says.
With her sister living in an apartment on the fifth floor, Kennedy has a sense of community around her, and importantly she feels safe.
“It’s so secure, I never think twice about it [safety],” Kennedy says. “I drive into the secure carpark and come straight up.”
Initially the space was two one-bedroom apartments, which the couple bought for $709,000 five years ago. Body corporate fees are $13,800 per annum and that includes power, water and the use of the hotel gym. They also have two carparks.
The couple remodelled the 160 square metre space and reconfigured it into one luxurious retreat. Their inspiration was “a little bit New York and a little Ralph Lauren”.
What is now the “more masculine” study and TV room was formerly a bedroom. A door at the end of a warmly lit hallway connects to the master suite, what was formerly the second apartment.
The open-plan living room and kitchen has large windows and doors to enjoy the spectacular 180-degree harbour views. All walls feature New Zealand contemporary art, with each piece representing of a significant life event.
The metal blue mesh sculpture of Antarctica by Neil Dawson, a reminder of a 10-day cruise she and Geoff took four years ago. A Bill Hammond painting was bought after landing a job at Tegel.
“I love it here, it’s a small space to arrange,” Kennedy says. “A lot of my friends are getting to the age where they want to downsize, their children have left home. This offers flexibility, you just lock up and leave.”