Luce Wilsens celebrating her 85th birthday at the hotel in 2015. Photo: Tracey Roxburgh

During the nationwide lockdown, a Queenstown hotel has stayed open for one guest. The Belgian hotel guest has been staying at the Kamana Lakehouse (originally Aspen Hotel) for almost 30 years. The guest, 89-year-old Luce Wilsens, had a flight back to Switzerland last month but the flight was cancelled the day before due to COVID-19. Wilsens has been staying for free through lockdown in an otherwise closed hotel. Mario Sandulescu, Kamana Lakehouse general manager, explained that she is very fragile and the team knew moving her would be a big problem. The hotel decided to keep three staff working to look after her during lockdown. "We didn't keep it open to make money," Sandulescu said. "We haven’t charged her any money, but after the lockdown we need to – it’s a lifeline for us, as well."

Wilsens also added that the hotel has been very kind to her and have 'spoilt' her. Despite Immigration wanted Wilsens out out New Zealand in December 2019, after making it extremely difficult to extend her three-month visitor visa. After lobbying from local MP Hamish Walker, Queenstown friends, two AWS Legal lawyers and Mountain Scene, Immigration seems to have changed its tune and granted her a two-year visa.

She plans to be in New Zealand until April 2021.