From convent to luxury lodge: The heavenly transformation of The Marlborough

04 Mar 2021

The serene feeling in the luxury hotel, The Marlborough, comes from both its exquisite colour palette as well as the building's divine history. The lodge in Rapaura began its life as a convent designed by Thomas Turnbull in 1901. Home to 19 nuns, the convent for the Sisters of Mercy was originally situated near the St Mary's Church in Blenheim. In 1994 the convent building was moved to its present location in Rapaura, 10 minutes' drive from Blenheim. In 2016, Angela Dillon bought the lodge and began extensive renovations under architect Sir Michael Fowler's guidance. The upgrades included a fresh Resene colour scheme fitting for the grand old building. 

"These are such beautiful buildings, and we are very happy to have given them a new life," says Angela.

"We feel as though we are the custodians, for the time being at least, and that we are providing a way for the building to continue on for many more years to come," she says.

The old convent that now houses the hotel's 10 guest rooms as well as the dining room and Harvest restaurant has been many colours over the years, including terracotta and lavender. With its new upgrade, the exterior is now painted in Resene Half Tapa with Resene Merino arched window trims and balustrades.

"Resene Half Tapa gives a clean, classic look to the Victorian building without being too light or dark, allowing it to fit into the gardens and vineyards which surround it," says Angela.

"The trim is Resene Merino, which accentuates the beauty of the intricate balcony and fretwork and frames the building. The base of the building is in full strength Resene Tapa to connect the building to the lawns," she adds.

The old chapel, formerly St Michael's, has been painted in the same exterior scheme as the main hotel. The chapel is used as a bar and lounge area for guests and, although deconsecrated, is also a venue for small weddings and private parties. 

Inside the chapel, Angela and the team maintained the historical features such as the glorious rimu-lined roof while adding contemporary décor, including a modern bar. The walls are painted in Resene Merino and create a cosy space that is also bright and airy during the day. The original alter has been closed off and transformed into a massage room, a tranquil space painted in Resene Tom Thumb. The colour is accentuated when the afternoon sun glows through the original stained-glass window.

The 10 guest rooms of the hotel are each decorated differently. Neutral colours include Resene Rice Cake, Resene Merino and Resene Thorndon Cream – with a variety of half, full and double tint variations. Pale greys such as Resene Inside Back and dark grey/brown tones, such as Resene Nero, Resene Oilskin and Resene Double Mondo, add a contemporary style.

"We were mindful that we did not want to create a museum but rather the feeling of a being in someone’s home in a country estate," says Angela.

 "We wanted to highlight some historical elements within the building and mix them with contemporary décor to ensure we created a feeling of warmth that invites you in but also allows you to relax. We want this to be a place that people want to explore, enjoy and feel at home in," she adds.

For more details on The Marlborough visit www.themarlborough.co.nz


The Marlborough has undergone a huge transformation from its original life as a convent. The exterior of the 10-room luxury hotel and restaurant is painted Resene Half Tapa with Resene Merino on the trims of the arched windows and the balustrades.


Resene Half Tapa on the exterior helps the 1901 building blend in with its beautiful surroundings in the heart of Sauvignon Blanc country. Resene Merino on the trims of the arched windows and the balustrades highlights the original Victorian features.


The chapel, now a bar and entertaining area, is painted in a matching colour scheme to the main building with Resene Half Tapa on the weatherboards and Resene Merino on the trims of the ornate arched windows.


The walls inside of the chapel are Resene Merino creating a relaxing space that also complements the original rimu roof.


Resene Merino on the walls and door of the chapel highlights the artwork and the contemporary décor of the chapel, which can be hired for small weddings and parties.


The original alter of the chapel is now used as a massage room with Resene Tom Thumb on the walls, creating a serene space which looks glorious when the sun shines through the original stained-glass windows.


Each of the 10 guest rooms are painted in a different colour scheme and décor. Premiere suite 10 features Resene Half Bison Hide on the walls with arched windows in Resene Double Oilskin.


Premiere Suite 7 has a blue grey colour scheme with Resene Half Inside Back on the walls and Resene Merino on the trims.


The upper wall and ceiling of the ensuite in Premiere Suite 7 is Resene Emerge.


Resene Truffle, a soft light beige, features on the walls of Premiere Suite 8.


The Great Room is the ideal spot for resting after a day exploring the vineyards of Marlborough. The walls are in Resene Double Rice Cake.


Resene Mondo in the library creates a cosy environment, perfect for reading.

Do you have a home full of wonderful Resene paint and colour? Send us some snaps by emailing [email protected].

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Resene Thorndon Cream

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Resene Inside Back

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Resene Double Mondo

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Resene Half Bison Hide

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Resene Double Oilskin

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Resene Inside Back

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