Mr Ishii and his family have owned the former farming property since 1987 and his vision and leadership has turned Millbrook into the world-renowned and multi-award winning luxury lifestyle resort that it is today.
The Resort went from strength to strength under his leadership, not only as it developed as a residential and accommodation complex but in its role co-hosting and underwriting New Zealand’s premier men’s golf tournament, the New Zealand Open.
His dedication to Millbrook and golf culminated in being acknowledged in the New Years’ Honours list of 2016 as an Honorary Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit in recognition of his services to New Zealand-Japanese relations, golf and tourism.
A heartfelt letter from the then Prime Minister, Sir John Key, thanked Mr Ishii for his work, saying he had “made an outstanding contribution to the success of New Zealand as a nation and enriched the lives of us all.”
New Zealand Open Organising Committee Chairman, John Hart, also added his thoughts on the impact Mr Ishii’s commitment of his Resort to the New Zealand Open has had in the elevation of the event to one of the most popular and highly regarded on the Australasian Tour.
“We are extremely sad to hear news of his passing,” said Hart. “We remain forever grateful for his strong strategic vision and support over recent years, without which the tournament would not be in the healthy position it is now.
“He was a warm and wonderful man, and everyone involved in the New Zealand Open event will, I’m sure, join me in passing our condolences to his wife Mrs Hiroko Ishii, daughter Yuki and son Gota and wider family.”
Millbrook Resort was opened as an 18-hole layout, jointly designed by John Darby and Sir Bob Charles in 1993, another nine holes added several years ago with the introduction of the 'Coronet Nine' designed by Greg Turner.
Turner is also involved in the current construction of a further nine holes to increase the Resort to a 36-hole facility.
Millbrook Resort includes high-end hotel-style accommodation and privately owned villas and homes but it is perhaps its inclusion as a venue for the New Zealand Open and that event’s international exposure through television coverage that has elevated the profile of both Millbrook and the Queenstown region as one of the premiere golfing destinations in the Southern Hemisphere.
Ishii and his team led the way, but the addition of the adjacent Hills Golf Club and the nearby Jack’s Point has ensured that the picturesque Queenstown is now considered a golfing mecca for visitors from not only Australasia but from a wider region also.
In February of next year, the Resort will again play host venue to the New Zealand Open, a role that has further enhanced its already significant standing amongst golfing resorts worldwide.
It will, however, be the vision of Eiichi Ishii and the benefit it has offered to New Zealand tourism that will perhaps have an even wider impact on New Zealand as a must-visit destination.
Mr Ishii at his beloved Millbrook
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