During a three-week trip to New Zealand, I had the misfortune to stay at Takaro. Let's begin with the 45 minute trek from the highway to the lodge. You should be warned that the drive is fairly ominous, on a very thick gravel road (not a nicely graveled road, mind you, but one with very large rocks that have had multiple trucks and tractors range over it). If you're driving, you'll want an SUV for this leg of your journey. After passing through multiple gates (which you open and close yourself), you'll eventually arrive at the "resort."
I'll give this to Takaro, it is in a serenely peaceful setting. Lovely. Beautiful vistas. However, the setting is all that Takaro has to offer. Once checking in and finding out that I was the only guest (not a good sign when all other hotels I visited were at capacity), I found that there was also no staff, aside from the receptionist. Upon my inquiry about their "spa," I was told that the pool area was not available for use, as a result of a "most serious fungal problem."
Following this, I proceeded to dinner, where I was given two courses of turnips (one where the turnips were raw and another where they had been boiled, with no seasonings). It was apparent at this point that the receptionist, who was also serving as the cook and waitress, had seemingly never been given any training in any culinary sense. After skipping dessert (I couldn't face another turnip), I retired to my room.
The lodge is comprised of chalets, which I had thought would be quite nice. I was placed into the "metal" room. Imagine my surprise when I found that there did not appear to be an article of metal in the room (I didn't really care, but it seemed to me that if you're going to market your hotel as being tied to the five elements, you might want to try to incorporate them). The furnishings are what I would consider to be "Ikea-esque". Of course, I don't mean to be insulting to Ikea, these are a low-range version of Ikea goods. The entire room was outfitted in plastic and MDF. I don't think there was an article comprised of a natural fiber anywhere (though the white nastily stained sofa might have been a cotton blend). The bathroom was fine, although lacking a shower, and the bedroom was clean, although incredibly sparse. The rooms appeared to have been designed by a teenage boy, from the outdated oversized television to the molded plastic chairs.
From the moment I entered my room, I was aware of a strange odor, one I couldn't quite put my finger on. The next morning I was able to identify it as cow manure. Not terribly pleasant at all.
I was booked (and had paid) for three nights at Takaro, and had paid for two of their "rejeuvenations." I am not one to leave money on the table, so please believe me when I say that this hotel was so bad that I decided to cut my losses, consider the $1000 I had paid for the remaining two nights a contribution to whatever commune they've got going on over there (won't go into it, but there are a lot of people (clearly not staff) living on the premises in what appear to be dormitories; it was a bit unsettling, as I had been told that the receptionist and I were the only ones on the land, and I saw others peeking out from behind curtains).
I've never posted a review before, but I felt compelled to share my experience for others who might be considering a visit there. This would be a great hotel for those who truly want to get away from it all, but that do not care about the condition of their rooms and the experience of their staff (I believe the hotel should market itself as more of a "zen" retreat, just the basics). For those who are used to higher end/luxury appointments, stay away. This is not the hotel for you. New Zealand is an incredibly beautiful country, do not waste your time at this hotel.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
October 4, 2012
We really appreciate your feedback as it helps us to understand how we should present Takaro better. As your stay was over 5 years ago, I can confirm that both the management and staff and the marketing concept at Takaro has changed. While the emphasis has always been on peace and rejuvenation, we are no longer positioning the lodge as a hotel. It is available purely as an exclusive individual or corporate retreat and as such is in the ideal situation, as you pointed out in your comment about the "zen" retreat. Our priority is for people who stay at Takaro to have total peace , natural fresh organic food and participate in a range of on site retreat activities or trips out which we are happy to arrange. I agree that the gravel road is not the norm for most city folks and yes, most of the locals drive a 4WD as they are safer on these country roads (which you will find a few of when you venture forth on the South Island), they must be taken slowly and that way you get to take in the beauty on the way. We have our road which is private, graded professionally to level the gravel , I can only assume that you must have experienced it just prior to this as normally it is relatively bolder free. With regard to the catering, I am not sure why there were only turnips, we are bio gro certified, which is the highest standard of organic certification and we have a marvelous selection of seasonal vegetables, salad and herbs available in virtually unlimited quantities, plus free range eggs and wild meats if required, which are guests can cook for themselves or have their private chef and catering team prepare in our extensive kitchens.
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Our 5 Element themed chalets are designed according to Feng Shui and as such are decorated and fitted with the colours, shapes and textures appropriate to that "element", therefore, the "Metal" element does not actually mean you will be in a chalet made of metal. According to the Chinese 5 elements, basically metals colours are white, silver and orange, it's shape is round and texture is shiny. This was used to influence the interior design in a simple, elegant and modern way to provide the occupant with the benefits and to be comfortable and to sleep well. They used as many natural fibres as possible and you will find the bedding and upholstery to be natural fibres and the carpets which are sisal.
Everything we do here has always and is always with peoples well being at the fore and as such we need to target Takaro for the right kind of people, who want this experience and value their health, otherwise they may be disappointed and that is not our wish in any way. So I do aologise in retrospect if this was not clear and I am glad that you at least enjoyed the beautiful views and fresh air. Thank you for helping us to improve.
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.