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“Grand Dame aiming to live well in her old age” 4 of 5 stars
Review of Chateau Tongariro Hotel

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Chateau Tongariro Hotel
4.0 of 5 Hotel   |   State Highway 48, Whakapapa, Tongariro National Park 3951, New Zealand (Formerly Bayview Chateau Tongariro)   |  
Hotel amenities
Ranked #1 of 2 hotels in Whakapapa
Sydney
Senior Contributor
29 reviews 29 reviews
25 hotel reviews
Reviews in 23 cities Reviews in 23 cities
158 helpful votes 158 helpful votes
“Grand Dame aiming to live well in her old age”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed January 20, 2005

We have just spent two nights in one of the cottages in the grounds of the Grand Chateau at Taupo/Tongariro and thoroughly enjoyed it.

The location is magic. At the base of Mt Ruapehu, the highest mountain on the North Island, which last erupted in 1995, the hotel is set amongst moorland with many wonderful walks available from the front door. In winter it is a great skiing base. You can get to the top of the ski-field in the summer since they keep 2 chairlifts open. The views everywhere around are pretty special, particularly of Mt Ngaurahoe (sp?) which was used as Mt Doom in Lord of the Rings. It is a classic cone volcano rising right out of the moorlands.

Whilst the cottage accommodation was fair (and very fairly priced) the main hotel was great. It is very old fashioned of course, but the lounges are comfortable and look over the mountains. The restaurant is a gem. Living in Australia we are used to superb produce, but this restaurant serves local steak and lamb to die for. We would recommend coming here just for these !! Again, the prices are very fair and the wine list is well thought through.

The spa is currently under renovation so we can't really comment on how it will look when finished. It is a mess right now. Deep within the bowels of the basement is a mysterious large spa (almost swimming pool size) which runs at 36Celcius. The kids loved it, and I'm sure it will be incorporated into the refitted spa.

There are other cafes to take younger members of the family to if they're too fractious for the main restaurant (which insists on relatively decent attire). Although casual the food is decent in both of the other cafes.

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Rating summary
  • Location
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Sleep Quality
    4 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    3.5 of 5 stars
  • Service
    4 of 5 stars
  • Value
    3.5 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    4 of 5 stars
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A TripAdvisor Member
1 of 5 stars Reviewed January 19, 2005

The Grand Chateau was built almost 100 years ago as an ambitious attempt to bring European-style sophistication to a New Zealand hotel. The setting is stunning -- a beautiful, Georgian-style building in splendid isolation at the base of Mt. Ruapehu.

Unfortunately, the hotel has gone through several ownership changes, it hasn't aged gracefully and apparently nobody there has read a manual on providing customer service. They are building a new wing that should be open by winter, 2005, but perhaps they should have concentrated on upgrading the existing property before deciding to expand.

It's hard to say exactly what's wrong with the Chateau, other than ... they just don't seem to get it. A small but illustrative example: Even in the smallest farmstays and motels, we got fresh milk for tea when we checked in. At the Chateau, you get some strange reconstituted milk drink in a box. (They include a note that says fresh milk is available at the desk, but that's not the point...at a place supposedly as grand as the Chateau, guests SHOULDN'T HAVE TO ASK!)

At every other place we stayed in NZ, we were treated with courtesy, friendliness and respect. At the Chateau, we were treated with utter disdain. When my girlfriend returned from the Tongariro Crossing, looking like she'd just tramped 10 miles (because she did), the staff questioned whether she was staying at the hotel and almost didn't let her use the elevator. The crossing is THE MOST POPULAR thing to do at the National Park, but the desk staff had almost no information on transport services to/from the trailhead. I was informed the bus would arrive at 8 a.m. so I waited in the lobby at 7:45. The bus hadn't come by 8:10, so I walked 10 feet over to the front desk, where the woman told me it had already come. I was incensed. She offered no other help. Another guest overheard the exchange and told me another bus center was a few blocks away, so we walked over and caught the last transport of the day. To think, we almost missed one of National Geographic's top-10 one-day hikes because of the desk staff's incompetence!

This wasn't the only gripe. When we checked in, I was mistakenly given a room with two twin beds. I went back downstairs to get a different room and they apologized, then upgraded me to a superior room, which I accepted with gratitude. But when I checked out, they tried to charge me $65 more a night than my original room rate! I told them that I understood the upgrade to be complimentary (I get them all the time as a Marriott Platinum member). The desk manager said I was actually getting a break off the rate for a superior room. The nerve! I told her that's not sufficient...I was never told the room "upgrade'' would come with a rate change. They ultimately honored my original room rate, but the whole checkout process took 40 minutes, tried our patience and we got a late start on our drive to Wellington.

Other notes: The Ruapehu restaurant was way, way overpriced and the food was merely average. The spa pool looks like something out of 1971. Voices in the hallway carry through the doors like they're made of paper. The whole place feels old, and not in a charming way. But the biggest problem was the staff. If you stay here, expect to be treated in a rude and inhospitable manner.

When I checked out, I felt more disappointment than anger. The hotel is such a wonderful property with the potential to be one of the most memorable stays in the world. Maybe someone will swoop in and figure it out. For now, it's not a place I can recommend.

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Launceston, Australia
Top Contributor
78 reviews 78 reviews
44 hotel reviews
Reviews in 51 cities Reviews in 51 cities
29 helpful votes 29 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed August 25, 2004

We stayed for 1 night 2 years ago, and decided that if ever we got married, it would be at The Chateau. Last September we eloped! Our best friends were holidaying in NZ at the time and we had arranged to catch up with them that night. Little did they know when they checked in that we'd be asking them to be our witnesses and contributing to the ceremony by doing a reading each. The day of our arrival was one of those perfect September days, with blue sky and a snow-capped Mt Ruapehu. Absolute magic. We were married at 6pm on the 25th Sept 03 ... and plan to return this September for our first anniversary. The setting is breath-taking, even if the mountain is shrouded in mist. The lounge area is sumptuous and roomy, and the restaurant is magnificent. Well worth a visit.

  • Stayed September 2004
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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Additional Information about Chateau Tongariro Hotel

Address: State Highway 48, Whakapapa, Tongariro National Park 3951, New Zealand (Formerly Bayview Chateau Tongariro)
Location: New Zealand > North Island > Manawatu-Wanganui Region > Tongariro National Park > Whakapapa
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Business Center with Internet Access Fitness Center with Gym / Workout Room Free Parking Children Activities ( Kid / Family Friendly ) Restaurant Room Service Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 2 hotels in Whakapapa
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$
Hotel Class:4 star — Chateau Tongariro Hotel 4*
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Everything we do at the Chateau Tongariro Hotel we believe in providing you with a timeless elegance. We believe that preserving tradition and history is most important and as the hotel is located within a dual World Heritage National Park, conservation and culture are also at the forefront of your experience. Tongariro National Park provides a stunning natural playground bursting with diverse landscapes for visitors to the Chateau Tongariro to discover. Chateau Tongariro provides accommodation, restaurants, bars and conference facilities and is an all-seasons, utterly timeless experience not to be missed. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Bayview Chateau Tongariro Hotel Tongariro National Park
Bayview Chateau Tongariro National Park

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