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“A Magical Stay in the Center of Paradise”

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Woodbridge on the Derwent
Ranked #2 of 3 Hotels in New Norfolk
Reviewed June 11, 2012

Just back from a wonderful stay at the only "Small Luxury Hotel" on Tasmania. When we first arrived at the hotel it was not quite what we expected being located not far from a bridge road over the lovely Derwent River and in a mixed Commercial/Residential area, but our expectations were boosted upon meeting owners John and Laurelle Grimley. They took our jet lagged troubles out of our hands and planned an amazing 3 day holiday for us that had us wanting to return for a week of adventure! They apparently know everyone there is to know locally and the mere mention of their name opens doors all over the island. We were given a tour of the fine hotel which was a lovely private home and immediately shown the intimate public spaces with a library, and 2 sitting rooms offering quiet respite overlooking the lovely river. The handy "honor" bar offers outstanding local selections of multiple bottles by the glass as well as spirits and beers to be enjoyed there or in your room. Wonderful travel books as well as an abundant selection of local travel info can be found while enjoying an evening cocktail or two! We treated ourselves to a wonderful arrival dinner in the highly rated in house restaurant which was beyond our expectations. The food was fresh, locally sourced and prepared perfectly and the wine list reasonably priced. John the owner acted as part time chef, host, travel guide and more! We liked it so much that we decide to stay in our last night and eat there again. The location is only about 30 min from Hobart, but night driving is not recommended for the faint of heart and it is so nice after a long day of hiking and exploring to retreat to comfort and luxury along with a home cooked meal and not to drive! The room was spacious and lovely with heated towel racks! The rear door opened to a sunning patio area w/ access to the Derwent shoreline and a lovely local walk about we took every morning. Breakfast in the solarium dining room was equally lovely. The location is close to local wineries, national forest hikes and so much more. A bit of indulgence for the well traveled and a treat for the locals as well as those who may have been to the wonderful island of Tasmania before. The overall feeling was like staying at the well appointed country home of a lovably eccentric aunt and uncle whom you cant wait to return to visit!

Room Tip: Upper level rooms have a better view-but lower level rooms have gravel terrace and garden/river acce...
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  • Stayed: April 2012, traveled as a couple
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1  Thank Andrew M
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
jgrimley, Owner at Woodbridge on the Derwent, responded to this reviewResponded June 13, 2012

Dear Andrew M
John and I are chuckling about being a "lovably eccentric uncle and aunt"! - but what a compliment!
Our travel experience has been that what makes any stay truly memorable is 'the feel of the place' as welcoming and personally caring, and that has been our vision for Woodbridge. Our staff genuinely enjoy our guests and as one of our younger staff said recently, "we get to meet some amazing people".
It has been our pleasure to have you stay at Woodbridge, and we look forward to your return.
Regards
Laurelle

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50 - 56 of 81 reviews

Reviewed May 27, 2012

'Woodbridge' was a wounderful haven to relax and refresh our minds and bodies. The tastefully renovated building, lovingly bringing history into the present.. It made us feel comfortable and special. We stayed for 6 days and explored 'Tassy' using ' Woodbridge' as home. At night we sat by open fires and enjoyed complementary port, snuggling in the reading room. There were three other couples but we felt as if this was our private retreat.

Dinner in the Pavillion was a delight, with service warm and friendly. The food was well prepared, varied and locally sourced, in all, a highlight at the end of a day touring. The wine selection was carefully selected to show case Tasmania's great wines. Breakfast offered a great buffet plus dishes specially cooked. We loved poached eggs with smoked salmon and fresh, field mushrooms.

We have come back from a tour of the Champagne region of France, all wonderul, but our stay at 'Woodbridge' refreshed our souls and reminded us of the unique joys Australia has to offer. This is a must for those who want a quality experience with that personal and relaxing touch.

We have peeped at other suites and there is something for everyone. John helped us plan our excursions and gave us helpful insights into the local area for some great day trips. He told us about the platipus at the Salmon ponds and we were extatic to see a wild one. The staff were discrete but friendly and nothing was too much if we asked.

Room Tip: There are rooms which are very large and suites.
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  • Stayed: April 2012, traveled as a couple
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1  Thank LDandMA
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
johnTasmania, Owner at Woodbridge on the Derwent, responded to this reviewResponded May 30, 2012

Dear LDandMA

I think Woodbridge is at its best when guests settle in and use her as a 'home away from home'! I am glad this worked so well for you.

We do hope that we will have the pleasure of your company again in the not too distant future ... And it does save you the hassle of 3 hour airport checkin for overseas trips!

Regards
Laurelle Grimley

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Reviewed May 20, 2012 via mobile

My partner brought me here for my birthday as a surprise.

With no pre-conceived ideas about what to expect I was blown away by this property. What a unique, welcoming wonderful hotel.

Reading the restoration albums on display in the living areas showed what an almighty task the owners took on to bring this property to its former glory - and then some.

We stayed in the very comfortable 3 Bridges Suite and were delighted with the room, furnishings, river view and morning bird songs. No complaints at all.

The main reception building houses the dining room and we had home cooked breakfast made from local produce each morning. The jams from 'a lady up the road' were divine. We had dinner there last night as well - 3 courses and a local Pinot really hit the spot.

We were looked after by Melissa who was warm and professional and knowledgable about the local area. She very kindly made us a dinner reservation before our arrival for a special night.

Yes, there is little to do and see in New Norfolk but there are many sights only a short drive away.

We had the entire place to ourselves during our stay and loved coming back to this big sprawling home after dinner and lighting the fireplace in our room.

I was shocked reading the negative reviews posted here. My partner and I are regular 5star travellers and can't wait to come back here to unwind next year.

We were completely looked after and enjoyed many special personal touches and adored the love and care poured into this great old dame of a house.. Highly recommended for people who enjoy the simple things in life and are happy in each others company with a Pinot by the fire.

P.S to the person complaining about the quality of the cane furniture in the dining room - what a joke. Its been about 10degrees during our stay and each time we dined Melissa had kindly positioned a little heater for our feet next to our table. It's touches like this that make this place a gorgeous, homely getaway.

Thank you for having us
xx

  • Stayed: May 2012
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1  Thank TravellingForPleasure
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
johnTasmania, Owner at Woodbridge on the Derwent, responded to this reviewResponded May 23, 2012

Dear Travellingforpleasure

We are delighted that you so enjoyed your time at Woodbridge, and we thank your partner for entrusting your birthday celebration to Woodbridge.

I agree that 'cuddling in front of a fire' is hard to beat, but we look forward to welcoming you back in the summer and sharing the summer pleasures of cherries galore, and kayaking on the river before breakfast, and long long balmy twilights over more Pinot!

Laurelle Grimley

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Reviewed March 2, 2012

Woodbridge is an excellent restoration of an imposing Georgian mansion -- a melding of a sense of place, the hosts' hospitable spirit and love and knowledge of history. We drove to villages with Georgian buildings, returning for delicious dinners -- the hosts even asked ahead of time what sort of food we like and each night served delicious local produce and designed dishes that would grace the finest restaurants. Two of us had been before and our friends were delighted with our spacious well-proportioned rooms, filled with light and wide views of the gardens leading to the Derwent River. We plan to return next year, not least for the breakfasts in the Pavilion.

Room Tip: The first room we stayed in had a door leading to deck chairs on a terrace, very nice. This year on...
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  • Stayed: March 2012, traveled with friends
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1  Thank Alice M
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
johnTasmania, Owner at Woodbridge on the Derwent, responded to this reviewResponded March 28, 2012

Dear Alice M

It is gratifying when guests who have truly experienced the finest that life has to offer, speak so highly of Woodbridge. Thank you.

I am so pleased that you again enjoyed your sojourn at Woodbridge and we look forward to welcoming you in 2013.

Regards
Laurelle

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Reviewed February 20, 2012

We booked for 3 days , during our 3 week stay in Tasmania, for our bit of luxury as the hotel advertised as one of the small luxury hotels of the world. We were a bit concerned as we never received responses to our email to Laurelle requesting food tour and asking about Mount Field National Park, so I rang the day before to check that they were expecting us and that they could cater for our dietary needs as we had reserved dinner for the first night. They assured us that all was OK. Dinner food was good, but the wines recommended by the waiter were both unavailable. The table cloth was stained, I had to request a serviette, and my wife had the cushion for her seat missing and had to get another - in fact it was another guest who had taken hers, so no blame to the hotel there.
We went out to eat the next 2
nights.

There was no Wifi working in the room, we had to go outside and to the restaurant to use Wifi.

I removed dead flies from the windows in the front of the room and the bathroom.

We were upstairs in the top room, a very nice aspect, with the only exit down wooden stairs , no telephone in the room, so I checked the emergency numbers - they turned out to be wrongly written in the instructions. I raised this with John immediately, but the instructions were not altered after 48 hours. Laurelle was interested and came to the room and was shocked to see the wrong instructions - which I am sure were in every room. There were typographical errors on the front page of the welcome - it made no sense.

The spacious rooms available for guests to use were nicely furnished, with port available and sweets and wonderful fresh fruit available daily.

Breakfast was good. staff were different every day, service was variable.

There was a nice walk along the river which we took the first evening, direct from the hotel.

The owners were pleasant, accessible, and friendly, but apparentlyistruggling to find reliable staff even after 5 months after reopening.

Good luck in fulfilling the ambition -I can however only rate as I found it. We were pleased to be given a small refund on dinner as a result of the mixup on communications and pricing - but it's still a mystery about the rooms. They advertise Platinum and Gold rooms at different prices, but according to Laurelle they don't have Platinum or Gold rooms - these descriptions are provided by a booking service agent. All a bit unusual for a luxury small hotel.

Overall, pricey and not yet satisfactory.


  • Stayed: February 2012
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6  Thank gxtraveller
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
johnTasmania, Owner at Woodbridge on the Derwent, responded to this reviewResponded February 22, 2012

Dear gxtraveller

Thank you for your lovely comment in our guest book written at the time of your departure:
" Some lovely aspects to the hotel and stay. Some wrinkles need to be ironed out, a mixed bag, but potential to be a very good hotel."

Thank you for taking the time to bring your observations to our attention while you were there, and I am happy to reiterate our discussions here.

I am glad that we had picked up that you had overcharged yourself on the on-line booking service by charging yourself for Breakfast and Dinner when Breakfast was complimentary - these automated systems are sometimes a bit confusing. Our on-line booking service has several Platinum and Gold Offers for longer stays, and these have also obviously caused you some confusion - we will give this further consideration.

Thank you for finding the typographical errors in the compendium. Now that we are aware that the second emergency Police/Fire/Ambulance number was incorrect, we have changed it (understandably, nobody had previously thought to ring this emergency number just to check that it was correct!). Thankfully the first emergency Police/Fire/Ambulance 000 number in our compendium was correct. As you had accompanied John to check in the phone book that the number should have been 121 instead of the 112 typed, John had not realised that you then want him to write that into the compendium in your room at the time.

'Typos' seem to have plagued your time with us - as shown on your reservation, you had made a typographical error in entering your 'preferred' email address. I was able to give you with a copy of our email reply to the address supplied by you but, as this address was incorrect, you had not received our reply. However, we had received all your dietary needs and the separate dietary needs for your wife, so, importantly, we had been able to cater for these.

I'm glad that you enjoyed breakfast and dinner. All wines were available so we are at a loss as to why you were led to understand otherwise. I am particular about the linen, and I apologise for any shortcoming.

The 188 year old wooden stairs from your room are enclosed in firecheck and meet all safety standards, and they are fire rated for 2 hours. Nevertheless, when you expressed these concerns and asked for another room, we prepared another room for you, but I understand that your wife then chose not to move from said room because she 'liked the view'.

As explained, the walls of Woodridge are 400mm thick and constructed of convict brick and stone which wifi won't penetrate. Wifi is available in The Pavilion and this service is complimentary.

Yes, flies are a problem in Australia in Summer - they sneak in when guests open the front door. Our window tops are treated and we regularly do a fly check of the window ledges, but we respect our guests' privacy and only access guests' rooms at Service and Bed Turndown.

Staffing is always a challenge in any hospitality setting. We reopened in September after almost 3 years closure when our son was catastrophically injured, so we have had to start virtually from scratch, and some of our new staff are still in training. It would be easier if we 'imported' staff as so many places do, but our policy is to try to engage locally to remain authentic.

Thank you for your best wishes - we strive to continually improve to fulfill the ambition of making Woodbridge the best it can be.
I am glad that you appreciated the complimentary port and sweets and fresh fruit, and that you enjoyed the lovely riverwalk.

Regards
Laurelle Grimley

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Reviewed February 8, 2012

My new husband and I had the great pleasure of spending three nights at Woodbridge for the second part of our honeymoon. We have travelled extensively and have had the great pleasure of staying at many fine establishments. I now rank Woodbridge as being one of these. I should mention that when it came to deciding what to do on our honeymoon we had no shortage of options, as my husband works for a well known travel publication and in the lead up to our honeymoon was flooded with suggestions from colleagues. We are very pleased with the choice we made.

The experience offered at Woodbridge is personal and unique. If you are reading this review looking for an 'anonymous experience' where you don't engage with the owners or anyone else for that matter, then this is not the place for you! At the Sofitel in Melbourne two nights earlier we were 'Mr & Mrs Room 4709' with a pillow menu and room service...However at Woodbridge we were P* & M* on our honeymoon... Each day at Woodbridge John and Laurelle made the effort to learn a litte bit more about us, as we did about them, but never with an intrusive or unwelcome manner.

John and Laurelle were warm and loving and bursting with pride to show off the house which they have renovated with honestly and education in mind. As an Architect, I appreciated the detailing in the building along with their choice of modern furniture and fittings, to compliment the Georgian Style. Others in their position may have been tempted to clutter the place with only old uncomfortable Georgian antiques. At Woodbridge it is obvious that choices have been carefully made for both aesthetic and comfort.

Our room had spectacular views down onto the Derwent River below. There were a couple of well placed reading chairs that made for a comfortable place to read and generally relax. As well as a large queen bed with good quality linen. The bathroom was clean and well laid out. The toiletries fresh and high quality. In our case the shower was over the bath tub, but we barely noticed and it was far from an inconvenience! The television was small however there is a big flat screen television and DVD player in the ballroom which we used on the second night with no issues. In fact we felt very comfortable and relaxed lounging in many of the shared spaces.

The meals each night were delicious. Some of the dishes we enjoyed in a unique private dinning experience, (where John recommended local Tasmanian wines to suit) included pork belly, salmon, wallaby shanks and rabbit and pistachio terrine...the deserts were also divine in particular the poached pear. The breakfasts in the morning were worthy of mentioning and started with a warm croissant and fresh jams (the nectarine was the best!), followed by hot and cold options cooked to order.

Beware that we did regard Woodbridge on Derwent to be a 'diamond in the rough' as there appears to not be much in the new norfolk city centre. We stopped past to buy a few snacks for our room and aside from that spent part of the two full days either visiting MONA, or local wineries. The cellar door at Stefano Lubiana was well worth a visit!

In summary I think that Woodbridge on Derwent in a small hotel that offers a unique experience particularly for couples who are looking for something different. It undeniably offers 5 star comfort but to truly enjoy it, you need to be aware of how you assess comfort. Ask yourself what 'comfort' to you is and then check these things off the website - all the information is there... You shouldn't be disappointed!

Room Tip: Read the website. If you are expecting a suite then ask for one...
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  • Stayed: January 2012, traveled as a couple
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2  Thank p_soccio
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
johnTasmania, Owner at Woodbridge on the Derwent, responded to this reviewResponded February 10, 2012

Dear p_soccio

Thank you for your wonderful review. You had obviously read the comments from other recent reviews. Anonymous reviews are just that and difficult to address - they could have been written by absolutely anybody, anywhere in the world.

The most important thing is that you had a wonderful time - that really is all that matters!

Thank you for entrusting such an important event as your honeymoon to Woodbridge, and we hope that we may have the pleasure of your company again - perhaps for an anniversary? By then we will hopefully have the boat fitted out for the elegant river cruising that you were eager to try, and you will be interested to know that I have just sealed a deal yesterday whereby a seaplane will land on the river in front of Woodbridge to whisk our guests off sightseeing to almost anywhere in southern Tasmania! (We're really excited about this, as you can imagine!)

Regards
Laurelle Grimley

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Reviewed February 5, 2012

We were so disappointed! From the moment we pulled in the drive way our hearts just dropped from disappointment. The only saving grace is the great staff.

I arranged for two night stay for my partner's 60th birthday and couldn't believe what was on offer for the price.
- rooms were not 5 star
- bad prawns gave my partner food poisoning
- breakfast was no what is promoted (can be missed but no where else to eat)
- no facilities, the sauna is in a shednear the car park
- the major road with bright lights outside our rooms (they can't help that) ruined the scenery
- no decent restaurants in the town

These are just a few of the problems with Woodbridge. It should not be in the small luxury hotel book as we have stayed in several and they do not meet the standard.

  • Stayed: November 2011, traveled as a couple
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9  Thank MirkwoodF
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
johnTasmania, Owner at Woodbridge on the Derwent, responded to this reviewResponded February 7, 2012

Dear Reviewer

We have carefully read your comments about your stay last November.

Thank you for acknowledging our great staff - it is a truism of hospitality that it is the quality of the people and the level of service that they give, that makes any stay memorable.

Of course our chef is an important member of our staff. An allegation of 'food poisoning' is a very serious matter indeed, and must be proved medically and legally. We refute this categorically, and will be taking advice on this matter.

John and I have been fortunate to stay in 57 Small Luxury Hotel properties, in the USA, Europe, UK, Australia and Asia, and we are very sure that Woodbridge meets the standard. We do not try to fit the mould of the big impersonal luxury hotels - Woodbridge is a small intimate hotel in a charming historic mansion, and the staff strive to make Woodbridge the best that it can be, while staying true to its identity and authenticity.

I'm sorry that we were obviously not what you had in your mind that we should be.

Regards
Laurelle Grimley

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Additional Information about Woodbridge on the Derwent

Address: 6 Bridge St | New Norfolk, Hobart, New Norfolk, Tasmania 7140, Australia
Location: Australia > Tasmania > New Norfolk
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Restaurant Spa Suites Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
Ranked #2 of 3 Hotels in New Norfolk
Price Range: $398 - $694 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:5 star — Woodbridge on the Derwent 5*
Number of rooms: 9
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Woodbridge on the Derwent is a spectacular Heritage listed Small Luxury Hotel, on the banks of the Derwent River. Woodbridge has only nine luxury suites and rooms, and a maximum of 18 guests. Amenities include the Reading Boom, the Ballroom, riverfront Pavilion, sauna, hot-tub, complimentary bicycles and kayaks.The valley and the river provide walks, cycling, kayaking,fly fishing, wineries, cooking schools. Woodbridge offers personalised service, wonderful food and wine, and rich and luxurious rest and relaxation in one of Australia's oldest Grand Homes. Woodbridge is the only Five Star hotel in Tasmania ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Woodbridge On The Derwent New Norfolk, Tasmania

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