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“No Panache - sterile - lacking warmth and service”

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Te Waonui Forest Retreat
Ranked #3 of 13 Hotels in Franz Josef
Certificate of Excellence
London
Level 3 Contributor
23 reviews
9 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 9 helpful votes
“No Panache - sterile - lacking warmth and service”
Reviewed January 11, 2011

There's nothing really wrong with the hotel - new, contemporary style, good rooms and interesting aspect onto the rainforest, quality food and willing staff in the dining room.

Now comes the but .... it just lacks everthing that makes you feel that you've really enjoyed the experience. The reception staff were very take it or leave it, the communal areas were deserted and lacking any atmosphere, the dining room rather stilted in style - so busy being a gourmet experience they lost all the NZ charm and fun we had found in every other hotel.

The real issue that made me rather turn against it was the lack of the idea of real service or flexibility - it was all to a formula. We travelling with two teenaged boys - some recognition that even at a gourmet restaurant it would be an idea to have a couple of simple dishes - not talking here about pub/child fare but something simple well done.

The real gripe however was that because we had really bad weather and it was set in for days - and I mean you couldn't walk outside without getting drenched/visibility a couple of metres - so no flights/no walk to the glacier/no hot pools - we decided to move on rather than stay for a second night. We had prepaid for everything for a family of four and although I didn't expect a refund on rooms that they couldn't sell at short notice - I thought that they could give some recognition that we wouldn't eat dinner that night x4 given the price levels.

Of course they didn't have to but some gesture would have been nice and it kind of epitomised the whole attitude of no looking at you as an individual guest but rather just another punter.

  • Stayed December 2010, traveled with family
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Helpful?
1 Thank LonFamily
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Miami, Florida
Level 2 Contributor
6 reviews
5 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 7 helpful votes
Reviewed December 28, 2010

This hotel enjoys a good location, is new (ie. so it's clean) and would certainly qualify for being a 3-3/4 star hotel. By no reasonable standard, should this be considered a 5 star hotel (unless you've been camping out in your car or have never actually stayed in a 5 star hotel)! To us, the hotel has a very institutional, formula and canned feel. Just one example is the food menu....it never changes.....so their is no real creativity but more just a monotonous repeat of an overrun canned performance. Nothing to drink is included with the 5 course meal.....we found this out after our first dinner, when we were charged NZ$12 for a liter of water. The staff does a lovely job, but is almost entirely comprised of young student-interns from India, Japan and other Asian countries, so although they make a good effort, it's somewhat like staying in a "teaching hotel".

The hotel has the feel of really being a nice hotel for upscale bus tours, and indeed, at approximately NZ$800/night (the rack rate) don't be surprised if the people sitting at the table next to you paid less than NZ$400 per night as part of their tour, which all things considered, is probably the correct value for what you get at this hotel.

One last comment, a kind of pet peeve of mine, the hotel does offer internet, however it is at a rate of NZ$10/hour; which is another example of this hotel's value-for-money. (For those interested, you can purchase a USB Vodafone data card, to use with your own laptop for NZ$79, which covers 97% of NZ, and provides a great alternative to otherwise feeling ripped off by these types of charges.)

  • Stayed December 2010, traveled as a couple
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Helpful?
1 Thank omeray2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Auckland, New Zealand
Level 4 Contributor
29 reviews
13 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 27 helpful votes
Reviewed August 8, 2010

We chose Te Waonui as our overnight stop during a run down from Nelson to Queenstown. I have to admit we chose it mainly because we liked the sound of the degustacion meal at "Canopy" restaurant at the hotel and we were not disappointed. It's one of those places that makes you feel special from the moment you arrive, we really couldn't believe how lucky we were to have stumbled across it (in a magazine). Sadly we'd had a stressful day and we were pretty tired and didn't really make the most of the wonderful meal - although we certainly DID make the most of the comfortable bed for a good night's sleep. We're going back early next year and looking forward to sampling their serene environment, lovely service and SUPERB food.

  • Stayed March 2010, traveled as a couple
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Helpful?
Thank Treadbrook
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Maryland
Level 3 Contributor
10 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
Reviewed June 12, 2010

Our 2 night stay was outside the busy season, but we were stunned that this beautiful getaway was nearly empty although it has 100 guest rooms. We were told this is the hotel's first season just opening in September 2009. The staffing was light to match the time of year, but extremely attentive and accommodating, truly 1st class service. The location is at the North end of this VERY small glacier town, where you will find all the "Adventure trips" you could possibly desire.

The first thing you will notice upon entering is the aroma of wood from the hardwood floors in the entrance lobby and the wooden accents throughout the entire hotel.

Our room was on an interior hallway on the 2nd floor with the balcony facing directly into the rain-forest, which gives you a wonderfully relaxed atmosphere. The rooms are typical of a 5 star resort, but the standout was the heated tile floors in the bathroom.

Both breakfast and a 5 course dinner are included in your nightly stay. The chef is word class and table service was perfection. Our only complaint, too much food for dinner certainly nothing to run from, we simply are not big eaters. The dinner portions are modest, but 5 courses add up. Each course however was a delight for the palette.

It was a wonderful spot to end our Australia and New Zealand vacation. It is a pricey stay, but the other hotels in Franz Josef are quite rustic and may not satisfy discriminating travelers. We highly recommend this jewel in the Franz Josef rain-forest, you will enjoy the pampering.

  • Stayed May 2010, traveled as a couple
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Helpful?
2 Thank gzing2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Norfolk
Level 5 Contributor
67 reviews
28 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 65 helpful votes
Reviewed May 6, 2010

Lovely new hotel in beautiful setting, super trendy room with view over rain forest area, AND just about every other room on the complex (5*Butlin's oops!!!). We had one of the best rooms but most of our party had to walk outside on dimly lit concrete corridors to get to their rooms - umbrellas were put to good use when we had a shower of rain.
Drinks at bar, and wine with meals very expensive (cheapest wine (house plonk) £26 per bottle).
Meals were interesting - 5 courses, with just 2 choices on each course - Vegetarians and people with food allegies were looked on with distain, as were the people who wanted their tuna seared beyond raw in the middle, or asked for their steak to be cooked beyond medium rare - ALL such, and similar requests were greeted by a very negative response from the kitchen. All portions were very artistic, tasty, but small, and we could all have done with a good meal at the end of the evening. We were there for 2 nights and several of our party ate out on the second night.At breakfast we were instructed to sit at the same tables as the previous evening even though there was plenty of space which meant I had to manouvre my wheelchair the far end of the room a long way from the breakfast buffet - hence my husband became my waiter.The marks/stains on our table cloth were still there from the night before - 5*? I don't think so!!!
This is a very expensive hotel with delusions of grandeur, it has a lot of plusses but the management need to get rid of some of their pretentions and realise that they will lose business if they are not prepared to cater more readily for their customers needs, and get the basics right.

  • Stayed February 2010
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Helpful?
2 Thank charliechair
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Auckland
Level 3 Contributor
15 reviews
11 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 9 helpful votes
Reviewed April 28, 2010

This hotel was advertised as 5 star, but it has not been graded 5 star, so the advertising is false. I think it would struggle to get the 5 star rating. We have stayed in 5 star accommodation in NZ and this does not come up to that standard. The reception area is nice, the staff pleasant, but the rooms are small and the outside deck is very slippery as the room never gets any sun because of the surrounding bush, so quite dark inside. The bathroom was nice, but nothing spectacular as advertised. There was also noises in the roof which could have been mice, rates or even possums - not sure! Had a great flight over the Franz Josef Glacier, but the helicopters fly over the town and it is very noisy. They need to move the landing pad out of town.

  • Stayed February 2010, traveled as a couple
    • Value
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Helpful?
1 Thank wildtraveller99
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
toulouse
Level 5 Contributor
60 reviews
48 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 42 helpful votes
Reviewed March 24, 2010

Firstly I'm not sure why this is classed as a B&B / Inn? It's definitely a hotel..

This was a last minute decision to stay ...but even if you're planning in advance maybe just 'go basic' on some of the other nights and give yourselves a treat at Te waonui.

Rooms good size, really comfy bed, hypnotic sitting in the chairs and watching the rain on the dense forest. lots of little extras in the room, like iron and ironing board, very useful when living out of a suitcase.

5 course dinner was a feast for the senses, tables well spaced so you're not disturbed by neighbours. staff welcoming and efficient in a quiet understated way. Good breakfast the next day too.

Overall... Definitely a good choice for a little treat!! Wishing them every success.

  • Stayed February 2010
    • Value
    • Location
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
2 Thank nothingtoulouse
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Te Waonui Forest Retreat

Property: Te Waonui Forest Retreat
Address: 3 Wallace Street, Franz Josef, Westland National Park (Te Wahipounamu) 7856, New Zealand
Location: New Zealand > South Island > West Coast Region > Westland National Park (Te Wahipounamu) > Franz Josef
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Free Breakfast Free Parking Restaurant Room Service Spa Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
#1 Romantic Hotel in Franz Josef
#1 Family Hotel in Franz Josef
#2 Luxury Hotel in Franz Josef
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$$$
Hotel Class:5 star — Te Waonui Forest Retreat 5*
Number of rooms: 100
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Luxury hotels in New Zealand don't get any better than this! Nestled amongst native West Coast rainforest at Franz Josef is a very special five-star Qualmark rated retreat. Designed with utmost care of its precious environment, guests at Te Waonui Forest Retreat will find themselves encircled by rainforest and accommodated in natural and sustainable luxury. Te Waonui Forest Retreat promises all its guests a truly unique and memorable experience. At one with nature, the five-star Qualmark rated Te Waonui Forest Retreat is the ultimate coming together of luxury escape and environmental awareness. Great care has been taken to ensure this exceptional forest retreat steps lightly upon the earth, from the organic cotton bedspreads to its recycled local building materials. Discerning travellers will appreciate the hotel’s attention to detail, which starts with attentive personal service upon arrival, and continues throughout all the hotel facilities and every aspect of your stay. As our guest you will enjoy exceptional quality and service, including: Luxuriously appointed guest rooms, generously proportioned and featuring the highest standard of room amenities, such as your personal pillow menu, natural wool mattress underlay, and high speed Internet access. Dining among the tres in ‘The Canopy’ restaurant, and savouring quality local cuisine, including an indulgent five-course degustation dinner. Innovative, environmentally sustainable architecture and building materials that create a healthy, warm and quiet haven for you to enjoy. Easy access to many excellent local attractions, including the Fox and Franz Josef Glaciers, just minutes away. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Te Waonui Forest Retreat Hotel Franz Josef

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