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“Not worth the Price”

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Te Waonui Forest Retreat
Ranked #3 of 13 Hotels in Franz Josef
Certificate of Excellence
Perth, Australia
Level 6 Contributor
136 reviews
89 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 109 helpful votes
“Not worth the Price”
Reviewed February 10, 2011

Te Waonui is a reasonably new hotel located amongst the bush approx 5 mins walk from the town centre. They call themselves a "resort", however I would suggest that they need to travel a bit to fully understand the meaning of the word. It is not a resort, but a hotel.

The hotel is tastefully decorated with modern fittings and provides an upmarket experience. We found the checkin staff very unhelpful and the reason is simple, most staff are backpackers from overseas on a holiday, therefore they don't have any real interest in providing good customer service. and their local knowledge is poor. Hotel management appear to pander to the many coach tours that stay at the hotel, so if you are an individual guest you may feel excluded as we did. Coach tours guests were given priority even though they paid approx half the rate that we did.

The biggest negative of the hotel is managements policy of providing an all inclusive rate which includes Dinner, Bed and Breakfast. You cannot opt out, the same rate prevails whether you eat the meals or not. This is unfortunate as you are denied the opportunity of experiencing some of the other excellent eating options in town. It would not be so bad if the eating options at the hotel were excellent, however we found that they were not. The evening meal had a very limited menu selection with serving sizes being quite small. The food quality was excellent however. Breakfast, well forget it. After our first night we had breakfast in town and found many excellent options. The hotel buffet was geared up for the coach tours and the selection was limited. On the one morning that there was no coach tour in, breakfast was extremely poor both in food selection, presentation and quality. We walked out and went into town for an excellent breakfast.

This hotel was one of the few that charged for internet service. Throughout NZ we found the internet to be excellent and mostly free. I know that the hotel will come back and say that they provide a free WIFI servcie for 1 hr in the lobby, but in this day and age that's simply poor customer service. A free service in the room should be provided, in this case its not so be careful as its expensive like everything else in the hotel.

We have rated sleep quality as poor as all rooms are connected by wooden walkways. On every night of our stay we were woken up early in the morning by departing coach tour guests wheeling their bags on the walkways. Wooden board are very noisy due to the gaps in the boards. You hear it every time a bag hits a board.

For the top price charged everything should be perfect, its not, so we recommend stay elsewhere.

  • Stayed January 2011, traveled as a couple
    • Value
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    • Sleep Quality
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Helpful?
Thank jacko582
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Houston
Level 4 Contributor
48 reviews
20 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 18 helpful votes
Reviewed February 6, 2011

We stayed for one night at the Te Waonui Retreat. The hotel itself is very nice set up on a quadrangle with a native forest in the center. The room was excellent with all the amenities that you would need. The patio looking out on the forest was a nice place to have a drink. We had a long drive before we got there and the welcoming glass of orange juice was a nice touch.

Service was very good, they were always trying to please. Wi-Fi was free and there were computers available in the lobby, they must have responded to a previous review and corrected the issue.

A five course dinner and breakfast was included and was the weakness of the hotel. The food was average with one fish course being inedible. Breakfast was good.

  • Stayed January 2011, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
Thank Kenneth N
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Edwards, Colorado
Level 3 Contributor
18 reviews
10 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 9 helpful votes
Reviewed February 1, 2011

Honestly for the price this hotel charges, you'd expect an attempt to at least act like a luxury resort. No one incident stood out but Te Waonui feels like a very cheap hotel with the trimmings and exterior of a nicer resort. Some examples include the abysmal front desk service, where it felt like my questions were a serious intrusion into their day. I also found it ludicrous that the hotel charges for wifi considering their room rates. Last the breakfast here is atrocious which shocked me when you consider that the five course dinner is great. Aside from the helpful dining staff and dinner, I wasn't impressed by anything here. Frankly the lack of warmth and service shocked me. Honestly save your money and stay somewhere else.

  • Stayed January 2011, traveled with family
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
Thank WC50
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Marksean, General Manager at Te Waonui Forest Retreat, responded to this review, February 7, 2011
Our dining experience, a 5 course degustation menu consists of the finest New Zealand produce available. From Hawke's Bay lamb to West Coast whitebait, our brigade prepares the finest cuisine.
Our breakfast offering consists of an extensive continental buffet as well as a selection of hot breakfast dishes. In addition to this we offer a range of alacarte breakfast options.

Our reception and concierge staff are fully trained on all local activities and attractions available to ensure that our guests experience the best that the Glacier region has to offer. Unfortunately on this occasion the required level of services were not met, be assured that this has been reviewed with the appropriate personnel.

Te Waonui offers several options for guests wanting to use the internet including a 24 hour option provided by a third party.

The hotel offers free WIFI service with the provision of 60 minutes of WIFI in the Hotel lobby (download limitations do apply) - this service is designed to give guests access via their own computers to download emails etc.

The Hotel also has on offer 2 notebooks with broadband supplied in the lobby of the hotel for free use by our guests and designed for them to be able to pick up emails and spend a short time on the computers.

Our third option offers guests a fixed line broadband service in every room and can be purchased in 2 or 24 hour blocks at a fixed cost.

Mark McLean
General Manager
Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reading, United Kingdom
Level 5 Contributor
52 reviews
51 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 33 helpful votes
Reviewed January 22, 2011

Nice place with not much to fault in it. Rooms are set in a square round a native bush area. The only real issue was that the covered connected walkways do get wet when it is raining and there is a wind. The five course dinner was excellent and was one of our best eating experiences on the holiday.

  • Stayed January 2011, traveled as a couple
    • Location
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
Thank carianmac
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Melbourne
Level 4 Contributor
46 reviews
28 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 21 helpful votes
Reviewed January 12, 2011

Why the umbrella? Well, you step out of your room on to a covered walkway which is open to the bush on the other side. Sound nice. However, it rain a lot in this part of New Zealand and I could imagine getting wet as you wound your way almost this walkway if it was windy. Rooms are fantastic. They look out on to the bush at the back, the bathroom has a heated floor and other non-standard luxury fittings. It was not windy when my tour group arrived but it was wet. So this resulted in the biggest disappointment of our tour. No flight were going to the Glaciers. Hotel is obviously aimed up market. The only reason why I do not give this hotel a 5-star rating is because of the lack of a few large sheets of perspex that could be fixed along the walkway to ensure a dry walk to reception.

  • Stayed January 2011
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
1 Thank rosey55
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
London
Level 3 Contributor
23 reviews
9 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 9 helpful votes
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
    • Value
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    • Sleep Quality
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    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
1 Thank LonFamily
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
1 Thank omeray2
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 Family Hotel in Franz Josef
#1 Romantic 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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