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“Excellent customer service, a comfortable room and a great rain forest view”

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Te Waonui Forest Retreat
Ranked #3 of 13 Hotels in Franz Josef
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed 16 January 2014

You could tell from the moment we arrived that there was a focus on customer service and the experience. From beginning it to the end, we were treated as the most important guest staying at the hotel. The kiwi beverage we had at arrival was very tasty.

We have been traveling around South Island with our three children (10 to 6) and had a two night stay in Franz Josef to take in the nearby glaciers.

We had two adjoining rooms, perfectly situated to accommodate our three kids in one room and my wife and I in another. Each room has a great balcony that looks into a mini rain forest. The hotel itself is well appointed and quite comfortable, with a selection of pillows for us picky travelers. Furnishings are up to date and very comfortable. There is a pay laundry available as well which is very useful. You can read the website and see all the other amenities.

The restaurant at the hotel is the best in town, serving a 5 course vegetarian meal that was wonderful. The meat dishes look promising based on their description. It fills up fast, so make your reservation early.

We did have a couple issues at the beginning of our stay, but as noted at the beginning of this review, their customer service is first class. Richard runs a great hotel (and is the epitome of customer service) and I would fully recommend this hotel to anyone traveling to or near Franz Josef.

Stayed: January 2014, travelled with family
Thank Loveforfood
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Richard B, General Manager at Te Waonui Forest Retreat, responded to this reviewResponded 16 January 2014

Dear LoveForFood

Although your response is a candid one, I clearly remember your challenges, and how together, we communicated at the time ensuring your stay at Te Waonui Forest Retreat was such a positive and memorable one for you and your family. There are very few second chances in this business so I appreciated your call for assistance that involved me ensuring your stay was a positive and seamless one!

Yours sincerely

Richard

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Reviewed 12 January 2014

We arrived after a tiring trip to a lovely welcome by Richard the General Manager and his very friendly, helpful staff. We were offered a refreshing drink and warm hand towel, before we were shown to our rooms and the facilities explained to us, which was a very nice touch.

We had our three teenage children with us and they were extremely happy with the luxurious rooms, not to mention the wi-fi arrangement which they put to good use. They found it a relaxing place to be and enjoyed feeling we were in a special place.

After the substantial breakfast offered we had an invigorating day walking the glacier, enjoying the town of Franz Joseph and the Glacier Hot Pools before having dinner together in the dining room. We enjoyed the food and service (both breakfast and dinner) and it was great to be able to retire to watch a family movie together in our room. Two nights went by very quickly.

Overall we rated this a wonderful, memorable experience and highly recommend Te Waonui as a special destination with fantastic facilities. It totally lived up to our expectations of a luxury retreat.

  • Stayed: January 2014, travelled with family
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Thank Lynne C
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Richard B, General Manager at Te Waonui Forest Retreat, responded to this reviewResponded 13 January 2014

Dear Lynne

Thank you for contacting me directly to make your reservation at Te Waonui Forest Retreat and for sharing your experience with others on Tripadvisor. We are finding more and more that Te Waonui is no longer the West Coast's best kept secret, and it has been great to welcome numerous Christchurch guests on our 2 night website packages over the past summer months.

Yours sincerely

Richard

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Reviewed 10 January 2014

We arrived after long journey to be greeted with very appreciated hot flannels and glass of Kiwi drink. We where shown to our well appointed room with great view of rain forest. Tried to book treatments but all taken so organise these if wanted before arrival. Hot pools very near hotel for your relaxation. We real enjoyed our dinner which was very well presented. After a restful night we where refreshed to continue our travels.

  • Stayed: January 2014, travelled as a couple
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Thank Karenlynne143
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Richard B, General Manager at Te Waonui Forest Retreat, responded to this reviewResponded 13 January 2014

Dear Karenlynne143

Thank you for your positive review of Te Waonui Forest Retreat. Glad that we offered you a relaxing and restful time in Franz Josef Glacier before your return to London.

Yours sincerely

Richard

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Reviewed 8 January 2014

This fairly new, eco-friendly hotel is built around a lovely stand of old forest that is visible from every room. We were greeted at the front door by friendly staff who knew how to turn off the electronic GPS equipment from Hertz. We were greeted inside with a delicious, and beautifully presented, glass of kiwi fruit juice. This felt like a place we would enjoy.

Our room was spacious and well designed with a door and window opening onto a small balcony with chairs and table. We enjoyed the fresh air and openness. The hotel provided us with a bottle of sparkling wine and a small plate of tasty canapés upon arrival. We relaxed a bit and went on to dinner.

I thought we had walked into the dining room of an independent living facility. A crowd of senior citizens on a bus tour were having dinner and a noisy time. Five or six tables in the back, those with the best views, were segregated for use by the "regular" guests. We had a light dinner which was well prepared and served with a smile.

After dinner we learned that the hotel provides thirty minutes of wifi daily for one person on one device. We were able to get an additional code, but seriously, we paid enough to get wifi on all three devices all the time during our stay.

The next morning we waited until the bus had left before having breakfast. The dining room is set up with a large buffet area in the front offering a wide selection of food. There were attempts to freshen the buffet, but the staff was not quite able to keep up. The scrambled eggs were cold; the mushrooms were delicious. We had a good meal that stuck with us through our mid-day adventures.

We returned from our adventures at about three o'clock to find the "Please mark up my room now" sign still on our door. We were disappointed to find that our room had not been serviced. Miraculously, someone appeared to clean the room. We requested that she return in an hour when we would be gone.

We relaxed awhile in our room before the five-course degustation menu that was included for one of our two nights at Te Waonui. We arrived at eight to find a quieter large crowd in the dining room. The tables by the forest were unoccupied and we requested one of the center ones. We were told that the tables were "assigned" to guests and that was how they "kept track". So we sat at the table in the corner while some guy in shorts was seated at the table we requested; he left the dining room altogether after five minutes and the table remained unoccupied for the remainder of the evening.

After ten minutes or so, they finally brought out the wine we had left from the night before. (We were going to order by the glass, but our server suggested ordering a bottle and "carrying it over" to the next night which we thought was a fine idea.) We were given a lovely amuse bouche and enjoyed the remaining wine. Apparently, the server thought that we would want to finish our wine before starting our five course meal so it took some time to get our starters which we finally enjoyed. We then waited a l-o-n-g time for our second course. During that time a server (maybe ours, maybe not) had an accident with dishes crashing on the floor out of our sight. Eventually we were served; my husband got a bowl of soup with no plate underneath. Very unusual, especially as I had been served the same dish the night before with a plate under the bowl. The server unceremoniously poured the soup over the crabmeat in the bowl and vanished. Much later, she arrived with the third course, a spoonful of sorbet. We had enjoyed the same the prior evening and did not finish the sorbet. She apparently did not want to rush us, so we sat and watched the sorbet melt for quite some time. It was eventually removed, and we continued to sit and wait for our main course until my husband got up to ask for it. By the time the entrees arrived we were not feeling very enthusiastic. I don't even remember if we had dessert. By that time, we were the only guests in the dining room. That probably would not have mattered if we were enjoying our five course meal, but that ship had sailed. My husband spoke with the manager about the service and asked to have our bottled of wine taken off the bill in consideration of the poor service. The manager offhandedly said that he would "see what he could do". In my opinion, if he didn't have the authority to handle the situation he should not have been put in charge of the dining room at this hotel. We returned to the room feeling tired and dissatisfied.

We checked out after breakfast the next morning. The staff at the front desk could not have been nicer. We had prepaid for the dinner and room but everything else on the bill was removed. Neither of us has tried to figure out who came out ahead, but we were satisfied with the final arrangement.

This hotel got a lot of things right and a few things wrong. Those few things were all people issues except for the bus loads of seniors and the wifi. Good management requires training and motivating a staff; it is not rocket science. But it does require attention and caring about people, something this hotel needs to practice more consistently.

The hotel sent me a customer service survey after our stay, but has not responded to my request of six weeks ago for the email address of Brendan Taylor, the manager. Had I been given the chance to provide feedback directly, I would have had far less to say in this review.

  • Stayed: November 2013, travelled as a couple
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1  Thank M B
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Richard B, General Manager at Te Waonui Forest Retreat, responded to this reviewResponded 9 January 2014

Dear MB

It saddens me to see how we could let a golden opportunity to exceed especially after starting off so well, slip through our fingers as a Team. As leader I take full resposibility and apologise for under-delivering on our quality and service promise! Rest-assured that I view these missed opportunities in the most serious light possible. My biggest frustration now, after the "ship having set sail" is that had I been aware of these irritating short-falls timeously (and before they left my front door), I am sure we could have demonstrated a complete turn-around in your valued perception of Te Waonui Forest Retreat ...

Please be so kind and contact me on my email: richard.bungeroth@tewaonui.co.nz and I would be happy to assist with any specifics that I have not addressed in this response.

Whilst the truth sometimes hurts, on a positive note and through your feedback there have been a few good lessons learnt as a Hotel.

Yours sincerely

Richard

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Reviewed 6 January 2014

Te Waonui offers a touch of modernity that you do not expect in Franz Joseph's panel of accommodations. Nice rooms, great rain forest surrounding. The staff and GM are very helpful and friendly. Dinner was good, but service was a bit slow.

  • Stayed: December 2013, travelled with family
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Thank 99Trip-tips
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Richard B, General Manager at Te Waonui Forest Retreat, responded to this reviewResponded 8 January 2014

Dear 99 Trip-Tips

Thank you for putting pen to paper as it is only through feedback like this that we can continually improve as a Hotel.

Thank you once again for choosing to spend your vacation with us at Te Waonui Forest Retreat.

Yours in hospitality

Richard

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Reviewed 3 January 2014

Te Waonui was a lovely place to spend three nights. The staff were very helpful and friendly. They went out of their way to be of assistance. (Thanks you for the extra treat on my birthday!). There were many extra touches which made it different to a "chain" hotel. Good Wifi connection which we all found useful.

  • Stayed: January 2014, travelled with family
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Thank mmoss54
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Richard B, General Manager at Te Waonui Forest Retreat, responded to this reviewResponded 7 January 2014

Dear MMoss54

Thank you for taking the time to visit us from Auckland and thank you as well for your cheery posting!

Have a Happy New Year and please do not hesitate to contact me directly to assist with all your accommodation requirements in future.

Yours sincerely

Richard

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Reviewed 1 January 2014

The hotel was sub-par and the restaurant service was terrible ( average food).
However, the Manager, Richard was exceptional and went out of his way to help us.
The bar did not have limes- they use lemon instead for cocktails !
NO WIFI

Room Tip: No tips except consider cheaper alternatives and use the cash saved to splurge on a nice dinner .
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  • Stayed: December 2013, travelled with family
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Thank Ritwick P
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Richard B, General Manager at Te Waonui Forest Retreat, responded to this reviewResponded 7 January 2014

Dear Ritwick

Sincerest apologies and wish I could turn back the clock on your disappointing stay but at least I could ensure all was not totally lost during your time with us!

Whilst Wifi is officially charged at Te Waonui, I understood the importance for our valued guests to be able to contact loved ones over the Festive Season period and therefore this service at no extra charge to our valued guests from 01 December.

At a glance, your tip to other readers sounds like a good one, however on closer inspection you will know that not all that glitters is gold, especially when deciding on "cheap" Franz Josef Glacier accommodation alternatives at this time of the year.

Yours sincerely

Richard

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Additional Information about Te Waonui Forest Retreat

Address: 3 Wallace Street, Franz Josef, Westland National Park (Te Wahipounamu) 7856, New Zealand
Region: 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: £420 - £547 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
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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