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“Not surprised to see T-Rex out back”

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Te Waonui Forest Retreat
Ranked #3 of 13 Hotels in Franz Josef
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed 24 February 2014

Ok, so I'm kidding about T-Rex, but the forrest around here is seriously pre-historic. I kept expecting some sort of screechy dino to come pouncing at a moment's notice. As for the hotel... beds are great. A bit on the soft side, but very comfortable overall. The bathrooms and rooms are a nice size. We had a view of the forrest in the back and it felt very private due to privacy partitions on all the room window areas. Sleep was blissfully quiet in spite of us being by a main doorway. The check in/check out staff were just awesome. Totally took care of us quickly and with excellent attention to the little niceties of hospitality like offering a fruit drink as we walked in the door.

The food is... good. Not great, but good. The dinner service takes a very long time, so be prepared to settle in for at LEAST a 2 hour meal. After a long day of driving, I was antsy by the second course and started prowling around the restaurant. Not my normal behavior, but I needed that 5 course meal to speed up a bit. The next night, we ordered ala cart -- so know that that is an option if you want simple and fast. Also... huge portion sizes. I was fine with my single entree the next night. Breakfast is buffet style -- good food and about what you'd expect for a nice buffet.

We had a bit of a medical scare at 2am on the 1st night. The night staff didn't quite know what to do but after a bit of explaining and talking to a pretty young (and maybe scared) staff member, he called the town's clinic nurse into the room. Not that this would happen to everyone, but if you have medical issues, you may want to get the clinic/medic's info when you check in, so you can save yourself about 30 minutes of quiet panic.

  • Stayed: February 2014, travelled with friends
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Thank absolutelylawless
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 2 March 2014

Dear Absolutelylawless

Your reference to T-Rex and classic photo, now mounted on our staff canteen wall, of Melvin our Maori Warrior brought a welcome smile to my face during what has been a really busy month for us at Te Waonui Forest Retreat :-) Sorry about your medical scare and the delay on your dinner and thank you for affording us the opportunity to assist and ultimately resolve.

Yours sincerely

Richard

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Reviewed 24 February 2014 via mobile

This is a perfectly nice hotel, but I definitely wouldn't say it's worth the $700+ per night price tag!

We booked in to this hotel to spoil ourselves on our second night in Franz Josef. While the reception staff were friendly and check in was very smooth, there was nothing special about this hotel or it's facilities. There wasn't even a mini bar in the hotel room and other than the spa and restaurant there are no other facilities.

Our rate included the five course meal and breakfast but again this didn't live up to the hype. At dinner we waited for over 40 minutes to be served our first drink and then there was a mix up with our second drink. The food was pretty underwhelming, for example my fiancé's duck prosciutto consisted of 4 tiny pieces of duck over a bed of shredded lettuce, hardly what I'd call 5 star. Our breakfast experience was not any better. We had to wait more than 10 minutes to be seated and the toast that we ordered when we sat down never materialised until we were just about to leave. The coffee pot was empty and wasn't refilled while we were there as were a number of the food dishes. The croissants were very good, but the rest of the breakfast buffet was just average.

I wouldn't have felt cheated had we paid around $200 for this room, but when you pay over $700 your expectations are obviously much higher. Even if I factor in the dinner and breakfast I still feel as if this hotel doesn't offer great value and I'm still wondering what exactly you are paying for with this hotel.

Stayed: February 2014, travelled as a couple
1  Thank Krustmaster
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 25 February 2014

Dear Guest

It is clear that we slipped up on the basics, so my sincerest apologies and as much as I am embarrassed to admit it, I do not blame you for feeling disappointed with your time at Te Waonui Forest Retreat. You will see from our Tripadvisor feedback that this is by no means our standard ... I just wish I could have personally done more to ensure you left us with a better taste in your mouth.

Yours sincerely

Richard

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Reviewed 19 February 2014

We were very pleased with the service we received from Mathilda at the front desk. When we checked in, she asked if we had any activities planned while we were there. We told her we were doing the heli hike the next morning and she suggested we check on doing it yet that afternoon as it was such a beautiful day. She made all the arrangements for us and we hustled out to do it. We were so glad she did that as the next day was too foggy and we would have missed out on the activity.

  • Stayed: February 2014, travelled with friends
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Thank Jill S
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 25 February 2014

Dear Jill

Mathilda did well to use her initiative and assist you with your helicopter flight, so thank you for this valued feedback! Thank you as well for being so flexible and entrusting us to look at re-scheduling this activity.

Yours sincerely

Richard

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Reviewed 10 February 2014

The website and the plaudits on tripadvisor meant we arrived with high expectations but unfortunately a number of minor things meant that this was the poorest of the Lodges we stayed during our 3 weeks in New Zealand.
Plus points:
Location
Comfy beds
Welcome by Mel and the porter
English waitress (Madeleine)
Complimentary wifi that works.

Food was ok but not as good as in other lodges. Limited choice if on half board as the menu does not change. However our waitress suggested we look at the vegetarian and a la carte options too. The vegetarian menu proved to be the best option.

Minus points.
Our ground floor room was very noisy. People were constantly passing our door, wheeling bags on their way from the car park. This design feature made the lodge seem more like a motel than a retreat.
The door / windows need insect screens so that the rooms can be ventilated naturally rather than relying on air-con. As soon as we opened the door we were bombarded by insects - not surprising given we were in the forest.
Bathroom fan was exceptionally noisy.
Dinner bookings. Having read another review we phoned ahead to book a time for dinner and had our preferred time confirmed. On arrival we were told this time was not possible - when we complained, a table was suddenly cancelled so we could get the time we had requested. The restaurant was not particularly busy anyway. Moral of the story... If you are on half board don't expect to be able to get a table at a "popular" time without booking in advance.

On balance Te Waonui is an average 4 star hotel but we experienced much better elsewhere in New Zealand.

  • Stayed: February 2014, travelled as a couple
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1  Thank Lucyleopard
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 February 2014

Dear Lucy

I really like your idea of magnetic fly screens for our windows at Te Waonui and thank you for your constructive feedback.Thank you as well for personally mentioning the various team members that assisted during you time with us as I know this means alot to them. Apologies for not doing more to ensure your stay was an excellent one!

Yours sincerely

Richard

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Reviewed 5 February 2014

Happened upon the hotel when the one we were recommended was full. Absolutely gorgeous setting. A beautiful room by any standard. A bit more $$ as compared to other hotels - we paid 200 nz for a king room - but first, you're comparing to more backpacker style accommodations in Franz Josef, and second, this was 4 / 4 stars in terms of luxury, use of space, and comfort. The shower and bathtub as well as the shampoo / soap were fabulous. The bed (down mattress) was luxurious. We didn't try the restraunt so can't comment on that. The staff were friendly and accomodating. Finally apprecaited their attention to being eco friendly - a must in this pristine setting. All over a win. Worth the extra money.

  • Stayed: February 2014, travelled as a couple
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Thank Sharon W
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 6 February 2014

Dear Sharon

Although we officially do not offer "room only" stays at Te Waonui Forest Retreat, I am glad we could assist. You have also highlighted a good point, that it is well worth to check with our Reception should you ever be at a loose-end for accommodation in Franz Josef, as we are guaranteed to amicably assist and also exceed all expectations!

Yours sincerely

Richard

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Reviewed 4 February 2014 via mobile

The welcome by a Maori warrior was very nice. All personnel were courteous, helpful and smiling. Room was wonderful - room and bathroom extremely clean, modern, great beds. Nice toiletries, all amenities you might need. Free WiFi for 1 hour in the room was great! Only one thing I found lacking was a good reading light on the bedside but resolved that by moving the lamp from the desk to the night table and that made everything perfect - would highly recommend this hotel.

  • Stayed: February 2014
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Thank souriz
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 4 February 2014

Kia Ora Souriz

Thank you for your review. Mel, our Maori Warrior is a welcome, local addition to our already cosmopolitam team at Te Waonui Forest Retreat, so thank you for your positive feedback supporting this new initiative! Lighting in our rooms may be our Achilles heel, however, we are able to manage most situations and improving bedroom illumination if requested is thankfully one of them ...

Thank you once again for putting pen to paper we treasure your valued feedback!

Yours

Richard

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Reviewed 30 January 2014

When my family and I drove up to Te Waonui, the manager, Richard Bungeroth, was standing outside in a suit and greeted us warmly. After the bellman, Timotee, unloaded our bags he insisted on parking our car. Richard then escorted us to the lobby, served welcome drinks and offered us warm hand towels. We spent a total of 2 weeks in New Zealand but that 10 min was one of the more memorable experiences. We experienced the same exceptional customer service for the duration of our stay. Te Waonui's staff is friendly, helpful, and genuinely welcoming. At one point my wife was carrying some shopping bags down the hall and passed a cleaning lady's cart. The cleaning woman quickly offered to carry the bags to our room. When we checked out, Timotee loaded our bags and then washed our car windows. Before we could pull out Richard Bungeroth came out to personally see us off. We travel extensively and have not experienced a hotel with this level of customer service in 15 years. Good job to you and your staff, Richard Bungeroth.

  • Stayed: January 2014, travelled with family
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Thank s0ggy_in_seattle
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 4 February 2014

Dear Soggy_In_Seattle

Cannot help getting goose flesh when reading your review as it's feedback like this that gets me out of bed in the morning! Thank you for your personal thanks and you will be pleased to know Te Waonui was voted as 7th best New Zealand Hotel by Tripadvisors Travellers Choice Awards 2014.

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: £345 - £515 (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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