This is the description on the Rainforest Retreat website (with pictures to match):
"Rainforest Retreat is centrally located in the heart of Franz Josef Glacier township on the west coast of NZ’s South Island.
Nestled in six acres of native bush and surrounded by lush punga groves, Rainforest Retreat offers a wide range of accommodation – all built to embrace the natural environment.
Whatever the season, explore New Zealand’s glaciers while staying at Rainforest Retreat. It’s not just accommodation
… it’s an experience"
What is not readily apparent is the fact that the 'retreats' are located within a densely packed site which also caters for backpackers and motorhomes. Our 'Tree Lodge' was a semi-detached property and it became obvious during the night and early hours of the morning that sliding doors, gravel drives and limited sound-proofing do not make for uninterrupted sleep.
When we arrived we were handed a voucher (a typed note) for breakfast at two of the cafes/restaurants in town because the site kitchens were unable to provide breakfast. No problem, we thought, we'll wander into town and have a pleasant breakfast watching the world go by. Not so simple, the cafe we choose knew nothing about the arrangement. So, we returned to the Retreat to be greeted by surprise that the voucher had been rejected and a suggestion that we try the other venue. This we declined to do having been put-off the previous night by that restaurant informing us that we would be paying an extra 20% for the privilege of eating in their establishment on a holiday (the other venue, sensibly, being shut on the holiday). After much telephoning by the staff at the Retreat we were assured that the voucher would be accepted. From the way that the manager of the cafe put the voucher in the bin we doubt that he was paid for our breakfasts but, to his credit, he did serve us the best coffee and tea of our trip.
To be honest, the check-in process should have warned us that we were not arriving at the sub-Sandals experience that the website and the price had led us to expect - the price was twice what we paid anywhere else during our stay on the South Island except the multi-star hotels in Christchurch.
It seems that the problem with the gravel has been recognised because the paths around some of the other properties were concrete.
All-in-all this was a big disappointment, especially for my wife who choose the Retreat and was greatly looking forward to another night sleeping in a rainforest - something we have done in Borneo under much more basic but, strangely, more pleasant conditions.
We spent the following night in a delightful, inexpensive, hotel at Fox Glacier.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Deep In the heart of West Coast Glacier country, Rainforest Retreat is a rare find, with a range of accommodation set amongst lush native bush in Franz Josef township. Enjoy privacy and sanctuary in secluded cottages and tree huts, relax in the spas and sauna, dine out and have fun at the bar/restaurant, or just relish the bush setting and cook up barbecues with new friends. From luxury tree huts to backpackers rooms, Rainforest Retreat has accommodation to suit every style of traveller; from couples to family groups to young individuals on a budget. Rainforest Retreat provides excellent value and a special atmosphere; with a focus on superb service, cleanliness and a range of great facilities to satisfy all of our guests. ... more less
- Reservation Options:
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- Also Known As:
- Rainforest Retreat Hotel Franz Josef