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“Not what we expected”
Review of Rainforest Retreat

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Rainforest Retreat
Ranked #8 of 13 Hotels in Franz Josef
Certificate of Excellence
London, United Kingdom
Level 1 Contributor
4 reviews
4 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
“Not what we expected”
Reviewed 20 December 2013

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.

  • Stayed December 2013, travelled as a couple
    • Value
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    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
Thank Richard S S
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Oak Park, Illinois
Level 1 Contributor
4 reviews
4 hotel reviews
Reviewed 17 December 2013

We had a relaxing time in the Tree Hut at the Rainforest Retreat. It rained during most of our stay, but the sound of the rain on the roof and the view of ferns and trees out all of the windows were totally soothing. We spent the morning with tea and books cozy in our cabin in comfy chairs. The afternoon cleared and we had a delightful kayaking experience. There is a good restaurant on site, laundry, a mini market and helpful staff. This is a great spot.

  • Stayed December 2013, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
Thank Joan133
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Newcastle, Australia
Level 3 Contributor
12 reviews
6 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 4 helpful votes
Reviewed 16 December 2013

nice location but better suited to campervans. Room was pleasant but thin walls and backpackers played music till 2am and upstairs guests were loud and roudy. Recommend Bella Vista hotels throughout new Zealand.

  • Stayed December 2013, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
Thank Nicola834
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Singapore, Singapore
2 reviews
Reviewed 15 December 2013

My family and i loved the stay at Kamahi treehouse the most,as compared to the other accommodation we have had during our recent travel in New Zealand. Book your Kamahi treehouse - really, you would love it as much as all 7 members in my group does.

  • Stayed December 2013, travelled with family
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
Thank Jerry355
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Level 6 Contributor
92 reviews
52 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 46 helpful votes
Reviewed 15 December 2013 via mobile

We stayed on a powered site for three nights at the beginning of November and then came back here a month later to stay another three nights. We have travelled around the whole of the outside of Australia and all of NZ and this is one of my favourite campsites. How it doesn't have 5 stars is beyond me. It costs $39 which is average for NZ. The facilities are very clean and there are plenty of them. They are in the process of building new ones, which will be fabulous when they're open. The kitchen is well equipped and clean. It's conveniently located for the town and just across the road are thermal spa baths which are well worth a visit. Also if you get the chance go and visit the Te Koha Gallery in town, beautiful unique jewellery but watch your credit card doesn't melt like ours nearly did! The site spaces are spacious and I would recommend asking if you can choose your own and head for number 24 if you like privacy and peace and quiet! This is one of the best campsites in NZ! A real treat to stay here.

Stayed December 2013, travelled as a couple
Helpful?
Thank Jay1902
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Sydney
Level 4 Contributor
30 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 18 helpful votes
Reviewed 13 December 2013

To start with a high point, the reception staff were lovely.
The location was beautiful.
From here its all downhill.
The buffet breakfast at $23 per person was crap to say the least. The limited choices of slop included cardboard cereal, plastic bacon, woody toasty and spongy pancakes. Yum yum.
Next was the shower.... Disastrous. The recess was flooded within five minutes, there was nowhere dry to put my clean clothes and the water temperature constantly fluctuated.
The cherry on top of this fine mess was that the private spa was broken. Perhaps it did us a favour... It could have saved us from developing a terrible disease, I'm sure.

All in all, we paid more to park our campervan here per night than any other place we've stayed at and we certainly had hoped for much more.

Incidentally, my partner and I expressed our appreciation upon departure by helping ourselves to a free breakfast and as much peppermint tea as we could grab from the open display of tea bags at the restaurant. Cheers guys ;)

  • Stayed December 2013
    • Value
    • Location
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
1 Thank thomasandrose
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
RainforestFranzJosef, General Manager at Rainforest Retreat, responded to this review, 16 December 2013
Dear Thomas and Rose
It is our aim to ensure that all of our guests enjoy our beautiful rainforest site, on this occasion it appears we failed.
I am sorry that you didn't enjoy your stay with us. I am sorry that the $39 you paid to stay here was more than anywhere else you paid and that meant you thought you were going to get so much more than what you had hoped for. I am sorry that the breakfast that you stole wasn't up to your expectations. I am sorry that our home made pancakes and new zealand bacon didn't match what you are used to. I am sorry that the toast was woody? I'm sorry you thought we have a $23 buffet breakfast because we don't. I am sorry that the private spa wasn't working, and am sorry you missed out on catching a terrible disease?. You could have used our complimentary 20 person hot tub, sorry you couldn't find this. (Its next to reception). I am sorry that if there was an issue with a shower draining that you didn't think it wise to bring it to anyone's attention. I'm sorry you failed to notice the numerous hooks you could hang your clothes on to keep them dry. (did your mum not teach you to hang your clothes up?)
I am glad you found our staff lovely, i'll be sure to pass your praise on to them. I know it will make their day.
I hope you enjoyed the peppermint tea bags that you filled your pockets with and that you managed to find your way home ok.
Good luck for the future.
Cheers, Oscar
Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Saint Louis, Missouri
Level 4 Contributor
32 reviews
5 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 14 helpful votes
Reviewed 13 December 2013

We stayed here in the campground the evening before our glacier tour. Our site was set among tree ferns. Nice park-like grounds with a beautiful view, & facilities were very nice & clean. Staff were very accommodating to our needs.

  • Stayed November 2013, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
Thank April G
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about Rainforest Retreat

Property: Rainforest Retreat
Address: 46 Cron Street, Franz Josef, Westland National Park (Te Wahipounamu) 7886, New Zealand
Phone Number:
Region: New Zealand > South Island > West Coast Region > Westland National Park (Te Wahipounamu) > Franz Josef
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Free Parking Kitchenette Pets Allowed ( Dog / Pet Friendly ) Restaurant Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
#1 Best Value Hotel in Franz Josef
#5 Luxury Hotel in Franz Josef
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): £
Hotel Class:4.5 star — Rainforest Retreat 4.5*
Number of rooms: 90
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 
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Also Known As:
Rainforest Retreat Hotel Franz Josef

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