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“A Retreat to Remember”
Review of Ribbonwood Retreat

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Ribbonwood Retreat
Ranked #1 of 5 Franz Josef B&B and Inns
Certificate of Excellence
Zuidlaren
Level 2 Contributor
5 reviews
5 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
“A Retreat to Remember”
Reviewed 23 January 2011

My husband and I were fortunate to visit New Zealand during December 2010 and January 2011. One of our stops was of course the Frans Josef Glacier. We used B & B`s during our trip and our choice in Frans Josef was Ribbonwood Retreat. It was certainly not easy finding accomodation there at that time of year - we also tried to keep roughly to a budget of 100 Euros each time but Frans Josef is an expensive place and you just have to accept that!! We stayed in a log cabin in the grounds of Ribbonwood Retreat - they have quite a large garden which is very sympathetically planted and maintained with nature in mind. The cabin is beautifully presented with all mod cons and it has views to die for from every aspect. We were very comfortable there - we were able to look after ourselves as far as meals went, although we were treated to fantastic breakfasts in the mornings which kept us going most of the day. Jo and Julie are both very enthusiastic when it comes to looking after their guests and we were very sorry not to be able to spend more time there. It certainly rates as one of our top adresses during our stay in New Zealand and there were 20 of them!!!! Pam and Jonathan Wallen, Zuidlaren, The Netherlands

  • Stayed December 2010, travelled as a couple
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Helpful?
Thank JonathanWallen
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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259 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Sleep Quality
  • Location
  • Rooms
  • Service
  • Value
  • Cleanliness
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English first
London, United Kingdom
Level 6 Contributor
161 reviews
38 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 49 helpful votes
Reviewed 18 January 2011

When we arrived it was chucking it down with rain (well it is a temperate rainforest area), also there was a power shortage so no electricity, never mind as Julie & Jon gave us a warm greeting along with tea and homemade Christmas cake. We stayed in the cabin in the grounds and found it very homely and well furnished but the view from the deck in the morning was something to behold, simply spectacular and bright sunshine to accompany it!
As with all Kiwi hosts Julie and Jon were a mine of information about the area and anxious that we got the most out of our stay at Franz Josef, which we did, along with the outstanding breakfasts and being able to sit on our own deck with a couple glasses of wine just looking at that outstanding view. A must for all people visiting Franz Josef.

  • Stayed December 2010, travelled as a couple
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Helpful?
Thank Paul A
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Palmerston North
2 reviews
Reviewed 29 December 2010

My husband and I stayed here with my parents, my brother, and his wife. Jo and Julia were just lovely, and the accommodation was wonderful. My husband and I stayed in the cottage, which was private and quiet. It was a relaxing evening after a long drive, and a delicious breakfast the next morning. I would highly recommend staying there, and I hope to be back again soon!

  • Stayed December 2010, travelled with family
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Helpful?
Thank purdueswim
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Rehovot, Israel
Level 1 Contributor
3 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
Reviewed 24 December 2010

We got to this B&B while looking for place to sleep next to Franz-Josef
The place is very nice, well maintained very clean and the owners are great

  • Stayed December 2010
    • Value
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    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
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Helpful?
Thank giladtzori
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Huddersfield, United Kingdom
Level 3 Contributor
10 reviews
9 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
Reviewed 2 December 2010

Stayed one night in what is effectively self-contained accommodation at the end of the house. Comfortable well appointed room and Jo is a friendly host. Of the 3 B&Bs we stayed in in NZ this was the most expensive but was not up to the others in terms of facilities or breakfast.

  • Stayed November 2010, travelled as a couple
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Helpful?
Thank DickiePhitt
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Jules068, Owner at Ribbonwood Retreat, responded to this review, 5 January 2011
Firstly we would like to thank reviewers who have enjoyed staying with us and for others who have given us the opportunity to give our feedback regarding prices. We would like to point out that we have not increased our tariffs for three years except to compensate for the 2.5% increase in the NZ goods and services tax introduced last October. During the last several years the Euro and the GB Pound have weakened significantly against the NZ Dollar. For example the GB Pound has decreased from NZ$2.80 to NZ$2.10 in the last two years and the Euro has decreased from NZ$2.40 to NZ$1.70 over the same period. The NZ dollar is currently at a 31year high against the GB Pound.

The beautiful and mountainous terrain that makes Franz Josef and the Glacier region so special also creates transport and logistical problems, with the high the cost of fuel, food and services making the southern West Coast the most expensive region in NZ. In addition the tourist season in Westland is only five months long, for the rest of the year very few people visit the region, making investment in tourism activities like ours costly. Other regions such as Wanaka and Queenstown enjoy the benefit of a double season with winter skiing however the mountains of Westland are too steep and the snow too unreliable for any skiing facilities to be established here. As a result, our B&B is closed from May to October.

We do commiserate with our overseas guests who have seen their buying power severely eroded by the decline in their currencies against the New Zealand dollar, but again point out that we have not increased our prices for three years despite our costs rising steadily. May we suggest that tourist who wish to make their money go further book their holidays in Westland during our winter, May to October when there are discounts available here at Ribbonwood. Added to that you will enjoy cool but settled sunny weather (spring and Christmas are our wettest seasons) and you will not have to battle the holiday crowds!
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Auckland Region, New Zealand
1 review
Reviewed 21 October 2010

It's very nice to find a relaxing place to enjoy some peace and quiet during a fairly hectic trip around the South Island. We had been constantly on the move for days when we came across Ribbonwood.

It was the best possible place to unwind, just far enough out of town to escape the tourist buzz surrounding Franz Josef village. Our host Jo, was a very welcoming and relaxed person, with a wealth of knowledge about the local activities as well as the flora and fauna.

Our room, the separate cottage, was decorated to a high and tasteful standard, and was exceptionally clean and tidy. We were able to sit out on the front deck during the evening and watch the sun set in the west with a glass of Pinot Noir.

We cannot recommend this B&B highly enough. We'll be back I'm sure.

  • Stayed February 2010, travelled as a couple
    • Value
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Helpful?
Thank avidtraveller008
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Biggar, United Kingdom
Level 6 Contributor
771 reviews
159 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 826 helpful votes
Reviewed 30 June 2010

This guesthouse is in a rural setting about 10 minutes drive from Franz Josef but too far out to make walking in to the village a practical option. Our host, Jo, confirmed that he had moved from the centre to this area to escape the constant noise of helicopters flying back and forward between Franz Josef and the glacier - something which we had not considered when choosing our accommodation but with hindsight this was a benefit of staying at Ribbonwood Retreat. Ironically we had asked Jo in advance to book us on the heli-hiking trip to the glacier and a flight over Mount Cook not taking into account that we were adding to the noise pollution!

Jo met us on arrival and asked that we adhere to the policy of taking off our shoes when coming into the house. We had previously come across this elsewhere on our travels in NZ which I can understand when guests arrive in hiking boots (I wouldn‘t trail these over the floors anyway) but otherwise we found it a bit of a nuisance to hop around the porch especially when the flooring inside the house wasn’t carpet!

We were welcomed with hot drinks, home baking and a pleasant chat to introduce ourselves - Jo has a relaxed manner and was easy to talk to having travelled the world quite a bit himself - Julia was working overseas at the time of our visit. There was a very warm log burning stove in the spacious open plan living room/kitchen. This was also where breakfast was served - and very decent fare it was too.

Our accommodation, unlike that of other reporters, was on the ground floor. When talking to Jo he mentioned that Ribbonwood had become a guesthouse due to demand for accommodation in the area - but hadn’t been designed with that in mind. The downstairs accommodation would appear to support this as we found the layout unusual. The bedroom to the front was quite small and a hallway led to a separate toilet and then on to a very large bathroom. During our short stay outside temperatures were very variable and in contrast to the living room this guest area was cold - the toilet in the early hours of the morning particularly so - although we didn’t have to break ice!

The colourful décor in the guest area wasn’t to our taste and extended even to the bathrobes which were Japanese kimono style. The bed mattress was too soft for our preference. The bathroom had acres of space and the bath and walk-in shower had very good water pressure so no complaints there.

I’m conscious that this report isn’t sounding as if it’s glowing. Perhaps if we had stayed in the upper rooms (which we didn’t see) or the cottage on site our view may have been different. However that should not detract from the welcoming manner in which we were treated - Jo was very helpful and friendly e.g. he arranged our Mount Cook Airlines flight for the morning to take advantage of the best light conditions. It transpired that despite blue skies this was at first postponed then cancelled due to high winds and we ended up doing a similar trip with Wilderness Wings the next day from Hokitika instead. (Unfortunately only flights with Mount Cook Airlines touch down on a nearby glacier and on my second trip to NZ I've again missed out on this experience - next time!).

However our heli-hiking tour booked via Jo did go ahead and this was a great experience. We used Helicopter Line Franz Josef who supply all the gear needed - including boots and crampons for walking on the glacier (please don‘t try these in a NZ guesthouse!). The flight, whilst short, was one of the most exhilarating experiences I’ve had - banking dramatically around the valley sides to land on the glacier itself. We then trekked around for an hour or so with our guide getting great views of this natural wonder and exploring holes in the ice - we had the opportunity to squeeze, crawl and walk through an ice tunnel - before being lifted off by helicopter again. The crew throughout were friendly - from booking, ground, air to glacier. (Expensive at NZ$390 - roughly £175 - each but worth the trip and a lot easier than walking up - I did this many years ago and it’s good too if you have the time).

We ate dinner and lunch in Franz Josef at Beeches Restaurant (separate report will be posted).

In summary Ribbonwood Retreat is a functional base for seeing the area and has a friendly host.

  • Stayed October 2009, travelled as a couple
    • Value
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Helpful?
2 Thank Rantin rover
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about Ribbonwood Retreat

Property: Ribbonwood Retreat
Address: 26 Greens Road, 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:
Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Kitchenette Room Service Suites Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 5 B&Bs / Inns in Franz Josef
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): ££
Hotel Class:4 star — Ribbonwood Retreat 4*
Number of rooms: 4
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Welcome to Ribbonwood B & B - a haven for nature lovers. Sleep deeply, breathing fresh clean air! Hosts Jonathan, a wildlife ranger and Julie, international school teacher are experts on history and ecology of the glacier region. We are passionate hikers and bird watchers who can show you the best places to visit. ... more   less 
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