Monday, November 26, 2012

New Zealand 2012 - Part 9: Hilton Queenstown

Part 1:  Asiana Airlines First Class – Los Angeles to Seoul
Part 2:  Asiana Airlines Business Class – Seoul to Sydney
Part 3:  Air New Zealand Economy Class – Sydney to Auckland to Christchurch
Part 4:  Winetasting in Waipara
Part 5:  Exploring Christchurch
Part 6:  Air New Zealand EconomyClass – Christchurch to Queenstown
Part 7:  Winetasting in Otago
Part 8:  Exploring Queenstown
Part 9:  Hilton Queenstown
Part 10:  Overnight in Sydney
Part 11:  Singapore AirlinesFirst Class – Sydney to Singapore
Part 12:  Singapore Airlines First Class – Singapore to San Francisco

Hilton operates two properties in Queenstown:  the Hilton and the Kawaru Hotel.  I booked in a room in the Hilton proper and was not disappointed.  This property was probably the best Hilton brand location I have been too. 

Check-in at the hotel was quick with the eager staff recognizing my diamond status and informing me that I was upgraded from a standard king lake view room to a suite.  In the past, all my upgrades occurred on work trips where I was only in a hotel for 8 hours or less.  Thankfully I had several days to enjoy this upgrade.  I also would be receiving free breakfast and internet during my stay, another perk of having status. 

One of the staff walked me to my room and explained the various features and restaurants in the hotel.  Thankfully she did escort me as the layout of the hotel is confusing.  The hotel is over two buildings with the upper building holding most of the rooms and the entrance which is on level 4. We went down to level 1 and then into the next connected building which houses many of the suites right on the lake and went back up to level 4.  And, that’s not all folks – this second building is comprised of three vertical towers with their own elevators as each upper floor only has three rooms per elevator landing. 

The room is well appointed with deep brown walls and white accents.  The living room contained a work area, couple couches, flat screen TV, fireplace, and balcony.  The bedroom had a king size bed, large wardrobe, and flat screen TV.  The bathroom included both a bathtub and glass walled shower with a rain showerhead.  The best part of the bathroom was the radiant floor heating – the tile floor was never cold.  Each room had a window facing the lake and limited ability for neighboring rooms to look in.  The couches and bed were all very comfortable and I got great sleep at night.  All you could hear at night were the sounds of the lake lapping against the shore.  Each night I relaxed next to the fire place drinking a complimentary bottle of Pinot Noir. 


The property has three restaurants:  the Wakatipu Grill, Stacks Pub, and an Asian Grill.  Breakfast is served every morning at the Wakatipu Grill and it has a great spread.  Traditional English breakfast items like scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage, roasted tomatoes, and baked beans plus a whole butcher block table filled with local baked breads and muffins.  Additionally there was a cold case with muesli, fruit, and yoghurt.  I had breakfast outside on my last day there. 


Dinner at the Wakatipu Grill is by reservation only (even though it was fairly empty) and wasn’t worth the price.  I had Maltose spice roasted quack-a-duck, caramelized fennel, mandarin paste, and cinnamon gravy along with some potato Parmesan fritters.  The duck was relatively dry and the skin was soggy with the fat not rendered out at all.  The fritters were ok but very salty.  I had a glass of sauvignon blanc with the meal but in the end it was complimentary because the apple fritter dessert I ordered was incinerated by the oven.  I would avoid this restaurant for dinner. 


I went to Stacks Pub for dinner the second night and had an excellent steak with fries.  Beer was the beverage of choice that night starting off with a Speight’s and then a Black Mac.  Perfect to watch the Detroit-Houston game that was on live at the time. 


I didn’t get the chance to go to Cru which was their wine bar overlooking the lake.  There also was a grocery store with essentials and a small grocery selection. 

Throughout the stay I found the staff very eager, friendly, and always willing to make sure I was happy.  The check-out process was quick and efficient.  I had a great stay here and would easily return and recommend this hotel. 

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