Auckland, NZ – the good, the bad the Baby Shakes and the bloodstains

6- City skylineRecently spent two idyllic nights in Auckland checking out hotels for a group we’re taking to NZ next January.  This is a routine trip referred to as a Site Inspection.  Headed to Auckland from Sydney for two nights here, in the hotel I’d assumed we’d use for the group, prior to heading to Queenstown for another two-night stint.

This is the review to the folks back at home from Auckland.  The names have been changed to protect not so much as the innocent but the relationship with the hotel chain which I enjoy and hope to continue to cultivate in the future (present experience notwithstanding).  My report back to base went something like this…

“Dear folks at home…

Thought you might be missing drama and am more than able to dish it out (pun intended) this evening.  No ambien involved!

IMG_3194Upon further examination of the X hotel here in Auckland, kind of a loss for words.  Yes, there were some rather large stains on the lobby carpet which could have caught Helen Keller’s eye, let alone my lousy peepers.  Elevator buttons that don’t light up.  Room doesn’t get high marks and its an executive level – one up from the classic which we can afford for Group X – and that’s pretty average.  Rooms looking out onto concrete rooftops with A/C units. Not ideal.  Truly.

But I found this to be more troubling (and can only say hope the experience doesn’t haunt me in about 3-hrs time)…

At the hotel Director of Sales’ urging, ate at the hotel restaurant this evening –  where, from the look of it online, thought might even possibly work for Group X’s  welcome dinner.  The concept – one restaurant known for its eight different kitchens, or food styles, all centralized – order what you want.  Groovy in concept.  Not so much in execution, not to mention flavor.  Food – particularly fish and sushi – did not seem really…fresh?  I’m sure it was, but nevertheless…hmmm.  Lets just say the experience makes the buffets in Panama look like Harrods Food Court.  And silk flowers.  Not even real!!!!  No no no no no.  $80 pp for the buffet “journey” (their words).  As in the Silk Road.  Or the Spice Route.  Or the Straight Shot to the lavatory.  OK – sorry.  On top of food, least expensive glass of wine $14.  Most about $20 – $24.   Bottle of still water $8.50.  One thing to have inflated pricing at the Four Seasons, quite another here.  Plus, same room as where you have breakfast – the common restaurant, as it were.  Common says it all.  Certainly not fine dining.  At dinner, reading in the Auckland Tribune how NZ govt inspectors cracking down as more and more “mystery meat” showing up in stores and restaurants.  Slightly off-putting as I ate my naan and horse korma from the spice route (or was it the Abbatoir Alley?)

IMG_2194_1542Enough said.  Kind of funny, actually.

Beyond all this, Auckland is vibrant and exciting and honestly, can’t rave enough.  Great things happening – all within walking.  Lots of cool stores and bistros.  Walked today and heard the greatest live music playing in a square off Queen Street – funky, modern 40’s band with huge horn section and period-dressed killer singers with tons o’style & charisma.  Think Stray Cats meet Manhattan Transfer.  Its just the hotel.  Looking at Skycity and a few on the viaduct tomorrow.  I know I know – I can hear the sage voices whispering in my ear, “this is why we do site inspections.”

Invigorated for tomorrow.  Hoping to have dog.


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