Trip Report: Two Weeks Down Under
Flight Review: Qantas B747-400 San Francisco – Sydney
Lounge Review: Qantas Business Class Lounge, Sydney
Flight Review: Qantas A330-300 Sydney – Auckland
Lodging Review: Holiday Inn Auckland Airport
Lodging Review: The Pavilions Hotel, Christchurch
Our Time in Christchurch
Lodging Review: Hilton Queenstown Resort & Spa
Our Time in Queenstown including Doubtful Sound Tour
Lodging Review: Avani Metropolis, Auckland
Our Time in Auckland
Lodging Review: Oceans Mooloolaba
Our Time on the Sunshine Coast
Lodging Review: Brisbane Marriott
Flight Review: Qantas B787-9 Brisbane – Los Angeles
Edited 04/22/20: added photos
When looking for accommodations in Queenstown, there aren’t a whole lot of choices with hotel points. There are hotels in the Novotel/Sofitel chain and a couple of Hiltons. And of the Hiltons, only the Queenstown Resort & Spa had rooms with three beds, so that was our obvious choice.
The hotel is just a short ride from the airport but is across the lake from Queenstown proper. There’s a water taxi that runs about once an hour for $5 NZD each way. Or you can always take a regular taxi or car service around the lake.
Our airport shuttle dropped us off at the covered entrance. Since it was still before noon, we weren’t surprised our room wasn’t ready. The bell captain took our bags and after a quick bite at the coffee shop we took the water taxi into Queenstown for the rest of the day. The front desk staff did a great job keeping me apprised when our room was available and our luggage was taken our room for us.
The hotel is comprised of two buildings. The main one, where the front desk is located, contains regular hotel rooms and suites as well as conference rooms and the primary restaurant. The coffee shop is in that building but is accessed via an external entrance.
Our room, which was basically a 2 BR condo, was in the building next door, known as the Lakeside Residences. It’s worth pointing out that all the rooms in both buildings have views of Lake Wakatipu and mountains on the other side. I didn’t learn until halfway through our stay that there’s a tunnel connecting the two buildings. That was very convenient when going to breakfast each day.
Due to the hilly nature of the terrain where the hotel is located, the main entrance to the Lakeside Residences is actually on the 3rd floor. That was great for us as it was also the location of our room, which was the next-to-last residence on the left end of the hall. The terrain was actually quite steep in places and might be hard for mobility-challenged folks to get around.
Two Bedroom Unit
If you’re standing in the unit facing the water, the entrance was from the left side. Walking through that door, the kitchen was immediately on the left and the hall bath on the right. Stepping further into the unit was the dining table straight ahead with the sofa, TV and fireplace to the left along with French doors on to the balcony and the two bedrooms were to the right.
It was nice to be able to open the curtains to the balcony in the mornings and take a look across the lake. One morning there was even a dusting of snow on the mountains across the lake!
Even though we had a kitchen we didn’t use it for much since we had two breakfasts included with my Diamond status (thanks to the Hilton Aspire Amex Card). But it was nice to have a full-sized refrigerator. The cabinets seemed unusually high above the counter. I think a shorter person might have a hard time reaching items on the second shelf. I did find it odd there were no paper towels provided. Not that we needed a whole roll but there were times a couple would have been handy.
The sofas were comfortable and we actually spent a whole rainy day just relaxing, reading and watching TV.
The dining table was in the middle of the room.
The master bedroom was large and had a king bed and its own bath. The safe was in the closet in this room.
The second bedroom was much smaller and it was clear our twin beds could have been combined as a king. When split as twins that really seemed to diminish the available space in the room so rather than clog it up with our suitcases, we rearranged the dining area and lined up several chairs to act as luggage racks for our bags.
The closets had several small shelves in addition to an area to hang clothes as well as one that ran the width of the closet above the rod.
It doesn’t appear the bed in the master bedroom can be split into twins but for situations like ours where there are multiple adults each wanting their own bed, it would make more logistical sense to have the master bed split into twins and leave the single bed in the smaller bedroom.
Both bedrooms had folding partitions which opened up those rooms to the living/dining area. This was especially helpful in making the second bedroom feel larger and less claustrophobic.
The hall bath wasn’t very wide but was fairly deep. The shower was quite large and shaped a little oddly as it ran along the back wall, which was against the hotel hallway. I’d love to see a little step in the back corner for ladies to use when shaving their legs. It would also be great if there was another shelf in reaching distance for storage of razors and shave cream.
Water pressure was good as was the hot water. While the heated towel rack was nice, we’d really like to have had some more places to hang wet washcloths and towels as we didn’t want to layer them on top of each other. There was also only a tiny soap dish in the shower, nowhere to set even the small complimentary toiletries, much less any larger sizes people may have brought with them. Toiletries were under the sink and were by Crabtree & Evelyn.
Behind the door of this bathroom was a closet with a washer, dryer and deep sink. As we were almost halfway through our trip we took advantage of these facilities to wash more of our clothes, which was nice.
There are four restaurants on this property. The Wakatipu Grill is where the excellent breakfast buffet is served and is a fine dining establishment at night. The buffet can be quite busy at normal breakfast times, especially in-season so adjust your arrival time accordingly.
The Lake Counter Cafe & Deli, where we had a light lunch the day we arrived, serves breakfast and lunch, both hot meals and sandwiches along with bottled drinks and other takeaway items. We did not visit the Me & Mee Chinese Restaurant, which is located in the Lakeside Residences building. In that same building is Stacks Pub, which we did visit a couple of times. Burgers, brews, pizza-type fare is what you can expect here and it was good.
I charged a couple of my meals to the room and was pleased to see that my Hilton Aspire Amex treated those as resort fees and they were credited off my account statement.
The hotel has a pool and a gym, which are located side-by-side in the main hotel building.
There’s a spa, whose entrance is very close to the pool and gym.
Upon arriving at the airport we took a shared shuttle which dropped us off at the hotel’s front door. We were the first stop on the shuttle route as everyone else was staying in Queenstown proper. Upon return I found it odd that the concierge told us he couldn’t call the shuttle but he could call us a taxi. That was fine, we were able to fit our large cases in one car so it was not a problem.
In the end
This was a great use of points and we really enjoyed our time here. It’s too bad the weather didn’t cooperate but taking a day to just veg out ended up being a very nice thing.