on December 27, 2007
Even as the Terraces Hotel is being expanded and renovated as part of a Peppers Terraces Resort re-branding, it exudes a graceful, laid-back charm that epitomizes New Zealand hospitality.Built in 1889, it’s one of only two hotels in New Zealand remaining from that era. It’s aged well though, and had I not read up on its pedigree, I never would have guessed that it’s a historic place.The hotel sits across the street and up a hill from Lake Taupo, giving front-facing rooms a gorgeous view. The entryway is welcoming and open—I felt as if I’d stepped into someone’s (giant) home. My room was on the second floor and, though small, had every amenity I needed, including a large, fluffy bed. It wasn’t heavily decorated, but the muted, neutral tones seemed fitting.The bathroom’s stand-up shower and sink were small, but everything was spotless. The room also included everything I needed for tea or coffee, including a floor-to-ceiling window to gaze through as I sipped (which will be an even bigger draw when construction is complete).Apart from a lovely staff and comfortable rooms, the Terraces’ real draws are its fantastic restaurant and spa. GPK serves wonderful, local food throughout the day and comes alive at night with a jolly (but not too loud) bar crowd. I ate here for breakfast and lunch, and the omelet special—pumpkin, feta, and spinach—was delightful. A lighter dish, manuka honey with yogurt and fruit, was equally delicious. I can also attest to the fact that every kind of coffee drink they make is robust and enjoyable. (I was relieved, though, to discover that in New Zealand, a "plunger" refers to a French press.) All of this was made even better by the views out to Lake Taupo and Tongariro National Park.When night fell, I headed to the spa area behind the hotel—about a 5-minute walk from the Terraces’ front door. There is a $14 entry fee for adults, which drops to $7 if you receive a coupon at check-in. There are large pools for all, and water slides, waterfalls, and other attractions for kids. When you pay your admission fee, you get a key for a locker to stow your clothes, and you safety-pin the key to your bathing suit while you relax in the pools. Water is pumped in from underground thermal springs, but the pools look like any swimming pools you’ve seen before. Luckily, they feel much nicer; the water is warm and wonderful. The pools are drained, and the area closes, at 9:30pm daily. I regret that I only had time to visit the Taupo Hot Springs Spa once—I’d have loved to go back every day.I suppose I’ll save that daily dip for next time, when the hotel will have fully become a Peppers property—not that it can get much better.
©Travelocity.com LP 2000-2009