Queenstown has a cyclical tourism market with a popular summer months between December and January where hotel rates usually peak with the great weather. During the quieter winter months, most properties have special offers to attract customers and mainly skiers. Initially I was considering staying in a hotel located closer to town. However with a rental car to get to the ski areas, and the fact that Hilton was having a Winter Sale for hotels in Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific Islands, I booked the relatively new DoubleTree by Hilton located in Frankton – a suburb of Queenstown and closer to the airport than the town. The Winter Sale offer will include a NZ$100 credit for every 2 night stay and thus I split up the stay into 2 separate stays, with one night in Wanaka.
We checked in past sunset around 7pm to a deserted hotel lobby. This property is located adjacent to the Hilton and they both share several facilities including the indoor pool, spa and jacuzzi as well as the all-day dining restaurant. All of these facilities are located in the building housing the Hilton with no covered walkway between them.
Check-in was conducted quickly with the staff presenting the keycards that was well prepared beforehand as I had checked in on the Hilton mobile app. On top of the keycard, we were presented with warm chocolate and walnut cookies which is a signature of every stay at a DoubleTree hotel. There was also a bag with two bottled water. After presenting us with these, she went through all the benefits that came with the stay including breakfast for 2 at Wakatipu Grill, drink vouchers for use at the Cru Wine Bar and the opening hours of the indoor swimming pool and jacuzzi. On top of that, we were able to self-park the rental car at the hotel’s parking lots but do note that the lots are sometimes limited and it can be difficult to get a spot at peak occupancy.
Room No: 2116 / 2305 Category: Twin Deluxe Lakeview Room
With the Hilton’s mobile app, I was able to pre-select the rooms we wanted and with prior research on the layout and orientation of the hotel, I was able to get one facing the lake. Because the DoubleTree is not a tall hotel, do not expect the best views from the rooms here as it can be blocked partially by the roof of the apartments across the street.
Unlike the usual hotel rooms, Queenstown hotels have been setup for longer term stays and this room is designed with a mini kitchenette upon entry. There are cabinets storing several utensils and dishes alongside a kitchen sink, microwave and mini fridge that was empty so guests could have a space for their groceries too.
On the countertop, there was instant coffee and tea bags along with an electric kettle.
Moving into the room, it feels a lot like a mini-apartment. The space isn’t huge, but it is segmented to create a small living room with a 2-seater sofa with an armchair by the window. There is a small balcony accessible from the glass door beside the armchair but as it was cold, it was not used during our stay. Across from the sofa was a wall-mounted TV cabinet and a luggage stand.
A sliding door on the right of the living space leads to the small bedroom with 2 single sized beds. Since I was travelling with a friend, it was a neat little space for the 2 of us. The segmentation also allowed us to watch TV even if the other wanted to sleep.
However the living space and kitchenette comes at the expense of bathroom size. Because it was really small though they still placed a bathtub which was not even functional. The sink itself lacks countertop space and this could make it less useful for families. Guests staying here should also note the windows can be opened to provide ventilation to the small bathroom if required. This is in addition to the noisy heater placed right above the door to the bathroom.
Since this is my first stay at a DoubleTree by Hilton, it was my first encounter with the Aroma Actives range of amenities provided. Fragrance wise, they were neutral and probably would meet the needs of most travellers. Otherwise, they were just forgettable, and picky travellers better bring their own amenities.
As I mentioned earlier, guests can really get a view of the lakeside from the room and choosing one at the end of the building would be better since the lot of land is still unbuilt at the end giving a clearer view of the lake.
For a DoubleTree by Hilton property that seems to be marketed at a lower tier than a Hilton, I was pleasantly surprised that turndown service was offered here daily. In the evenings, the curtains will be drawn and chocolates left by the bedside tables for guests.
With my new Hilton Diamond status, breakfast was included in my rate, though it was served in the restaurant at the Hilton Hotel next door. The room rate includes a $100 dining credit as well that we used for a dinner. Thus I would write up about the wine and dine benefits in a separate post.
Instead, I would focus on the rest of the facilities in this hotel. On the lobby itself, there are a couple of workstations and plenty of sofas to chill out while surfing on the free wifi or just to catch up on e-mails.
Right beside this space, there is a foosball table and a pool table, both of which requires coins for play. There is also a sofa with a TV on top of a fireplace though both the TV and fireplace was turned off and the space was more or less devoid of guests. It seems that this hotel sees less occupancy than the neighbouring Hilton.
On the second floor, the hotel has a mini-cinema that screens selected movies which changes daily, with requests for movies allowed when the cinema is empty. And on the lobby floor, there is an Asian restaurant serving noodles and other delicacies. Guests staying here should also note that the spa, fitness room and indoor swimming pool with jacuzzi is located over in the Hilton Hotel so there is a short walk outdoors that is not sheltered.
For Hilton Honors members, access to the swimming pool and jacuzzi is included but the $100 credit can only be used for dining and not the spa services at the eforea spa. Guests need to request for a separate swimming pool entrance key from the Hilton reception to gain access to the beautiful indoor pool space. There are plenty of chairs and loungers around the rectangular shaped pool. Beside the entrance, there is a large jacuzzi that could fit 8-10 person comfortably. However I was unable to find where to operate the jetstream in the jacuzzi so it became more of a hot soaker tub instead.
A staircase by the lounge chairs will lead guests to the changing rooms, lockers, shower and sauna area along with the spa. On both stays, I did not use the spa services since I returned to the hotel late in the evening after skiing. Near the closing times for the indoor pool, it is usually empty but guests could expect plenty of used towels all over the place. As for the fitness room, the space is small with limited equipments. Though with all the hiking and skiing to do in Queenstown, I did not visit it at all and I doubt most guests need this facility.
Because this property is located quite a distance away from town, there are some shops that travellers staying here might appreciate. This includes a bicycle rental shop located right on the lakefront, a branch of the Brown’s Ski Shop located just outside the main entrance of the DoubleTree and a tour agency that reserves day trips as well as ski shuttles around Queenstown and Wanaka. The hotel also provides a limited shuttle service that brings guests to the downtown, or one could also pay for the water taxi service crossing the lake into the city.
For both stays, the cost was NZ$165 inclusive of taxes (~$113). With the NZ$100 dining credit and breakfast included, I thought the stay was very worthwhile, and probably even considered cheap for such a modern and relatively new hotel. The main downside during my stay though was the construction of the bridge leading to the hotel which can lead to a traffic jam during peak hours. Service wise, the staff were cordial and polite but they do not go above and overboard. In fact the main problems I had was with the restaurant staff at the Hilton as during one of the dinners, the waitress serving the section seems very uninterested with no refills of water and the service being very slow. Back to my overall recommendation, I think this is a property for skiers since most skiers would probably rent a car and prices are attractive during the ski season. For solo travellers and families with young kids, they might be more conveniently served staying near the city centre.