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“A tranquil and attractive place”

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The Sanctuary @ Bay of Islands
Certificate of Excellence
Melbourne
Level 2 Contributor
6 reviews
4 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 10 helpful votes
“A tranquil and attractive place”
Reviewed 6 January 2012

My husband and I enjoyed a very pleasant three nights at the Lodge, enjoying the company of guests from the US, UK and South Africa. When choosing small places such a this, we are choosing individuality, a more personal experience than a similarly-priced, more luxurious suite at a conventional hotel, and we were not disappointed. Our room was pleasant and very quiet, with a beautiful and tranquil view from the balcony. Two excellent in-house dinners were competently cooked and served, generous supplies of spirits and wine were available (would not have minded more choice with the wine!) and breakfasts simple and delicious - excellent juice, fresh fruit, breads, croissants and reasonable range of cereals, and a cooked dish if required. We very much enjoyed our fellow-guests' conversation and the unobtrustive company of Peter and Glennis. Discussions of "lodge or B&B" are somewhat meaningless: the pricing accurately places the Lodge in the mid-range between comfortable and ultra-luxury. The Bay of Islands is a beautiful part of the world and the Lodge occupies a very attractive, very comfortable and individual space within it.

Room Tip: We enjoyed the view and privacy from an upstairs room.
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  • Stayed December 2011, travelled as a couple
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2 Thank MelbourneHelen
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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English first
Odessa, Ukraine
Level 6 Contributor
1,053 reviews
317 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 1,537 helpful votes
Reviewed 24 December 2011

This review isn't easy to write because the Lodge got so many high ratings - on which I personally can't agree. I'm more with the previous review of Patti from CA, that this is a quite simple lodge which is highly overpriced. We've stayed at many 'luxury B&B, in NZ, OZ, South Africa, so we should have some experience what to expect. So please give me the chance to explain:

A B&B is a personal thing, run by a person who doesn't do it only for the money - but because he/she likes the hospitality. BOIL isn't exactly a B&B, I would more rate it a small hotel with 7 rooms where the owner tries to manage it - but doesn't live with the guests in the same house.

BOIL was, from the start, planned as a small hotel, never has been a house or farm which was converted to a B&B. Despite this fact the walls are paper thin (wood) and you hear everything your neighbor does, EVERYTHING incl. when he/she goes to toilet, snores... This is terrible because you know that he'll hear everything you do/say...

The rooms are far, far from luxury! They're small and very basic, as is the bathroom. There's no air ventilation and in case you like fresh air when you sleep you have to open the window - and sleep with many, many mosquitoes. Even the bathroom/toilet doesn't have ventilation except the window! We had a room next to the pool deck and everybody could look into our bathroom, hear everything when the window (for ventilation) was open... In the room there's no mini bar, there's no iPod docking station, there's not even an alarm-clock! The wardrobe doesn't have doors to close, the WiFi is slow and breaks very often, the TFT TV is too small to watch a movie...

Yes, BOIL has a nice view - but in NZ so many lodges have that it doesn't decide if it's a luxury lodge or not.

The food, well, many people praise it - but we didn't like it too much. We had dinner at the lodge twice and we found it 'old fashioned', not innovative, nothing special at all. Once we had chicken with some filling of dried tomatoes, once we had lamb which, in our eyes, was totally overcooked. The breakfast was basic with ready bought cereals, some cheese, salami & ham. Only the omelet was very, very good. Further I don't like to press the Orange juice myself when I pay 593 NZ$, so approx. € 400/night!

My wife once was wearing high heels and the host was near to ask her to put them off because of the wooden floor... instead he asked her to walk carefully. Excuse me, this is a Lodge, a B&B, not the home of the owner!

AND, if you're around 40 or even below, don't chose BOIL. It's a 'luxury B&B' for the 'distinguished' traveler from the US & UK, very traditional, very classic. Normally at B&B people sit at the fire until late, chat, exchange experiences... At BOIL that's different: today (Christmas eve) we returned after a really good dinner at 'Only Seafood' around 21:15... and everybody was in bed already.

Really, at approx. € 400/night I do expect far better than what BOIL delivered, far, far better! We've been at "The Castle" in Matakana the day before we arrived at BOIL, had the tower room (at approx. € 300/night) which was far bigger, far more elegant, far more stylish, far more design... and there the hosts have been as you require, personal. They also served the pre-dinner snacks with a glass of wine, were sitting with their guest, gave tips... when we left the next morning the host explained us how to drive to see the nice spots on the way... that's what you want when you decide to stay at a 'luxury B&B'.

I think BOIL needs improvement on sound isolation between the rooms, improvement on privacy between the patios and especially from the pool deck - as well as a new, more innovative manager/cook & adjustment of prices to reality.

Room Tip: Far away from the pool so nobody looks into your bathroom. Best at the end so you don't get the...
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  • Stayed December 2011, travelled as a couple
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Helpful?
3 Thank HONkiev
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
peter m, Owner at The Sanctuary @ Bay of Islands, responded to this review, 30 July 2012
My apologies for the very belated reply. Belonging to an older generation I am still coming to grips with TripAdvisor and the importance of acknowledging reviews.

You stated it wasn't easy to write this review. May I assure you the reply is even more difficult.

But let me try to address the more salient points raised by you.
Our property, call it a Lodge or B&B, was purpose built in 2005 under a "Commercial Guest Lodge" consent with all the necc. building permits, which are far more rigorous and demanding then for a domestic dwelling with around 15 inspections throughout the construction.
It has 4 guest bedrooms, as well as a Managers / Owners apartment, which was added a couple of years ago, again under a commercial building permit.
The paper thin walls you referred to are of a wooden frame, with sound and fire rated insulation in the centre, and sound / fire rated Plaster board on both sides.
I agree with you that even so it isn't 100% sound proof. In hindsight it would have been more prudent to go beyond of what was specified.
The guest bedrooms are approx. 4 x 4.8 mtrs, plus an alcove of 2 x 1.5 mtrs, which serves as a walkin wardrobe with a writing desk; hence there are no doors,
Your comment about the appointments of the rooms as being basic, they are not luxurious but we feel attractively furnished, including a high quality commercial King size bed, bedside tables, lamps comfortable chairs etc, in a style and colours that are in harmony with the natural bush surroundings and the rainforest below .
The bedrooms, being on the lower floor which is a few degrees cooler then the floor above, have ceiling fans and opening windows for ventilation. With our rather temperate climate and the usually prevailing sea breezes in the evening, we do not feel that we need any other air conditioning.
We also activate electric " Mozzie Zappers" in the bedrooms at night when needed.
The bathroom have no ventilation other then large opening windows which have wooden blinds for privacy.

There is no mini bar, for the simple reason that there is a well stocked bar upstairs for the use of guests. Under our policy all drinks, including wine, are included in the room tariff. The only thing we ask for is that the guests drink in a responsible manner.
The guests are also invited to get together in the Lounge, usually from 6 pm onwards for pre dinner drinks, not always to the take up the invitation.
There is broadband / wireless internet throughout the building, as well as ethernet connections to all the rooms. There is also a designated Guest Computer. Being a rather large building there are a few blind spots with the WiFi reception.
We just installed a WiFi range Extender, hopefully it will overcome any future lack of reception problems.

Yes I did speak to your wife in regards to the Stiletto heals and the damage they would do to our french oak floor boards, and asking her very politely to assist us by being careful. There was no offence intented.
It also feel that it doesn't matter as to whether it is the owners home or a B&B / Lodge as both deserve to be treated with care and respect.

Addressing your comments about our food.
For breakfast there is a choice of cereals, prunes, yoghurts, preserved fruit as well as a fresh seasonal fruits, a selection of breads, cheeses and cold meats like salami and ham; teas, coffee- freshly made, on our Saeco espresso machine, and a variety of juices, which include when in season fresh Orange juice.. As well as cooked items, revolving generally around eggs, bacon, tomatoes mushrooms etc prepared to the guests wishes.
And having to squeeze your own orange juice, most guests actually enjoy doing it on our state of the art commercial juicer. but we would have gladly squeezed it for you, had we known or been asked to at the time.
With your comment about dinner, the chicken dish you referred to is actually a boneless thigh fillet with a stuffing of marinated sundried tomatoes, pistachios, grated parsnips, herbs bound with a bit of egg and bread, wrapped in streaky bacon and then baked. It is a favourite with many guests. From memory I jokingly may have said to you that it was a "step up from Chicken Kiev". You may have taken offence, but there was no harm intended.
With the lamb, my sincerest apologies if yours was well done.

Please let me conclude by giving you a bit of a background on us
Prior to coming to the Bay of Islands in 2000 my wife and I owned and operated for 20 years a resort / restaurant in Australia's Hunter Valley wine country. For a number of years we were a member of SLH [Small Luxury Hotels of the World].
Our food motto was, and still is, that "the greatness of food lies in its simplicity" with the emphasis on seasonal and the best of produce, with harmonious combinations of colours texture, flavours and complimenting ingredients, with the dishes presented in a simple but appetising down to earth way. Our restaurant won over the years numerous awards.
But I also realised a long time ago that it is impossible to please everyone, as ones perception or appreciation is a very personal thing. Plus we all have our not so perfect days when the meal just doesn't turn out right, like your before mentioned lamb.

I was also the foodwriter for the Sydney Telegraph with a weekly column for 18years, which came to an end when we moved to NZ. In my writing I always tried to be objective, without falling in the trap of letting subjectivity getting the better of me.
Which isn't easy, as so much depends on ones personal perception & taste, which can also be effected by other influences like prevailing moods or situations.
I have been in hospitality going back to when I did my apprenticeship in hotel managment in the 1960s. I am the first to agree that I am far from perfect. We try to do our best, but we also have the occasional days when things just don't work out.
May I also say, that it is a shame that you did not raise your dissatisfaction with us at the time.
We certainly would have appreciated your comments and rectify some of the problems then and there.
I am truly sorry that our lodge, food, services etc did not come up to your expectations, perhaps on your next visit to the BOI you may give us another chance.
Thank you also for your review, it certainly helped us to take a closer look on how we can improve
Best wishes
Peter Meier
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Clovis, California
1 review
Reviewed 19 December 2011

We stayed with Peter for four nights in mid-December 2011 and although this is listed as a 'Luxury Lodge,' we found this to be simply a B&B. Other than a small pool, it had no ammenities that you would find at a 'luxury lodge.' The rooms were small, with very small patios off each room. The patios were very close to neighboring patios, with little privacy. We did not plan to rent a car but because of the remote location, found that we had no choice. Peter is an exceptional cook and made some delicious meals, however, not a particularly warm guy. We met some exceptional travellers, which really made our stay memorable. However, the lodge was not what we expected, particularly for the price.

  • Stayed December 2011, travelled as a couple
    • Value
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    • Sleep Quality
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    • Cleanliness
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Helpful?
Thank Patti H
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
peter m, Owner at The Sanctuary @ Bay of Islands, responded to this review, 31 July 2012
Dear Patti,
thank you for your review,
My apologies for a very much belated reply, and of course for letting you down in quite a few of your expectations.
We classify our place as a Lodge for the simple reason, that in addition to B&B we also readily offer dinner and a perhaps more hosted experience.
I certainly agree with you that I occasionally come across as "not a being a particularly warm guy", I don't mean to give that impression. We are all different I sometimes wished that I had more of a outgoing meditternean heritage, but I certainly I will take on board your comments and try to become a more warm gracious host for the benefit of future guests.

Thank you for your kind words of being "an exceptional cook". It was very much appreciated!

What constitues Luxury is very much ones personal evaluation / perception.
To some it conjures opulence, extravagance, lavish, over the top, surpreme, grand....
To others, something as simple as a comfortable, splendid, or indulgence, like staying in a Lodge, or if you like a B&B like ours. Which we feel is a beautiful place, furnished / decorated in an understated elegance & set in the tranquil surroundings of a native bush reserve with waterviews that epitomizes the Bay of Islands.
Sadly, because we use the word luxury a few times on our website, we are occasionally put in to the same basket as the truly superior "Luxury Lodges", which have published room rates of around $ 1200 - $ 2000.00 or more per night, and which not necc, includes compl. drinks.
Our high season rate is NZ $ 593.00 which is inclusive of all alcoholic drinks and wine throughout your stay..
"Your comment about "Our rooms being small with very small patios". What is small depends again on ones perception. Our Guest bedrooms are around 22 sq mtrs [ 237 sq feet] including the walkin wardrobe alcove.
They are not humungous, but certainly not small, likewise with the private balconies, which measure approx. 90 sq feet.
Our lodge sits on a fairly narrow building ledge, above a rainforest, with a limited area to build on.
I feel that our architect, under these circumstances, came up with a remarkable design; with the large open plan, lounge / kitchen and 2 dining areas, and large outdoor deck, occupying the top floor - and the 4 guest bedrooms, separated in the centre by the infinity plunge pool and surrounding decks, the bottom floor, with each of the 4 bedrooms having similar sea and bush views. Yes the guest balconies are not totally private, making them so, would have meant installing screens in between, which would have partially obstructed the view.
Our website clearly states that we are 5 km from Paiha being the closest town. From memory we readily offered to provide compl. transport to paihia. As well, many of the Tour / attraction operators offer complimentary pickups and returns. But to venture beyond - you need your own transport
I am delighted that you enjoyed the company of the other guests, this is an experience
which one not normally gets in an ordinary B&B, as social intercourse / camaraderie usually happens over the dinner table
Thank you again for the trouble of doing your review and I am sorry that you feel that our place does not provide value fo money.
kind regards
Peter Meier
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Ottawa, Canada
Level 4 Contributor
42 reviews
30 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 55 helpful votes
Reviewed 5 June 2011

The Bay of Islands Lodge was a very comfortable and homey place blessed with a wonderful view. Glennis and Peter were extremely professional and welcoming hosts but in no way obtrusive. Having dinner or breakfast in the open concept kitchen and dining/living area was truly relaxing and one felt instantly at home. Peter is an excellent cook and other than his occasional determination to have people try things they are not necessarily fond of, his meals were savoury, delicious and attractively presented with a lovely choice of wine. Glennis was also a dab hand at breakfast so all in all, the food was a memorable experience. The bedrooms and en suites were also of a very high calibre. The inclement weather did not allow us to enjoy the plunge pool but it looked marvellous. I would return in a heartbeat.

  • Stayed June 2011, travelled with family
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Helpful?
1 Thank RoadwarriorLynne
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Sydney, Australia
2 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
Reviewed 22 April 2011

We stayed 2 nigths . We were the only guests but that was great. Peter cooked us a lovely dinner and chatted to us but didn't intrude. We had everything we wanted. The cooked breakfast was delicious as was the dinner on the second night. The views are spectacular and the accommodation first rate. it's not cheap but it's very good,

Room Tip: Go in summer
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  • Stayed April 2011, travelled as a couple
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Helpful?
1 Thank chrisnkez
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about The Sanctuary @ Bay of Islands

Property: The Sanctuary @ Bay of Islands
Address: State Highway 11, Opua 0241, New Zealand (Formerly Bay of Islands Lodge)
Region: New Zealand > North Island > Northland Region > Bay of Islands > Opua
Amenities:
Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Restaurant Swimming Pool
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 5 Speciality Lodging in Opua
Price range (per night): ₹ 12,903 - ₹ 28,566
Hotel Class:5 star — The Sanctuary @ Bay of Islands 5*
Number of rooms: 5
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Also Known As:
Bay Of Islands Hotel Opua

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