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Enjoy the Only Boutique Hotel in the Hilton Arsenal of Properties

Aug 17, 2007
I wanted to see the Hilton Auckland after their suite refurbishment, and it was well worth the visit. The popular Bow Suites, so named because they are shaped like the bow of a ship, overlooking the Waitemata Harbour, have had quite the face lift.

The interior, designed by Catherine Stormont of HBO&EMTD, is contemporary in feel, blending in with the overall design of the hotel which has been dubbed the "New Hilton" in its embrace of sleek lines and minimalist decor, interspersed with traditional Mauri artistic accents. There is a sense of being in the Presidential cabin of a luxury international cruise liner, and its proximity in the harbor, with cruise ships arriving and departing below your terrace, adds to that feeling.

Furnishings and fabrics are muted tones, "decked" out with Italian leather furniture. The Presidential suite has two plasma televisions, dining for four, a work desk and credenza, a chaise and side table over looking the wrap around deck, wrap around couch with chaise angle, an outdoor lounge area and eating area, huge bathroom with separate bath, rain shower, and toilet, floor to ceiling glass doors with water views from every single angle, electronic shades, and wispy white transparent curtains to mute the suns raise, but allow in the reflections of the sea.

The artists' glass sculpture and vases that graced my room, included locals Simon Kaan, Graham Fletcher, and Heather Straka. Part of the upgrade included the concept that every space should have a touch of authenticity. Amenities have also been upgraded to the Crabtree & Evelyn "la Source" range, an improvement over past choices.

Hilton Auckland stands 300 meters from the city center adjacent to the Viaduct Harbor. It was officially opened by the Prime Minister, Helen Clark, in June 2001 and is situated on the northeast corner of Princes Wharf. There are 160 deluxe rooms and six suites. Not a "small" hotel, but it does have the feel of a boutique hotel. In 2005 it was named the Top New Zealand CBD Hotel of the Year.

White Restaurant, and Bellini, the lobby lounge bar, have been created by Dan Kwan of Tribeca, the design firm based in Singapore. His intent was to provide an environment that would be a white canvas for Executive Chef Bernard Bernabe to paint his culinary palate, and to be a minimalist setting for the hues of blue and green of the bay reflecting through the floor to ceiling windows.

Bernard Bernabe, even the name is a mouthful, was born in the Philippines. His family immigrated to New Zealand when he was nine years old. Now, at the ripe age of 28, he was the driving force behind the award winning team when white was honored with the Restaurant of the Year award in 2004.

General Manager, John Ingram is a soft-spoken gentle man with a lot to say. He treated me to details about the local cultural community and life in Auckland, as well as his the importance for the global hospitality community to see this Hilton in its rightful light, a "new Hilton" as he called it. With 160 deluxe rooms and six suites, one can hardly call this a boutique hotel, yet I agree with him that it has that feel. Staff is very professional and ingratiating, food is superb, and the atmosphere modern and light.

My favorite feature of the hotel is a glass-fronted swimming pool that juts out in such a way that with goggles under water, you have the illusion of swimming out to sea.
About the Author
Denise Hummel is an American, who moved to Italy with her husband and children for a one year cross-cultural experience that has expanded to three. Denise Hummel directs a communications business focused on tourism called Imagine Communications.
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