The brand new Novotel at Auckland Airport -- twenty metres from the international arrivals door -- is now open.
Australian Business Traveller got a sneak peek behind the scenes at the nearly-finished newest hotel in Auckland with general manager Paul Columbus at D-5: five days before opening.
Here's what we found.
To deal with jetlagged passengers, the expansive, chic restaurant on the ground floor will have a 24-hour chef on duty. It's got a double-height dining space, floor-to-ceiling windows and a separate private dining section behind clever leaf-printed louvres.
To get to the restaurant -- which also comes with personal TVs to catch up on the news that you missed in the air -- you'll pass a two-storey living wall of native NZ plants, grown hydroponically and installed above the chic black stone bar.
The bar itself shows off the best of New Zealand's wine, including some of our favourite vineyards: Te Whare Ra in Marlborough, Trinity Hill in Hawke's Bay and Mt Difficulty in Central Otago.
Upstairs on the second floor -- reachable via a wide, winding staircase or lifts -- there's an entire floor of meeting space with boardrooms and an adjustable-walled area that can hold 315 people.
With 263 rooms and 8 king suites which sit on the top floors with the executive rooms, Novotel has intelligently positioned the new hotel as a destination for conferences and conventions.
Since the nearest other airport hotel is over 3.5 km from the terminal, it's well placed for it.
The views are fantastic too. We visited on a sunny late autumn day and loved looking out over the airport (spot the Airbus A380 and A330, Boeing 747, 777, 767 and numerous smaller planes).
The vistas out to the Tasman over the volcanic Manukau heads at the end of Manukau harbour were equally impressive.
Technology fans, geeks and gadget-lovers of all stripes will love the in-room connectivity options, with a dozen different connections from laptop, video camera and music device to the TV. We spotted HDMI, RCA, USB, VGA and 3.5mm headphone jack cable, and more besides.
And there's a sizeable gym -- 200 square metres' worth -- with treadmills, ellipticals, cycles, swiss balls and more to help you work off the two hours of jetlag from Australia.
About John Walton
Aviation journalist and travel columnist John took his first long-haul flight when he was eight weeks old and hasn't looked back since. Well, except when facing rearwards in business class.