Thursday, October 29, 2009

Hunkering Down at the Hyatt Regency

AUCKLAND - You never really know what you're going to find in a hotel until you get there and check-in. I expected the Hyatt Regency here in New Zealand's largest city to be good. It surpassed my expectations; it's very good.

You know the old line: location, location, location? The Hyatt Regency is located right next to the leafy University of Auckland campus, across the street from lovely hillside Albert Park, a few blocks uphill from Queen Street - the city's sometimes-funky, usually lively main drag - and a 10-minute walk from the gorgeous downtown waterfront.

Rooms? The hotel is finishing up a renovation of public spaces and guest rooms that started in July. It's also bringing in consulting chefs to brainstorm about the menu at The Cafe, the hotel's main dining spot; it's already good. I supped tonight on 10 plump New Zealand mussels - I could only eat five, and that was just a starter - followed by a savory chicken masala and topped off with an espresso - charmingly called a 'short black' in Kiwiland. There's a cool little bar in a corner nook in the lobby and a business center with four wide-screen PCs. For $20 NZ (about $17 U.S.) you can get a two-hour Internet card at the biz center - open 24/7 - or charge wireless service to your room. The Hyatt Regency Auckland has a 70 percent business-traveler clientele, so business travelers are catered to. The reservations desk was lengthened in the re-do, but this is a busy hotel, so you sometimes get a short wait when you line up at the desk.

I started out my three-night stay in a standard room in the 269-room Regency wing. It was fine, but not as nice as what came later, when I moved to one of the 100 suites in the Residences, a 17-story tower with one-and two-bedroom suites, complete with kitchen, dishwasher, sink, possibly the largest flat-screen TV I've ever seen in a hotel, and spacious bathroom with separate tub and shower. I landed in a corner room with wraparound balcony - I walked the length of it, and counted off 24 paces - with a sparkling harbor view. Many of the Residences are central-city condos managed by the Hyatt, but places not occupied by individual owners are rented out as hotel rooms. The Spa at Hyatt, on the lower level, offers a 25-meter-long pool and a range of massages, facials, pedicures, manicures and other treatments.

In other words, not too shabby. If you have plans to visit Auckland, do check it out. The Hyatt Regency is a comfortable hotel, well-run but with just enough of the friendly, funny Kiwi sensibility to make it fun.

For more information:, e-mailing or phoning 64 9 355 1234.

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