We don’t know about you but when travelling, the one thing we will always look forward to the most is the food. Taste and smell, after all, are so inextricably connected with our memories. Which is why, when a new staycation destination emerges with the promise of heroing top-notch food and world-class wine, this is a must-visit. We would be referring to the brand-new DoubleTree by Hilton that has recently touched down in the tranquil and upscale country surrounds of Karaka, just 25 minutes from the Auckland CBD.
Architecturally designed by Pacific Architecture, this veritable foodie’s haven in the heart of Karaka channels contemporary country retreat, drawing on the lush surrounds and natural light with floor-to-ceiling glass windows gracing a state-of-the-art function space and an alfresco dining area complete with the warmth of an open fireplace and louvred covering overhead for extra comfort. The hotel also overlooks the beautiful New Zealand Bloodstock grounds and stables, just minutes from the local markets.
In addition to a 24-hour gym facility for those serious about keeping up with their daily fitness routines, a fully-heated open air infinity pool is the perfect option for staying active on a rest day. Though beware, this stylish outdoor zone is decked with luxe daybeds and its very own Pool Bar, serving light bites and made-for-sharing snacks, hand-crafted cocktails and an extensive variety of drinks to complete the picture for relaxing, soaking and unwinding poolside while treating the tastebuds. Tranquil days of sunning and swimming can also be served with a brunch offering from the restaurant’s à la carte menu should you be feeling a touch more peckish.
On top of the comfort of in-room dining from one of the hotel’s 122 architecturally-styled guest rooms and suites, DoubleTree by Hilton Karaka is home to DoubleTree’s signature Horseshoe bar and foodie’s dream, Ethereal Artisan Kitchen restaurant. With celebrity chef Mark Southon at the helm, touting this new DoubleTree destination as that newer breed of distinctive “restaurants with rooms” is not a stretch. For the dining establishment here is all about authentic paddock-to-plate food, celebrating fresh seasonal produce that is grown and supplied by local farmers in the region. The dining experience is also a visual treat with a Live Kitchen layout paired with marble seating from which diners can view the culinary behind-the-scenes magic. The restaurant space also boasts a fully-visible meat locker and an extensively curated wine area with local and international wines at the ready to be tailored to your meal.
Meanwhile, perfect for mixing and mingling at the heart of the hotel and very much a part of DoubleTree by Hilton’s warm, welcoming and upscale vibe, the classy Horseshoe Bar connecting with the lobby and adjacent to Ethereal Artisan Kitchen, is the “lounge and living room” of the hotel, specialising in gourmet snacks, cocktails and artisan platters to whet the palette and take you seamlessly from daytime to nighttime.
Hailing from one of thepioneers of today’s hospitality industry, the fast-growing DoubleTree by Hilton portfolio is a consummate offering of the gold standard in comfort for corporate and leisure travellers alike, but we would have to say it is the unique New Zealand fine-dining experience on offer there, that really completes the experience. Speaking of memorable experiences, did we mention the DoubleTree by Hilton ritual of welcoming guests with their signature Warm DoubleTree Chocolate Chip Cookie? This impeccably moreish cookie has become synonymous with DoubleTree hotels around the world, and we might add such is Hilton’s reach in hospitality, this iconic “warm welcome” has been taken to new heights in becoming the first food to be baked in space aboard the International Space Station inside a prototype oven intended to make long-haul space travel more hospitable. That’s dedication.
Welcoming space cookies aside, with staycations increasingly on the menu of late, the next time you feel the hankering to escape from the world at your fingertips and the bright lights of the city for something hands-down memorable, give this foodie’s escape a long-weekend whirl, especially if poolside cocktails and the tastiest regional bounty served on a plate are your thing.
Find out more about the Ethereal Artisan Kitchen and Double Tree by Hilton Karaka by visiting their website.