Since my recent life stage transition (i.e. starting work, which also explains the lack of updates here), I constantly fantasize about my next vacation. People say university is the greatest time of your life, now I can finally speak to this statement myself - it is the only time where you had complete control of your time, and get to pace life as you wish.
We all know how the saying goes, "instead of wondering when your next vacation is, you ought to set up a life you don’t need to escape from". But hey – let’s face it. No matter how much you enjoy your job, routine gets tiring and you could always use a little escape to re-calibrate, gain inspiration, and to create.
Boarding was swift and easy – settling in the seat was made easy with some very, very comfy blankets and slippers (a detail often overlooked by airlines). The business class menu is crafted to represent Hong Kong’s culture – comprising Western dishes with Asian twists, developed in collaboration with chef Gabriel Choy (who has worked at a number of notable restaurants, including Petrus, The Fat Duck, and Gaddi’s). My first choice, grilled beef, unfortunately ran out by the time I placed my order for dinner. Lucky enough, the flight attendant offered me an off-menu item (that was supposed to be for the pilot) in exchange.
Drinks and snacks were also offered throughout the flight, with great service from a friendly team. The only down side is that the seat does not go completely horizontal when in “bed” mode, but I still managed to sleep my way through. For those of you who love to watch a movie or two, the in-flight entertainment offering is up to par, and each seat comes with a high quality headset.
Known as the ‘City of Sails’, Auckland is a beautiful harbour city located in the subtropical north of New Zealand and it has always remained a mystical city in my mind. Cordis, Auckland offers remarkable limousine service – once I got out of immigration, the hotel is only 45 minutes (18.5km) away from Auckland airport and the comfortable seating made the trip go by really quickly.
During the ride, I could see that the hotel is surrounded by a vibrant neighbourhood - located near Upper Queen Street and colourful Karangahape Road, it is handy to key tourist attractions including Auckland Museum, Auckland Art Gallery and the fashionable shops and bars of Ponsonby.
By way of background, the Langham, Auckland (which has been the local community’s favourite social hub, hosting major events, conferences, international delegations and the city’s most heartfelt weddings) is rebranded to Cordis, Auckland last year, making it the first in the Pacific region for this new upper upscale brand of the Langham Hospitality Group. Each Cordis hotel is individual in style, architecture and design, all reflective of its location and culture, delivering heartfelt service that is devoted to the well-being of guests.
The Lobby Lounge made a great first impression - with plush high-back chairs and a stylish, contemporary setting, it serves Auckland’s favourite High Tea. It is clear that the redesigned tea has been a hit with the locals and tourists alike - there was no lack of them coming to celebrate special occasions and to host gatherings. High Tea by Cordis features an exquisite plated array of handcrafted sweets, pastries and scones complemented with a personalised tea sommelier service offering fine teas, coffees or a glass of Louis Roederer Champagne. As a chocoholic, I loved the dessert which had passionfruit and citrus compote to balance out the complex chocolate. Scones always tell a good tea set from a bad one – these are buttery, light, and baked to perfection.
The Lobby Lounge is also open for all day dining, coffee and creative cocktails, and serve a menu of three special Cordis-curated craft beers by Auckland’s Ubernaut Brewery.
A post-flight massage is just priceless, it allows you to unwind and eases any jet bloat that one may experience. Equipped with a herbal steam room, four individual treatment space and two dual treatment areas, Chuan Spa offers a full range of holistic services, all designed to balance your mind, soul and body.
Chuan spa is located on level 2 of the hotel, next to the heated rooftop saltwater pool and Jacuzzi. It builds on the principles of traditional Chinese medicine that seek spiritual and physical harmony by balancing the five elements: metal, wood, fire, earth and water.
The treatment started off with a personal consultation, where you get to state your preference and pick a oil suited to your needs. The 45-minute-massage was truly relaxing - with great pressure points and zen music, you'll fall asleep instantly.
Auckland's nightlife is clustered in a few neighbourhoods, the harbourside being one. Soul Bar & Bistro serves contemporary dishes in front of a great view of the Viaduct Harbour. The outdoor seating is warm and romantic, whereas a lively bar scene, live music and stylish décor is found inside the establishment, living up to its rare feat of "being all things to all people". The mouth-watering te matuku oysters are a must if you're there, other fish dishes including west coast whitebait fritters cooked with lemon butter, roasted hapuku and whole flounder are also fresh and flavourful. We also shared some crayfish toasts (topped with black garlic aioli and saffron) and the most perfect agria truffle mash among the group. When it came to dessert, it was all but tough decision-making, the icecream sandwich and vanilla bean crème brûlée were great to complete the meal. (The cheese with no name from New Zealand's central Hawkes bay was intense, unctuous and had a rich gamy taste - though I didn't enjoy it as much personally, I could imagine a sheep's milk cheese lover drooling all over.)
Satisfied and ready for next day's adventures, we returned to the hotel's Dream Bed, designed for a good night's rest. The Maori proverbs and local chocolates placed at your bedside every night is one of the thoughtful touches that I really appreciated. The proverb pictured below means "Goodwill towards others is a precious treasure". Within the stylish interiors, the hotel also offers high connectivity for guests on the go. I would make sure the Handy smart phones available to every guest (Cordis is the only hotel in NZ that offers them, by the way!) are fully charged - they are great in helping us stay connected, guests can even call the Concierge to order room service before they get back to their rooms!
This content is brought to you in collaboration with Cordis, Auckland.
Stay tuned to read more about the sites and things to do around town in part 2 of this guide!