Modern luxury prevails in a hotel that has changed with the times in New Plymouth.
Sadie Beckman checks in to The Devon Hotel.
A ultra-modern lobby greets you on arrival, but a display of historic photos down the hall shows you the place in all its retro glory back in the 1960s and 70s. A framed copy of that era's menu shows how food trends can really date too. Desk staff were friendly and helpful, but there weren't enough of them around to help us lug the bags down several corridors to the room, which would have been a bonus, as one of the kids is on crutches after a spectacular skatepark fail.
The rooms: A fairly sumptuous Queen suite with interconnecting twin room for the kids was the perfect family set up, especially nice after we'd been sharing a room with them for the last few days at different accommodation. (Cosy the first night, insanity-provoking by the third.) Each room had its own bathroom, the suite's had a jacuzzi bath and there was a separate bedroom and lounge in that one too. The twin had two double sized beds and both rooms had enormous TV setups. Free Playstation usage meant the kids were in gaming heaven, while we could chill with a wine next door. Facilities included the usual comforts - robes and slippers, irons and hairdryers, cosmetics in the bathrooms and tea/coffee making options. No minibar though - which is probably for the best when the front desk has your credit card details.
The beds: A queen and two doubles. Medium soft, and piled luxuriously with masses of good quality quilts, soft blankets and pillows - which I personally love. Minimalist sleepers may have lots of things to chuck on the floor before going to bed.
Food and drink: Marbles Restaurant at the Devon has had a long history and many incarnations, including a stint as a pirate-themed buffet a decade or so ago. Now it has been completely refurbished and offers high quality buffet dining. Renowned for good seafood, including a particularly delicious chowder, there were more dishes than it would have been possible to try, although the male contingent in the family certainly gave it a good go. The food was fresh and often replenished by an army of staff and the desserts were delightful. Mini portions of classic restaurant menu items such as panna cotta, cheesecake and brownie made for difficult decisions, as well as steamed sponges, fruits, cheeses, and the classic, buffet-restaurant soft-serve machine. $39.90 for an adult and $29.90 for under 18s.
The Devon also has a separate bar with lots of lounge space, a decent selection of beers and wines on tap and a good house wine at only $6 a glass.
Facilities: A heated outdoor pool with adjoining spa pool was fine for even an autumn dip, and the spa was big enough to allow adequate personal space, which is always nice. Free guest wifi (fibre-optic) and free access to New Plymouth Aquatic Centre and Gym are included, as are passes to Ngamotu Golf Club apparently, which seems a really good drawcard for those who like to get out on the green. Although personally, I've never seen the appeal, or indeed the point, of golf, except if I got to drive one of those cool buggies.
If you're feeling energetic and want to explore town on two wheels, mountain bikes can be borrowed at no charge, however because a broken-legged son meant this wasn't going to be an option for us this time, I found myself cast into the complexities of New Plymouth's one-way system in the car instead. Probably not that difficult, but I am still grateful to that nice GPS lady who tells you where to turn.
Room service: Available and a good option for those who might prefer à la carte to full-on buffet. They'll deliver drinks from the bar to your room too.
What's in the neighbourhood? A good, central location handy to most central New Plymouth amenities, and situated quite close to the award winning Coastal Walkway. About a 20 minute walk to the CBD, where there are plenty of high street shops and eateries, and of course, the magnificent,mirrored Len Lye Centre and Govett-Brewster art gallery, which is free and intriguing. Opposite it, the funky Public Catering Company is worth a visit - a communal, light and plant-filled space that feels a bit like a cross between an indoor beer garden and a cafe food court, it has craft beer, decent pizza and other food options.
Beautiful Pukekura Park is just under ten minutes' drive away from the hotel, and is a stunning, 52-hectare 'Garden of National Significance' that certainly lives up to the moniker.
Value for money: $260-360 a night for the Queen Suite, depending on time of year, and the twin starts at $180. Although at the luxury end of things price-wise, the facilities and location are good, the rooms were pretty much immaculate and the onsite dining options made things nice and easy. If travelling as a family, it's a great stop for a 'treat' night, when you have to watch the budget the rest of the time.
Would I return? Yes, we enjoyed the chill-out and easy onsite options.
The Devon Hotel and Marbles Restaurant is at 390 Devon Street East, Strandon, New Plymouth.
Contact: 06 759 9099