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Winn's Inns (*New!)
Jim Winnerman: Feature Travel Article Journalist
Winn's Inns (*New!)

During my extensive travels I always book a room in the most interesting , one-of-a-kind accommodation available.  This section of my website is devoted to a brief description of the most recent inns where I have stayed and which I can recommend with confidence.

 

Rotorua, New Zealand

Peppers on the Point

 

Possibly the best recommendation for Peppers on the Point dates to 2008 when this lakeside resort on five acres was home for several days to England’s Prince Andrew and his entourage.  So, it is certainly qualifies for the casual, upscale traveler seeking convenience to local sightseeing, along with a quiet place to relax and the option of gourmet dining within a few steps of your accommodation.

 

The choice of Peppers by a member of the Royal Family is in keeping with the history of why this unique New Zealand retreat was built on the site in the first place.  In 1930 the property was selected for a private two-story villa due to its panoramic view and its location at the end of a prominent point which juts far out into Lake Rotora and a view of Mokoia Island.  At night the lights of Rotorua city are clearly in view, while the nighttime sky reveals an extravaganza of sparkling stars.

 

Today the inn is discovered behind a gated entry at the end of a road which passes through a residential neighborhood.  Once on the property, the panoramic views of the lake suddenly surrounds visitors on three sides.

 

The allure of the location was not lost on the owner when he decided to open the property as an upscale inn in 2004.  He simply built a newer mansion on the property but a little higher on the hill, and moved his family there.

 

The original family mansion remains on the site with the inteior entirely updated by a leading New Zealand designer.  The exterior retains its original charm and remains largely unchanged.  Inside several of the original parlors, the library and sitting rooms are all accessible to guests, each with their own panoramic lakeside views. Fireplaces, a timbered staircase and dining room and a collection of antiques contribute to the décor.

 

The rooms

Accommodations are of utmost importance at an upscale inn, and Peppers does not disappoint.  Perhaps mentioning the rooms are “fit for royalty” makes the point.

 

Two private lakeside villas are a short walk to the lodge, and seven of the eight suites have panoramic lakeside views. 

 

Accommodations are exceptionally generous proportions, being approximately double the space found in a normal hotel room. Each features separate sitting areas and functional kitchens, and  are individually furnished in natural colors.

 

All, of course, are also ensuite.  Features include massage jet showers and bath spas.

The lake villas feature lake-side, open air hot tubs on private decks.

 

Kitchenettes are inside each unit and refrigerators are stocked with complimentary beverages and snacks.

 

The food

Perhaps the greatest compliment to the restaurant on the property is that it has no name and flourishes purely on an outstanding reputation for excellent food.  Also, if you like to eat where the locals go, this is it in Rotorua.  However, these locals are likely more discriminating than most. 

 

Dinners commence with a casual gathering hosted by the innkeeper where guests meet while enjoying complimentary cocktails and hors d’ oeuvres.  After a selection of fine wine from the wine cellar’s inventory of international and New Zealand labels, a four course meal is served at a comfortable pace ensuring diners do not feel rushed.  Since there is only one serving an evening, diners can enjoy the meal as long as they like.

 

A sample menu consists of an appetizer of mussel cakes served with cauliflower and red pepper aioli. A popular main course is seared Akaroa Salmon served with soft white polenta, caramelized onions, feta, candied olives and pinot jus. A gourmet dessert choice would be soft centered pudding with roasted berries, espresso mascarpone and cinnamon candy

 

Choices of where to dine include a private parlor in the mansion, outside on the patio, being seated with other guests to discuss New Zealand sightseeing and impressions, or dining on your private guest room balcony. 

 

Wine connoisseurs also have the option of being served in the inn’s large wine cellar.

 

A cooked hot breakfast is included with a stay.  Lunch can be prepared, at extra cost.  Drinks and snacks are found in each room, and a 24/7 jar of homemade cookies is always available in the lodge breakfast area.

 

The unique

--An unusual amenity at Peppers is friendly, full time innkeeper David Smail, who acts as a personal concierge.  His assistance in planning daily activities is an especially worthwhile  benefit as it allows guests to avoid the very popular tourist information center in town which is usually crowded and understaffed.

 

--Guests who wish to explore the property have an unusual choice.  A somewhat steep and twisting path down to the water leads through what might be described as a holding pen for Noah if the lake begins to rise.  Enclosed in a hillside pasture are two alpacas, two goats, two donkeys and two miniature horses.  They all live in harmony and welcome visitors, especially those carrying leftovers from a meal in the mansion.

 

Further along at the end of the path visitors find a cave thought to have been an indigenous Maori hideout, a tennis court and a private lakeside dock perfect for lakeside relaxing or fishing.

 

 

--Peppers would be a good choice regardless where it is located, but the quick ten-minute drive into the center of Rotorua makes the village exceedingly convenient.

 

--A free-standing chapel was recently added on the property for small weddings or conferences.  A visit inside is needed to appreciate what a good architect can do to incorporate an outstanding view into a simple design.

 

--The inn has a workout room and complimentary wireless internet, plus complimentary computers.  Therapeutic massages can be arranged. 

 

-Sightseeing weary travelers need not leave the property for an enjoyable respite.

 

Look before you book

If a view of the lake is important, about the only caution at Peppers is to ensure you do not mistakenly book the one room on the property without a view.  Guests who do end up with the non-view room can enjoy a lakeside panorama with just a 30-second walk..

 

The bottom line

 

-$380 to $1640 depending on:

----- season (high season is December through March)

------inclusions (meals)

------conversion rate at the time

-check website for promotions

 

Peppers on the Point

info@onthepoint.co.nz

onthepoint.co.nz

 

If you go:

 

There is plenty of boutique shopping in small but busy Rotorua, but to miss these three activities would be a mistake.

 

The New Zealand Maori Arts and Crafts Institute (Te Puia) is a not-to-be-missed attraction immersing visitors into the Maori culture during a half day guide-led tour (general admission also available.)  Demonstrations of Maori dances (and the opportunity to participate), an authentic Maori prepared meal, and educational talks about Maori art, history, culture and native flora and fauna are given by indigenous people whose heritage is pure and proudly New Zealand.  Their appreciation of their background and tradition, and their eagerness to share it with visitors brings a personal dimension to a visit here most cultural attractions cannot match. Allow half a day.

 

The center itself is nestled in the picturesque Whakarewarewa geothermal valley full of 500 pools and steam vents, plus the impressive Pohutu geyser which erupts 20 times a day.  Motorized trams are available to take visitors around the spacious grounds, which include the opportunity for a close view of the elusive kiwi bird.

 

reservations@tepuia.com (address is for general inquiries)

www.Tepuia.com

 

Wai-0-Tapu is a meticulously maintained thermal wonderland well worth a visit not far outside the center of Rotorua.  Clearly marked trails wind up to, over, and past 25 points of thermal interest including bubbling mud pots, geysers, warm streams and vividly colored, mineral laden pools of water.  However, the only way to get lost in this wonderland, which is similar to the thermal area of America’s Yellowstone National Park, is to take a wrong turn when the wind engulfs the trail with steam from one of the many thermal areas. Allow two hours.

 

waiotapu@waiotapu.co.nz

www.waiotapu.co.nz

 

 

Kaitiaki Adventures is a popular local outfitter which offers a variety of adrenalin fueled, water-related activities for which New Zealand is famous, including guided trips for as few as one person into the wilderness.  A raft trip on the Kaituna River is a “must do” for the fearless, however.  After several long discussions about what to do in every conceivable situation, and Maori prayers said out of respect to the tribe whose history is tied to the river, a guide helps six passengers navigate through several class V rapids, and 12 less threatening stretches of bubbling current.  The highlight is a heart thumping ride over the highest commercially floated waterfall in the world (27-feet), and the thrill of living to tell about it. Allow half a day.

 

Jason@kaitiaki.co.nz

www.Kaitiaki.co.nz

 
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Abilene, Kansas
Abilene's Victorian Inn

Adrian and Jay Potter were living in Albuquerque, New Mexico, in May, 2005 and had never stayed in a bed and breakfast until they visited Kansas to check out a college for their son.  “At breakfast the innkeeper mentioned the inn was going to be for sale,” she recalls.  “A year later we were the owners!”

 

A temporary innkeeper was hired until the Potters moved into the inn and took over to begin their new lives.  “We love the people we meet,” Adrian says.  “What makes me happiest is when guests arrive as strangers and leave having made new friends with others who are staying here.”

 

To ensure her gourmet breakfasts are memorable, Adrian attended culinary school.  The Potters members of the Professional Association of Innkeepers International, and several other innkeeping organizations.

 

THE BASICS

The inn was built in1887 by Edward E. Hazlett, an Abilene physician. Dr. Hazlett and his family lived here until 1916.  A son, Swede, was a close boyhood friend of Abilene native Dwight D. Eisenhower, and was responsible for encouraging Ike to attend West Point Academy, which lead to his distinguished military career and eventual election to president of these United States.

 

Eventually Dr. Hazlett's widow sold the home to a prominent Abilene attorney, Arthur Hurd.  Between 1920 and 1921 the Hurd family added 3000 square feet to the home, doubling its size and creating very large rooms. After Mr. Hurd's death, the home was sold again in 1945 and converted into eight apartments.  In 1992 it was restored to its original 1920 splendor, and has been Abilene's premier Bed and Breakfast since that time.

 

The Potter’s purchased the inn in Fevruary 2006.

 

The Potter’s are preparing to submit the inn paperwork to have it added to the National Registry of Historic Places, and it is already on the Abilene Historic Registry.

 

 THE UNIQUE

-Guests step back in time when entering the inn and hear 1940-era music and commercials playing on the vintage radio.  Vintage magazines include early issues of Life, and the innkeeper may appear in a 1940 dress when serving breakfast.

-Adrian hosts afternoon tea parties periodically in the two large parlors and dining room, and supplies a nice selection of early 1900-era hats.  Inquire when booking a room.

-A small gift shop features a large selection of exotic teas.

-Check out the first floor bathroom located under the winding staircase.  The upholstered low ceiling winds its way upward just over the toilet.

-Complimentary bicycles will quickly transport you anywhere in town

-For people traveling with children a large city park is directly behind the inn with a swimming pool and tennis courts.

-Located on Third Street noted for block after block of stately homes

 

 THE ROOMS

-Huge, spacious bedrooms are unusual to find in a converted Victorian home.  Thanks to an extensive addition in 1930, five of the six bedrooms in the inn are enormous.

-All rooms are tastefully decorated true to the Victorian era but are not overly done

-A third floor suite consists of three interconnected bedrooms able to sleep eight, a kitchenette, several sitting areas and a private balcony.  With only one bathroom, it is ideal for a family or a slumber party for a “girl’s night out.”

-Some guest rooms feature private balconies

 

THE GUESTS

In addition to tourists, guests should not be surprised to encounter a wide variety of guests including people from all over the world doing research at the Eisenhower Library.  Professional actors appearing at the live theater in town also use the inn, as do rodeo cowboys who come to town during summer rodeo season.  A recent guest was Mary Eisenhower, a grand-daughter of the President.

 

THE FOOD

Adrian has an Associate of Applied Science degree in Culinary Arts with several certificates in food service.  A typical gourmet morning meal consists of a large wine glass of vanilla yogurt parfait filled with fresh granola and fruit, a guest’s choice of beverage, and coconut pecan pralines French toast, baked bacon and sweet sour crème and strawberry garnish.   For long-term guests she prepares a different menu daily for two weeks.

 

Expect to be greeted upon arrival with a fresh batch of warm cookies.  Microwave popcorn and other light snacks as well as a variety of hot and cold drinks are available 24/7.

 

THE HIGH POINTS

-Within walking distance (one mile) of all major attractions

-Wireless internet (with a strong signal in each room) is complimentary

-Private dinner prepared on request with advance notice

-Front porch swing perfect for relaxing

-Two pianos for the musically inclined

-Afternoon tea is available with advance reservations

-video lending library

-game library

-cable TV/VCR in each room

 

THE LOW POINTS

-It is no surprise the least expensive bedroom is the smallest.  Inquire about room size when booking.  For the few extra dollars one of the larger rooms is well worth the price.

--While the rooms are overly spacious, some bathrooms are small.

 

THE BOTTOM LINE

Rooms begin at $79.  The most expensive accommodation is the third floor suite which is  $129 for two (see “The rooms” above.)  Additional people in the suite are $25 per person up to a total of eight  

 

IF YOU GO:

Where- Abilene's Victorian Inn Bed and Breakfast

Phone- 888 807 7774

Website-abilenesvictorianinn.com 

Area information- http://www.abilenekansas.org/

There is plenty to do in this town of 6800 people, and it makes an ideal stop on the way between Denver and St. Louis or other Midwest cities. 

 

Abilene sightseeing includes:

-Eisenhower Presidential Museum and Library

-Greyhound Hall of Fame

-Museum of Telephony

-Great Plains Professional Theater

-The historic Smoky Valley Railroad which offers a two hour ride.

-a 1901 carousel with 20 hand-carved horses

-a very nicely done local heritage center

-Old Abilene town featuring gunfights and can-can girls.

-three historic restaurants

-two historic mansions (tours offered)

-several antique shops.

 

 

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314-434-3478
416 Conway Wold Byway  St. Louis, MO  63141