Royal Lakeside Novotel, Rotorua, New Zealand

This item appears on page 48 of the January 2009 issue.
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At the Royal Lakeside Novotel (11 Tutanekai St., Box 348, Rotorua 3010, NEW ZEALAND; phone +64 7 346 3888, fax 347 1888, www.novotel

rotorua.co.nz), our 2-night stay, Dec. 22-23, 2007, cost US$300.

This hotel is a must — perfect service, perfect facilities and perfect location, with views of Lake Rotorua. Novotels are very well managed and I highly recommend them. My wife, Eva, and I stayed at the Novotel in Queensland a year earlier and experienced the same type of fabulous service, facilities and location.

Rotorua itself was not so much of a “must,” we felt. There were lots of ethnic eateries and gifts shops — lots of activity. The Te Puia Maori Cultural Centre (phone +64 7 348 9047, www.nzmaori.co.nz — open daily 8-5. Admission, tour and concert for NZ$50 [$26] adult or NZ$25 child) offered guided tours, craft demos and a walk to view the hot, bubbling mud pools and geysers. We were not impressed.

We were impressed with our dinner at Ali Baba’s Kebab takeout (1146 Tutanakei St.; phone 07 348 2983). A one-man hole-in-the-wall operation run by a man from Tunisia whose English is perfect.

The food is inexpensive and really good. You sit and watch him put together your lamb-and-veggie wrap “kebab” or a salad made to order. Lamb and chickens rotate under the hot lights. No alcohol is served, but this place is a “must.” We liked it so much, we ate there both nights of our stay.

ROBERT A. RINGGENBERG

West Chester, OH

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At the Royal Lakeside Novotel (11 Tutanekai St., Box 348, Rotorua 3010, NEW ZEALAND; phone +64 7 346 3888, fax 347 1888, www.novotel

rotorua.co.nz), our 2-night stay, Dec. 22-23, 2007, cost US$300.

This hotel is a must — perfect service, perfect facilities and perfect location, with views of Lake Rotorua. Novotels are very well managed and I highly recommend them. My wife, Eva, and I stayed at the Novotel in Queensland a year earlier and experienced the same type of fabulous service, facilities and location.

Rotorua itself was not so much of a “must,” we felt. There were lots of ethnic eateries and gifts shops — lots of activity. The Te Puia Maori Cultural Centre (phone +64 7 348 9047, www.nzmaori.co.nz — open daily 8-5. Admission, tour and concert for NZ$50 [$26] adult or NZ$25 child) offered guided tours, craft demos and a walk to view the hot, bubbling mud pools and geysers. We were not impressed.

We were impressed with our dinner at Ali Baba’s Kebab takeout (1146 Tutanakei St.; phone 07 348 2983). A one-man hole-in-the-wall operation run by a man from Tunisia whose English is perfect.

The food is inexpensive and really good. You sit and watch him put together your lamb-and-veggie wrap “kebab” or a salad made to order. Lamb and chickens rotate under the hot lights. No alcohol is served, but this place is a “must.” We liked it so much, we ate there both nights of our stay.

ROBERT A. RINGGENBERG

West Chester, OH