Royal Lakeside Novotel, Rotorua, New Zealand

This item appears on page 48 of the January 2009 issue.

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


West Chester, OH