I've always been frustrated at the backwards thinking of New Zealand properties and retail when it comes to pets, and in particular doggos.
The U.S do a lot of things wrong, but they do pet life brilliantly. Every time I visit L.A I'm elated at the ease with which customers will waltz off Sunset Boulevard into a Wholefoods store or cruise into the Rodeo Drive YSL boutique with their pooch strutting confidently at their side. The fact Americans can take their best friend on a domestic flight first class (not down in baggage) also fills me with pure envy.
One place in New Zealand that truly gets it, is the Hilton Lake Taupo hotel.
Thankfully when travelling from Auckland to Taupo it's just a scenic four hour drive, meaning my own canine cutie a 5 year old Griffon (and Remix office dog) Chilli, enjoyed prime seating on mum's lap rather than a plane cargo hold. As soon as we arrived Chilli was met with five star service. Trotting up to reception, and then being escorted up to the Presidential Suite on the fifth floor, he looked and definitely felt like a star.
I don't know what was more inviting for him - the pre-arranged doggie treat bags, a special dog bed (in the GIGANTIC suite) or the sign to hang on the hotel room door that said 'Furry Friend Inside'. The Hilton Lake Taupo rolled out the red carpet for him. And for us too - welcome treats for the entire family were waiting eagerly in our full kitchen marble bench, quickly consumed before we had fun choosing which of the five huge bedrooms to set our toddler Chloe up in, and which TV to pop The Wiggles on. Just a mere 10 minute drive from central Taupo it's perfectly located. If there ever was a home away from home hotel for a family with children and dogs - it's the Hilton in Lake Taupo.
After choosing to enjoy the beautiful restaurant Bistro Lago dishes to be served à la room service due to a grizzly child, we wandered the beautiful grounds and found plenty of bathroom bushes out of the way that would become Chilli's 'spots'. The newly heated outdoor swimming pool called our name and as rain gently fell it was the perfect way to end our first day at this pet-friendly hotel. But more awaited the pampered pooch tomorrow - Chilli and I had been invited to enjoy the Timeless High Tea in Bistro Lago. Situated in the 131 year old Terraces hotel building overlooking Lake Taupo it was a sophisticated date between four-legged and two-legged friends.
Because of the rain on the day, a unique gesture was made specifically for Chilli, accommodating us at a table inside (usually the doggo high tea patrons are sat outside). I couldn't have been prouder of him, as he sat quietly on his chair like a total gentlemen, albeit with a face of judgement watching me devour the bubbles, savoury delights and scones. The epitome of a 'good boy'; Chilli was a dream guest... unlike my 1.5 year old toddler who terrorised the restaurant-goers in the adorably annoying way only a toddler can get away with. PSA - The staff at the hotel and Bistro Lago restaurant were the most accomodating and helpful we've ever come across. If I'd have seen a stressed looking couple heading towards me with a clumsy toddler and a small dog that looks like an Ewok from Star Wars I'd have braced myself for drama, but no matter where we went or what we did, we were welcomed with complete ease and pleasure.
Other highlights included watching Free Willy in our own TV room (Chilli loves a whale), a touch of tennis on the on-site courts, trying to keep Chloe from eating Chilli's dog biscuits and many cuddles all together as a family of four. Mum and dad also got to relax with some bubbles while both babies slept in our YUGE suite. Being able to travel on a family vacay with our beloved dog (who naturally, we consider our firstborn) is such a treat and something to be celebrated.
Hilton Lake Taupo, thank you for making a pet-friendly family trip SO easy and enjoyable.
11/10 EXPERIENCE - if you have a dog, don't even think about it, just book.