The Ultimate Staycation at the Sofitel

By Phoebe Watt

The Ultimate Staycation at the Sofitel
Where to go for a world-class weekend getaway without the jet-lag.

With news this week that a COVID-19 vaccine could become available as early as the first quarter of 2021, many of us will be mentally packing our suitcases and manifesting a passport full of stamps from far-flung destinations around the globe.

Of course, until New Zealand’s travel bubble officially expands, we’re stuck exploring our own backyard. It hardly needs to be said that this is a fortunate problem to have, spoiled as we are for stunning natural landscapes and diverse microclimates. Sometimes, though, a beautiful beach or bushwalk doesn’t cut it. So if you’re craving the buzz of a big city and a taste of another culture, do as MiNDFOOD managing editor Phoebe Watt would do and book a luxurious staycation at the newly-refurbished Sofitel Auckland Viaduct Harbour. Here she shares highlights of her 24-hour hotel holiday.


From the first “Bonjour!” that greets us at the door, to the champagne and petit fours awaiting us in our beautiful Luxury Marina-View Room, to the Balmain toiletries in the marble bathroom and the last croissant left on the room service breakfast tray in the morning, French culture and traditions underpin the Sofitel brand. As an unabashed francophile (from the endless free movie options to watch whilst getting ready for dinner, I chose Madeline in earnest), I admired the commitment to the bit. 


If VIP treatment is an aspect of travel that you especially enjoy (Koru Club members, here’s looking at you), the Club Millésime experience is an extra you won’t want to miss. An executive lounge designed to encapsulate the spirit of the French art de recevoir (art of hospitality), this exclusive area of the hotel provides cosy corners and more social seating arrangements for guests to enjoy a change of scenery beyond the absolute privacy of their rooms and suites, while indulging in complementary bites and beverages, tailored to the time of day. Included in the room rate for the Luxury Marina-View Rooms and above, late check-out is another perk of Club Millésime.


Sofitel’s in-house spas are world-renowned for the top-tier treatments and services they offer, and Sofitel Viaduct Harbour’s soon-to-be-opened Sofitel Spa facility promises to be no exception. Bringing the ultra-premium Biologe Recherche brand to New Zealand for the first time where it will sit alongside French skincare favourite Sothys as well as locally-made Nellie Tier, Sofitel Spa’s signature and bespoke facials, massages and body treatments are the definition of luxury — if the in-room preview I had was anything to go by.


When the opportunity to slice open a bottle of champagne with a sabre comes knocking, you take it. Even if your wrists are too weak to hold the bottle in one hand and slice with the other, and you need some assistance from one of the obliging bartenders behind Sabrage Champagne Bar. Always impressive-looking, it turns out the art of sabrage isn’t as difficult as it looks (I got it on my second go). Just pay mind to French superstitions and ensure you don’t dispose of the cork where you sleep. “Perhaps toss it over your shoulder on the way home”, suggests our waiter, which I of course do not, despite how French it sounds.


Headed up by the renowned Michelin-starred chef Marc de Passorio, restaurant La Marée is the jewel in the Sofitel Viaduct Harbour’s crown. French for ‘the tide’, its name is inspired by the restaurant’s waterfront location, and the natural ebbing and flowing of the water, which is said to mirror the seasonality of the produce used in creating each dish. Melding French culinary tradition with Kiwi flair and the finest kaimoana NZ has to offer (our seasonal oysters, southern bluefin tuna and grilled octopus were sensational), the 5-star service and setting rounded out a truly special dining experience.

For more, visit the Sofitel website

*The writer was a guest of the Sofitel 


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