Waitakere Estate is a blast from the not-so-distant past, but only if that blast was rather genteel so as not to disturb the cobwebs which feature heavily in the decoration of said space, specially on the multi-coloured stone “feature” walls.
Our recent visit was in honour of my darling friend Hannah and her preparations for giving birth for the second time. We celebrated with a Baby Shower High Tea coz we is grown up ladies now.
The drive up to the Estate is breath-taking. My love for the Waitakere Ranges continues to burn bright and make my guts feel all warm and nice in that “I want to live inside of you” kind of way. *Sigh* one day Lucy.
I’m not sure how they’ve managed it but the images on the Estate’s website make it look a lot more ‘cozy ski lodge’ than the 70’s implosion that it turned out to be in the brutal light of early afternoon.
I did like the saucy lady on the toilet sign though, her bob is sassy-cute and I have no doubt if you checked in her sophisticated city-girl clutch bag you’d find a fully loaded revolver and some quaaludes. She knows how to have a good time in the forest.
The food was cute and tasty, the view gorgeous and the company un-stab-able. We were seated in one of the ‘morning’ style rooms which adjoin the restaurant proper.
The wall papers had been selected for their rich colours and vibrant patterns. They were obviously new (ish) and part of a refurbishment that seemed to begin with a splurt but putter out not far from the start line. Waitakere Estate has so much going for it; the view, the surrounding forest, the proximity to Auckland city and the gardens, which are lovely. Sadly in 1978 someone made a decisive choice about an all encompassing style and ever since has been trying to drag the whole damn building -as is- kicking and screaming into a world where such an extreme level of kitsch comes off as down right tacky.
Part of me loves it but I would never in a million years have any kind of real celebration there. Unless the celebration was some kind of ‘The Shining’ tribute 1970’s swingers party….
Waitakere Estate promote themselves primarily as a function centre it seems, though they operate as a regular hotel as far as I can see ( there didn’t appear to be any customers staying there when we visited). So you can understand my horror and confusion when I realised in the whole place there was only one public toilet. I don’t mean one set of women’s toilets. Nope ONE toilet in total. One bowl, one sink and one mirror. It was fine for us because though we were a group of 11-12, there was only about 4 other customers there the whole afternoon. But imagine if you will, a wedding or corporate event after the booze starts flowing and seals are broken, the line for that one toilet would be prohibitory at best and at worst a piss-stained disaster. I am guessing they expect most customers taking part in a conference or wedding would have booked their own rooms but what about people who aren’t staying, people who live nearby but not quite close enough to empty their straining bladder every half an hour? All I can say is I imagine their plants get a damn good sprinkling late in the evening on many a wedding night.
The men’s bathroom isn’t exempt from the weird set up of the place either. It’s not in the bar, the restaurant, the function room or any other public space at all. It is out the front entrance in a weird little attached kind of outhouse, a modern day stable where you might drop off your baggage and steed as you saunter into a reception.
Back to the ladies bathroom. It had a nice new sink but for some reason they chose to leave the 1970’s as fuck wood panelling on EVERYTHING, including the ceiling. Personally that would be the first thing I would change. That and the hilarious bubble glass on the bathroom windows.
Wow so much stained cheap pine trying hard to be rimu. The effort alone hurts my eyes and heart.
Another odd thing pointed out to me by a friend during our tea, was the lack of sanitary bins in the toilet stall. Instead there were these weird little baggies to wrap your dirty ladies products in and carry them out into the bathroom proper. Seriously? Do you want to carry your dirty sanitary product out into the line of 20 busting ladies and place it in the unsealed bin under the sink? coz’ I know I sure as shit don’t.
My lamentation increased when I noticed there only one baggy….. Does that mean only one menstruating lady is allowed on the premises at any point in time? I didn’t realise they were so old testament up in the Waitak’s.
I did find some pretty amazeballs (though not associated with toilets) features when I went for a little reconnoitre, such as this classic rough rock feature wall with plastic plants and dust. Oh my lord I laughed. The whole thing looked like a sad pet that someone had tied up in the back garden and forgotten about.
In the intensely decorated orange, red and gold internal organ-esk main room there was a kickass, goes to nowhere mezzanine , gold sprayed wrought iron spiral staircase and a whole shit ton more plastic flowers. Oh and an organ, just incase you fancy some ‘Oh bla dee oh blah da’.
Cleanliness : 9/10 It was a clean and tidy bathroom, smelled nice and the new sink looked good and swanky.
Interior : 6/10 ONE toilet, in a place that big which is primarily used for large congregations of people over long periods of time. The lack of sanitary bin also got them a mark down because that’s a bit yucky in practice.
Exterior : 7/10 It was near the restaurant and the morning/tea room so proximity wasn’t an issue. When I was in there a chef came in to pee, so I guess the staff don’t have their own toilet either so even more people to share one toilet.
Safety : 5/10 You’re in no real mortal danger that far up into the Waitaks unless someone drives off without you and you have to walk home or if The Shining does happen and the Caretaker starts murdering everyone in the building with an axe. Other wise the only fear would be not being able to use a loo when you really want one. Also the ladies at the desk were less than helpful with most things so I guess that would make me pretty uncomfortable as well.
Snugglitude : 6/10 Part of me loves the untouched nature of this place and the time-capsule esk feeling it gives you about all of our childhoods but the other, more sensible and tasteful part of me knows that having a wedding there would be like death to my sense of style, design and taste. I would cry the whole time and feel like I was in a bad Eastern European made for TV movie.
Total : 33/50