MOLLIE’S LUXURY BOUTIQUE HOTEL

Remember the howls of anguish when Mollie’s Boutique Hotel was sold recently? “What’ll happen to the opera?”So when we arrived at Mollie’s this morning, I was ready to turn off and tune out. First big surprise, Mollie’s beloved GM, Joanna Bourke, has been retained. Second big surprise,THE MUSIC STAYS, not only opera, but Jazz, opera Pop, classical guitar and quartets, etc, cos some guests prefer background music to the formal small concert setting. Some of the old World European decor has been replaced with vibrant contemporary furniture and it works.There’s an indecently plump cat to remind guests of the warm-and flufflies and the hospitality of home. We’re enjoying our lattes and homemade bikkies.

Gone are most of the snooty aristicrats looking out from ornate picture frames. Afterall says Joanna, this is New Zealand, so why not feature New Zealand artists? The new owners have put New Zealand art on show throughout the property. Luxury is subjective as we all know, but for me it includes space. There’s plenty of it here. I long to hurl myself onto one of the superking beds, just to annoy Michael, cos it’s what I do best. All is well at Mollie’s. Now we’re at Fraser’s Cafe in Mt. Eden, kinda shabby inside, but my tasty French omlette is stuffed with red peppers, rocket and fetta and all the locals seem to be here. That’s always a good sign.

SAILING THE PRIDE OF AUCKLAND

Who’s the fool who allowed Michael to take the helm and steer the ship!!? We’re listing badly to one side, the Asian passengers are squealing their heads off and the Skipper doesn’t look at all concerned. Why oh why is Michael always the first one to volunteer? All these questions and more are running through my head as we take one the most exhilarating sailboat rides on the yacht ‘The Pride of Auckland‘, around Hauraki Harbour. Damn! Now the rest of the passengers are volunteering – don’t trust any of em. Another passenger leaps to his feet and steers with a do-or-die expression on his face. I’m seriously concerned until I see the skipper, a seasoned performer having a laugh at my expense.

For this hour & a half trip, we’re all provided with massive (and very unflattering) heavy-duty rainweather gear (some of the Asian ladies are reluctant but soon change their minds when they begin to resemble wet dishmops). Did I enjoy sailing around the harbour, cutting through the water at the rate of knots, listing perilously from one side to the other? YES, I loving it! Would do it again in a heartbeat. Something magical about passing the training boat, Spirit of Adventure, as it makes it’s way back to harbour and good to see a different view of “The Cloud” a temporary events centre for the Rugby World Cup. We glide back pass Sir Peter Blake’s winning yacht and I’m getting really cold but nothing beats the adrenaline rush! SAIL NZ have given us a thrilling experience and don’t worry the two Skippers know exactly what they’re doing. Waiheke Island tomorrow….

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