Some­times a tired mum needs a break — and a but­ler

The Sunday Telegraph (Sydney) - Escape - - DESTINATION NEW ZEALAND - DANI WRIGHT

The need to es­cape my fam­ily had been creep­ing up on me for a while, thanks to their con­stant de­mands, es­pe­cially the ever-chang­ing bed­time call-outs usu­ally end­ing with: “I’m very sorry to tell you this, Mummy, I re­ally am, but I just can’t get to sleep.”

In­stead of sym­pa­thy, in­creas­ingly I found my­self sigh­ing, “Give me a break!” And that’s just what I got, af­ter ac­cept­ing the chal­lenge to be away from my fam­ily for a week­end at Cordis Auck­land for but­ler ser­vice and pam­per­ing – my first solo trip from the fam­ily since my son Henry was born 12 years ago and his sister Ge­orgina nine years ago.

On the first morn­ing, in­stead of kids jump­ing on the bed, I was awo­ken by a civilised wake-up call, fol­lowed by a knock on the door by a very chip­per but­ler de­liv­er­ing me a freshly brewed cof­fee. It’s nice to be on the re­ceiv­ing end for a change and I take my time be­fore head­ing to the 10th-floor club lounge for break­fast.

It’s the per­fect place for solo trav­ellers, be­cause most peo­ple are also on their own, such as a chirpy Amer­i­can busi­ness­man who is ask­ing for “dan­ishes to go”, but “def­i­nitely only if the nap­kin is re­cy­clable”, as well as “a de­caf with just a brush of milk”. Busi­ness trav­ellers, it seems, aren’t shy about hav­ing their needs met and re­ly­ing whole­heart­edly on the but­ler ser­vice, which in­cludes un­pack­ing and pack­ing your suit­case. But I’m far from fa­mil­iar with hav­ing a but­ler at my beck and call, so I un­pack my own bag – this time.

Af­ter break­fast, I head to our old neigh­bour­hood on Auck­land’s North Shore, where we lived when our chil­dren were born. Henry sends me a text want­ing to see all the old sights, so I start snap­ping and send­ing from the beach­front path.

Back at the Cordis, I thor­oughly make up for my morn­ing run with a high tea tower spilling over with savoury beet­root and licorice-cured salmon on crumbly sable bis­cuit, egg and cress sand­wiches and pork pies, as well as ri­cotta cheese­cake with straw­berry and Pimms jelly, with a glass of Louis Roed­erer cham­pagne.

About half­way mark, Lobby Lounge su­per­vi­sor Mali Jam­ma­nee brings out a se­lec­tion of test tubes filled with 25 dif­fer­ent teas from white, yel­low, green, oo­long, black, dark and herbal in­fu­sions, and an ex­tra tray filled with but­ter­milk scones, jam and cream.

I choose a dark tea, Shou Puerh, which is a rare tea buried in a clay pot un­der­ground for seven years; the strong­est tea in the world with a smooth, smoky taste. I Face­Time Ge­orgie and she wishes she could reach into the phone and grab all the tiny cakes I can’t eat.

It feels a bit Monty Python-ish try­ing to fit one more into my mouth, so I’m given a “doggy bag” and head to the Chuan Spa, where I’m of­fered five tiny clay pots filled with es­sen­tial oils based on the five el­e­ments of Chi­nese medicine – earth, wa­ter, fire, wood and metal. I de­cide on “metal”, which has frank­in­cense, lime and mandarin and is meant to “loosen the feel­ings of sad­ness”. Af­ter a 45-minute mas­sage, I’m led to the “dream room” as well as the chance to ex­pe­ri­ence the rooftop pool, jacuzzi and tri-bathing rit­ual with sauna, steam room and ice bath.

Later that night at the in-house 8 restau­rant, I Snapchat Ge­orgie and show her around the eight kitchens – from sushi to Ital­ian to In­dian.

There’s also an Amer­i­can grill where more jovial chefs cook meat to or­der, in­clud­ing os­trich, kan­ga­roo and Ge­orgie’s favourite an­i­mal, the al­paca. It’s here she de­cides to end the Snapchat con­ver­sa­tion in hor­ror as I ask for it to be cooked medium-rare.

While I wait, the seafood catches my eye: great big bowls filled with the bounty of the sea and Croa­t­ian-born sous chef Pa­trick Jankovic talks en­thu­si­as­ti­cally about the lit­tle fish­ing com­pa­nies he works with to source pro­duce such as gi­ant frog crabs, fat green-lipped mus­sels and rare tur­bot, “the king of the sea”. My tur­bot is un­de­ni­ably good.

Pa­trick also slices me a piece of pork, which he says is from a farmer who raises free-range, milk-fed pigs es­pe­cially for Cordis. It’s paired with an Ur­ba­naut IPA beer, lo­cally-crafted for Cordis, which I’m as­sured is “a lit­tle hop­pier than other IPA beers”.

My bed is be­ing made when I ar­rive back at my room and a Maori proverb has been left on my pil­low: He hono tan­gata e kore e motu; ka pa he taura waka e motu, or Un­like a ca­noe rope, a hu­man bond can­not be sev­ered.

It re­minds me, as the whole solo hol­i­day has, that time passes, chil­dren grow, life is fleet­ing. And that be­ing away from your fam­ily can some­how make you feel more con­nected to them. I make a men­tal note on my re­turn to be more pa­tient when I hear: “But, Mummy, I’m too hot/cold/thirsty/just can’t pos­si­bly get to sleep!”


HIGH TEA Re­lax, in­dulge, the choice is yours at Cordis Auck­land where a high tea tower is hard to re­sist.

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