Popping The Question At Tauranga’s French Country House (& getting there in a new Holden Captiva)

After just over a month of having been upgraded from “boyfriend” to “fiancee” by virtue of a lovely lady named Aimee saying “yes” to a certain question I asked, it’s high time I thanked a few folks. For starters, Kay who runs Tauranga’s gorgeous French Country House. This is a luxury boutique hotel that is as splendid as any small hotel in the country (click here to read a New Zealand Herald article of mine to find out why). It was here that I chose to pop the question to Aimee, having become enchanted by the property a year earlier on a solo travel-writing assignment.

Forming a bond with Kay and her dear little doggie, Freddie (see photos of Freddie below), on that January 2016 trip, I was so taken by the French Country House that I decided it would make the perfect spot for the proposal when the time was right. That time would turn out to be December 31st, 2016.  With years of forgettable New Year’s Eves under my belt, it’s a certainty I’ll never forget this one.

Kay was onboard to help me hide the ring under a miniature room service-style silver dome and put the champagne on ice while Aimee and I went out to feed the horses that roam the hotel’s grounds. Horses fed and with the cork on the celebratory champagne popping at about 4pm on the final afternoon of the year, we toasted the night in style with Kay, Freddie and the other guests. Add to everything the views out to The Mount as the backdrop and things couldn’t have been any better.

The only issue had been getting from Auckland to Tauranga. In the run up to Christmas, my 2001 VW Golf’s air-conditioning had passed away and a summertime drive in stinking hot car to propose marriage was just not going to cut the mustard. There’d be enough clamminess as it was.

Enter the good people at Holden NZ. After a mad series of week-before-Christmas phone calls where I left messages on a couple of phones without being entirely sure I’d made sense, I received a phone call from the Holden NZ marketing manager. I was after a flash car to make the proposal even more special and Holden were only too happy to help.

Having a new Holden also made more than a little bit of fate-like sense in that my previous travel article on the French Country House had included a write up on a brand new Holden Commodore. You can read about that vehicle’s magnificent “bark and crackle” by clicking here to an earlier Roxborogh Report article.

This time around I was gifted a 4WD diesel in the form of a 2016 Captiva. Also available in 2.4 litre petrol and even 3.0 litre V6 petrol, the 2.2 litre diesel was smooth and required almost no extra effort in scaling the Kaimai Ranges on the drive via Hamilton on the way home.

Features like the Blind Spot Alert and the Rear Cross Traffic Alert warn of encroaching cars and the novelty of a rear-view camera for reversing doesn’t wear off in a hurry when you normally drive something whose prized feature is a minidisc player. Funnily enough, my minidisc collection is not that expansive. Indeed it’s audio technology where the Captiva really excels with Apple Car Play being one of the signature features. Plug in your phone and all the commands you’d expect become available on the vehicle’s dashboard screen.

So the car impressed and crucially, the air-conditioning came to the party too. Thank you Holden. To find out more about Apple Car Play and how it works with Holden click here, and to see more about the latest models of Holden Captivas, click here.

Which just leaves the small detail of how I actually asked the all important question. With Kay setting up our suite with the champagne, the ring and a sprinkling of rose petals while we were handing carrots out to hungry horses, the scene was set for our return. My plans to ease myself into proceedings were sped up considerably when Aimee lifted the lid on the silver dome thinking it was chocolate. It wasn’t chocolate. Pressing play on the song I wanted for the moment and doing my best to not pull a hammy, it was down on one knee. Good times ensued. Here’s that song:

Enormous thanks again Kay. The French Country House is just eight years old and is a mansion with three very different guest suites. Each suite has you wishing it was yours until you come back to your own and decide what you’ve got is the best. Having stayed here twice and in two of the suites, this has been the case both times. The cuisine is impeccable, the service from Kay and Freddie genuine and warm and the location a reminder that not everything in New Zealand accommodation has to be immediately next to the sea or a lake to be remarkable. That said, the beaches of The Mount are still only half an hour away and on your doorstep are forests, farmland, hills and waterfalls. See more at TheFrenchCountryHouse.co.nz.

Enjoy the photos!





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