Rotorua tourism icon unveils new-look geothermal cafe

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Geothermally-heated seats, native timber and volcanic rock have been architecturally incorporated into the upgrade of a newly refurbished modern cafe for Rotorua’s Polynesian Spa.

The redevelopment of the visitor cafe at the popular geothermal bathing complex is part of a $1 million project that includes a new health and wellness-focused juice bar and outdoor courtyard.

Polynesian Spa chief executive Gert Taljaard says the innovative design complements the heritage of the building which is registered with the New Zealand Historic Places Trust and dates back to the 1930s.

“All of the materials used in the cafe have a story to tell about this wonderful geothermal environment and the rich history of Polynesian Spa,” Mr Taljaard says.

“We’ve incorporated plenty of seating options with banquette seating, communal and group table settings and bar leaners, as well as lounge areas and countertops with USB charging points for visitors to use.”

The concrete bench seating in the outdoor courtyard is heated using the geothermal water supply, and the full height glass doors can slide wide open on sunny days.

Wingate Architects say they were inspired by Rotorua’s natural beauty, nearby lake and history of the Polynesian Spa when designing the new space.

“Rotorua has a wild charm to it, and we chose a lot of hand-made natural materials that reflected this so the imperfections and irregularities can be celebrated,” David Wingate says.