Marlborough Vintners Hotel

Size: 25-page WordPress website

My professional status: contractor at Acumen Republic

Website client: Acumen Republic

Dates: April - July 2017, with ongoing webmaster support until 2022

Categories: Scoping/pitching/quoting, Client liaison, Project manager, Website designer, Front-end developer, Writing for the web, Content-loader, Webmaster, Responsive web design/dev, CSS-based layout, CSS3, HTML5, WordPress, Small sites

Brief: The Marlborough Vintners Hotel (MVH) was a Heritage Collection luxury boutique hotel located amongst the vineyards near Blenheim in the heart of Marlborough wine country. The hotel consisted of 16 one-bedroom suites overlooking vineyards and gardens, together with the on-site Vintners Room Restaurant. Marlborough Vintners Hotel hosted conferences and weddings as well as providing luxury guest accommodation. Their brand management company was Wellington-based firm Acumen Republic.

Acumen asked me to build a responsive WordPress website for MVH, based on an existing WordPress theme in order to save time and keep the costs down. Acumen selected the theme based on MVH's requirements, and I built, content-loaded and tested the website, optimised the photographic imagery supplied by MVH, changed various aspects of the design, and organised webhosting. I also provided Acumen and, later, MVH staff with WordPress training and ongoing webmaster support and website updates.

This is looking great! Travis [MVH] is very happy with the site - Nadia

Thank you very much for completing this. It looks great! - Ariana

Nadia Cook, Senior Account Manager, Acumen Republic and Ariana Olsen, Marketing, MVH


  • I took the WordPress theme selected by my client and then, by tweaking the responsive design functionality and look & feel of the website I made it better
  • Provided Acumen with an easy-to manage responsive website, completely content-loaded and ready for launch, at a reasonable price - which they could then hand on to their client, the Marlborough Vintners Hotel
  • Provided ongoing webmaster support to the MVH marketing team, together with additional CMS training and website updates.

My responsibilities included:

  • Putting together a time estimate for the website fixed-price contract
  • Project management and ongoing liaison with Acumen Republic and the Marlborough Vintners Hotel marketing team
  • Sorting out hosting for the site with my WordPress webhost, WPEngine - later updating to an https URL with an SSL Certificate
  • Reviewing the theme selected for the website by Acumen - Sailing by Thimpress - and installing it together with demo content in order to get started
  • Following the IA wireframes provided by Acumen to build the different page templates
  • Making various changes to the design including font selection, colour palette, background graphics and other styling updates
  • Improving the responsive styling which I felt could be better at various device widths
  • Tweaking the design to incorporate the MVH logo and some brand colours, as well as adjusting the size and style of various headings and sub-headings
  • Building the website and adding the content
  • Creating new page layouts for various sections of the website, incorporating a range of hand-built widgets, additional menus and other elements
  • Adding the following elements and widgets to the site: wide-screen video on the homepage, two different Instagram displays, Trip Adviser, and wide-screen parallax images
  • Putting a considerable amount of work into the homepage slider to get the header and subheader text to behave responsively and fit into whatever space was available to it
  • Integrating the restaurant booking system and separate hotel booking system into the website
  • Adding Google Maps to the site
  • Writing and/or editing the content for some of the page sections where the design required additional text
  • Liaising with Acumen to ensure that the page sections and content I was creating were appropriate
  • Selecting the photographic images for the website from a large collection supplied by the MVH marketing team and cropping these as appropriate
  • Sourcing and creating other new graphics for the website, as required
  • Coding and testing the print stylesheet
  • Creating the favicon and touch icons
  • Extensive browser testing of the site at all stages of the development process, across the following browsers and platforms:
    • PC: Chrome (latest), Firefox (latest), Internet Explorer IE8, IE9, IE10
    • Mac: Chrome (latest), Firefox (latest), Safari (latest)
  • Extensive device testing at all stages of the development process, across actual devices running the following operating systems, using Adobe Edge to speed up the process:
    • Android 2.3.6 (Gingerbread)
    • Android 4.1 (Jelly Bean)
    • iPhone 4s
    • iPad 4
    • Windows Phone 7
    • Windows Phone 7.5
    • Windows Phone 8
    • BlackBerry OS 6.0
    • Firefox OS
  • Additional responsive testing:
    • Using Firefox to emulate different device widths - every pixel width tested from 0 to 1500px
    • Using Chrome to emulate a range of other hand-held devices, filling the gaps in my own device collection
  • Making a number of content updates across the website prior to go-live as we refined the content
  • Editing, proof-reading and tidying up the site once the content had been added
  • Providing a CMS training course for members of the Acumen team, so that they could then train the marketing team at MVH to edit the website themselves after launch
  • Carrying out the standard Google Webmaster tasks and adding Google Analytics to the site
  • Website launch, A record redirection and and post-launch testing
  • Figuring out an issue with email to the website going into junk mail
  • Ongoing webmaster website support and updates for MVH staff as required.

Marlborough Vintners Hotel responsive screens

I enjoyed working on this site. It was a nice change to be working on a WordPress theme chosen by someone else, and building the page templates so that they fitted a set of wireframes also not created by me - and the team at Acumen did a really good job of both the theme selection and Information Architecture, so the process was very smooth.

Once again the theme (and the theme foundry) was new to me, which meant that I appreciated the demo content supplied with the theme. This gives you a starting-point which is always helpful. It's a really nice design, and I think we have used it to its best advantage.

A year after the site was launched, Travis and Ariana at MVH wanted to add a blog and various other new elements and sections to the site so, with the blessing of Acumen Republic, I worked with them directly. I wrote a comprehensive CMS editing and instructional booklet for them, but it soon became apparent that some in-person training would work better, so I spent at day down at the hotel, working with them both on the website.

I set up various example pages for Travis and Ariana in Staging and on the Production version of the site in draft, so that they could copy these and make new pages at their leisure. I was also always available to make any trickier updates or additions to the site for them, as required.

In 2022 the Marlborough Vintners Hotel closed, and the website was taken offline.