Charges at Serena and Sopa lodges

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Oct 8th, 2012, 04:41 PM
  #1
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Charges at Serena and Sopa lodges

On recent trip was disappointed by Sopa (tarangire) and Serena (Manyara, Serengeti, Ngoro) lodges converting our bar, etc, bills to dollars for our charge cards (instead of leaving in Tanz shillings), at fairly unfavorable exchange rates. They claimed 'their machines could only work in US dollars' - don't know what they did for other currencies. This is a sad scam for otherwise decent properties, and we did not experience this in our Kenyan lodges. We should have used ATMs to get enough Tanz cash to pay.
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Oct 8th, 2012, 05:47 PM
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Well, I also get upset by such practices, but, I look at it as just another trip expense. I mean, so you could have saved what - $100, $200, $300?? No big deal is it for a multi-$$$$$ vacation??

regards - tom
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Oct 8th, 2012, 07:08 PM
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I stayed at all three of the Serena Lodges you mentioned.

I never had a problem. I paid in cash ( US$) ,in fact I though the drinks were cheap in all the places.

For example in Kenya I was charged $3.00 for a bottle of Tusker Beer, I though this was reasonable .

I went through Kenya and Tanzania and never coverted to local currency.
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Oct 9th, 2012, 09:02 AM
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Tanzania pretty much operates in US dollars in their tourism industry. I once tried to pay for something in Tanzanian shillings and the shop really didn't want to take them. About the only way you can avoid the US dollar charges is to convert US dollars to shillings and use those. Of course, since most prices are posted in US dollars, you'll most likely get an unfavorable exchange rate when they convert back to shillings. Kenya's currency is more stable, so they operate more in Kenyan shillings.
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Oct 9th, 2012, 01:01 PM
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I empathize with you in your irritation, although I understand well the reason this policy is followed. I just swallow hard and consider it another expense. The same thing has happened to me in Zimbabwe and I understand it even better---and am more forgiving---there. ZZ
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Oct 9th, 2012, 02:48 PM
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Don't remember what doing this is called, but if this happened in Western Europe and they changed a GBP or Euro bill to USD, you can refuse to pay. Unfortunately, in Kenya and Tanzania as the working currency in the tourism industry is mainly USD, that is what you'll be charged. All the more reason, unless you had a very very large bar bill, best to pay in cash where you can definitely use Tsh or Ksh. Hold the plastic for other things. The few FF miles isn't worth the hassle.

Question for OP, what was the difference (in USD) between the Tsh charge and that converted to USD? What rate of exchange did they use?
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Oct 9th, 2012, 06:08 PM
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It's called dynamic currency conversion. In Kenya, I've only had it happen at the Nairobi Hilton. At all of the camps and lodges where I've stayed in Kenya, I've only paid for incidentals in Kenyan shillings whether by cash or credit card.
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Oct 9th, 2012, 10:26 PM
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Kenyan camps and lodges are much more willing to take their own shillings. In Tanzania, they much prefer US dollars.
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Oct 10th, 2012, 12:53 PM
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Patty, you did it again (asante).... I knew it was "(something)... currency conversion" but that first word left my brain. So the Hilton in NBO tried this... doesn't surprise me they'd try.

Some time back read that even hotels, restaurants, etc in high tourist areas in the States, i.e., Las Vegas were doing this to foreign visitors, but do wonder how successful this has been and whether it's been accepted without a fuss.
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