One great, one lousy in SA

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Jul 4th, 2001, 06:54 AM
  #1
Kim Langley
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One great, one lousy in SA

Just returned from 2 1/2 weeks in South Africa. Second time there, love the country and the people, but have one strong positive recommendation and one definite stay away. I didn't know anything about Mkuze Falls Lodge except its web site but the place was paradise. 4 hours away from Durban on immaculate roads (except at the very end), this place has the best food, service, rooms, guides possible. The owner has spared no expense including private pool, outdoor shower,a real chef, and all animals except leopards and wild dog. I am beginning to think that it is impossible to see leopards except if you are lucky or at Mala Mala where I am sure they bait them. The chef would actually call to ask what we wanted, rack of lamb or sole!! Couldn't recommend the place more which I think goes for about 1000R pppd.
Now to the other extreme. I wanted to stay near Hluhluwe park and picked Zululand tree lodge. First of all after private game lodges the park is a bust. Hard to see anything. It's really for South Africans with their own cars. The lodge room was small, dirty and smelled. There was no bath tub. The guide was silent during our entire drive in the park. The food was inedible, either swimming in grease, raw or overcooked. The management agreed that the food was lousy but refused to refund our unused night after deciding that we could not spend another minute in this place. I have written to the group that owns the lodge but so far no response. We shall see.
I also recommend jaci's camp in Madickwe where we saw wild dogs in a pack, but would say that Harry's Camp at Mala Mala was overrated and we much preferred Djuma where we stayed last year for general service and food. The game was the same.

Any questions email me as I don't check this board that often.

[email protected]
 
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Jul 4th, 2001, 06:57 AM
  #2
safari
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Wow! Kim no wonder you want your money back. There was no bath tub!!!!!!!!!
 
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Jul 4th, 2001, 07:11 AM
  #3
Kim
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Whoever you are, your response was ridiculous and uncalled for.
 
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Jul 4th, 2001, 02:04 PM
  #4
Jo
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Just curious Kim, what was the price difference between the two places?
 
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Jul 4th, 2001, 10:48 PM
  #5
local
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I have mixed emotions about your posting - glad that you appear to have enjoyed the trip as a whole but sad that you had a bad experience with the accommodation in Zululand. Although I stay in SA, I have never heard of the Zululand tree lodge and will make a point not to stay there should I be in the vicinity. Last time we were on holiday in that region, we stayed at the Itala Game Reserve just south of Swaziland and I will recommend this any day.

If you do not get any response from the owners/group and you would like to take it further, I would suggest that you contact the KwaZulu-Natal Tourism Authority - their website is www.zulu.org.za and the email address is [email protected].
 
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Jul 5th, 2001, 05:08 AM
  #6
kim
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The price difference was negligible, About $20 as I remember, if that.

I find that if I don't get any response from the big boys that it isn't worth the energy. I thing the tourist board might like to know, but they certainly couldn't get a refund if the company doesn't want to give it. Hopefully boards like this help keep people away.
 
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Jul 6th, 2001, 07:24 AM
  #7
André Erasmus
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In reply to Ms Langley's comments on Zululand Tree Lodge, South Africa.
I am the General Manager of the Lodge and would like to address her grieviences.
Gameviewing is never predictable and having worked at various other gamelodges in Southern Africa, I can honestly say that game sightings in Hluhluwe/Ufolozi(the 3rd largestin S.A.) are very good. It is, however, impossible to guarantee "big 5" sightings on every drive.
All rooms are randomly inspected by me on a daily basis and I found her accusations of it "dirty and smelly" as ungrounded. Rooms with bathtubs are available on request, we distinctly request for any special requirements to be passed on to management - this never happened.
The comments about the food came as a huge shock. We have experienced nothing but very favourable comments from guests of all nationalities. The variety and quality of dishes served is of the highest standard at all times!
As for the lack of response from our company, Ms Langley send her complaint at 12:46 and our Managing Director replied at 08:33 the next morning! I think this is a sure sign of our commitment to service excellence!
As her reservation was made through a travel agent, any refunds will be dealt with through the agency,this is standard practice throughout the travel industry.
I will not hesitate to proccess a refund for accommodation not used due to bad service on our side.(this has never happened before)
I would like to add that this complaint was never raised with me at the lodge, Ms Langley e-mailed our M.D. directly.

Zululand Tree Lodge prides itself in great food, luxury accommodation and friendly, efficient staff. The great number of overjoyed guests that have visited us, bear testimony to this.
Your faithfully,

André Erasmus
General Manager
Ubizane Wildlife Reserve
Zululand Tree, Safari and Bush Lodge)
 
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Jul 6th, 2001, 09:40 AM
  #8
kim
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Dear Mr. Erasmus: You were not there!!!!I never received a response from Three Cities, so I would appreciate a reply. I have responded to you personally via email.

 
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Jul 6th, 2001, 10:52 AM
  #9
André Erasmus
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In reply to the above comments:
I was not present at the Lodge at the time of your stay. I have however spoken to all parties responsible for the various departments and my reply is based on their dealings with you. Based on this and the strictest standards adhered to at the Lodge, I believe that my response was true and unbiased.

The immediate response you recieved was from The Three Cities Hotel Group, in fact the Managing Drector personally replied to your e-mail within hours!(S.A Time).

My e-mail address is: [email protected] and any intersted party can visit us on www.ubizane.co.za

Once again, yours sincerely,

André Erasmus
General Manager
Ubizane Wildlife Reserve


 
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Jul 6th, 2001, 02:53 PM
  #10
Kim
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I hate to beat a dead horse, but after 2 personal emails to Mr. Erasmus and 2 to Three Cities, I have received no response. I hate to see my initial opinion of Zululand Tree Lodge end up in free advertising for this facility. The other reader of this board is going to give this lodge a try and we will see what he says.
 
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Jul 14th, 2001, 04:21 PM
  #11
jim
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Troll??????
 
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Jul 17th, 2001, 10:54 AM
  #12
Celia Kraatz
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When we stayed at Zululand Tree Lodge in November 1999, our experience was the opposite of Kim's. We were pleased with everything about our experience there. We found the cabins on stilts with their beautiful balconies and romantic netted beds to be just charming! Every need and comfort was provided for, I thought. Maybe it's just a matter of different tastes.

At the Tree Lodge, you can take game-viewing drives on the property belonging to the lodge and also in
Umfolozi-Hluhluwe Park. That park is a public, government-owned park, not a private game reserve, so of course it's "for" South Africans (whose taxes pay for its maintenance), as well as for tourists. We've had good game viewing there in our own car, but we also had good game viewing there in Zululand Tree Lodge's vehicles with the Lodge's guides. Because it is a huge public park, and not a small privately-owned reserve where the rangers practically know each individual animal, you're not going to have the same kind of experience there as you would at a private reserve. But we've never been disappointed there in our 4 or 5 visits.
Zululand Tree Lodge itself has a lot of rhinos, which is what it's famous for and what most visitors there come to see. But we were also thrilled at the night game drives there, which were excellently conducted by the Lodge's guides. Umfolozi-Hluhluwe is only a few kilometers away, and it's known for rhinos too, as well as all the other animals you expect to see in southern Africa. We've seen almost every kind of wildlife there, including wild dogs, but never leopards. Like Kim, I think you need a lot of luck to see leopards.


 
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Jul 17th, 2001, 01:55 PM
  #13
Kim
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I'm much cuter than a troll! Anyway, Celia is speaking of the Tree Lodge when it was managed by CCA, a much more upscale outfit than Three Cities (Sorry again Three Cities). The rhinos are long gone: as one of the funnier employees said, sell a rhino, buy a range rover. Actually there was one pregnant and delivered female and one crabby male, both hard to find on the relatively small reserve. So don't go there hoping to see rhinos unless you go by horseback. It turns out that none of the email reached me because of an error of punctiation.(That pesky _) I must say that the replies were less than adequate when I finally did get them, except for some much appreciated humor by Mr. Erasmus, and I guess I will be getting a refund.

I really think it all has to do with expectations. I think I could have lived with the room if the food and service was acceptable but the grease put me over the edge. I had just come from a similarly priced lodge which was truly heaven, and the brochure lies. Beware of a brochure that shows only a bed with a wide angle lens, because that is what it will be, a bed.

Any more questions about Mkuze, Harry's Camp or Jaci"s. They were great and I wouldlove torecommend them!
 
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Jul 18th, 2001, 08:35 AM
  #14
Celia Kraatz
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No, Kim, The Tree Lodge had been bought by the Three Cities group just before our stay there. I would have told you this if you had asked before assuming.
 
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Jul 23rd, 2001, 01:44 PM
  #15
Jcameron
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Well, I am still attempting to communictae with Tree Lodge ... my messages have been returned, and I've asked my wife to try again on her system. So, I've not been able to obtain reassurances from Mr. Erasmus. We are scheduled to stay at Tree Lodge in October, for three nights. I am keeping my fingers crossed that all is well there. If anyone hears any up to date information, please let me know. Thanks, Joe
 
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