Stayed at SenegalStyle for 9 days (8 nights) during May 2013.
Certain things are very good such as the tours. I booked almost every tour through Sineta ie: Lac Rose, Bandia Reserve and Plaze Popenguine, City Tour. It comes out very affordable if you share with other people, I was able to share with 3 more people the first 2 days and with 2 during the rest. Yet it is becoming very expensive if you book the tours just for yourself (solo traveling is expensive anyway).
Another great thing is the professionalism, friendliness and effectiveness of the 2 drivers/ tour guides Senegal Style has. Both Ismael and Moustafa were simply perfect, answered every question about the places we visited and made the trips fun and even more interesting.
There were times however we felt embarrassed and unsettled with the rude way Sineta would speak to them (guests should NEVER witness any of this).
The location is good because it is close to the airport (just 10 minutes by taxi, will cost you CFA 2000) and within 15 minute walking distance you can go for a swim in the ocean in BCAO beach).
The place has 3 rooms. Only one has private bathroom. The other 2 must share one bathroom together with the owner's room. I was lucky enough to move to the room with the private bathroom when 2 rooms were vacated - I need to thank Sineta for that - however I would really appreciate if I had better information about the lack of "en suite" bathroom of the room (writing that I would have the Indigo Room is not enough I believe).
I totally agree that it is not a 5 star hotel and you get what you pay but bedsheets were never changed during my 9 day stay, nor was I never given a towel (I was lucky enough to have brought mine). I believe that at least once a week linens should have been changed and at least be given a towel (maybe not for a stay of 2-3 days but definitely for longer periods).
The food issue: a cup of tea and a piece of cake does not constitute breakfast by no means. An omelet (with not even a slice of bread) does not constitute breakfast either. A plate of rice and meat without any water, juice (never mind a slice of bread or a salad specimen) does not constitute dinner as well.
I know it is a guest house and I expected the minimum yet even the minimum was hard to get.
Senegal style needs a lot of improvement and its potential could be wasted very soon if the appropriate measures are not taken as soon as possible.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
July 3, 2013
Hello and GREETINGS from SenegalStyle!
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This review is actually during the same time period of the 2 other reviews (negative) by some girls that this reviewer displaced while he was here. The short story is, since they were young and he was an older man, he begged me, literally offering chocolates (that I refused - I won't be bribed), to switch their rooms with him when our other guests left, (a family of 3), claiming to have all kinds of personal health problems, and me being the trusting person that I am, I thought he was telling the truth, fell for it, and moved them to two separate rooms, a bonus normal people would appreciate (instead of sharing the one large one that has en suite bathroom). Now he says (I) we 'need improvement' yes, I need to not be a soft touch and be tougher when it comes to room changes!
He's right and it shouldn't have happened and I should have made him stay where he was, period. He knew full well we were full and he was getting the last room which WAS NOT the Mali room and should have stayed in the Indigo room, the one he paid for and agreed to.
I send a lot of newsletters out to everyone doing any type of business with SenegalStyle that includes who will be here, where they come from and what they will be doing. This is so everyone knows how full the house will be and what trips they can join in ahead of time. Also, I sent him photos, as he said in his review. We were all on the same page coming in - the girls knew ahead of time we were overbooked and would be in the garden room (it's not 'outside' on the floor but inside the house, very comfortable and more importantly, they agreed ahead of time because they needed a place to stay!), he knew he got the last room, the Blue Indigo room and the Russian family had the larger room, the Mali room and Indigo rooms.
This week turned out badly because even though he pretended at the time, saying that he would 'help me out' if they neg'ed me on TripAdvisor - I knew they would and said as much to make sure he understood I was putting my online reputation on the line, he is not an man of his word, nor did he tell the others that he manipulated me into giving him their room. Instead of standing up and telling the truth like a man, he simply let me take the heat for the room change and resulting exaggerated reviews that came with it.
Never again - I have only myself to blame but it is obvious that this is an anomaly in our otherwise positive guest experiences and I am hoping those reading this will see it in the context that it is given. A snapshot of one very busy week during a very busy month at SenegalStyle HomeStay GuestHouse.
Reviewing the complaints with an open mind lets you see clearly the flip side of the problem... if I am trying to serve 8 other people at the same time SOME ONE INDIVIDUAL should have stepped up and said, 'can I help you with the drinks?' or 'do you need me to run to the corner for bread?' (which the Russian man was doing but when he left, instead of this man stepping up to help, he sat there doing nothing). Now 2 months later he asks for bread... why didn't he ask at the time or simply offer to get it?
With regard to drinks with dinner that one night that they all 3 seem to have etched in their brain, I personally took them to a store that sells bottled water wholesale. Each of them got a case. If I forget because I'm human, to bring out drinks because some people wanted seconds (which is what happened) although they are all pretending that they didn't eat WELL here, they did, and between running back and forth to the kitchen for this and that, I simply forgot. I did remember when I came back to clear the dishes and I said 'oh, I forgot your drinks' THEN THEY SAID, 'that's ok, we got our water!' If you say it's ok, for me, since I am American, speak and comprehend English quite well, then it's ok. If it's ok, it's OK and I continued clearing dishes!
It's a simple matter and not a reflection of anything other than selective memory. Don't say a month later that I forgot water with one meal! In any event, I serve southern style iced tea made from local organic antimalarial leaves every day. I make it in the morning (hot) serve with breakfast and put the rest in the freezer so it is ice cold by dinner time. It's not a big deal - it's an oversight. When I remembered, they already had their water. Done deal I kept it moving - it seems to me they are just looking hard to find things to complain about.
In any event, Mr Reviewer, thank you for your input and I appreciate your concerns about the improvements you feel are needed here in my HOME. Just to be clear, SenegalStyle Homestay Guesthouse is first and foremost, my HOME. Emphasis is added in caps, I am not yelling, so we understand each other. To continue, this is where me and my son LIVE as well. We are not going to move out of our house to brush our teeth nor change our eating and living habits in exchange for extending our hospitality to visitors choosing to stay with us, usually because of #1 our reviews, and #2, the price. Most people have no problem with us living in our own home and although now you are acting as if you had no idea we would also be here, that is in fact totally disingenuous. The reason I say that you did know what you were getting in to is because you in fact, brought a gift for the house, which is what you do when you come to someone's home (no one gives gifts hotel managers because it's a different model!). It also made me believe you had manners, now I know differently and I was wrong.
I will take your points one by one:
*You said you were here 9 days - no, your time off was 9 days, you took one day coming and one day going.
That's 7 days. You were here for a full week.
*You said 'I booked almost every tour through Sineta ie: Lac Rose, Bandia Reserve and Plaze Popenguine, City Tour. It comes out very affordable if you share with other people, I was able to share with 3 more people the first 2 days and with 2 during the rest."
This is true and totally refutes what the other 2 reviewers that took the tours WITH HIM said - proving that these people are simply not being truthful. Another thing that's interesting is that all three on one hand say how wonderful the guides and drivers are and what a great time they had, but on the other hand the reality of the situation is they certainly didn't show it. Not only did they not even offer them a drink while they are working (they all had PLENTY of water), they never invited them to lunch with them or treat them as equals the entire time were are out. The funny thing that always KILLS ME when people say this is that they never gave them (nor offered) a tip for their services. They tip in their own countries but here, it's rare that anyone tips us. AND then they complain about the price they charge for their services. Compared to who? The large touring companies? If that's the case why did they book with us? They are free to go anywhere, but they chose to split the costs 3 ways, pay between $20 and $30 each and then get on TripAdvisor and say the tours cost too much when we're MUCH LOWER or they would have gone somewhere else! Haha!
The fees my guides and drivers charge reflect their time (usually 12hr days) an gas ($7 a gallon here). I assure you the prices are fair and reasonable for our region. You can't rent a car here for $9.99 like you can in the US because our economy is stronger and the market is higher. It is what it is, I don't set gas prices and people that speak multiple languages like our guides need to get paid for their expertise (English, French, Italian, Spanish, Japanese, Arabic and all the local languages).
Let me make something else very clear, visitors are always free to get a random person in the markets as a guide cheaper and hire a taxi on their own if they speak French and like that type of 'adventure' but most reasonable people who do not speak French prefer to have screened professionals guiding them on their tours and pay for that privilege. That's what I do - make sure the people that take my visitors out are professional and thorough and can communicate with them in a language they understand.
They also had the option of simply hiring a guide and taking public transport to where they wanted to go - they didn't. If the service was good, the guides were friendly, the trip was comfortable, they got there safely and returned back to Dakar in time for dinner the same way they left, then what's the problem? Oh, $20 was expensive. Right.
I organize the tours and assign the guides because ultimately I am responsible for guest safety when they are here with us. If everything goes thru SenegalStyle, from the initial booking to paying the drivers and guides when they come back, if there is a problem, I handle it right then and there. That's my style, this is my company and I'm the one who says how it is run. Since all public areas in the house are open, if you hear me 'handling' what I feel needs to be handled with our guides and drivers, again, it is what it is. I am not like these reviewers. I don't come back a month later and complain in writing online to my guides about what happened when doing a tour. I do it face to face and it's done... My people have to be on point at all times on these tours and when they aren't, I let them know, immediately.
He couldn't have felt too badly for the guy anyway - he didn't even offer him a tip...
*You said "The location is good because it is close to the airport and within 15 minute walking distance you can go for a swim in the ocean in BCAO beach)."
This is true and airport pickup, especially during the middle of the night, is HIGHLY recommended. Most roads are unpaved & unlit in neighborhoods and it's impossible to find anywhere in the dark, in a foreign country, at 3am in the morning. After you've stayed here a few days you learn the lay of the land and you can find your own way easily, but your first time in Senegal, schedule our airport pickup service!
* "I was lucky enough to move to the room with the private bathroom when 2 rooms were vacated - I need to thank Sineta for that"
He finally acknowledges that he was 'lucky' - he wasn't 'lucky' he whined about it until I gave in. I was very unlucky in not properly assessing this situation; I was trying to be nice and it blew up in my face. He said writing about what room he would be in is not enough... he is basically acknowledging that he knew full well what room he would be in and then asked me to switch rooms later. That's such a ridiculous comment I won't even address it further.
*"bedsheets were never changed during my 9 day stay, nor was I never given a towel (I was lucky enough to have brought mine). He was 'lucky' again. He also says 'I believe that at least once a week linens should have been changed and at least be given a towel (maybe not for a stay of 2-3 days but definitely for longer periods)."
He was here 7 days, going and coming does not count. They were new when he got here and I took them off when he left (as someone else arrived). HE SAYS HE BELIEVES AT LEAST ONCE A WEEK LINENS SHOULD BE CHANGED. I do too and they were. Again, if he felt the sheets were dirty he could have simply asked. Going home and reflecting 2 months later on one day having no bread with dinner, I forgot drinks another time and I didn't offer him a towel when he already had one... gee whiz folks! I don't even know what else to say!
He didn't mind asking for a room change - he got that didn't he???
I asked him when he arrived if he had a towel (I send instructions that tell you to bring a towel and I even praised him for following them!) When he said he had a towel why would I give him another right then and there? Does this make any sense? Had he asked for another towel after 2 or 3 days he could have had one. Had he ASKED for bread the one day I forgot, he could have had it. Had he ASKED for a drink the one day I forgot it, he could have had it. Had he ASKED for anything else he wanted, he could have had it. Had he ASKED why I gave them our local Danish and a drink (in a bag, to go...) I would have explained that sending you off on an early tour in a car with pancakes and honey would be a bit problematic. It's much easier for everyone to have their breakfast Danish and drink packed to go.
They KNOW THIS so I don't even understand why they are trying to make it sound so bizarre! In fact, in the west it's called a 'continental breakfast' and that's standard fare at any hotel where you are paying more but they get to my homestay and complain about donuts and hot tea! I guess the expectations were more because of the great breakfasts and dinners I serve here on the other days, but because I packed them a quick breakfast so they would have something on the road, (trying to be nice, breakfast is at 10), they are complaining!
*Food - "The food issue: a cup of tea and a piece of cake does not constitute breakfast by no means. An omelet (with not even a slice of bread) does not constitute breakfast either.
I already addressed the tea and Danish - if you have an early tour and I fix you something that's it's in a bag to go it's 'breakfast.' You say 'thank you' and appreciate me being thoughtful and not making you starve on your way to your destination.
An omelet without bread... this is actually a bit disingenuous as they all knew why they didn't have bread. I made my Cracker Barrel style French toast the day before (what the other girls are calling 'fried bread' because they didn't know what it was), using the last of my homemade bread and didn't have time to get more baked. I TOLD THEM THAT and had he been trying to be helpful THEN instead of hurtful NOW he would have offered to get a long French bread loaf at the corner shop across the street. I didn't forget, I was out and having to serve 8 people had my attention more. He didn't complain about the omelet did he so contrary to what he's trying to imply, it must have been good!
*The other funny thing is he said the sleep quality was bad! haha! He selfishly ruined the vacation of those two girls by making up medical reasons for me to switch their room which then caused them to write negative reviews and bring down my TripAdvisor rating and then says he didn't sleep well! Lol! Was it guilt from looking those two in the face every day and pretending to be their friend, never admitting to lying about medical conditions and just and being a hypocrite? If he didn't sleep well that wasn't my fault. He got what he asked for.
I/we do a great job here at SenegalStyle, every day, and we usually bat a home run because of TEAMWORK. It's necessary sometimes that others chip in and help when CLEARLY they see I am serving alone and need it, what can I do?
I gambled that this reviewer would be a stand up guy, man up and admit to the girls that he was behind the room change shenanigans and tell the truth about the details in the negative reviews below. With the exception of the tours, which he did refute, taking the time to say I didn't bring water or bread... is so petty, whatever, anyway, as you can see, I made a mistake in judgment, gambled that he would be honest and lost.
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.