“Pretty property, but poor value for money. Left feeling short-changed.”
Booked 4 night stay for 4 adults following sound reviews on TripAdvisor. Unfortunately, just cannot recommend against 5-star alternatives in the same price band unless the owner drastically improves some elements of the service offering.
Savista is a pretty property, on a serene rural setting away from the noise of Jaipur. Rooms are elegantly furnished and are comfortable.
Eclectic homestay appearance was initially refreshing but it soon felt a bit intrusive (perhaps 4 nights was just too long). Indeed, we ended up feeling that we were being watched by the owner and his operatives, and didn't really want to use the communal facilities (i.e. lounge chairs, library etc).
This would have been ok if it wasn't run so commercially, with 5 star prices against what felt like petty penny-pinching. I left feeling fleeced. Here are a few specific examples. I hope the owner takes heed as these are issues that can be fixed.
Breakfast included in the "package" is completely inadequate. Basically toast and omelette every day, tinned juice in an unsealed jug (probably recycled), unsealed food-coloured jam and unsealed butter in an open bowl, and the same bowl of fruit (bananas and apples that gradually rotted while we were there and were re-offered every morning). Furthermore, the omelette looked very unappetising (dull grey), and the owner commented (perhaps in humour, not sure) that eggs in India are risky - as they are often "injected". And for the two of us that were pure vegetarians (not uncommon in India), there was nothing else. So we had dry toast (I didn't trust the juice, butter or jam, after I saw a fly in the jug).
Dinner was fine, but vastly overpriced at Rs. 1200 per person - which by the way one is not informed of upfront (we had to risk confrontation by asking!) After the first night, we chose to take the trouble of remaining in town (an hour away) in the evenings just so that we can have dinner at the 5 Star Taj Jai Mahal Palace in town - beautiful offering for less money. There is no alternative at Savista but to choose the full meal option - for which there is no menu (so no idea what will show up). For a property that is out of reach from anywhere else that is clean, this is not ok. I felt the owner is trying to take advantage of captive customers, particularly as most people would probably not ask the costs upfront.
Similarly with laundry. We were informed by Savista's charming young American trainee helper (Jake - whose cheerful company was refreshing and enjoyable) that the cost of a bag of laundry was Rs 40. This is probably what he pays. I felt it would be prudent to ask the owner nonetheless, who then informed me that it is Rs. 40 per item. For 4 night "package" stays, this is unacceptable. Again, visitors, be warned - hidden costs are not transparent here. If you are shy to ask, then be prepared for hefty extras.
The website talks about the 4 night "experience" package, including massage, camel cart ride etc. We were informed that the female masseuse (for my mom and sister) was not there - accordingly it would not be possible, and that the camel cart ride was "not worthwhile". Instead we were "offered" a trip to Bagru village. We took this up - basically, it ended up being us accompanying Jake to run an errand for the owner to fetch from the village printing blocks that Savista gives to visitors as going-home presents.
The car we paid for as part of the accommodation is essential - Savista is a good hour away from Jaipur town, off the highway, in a location that an unknown driver will not be able to find. We had booked 2 rooms (4 adults), and had accordingly paid for two cars. Naturally, we wanted 1 larger one which was provided - but needlless to say, no discount was passed through. I heard the owner speaking softly in Hindi over the phone to the car hire company that they use, discussing the lower price of 1 car vs two - just felt a bit disingenuous (I did not bring it up as I dont like confrontation, especially while on vacation!) The drivers were ok but constantly hussled to take you to "government shops" (i.e. for commissions). We (being of Indian origin and no foreigner to these tricks) were insistent (one has to be) on going where we wanted to go - this seemed to annoy the drivers. Also, on one of the days of our 4 night stay we paid Rs 5000 for a car for a day trip to Ajmer. On our return we went to Jaipur town to have dinner at a 5 Star hotel (note Savista dinner issue above). No comments from the driver. But of course, upon checkout the next day the owner slipped in a bill for an extra Rs. 1200 saying that this was because we retained the car in the evening for dinner (which we had booked for a full day trip). Didn't argue but I felt this was petty, having paid a Rs 100,000 bill for 4 nights.
The "spa" on the website / package is an overstatement. It is an outbuilding in need of major refurb. The steam bath didn't work (perhaps this was temporary), and the jacuzzi did not look clean. As for the massage (the massage for men was available) this was performed by the same 2 guys (brothers) that Savista's owner seems to use for everything - we observed they were the cooks, servers, general purpose handy-men ... and Spa masseurs. They are overworked (not sure if well paid) and are clearly not spa trained. Made me feel guilty having my head and shoulders pressed by the same tired out guys. Again, this is all forgivable if Savista was priced as a 2-3 star. Not 5 star.
The owner was insistent that guests should not tip the 2 guys but that rather we should generously contribute to his "staff fund" instead. This of course has no-transparency.
The building - like all heritage properties is in need of maintenance capex. Most significantly, it needs repainting. As for health and safety, any of the 1st floor rooms are not suitable for young children (very low balcony walls).
There are definitely good points.
1. Jake - the young American apprentice. Lovely chap. Very friendly and keen to help. Highlight of our stay.
2. We had asked for one double and one twin room. The latter was not available. The owner kindly offered my sister and I one room each. Naturally the third room must have been vacant for the duration of our stay, but this was a kind act for which I was appreciative.
3. The owner is friendly (even if highly commercial) and gave us plenty of advice on what to do etc - most helpful incase anyone wishes to visit the shrine at Ajmer.
4. Bottled water and tea available on request. They did try to convince us of the tap water, but we resisted. Prudence is best on short visits (if one intends to go back to work straight after).
5. They make quite a fuss about environmental consciousness. To the extent that this is genuine (unverifiable), then it is good. It could of course just be branding for green-westerners.
Overall view. Unfortunately small points above devalued our stay into a 2-star experience. This would have been fine, but the price and website indicate otherwise (4-5 star). Unless and until the finer elements or pricing are fixed, hard to recommend. On our next trip to Jaipur, I would rather stay at Jai-Mahal or similar.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
November 21, 2012
We first want to thank you for your review of your stay at savista. We take every review as an opportunity to improve on our hospitality and our service, and we appreciate your time in writing about Savista.
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We just wanted to take this opportunity to correct some misinformation about our property so travelers are not confused in future. As some comments in the review questioned our integrity and honesty as hoteliers, we also wanted to address those points.
-First we are not a 5 star property, and are proud to emphasize a different kind of travel experience then those of the opulence oriented hotels in Jaipur. Savista is listed as a 4 star property, and the properties mentioned in this review (Jai Mahal & Taj Rambagh) have entry room rates that are 4times those of Savista (as listed on booking.com).
-Dinner at Savista is a 7 course chefs tasting menu, made exclusively of local organic produce. We apologize if you were confused about pricing for this meal. We try to be as clear as possible by providing the menu and pricing on the beds of our rooms at check-in. On this menu we also have a list of a la cart menu items at 200rs.
-We were excited to hear when your mother informed us that she would be interested in an Indian vegetarian breakfast on the second day. Our chef was happy to provided masala dosa as requested for the remainder of your stay.
-Our juice, butter and jam are of course either packaged or made fresh. As we have only 14 rooms, we have the ability to prepare each breakfast individually. We feel it is more convenient to decant our jam and butter in small bowls for service and provide our juice in a pitcher. Our breakfast is served outside in our courtyard so it possible that a fly couldhave landed on the pitcher. We are sorry you did not inform us, we would have been happy to replace it.
-We ask that our staff is not tipped individually so tips can be shared among the hard working staff that are not as viable as others. This is only a suggestion of course. If guests are interested in our social and environmental policies, you can read about them here: www.savista.com/eco-friendly/
Mr. R, we are sorry your stay did not live up to your expectations. We can only hope for the ability to host you again in the future.
We hope you family enjoyed the remainder of their trip in Rajasthan.
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.