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“Hardly an African experience!” 3 of 5 stars
Review of Cybele Forest Lodge and Spa

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Cybele Forest Lodge and Spa
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5.0 of 5 Hotel   |   P.O. Box 346 | R40 Spitskop Road, Kiepersol, White River 1240, South Africa   |  
Hotel amenities
Ranked #3 of 10 Hotels in White River
Boston, Massachusetts
Senior Contributor
45 reviews 45 reviews
25 hotel reviews
Reviews in 34 cities Reviews in 34 cities
59 helpful votes 59 helpful votes
“Hardly an African experience!”
3 of 5 stars Reviewed April 9, 2007

Spent one night in early Apr 2007. The place aspires to five stars and has good intentions it does not quite achieve. Beyond that and most notable is that Cybele is clearly NOT a place for a traveller wanting any sense of Africa in terms of surroundings or appointments. Much more intended for South Africans who want to 'escape' to the equivalent of a nice place on the California coast. Rooms were spacious but free of any African context.. Spa was credible with good masseuses. Lodge was pleasant but for some reason kept playing Dusty Springfield and 70s era music too loud...all the time. Dining room service, especially at lunch, was unacceptably slow. A booking mistake on our part. We intended to be in Africa, not Santa Barbara!

  • Liked — fireplace in the room
  • Disliked — California-like feel in South Africa
  • Stayed April 2007, traveled with family
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Check in / front desk
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 stars Service
    • 4 of 5 stars Business service (e.g., internet access)
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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82 reviews from our community

Traveler rating
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Rating summary
  • Sleep Quality
    5 of 5 stars
  • Location
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    5 of 5 stars
  • Service
    5 of 5 stars
  • Value
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    4.5 of 5 stars
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (11)
Date | Rating
  • Dutch first
  • English first
  • French first
  • German first
  • Italian first
  • Spanish first
  • Any
English first
20 reviews 20 reviews
16 hotel reviews
Reviews in 18 cities Reviews in 18 cities
22 helpful votes 22 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed January 23, 2007

We had a fantastic stay, a wind down after 4 days safari. I was a bit worried about hiring a car after the previous review , but it was fine - there is a few kilometres of dirt roads but no trouble for a saloon car.(in any case they will do transfers if you want). We loved our room - we had a courtyard room which had a private pool which was heated so was always warm. We also had a horse ride (they have stables on the premises) and went around some of the grounds which was lovely. breakfast was excellent. Dinner was also very relaxed and atmospheric in the historic dining room, the food was good, but not exceptional. There are lots of trips they will organise if you want, there is even a helipad on site for trips. however we just wanted to relax and did a bit of sightseeing on our own (pilgrims rest, bourkespot holes etc). would definitely go back.

  • Stayed January 2007, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Check in / front desk
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
new york
2 reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
11 helpful votes 11 helpful votes
1 of 5 stars Reviewed July 28, 2006

We spent three weeks of January 2006 on honeymoon in South Africa. The travel agent convinced us to treat ourselves at the end of our vacation to this "fabulous spa." In fact, the agent worked hard to convince us to do this. Well I've been to top, mid and low level spas and this place barely qualifies as mid level.

To begin with, we couldn't get to the hotel because the road was full of mud and a truck had jackknifed. When we finally got there (to a relatively empty facility), they said they knew about the truck, yet they didn't send someone down with directions.

Next, before even showing us our room, they showed us another room and told us we could upgrade for several hundred a night more (we were already paying a huge amount). They then showed us to "our" room. It was DARK!!! It was okay sized, but why would they put is in a horrible dark room when they place was empty? The idea was to relax and spend time in the room. After a couple of hours, I called the travel agent and said I wanted my money back and would move on to Johannesburg right away. Of course, they refused to refund our money but only then did they upgrade us to the nicer room.

Then we tried the baloney spa. The therapist was 18 years old and had been working for 6 months. She was below average. There was only one other therapist around who seemed similarly unskilled. Atrocious.

We then needed help from the spa, and they were surly and useless. we had to get to town for medication and they didn't help us, but instead sent us down the muddy road which was dangerous and scary. They thought they were being nice by volunteering to wash our car.

DO NOT WASTE YOUR TIME. Spend time in something that shows you the best of South Africa. Something with culture or other amenities. If this was a $50 a night place, I would have thought it was a fair (not good) deal.

By the way, the scenery was pretty, but certainly nothing special.

  • Liked — the final room was nice (but the ceiling kept crumbling in)
  • Disliked — location, service, price, spa
  • Tips/Secrets — don't go
  • Stayed January 2006, traveled as a couple
    • 1 of 5 stars Value
    • 1 of 5 stars Location
    • 1 of 5 stars Check in / front desk
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 1 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 2 of 5 stars Service
    • 1 of 5 stars Business service (e.g., internet access)
Was this review helpful? Yes 10
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Austin, Texas
Senior Reviewer
6 reviews 6 reviews
6 hotel reviews
Reviews in 6 cities Reviews in 6 cities
60 helpful votes 60 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed November 2, 2005

We took the trip of our lifetime last April to South Africa. I am only writing now about the trip, because I've just recently discovered TripAdvisor. I've told everyone I know about this place, and I am so glad to be able to share my view with a broader audience.
Our tour coordinator, Tracy Payne with CC Africa (she also receives our highest recommendation) told us about Cybele Forest Lodge & Spa. It is nestled in the hills near the Drakenberg Mountains about a half hour's drive from Kruger Park airport. It's surrounded by a forest of Euculyptus trees and a much cooler climate than the park area. The grounds are gorgeous with every type of tropical blooming plant you can think of. We had booked a standard chalet but when we were greeted by a charming hostess, she told us that one of the suites with a private pool was available for small upgrade fee. We splurged and we were so glad that we did! Our chalet was perfect - our master suite was so impeccably appointed including a fireplace with pine wood and kindling. The master bathroom was very luxurious (great bath salts and lotions), and the shower was located just outside in a small private fenced-in courtyard. The family room had a super stereo system, wet bar, and a cupboard full of games. We really didn't want to leave our our chalet. We called for room service and the attendant set our outside table as though we were dining formally. We had spa treatments booked in advance, and both my husband and I thought that they were some of the better treatments that we've experienced, and we go to spas frequently.
Breakfast and dinner were included in our rate. The breakfast was amazingly extensive -- once we entered the restaurant, there was a buffet of meats, cereals, breads, hard-boiled eggs, juices etc. which was impressive enough. While we were enjoying that, we were given the menu to decide what our actual breakfat would be! I have many food allergies, and Tracy notified the chef prior to our arrival. At our first dinner, the chef came to the table and introduced herself, and told me that she had driven 12 km that day to try to find the type of bread and museli that I could eat, but was disappointed that she could only find one variety. She also made any dish that I wanted to fit my specific needs. Never have I received that sort of treatment in dealing with my allergies.
My last comments are about the guided tours and excursions that can be taken through the lodge. There are many options. We chose the Shangana Festival which is a re-enactment of the way the Shangana tribe lived-- interesting, but a bit too touristy. The other tour was the Panoramic tour of the Drakenberg Mountain area. This is a day's tour, with many breathtaking sites and stops-- if you go, please ask for the driver named Bicky. He will make your day. His voice is velvety smooth, and he can speak about 8 different tribal languages... he is the entertainment in and of himself! He was very knowledgeable of the area and he told us about the many different customs among the tribal people. Cybele packed a picnic lunch for us that day, all with items sensitive to my allergies, along with an ice cooler of drinks which we kept in the backseat with us. Bicky set our picnic table under a huge Acacia tree in a gorgeous park. Ah, the memories.
My husband and I travel 4-6 times a year, and we often splurge like we did on this trip. This hotel rates as my all-time favorite!

  • Stayed April 2005
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 11
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Cybele Forest Lodge and Spa

Address: P.O. Box 346 | R40 Spitskop Road, Kiepersol, White River 1240, South Africa
Location: South Africa > Mpumalanga > White River
Business Center with Internet Access Fitness Center with Gym / Workout Room Free Breakfast Free Parking Restaurant Room Service Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
#2 Luxury Hotel in White River
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$$$
Hotel Class:5 star — Cybele Forest Lodge and Spa 5*
Number of rooms: 12
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
A visit to Cybele feels like coming home. The 6 suites - each with a private heated pool - and the 6 refurbished, air-conditioned cottages offer extreme luxury. Allow the Spa in the Forest to wow you with world class Clarins treatments. Every night guests enjoy a new menu with fresh ingredients from our organic garden. Truly, inspiration for mind body and soul. ... more   less 
Also Known As:
Cybele Forest Hotel White River
Cybele Forest Lodge And Spa White River, South Africa - Mpumalanga

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