What a huge disappointment.... I find it difficult reading recent reviews that we are talking about the same hotel here.... We arrived for a two night stay in September having booked several weeks before. A total disaster and we left a night early it was so awful. The website is misleading especially regards the lodge's position overlooking a very smelly fish factory and there being no dinner available. Lodge needs a lot of maintenance - leaks everywhere, gloomy and dark.
Knowing that Gansbaai has few dining facilities we deliberately booked Saxon Lodge as the website description of the pub and restaurant sounded fantastic "when the lodge is quieter, our chef discusses each meal with guests and freshly prepares tailor made dishes" and "this restaurant is becoming known for serving the best seafood in the area." As soon as we arrived on 27 September, Caron handed us a letter saying "we do serve dinners by arrangement" and told us no dinner was available. This is totally unacceptable - she had weeks to tell us so we could have made alternative arrangements. She was obviously desperate for our booking...
We had to make our own dining arrangements which on a wet, cold, chilly evening was not much fun and as we had to drive, one of us could not drink - a real shame. Breakfast was pretty dull (towels all over the floor mopping up leaking windows..) with stale muffins/scones, foil packs of jam, long life fruit juice (I think.) Very dull.
The website states that the lodge is "perched majestically over the old harbour." The old harbour now houses a fish processing factory which is smoky, oily and smells strongly of fish... We were in in the Albatross Suite and frankly, even if the weather was nice, it would be impossible to sit out on the very nice balcony and enjoy a bottle of wine. Again, website is totally misleading, please see photograph which says it all.....
The room was very spacious but it was cold, clammy, the heater had not been put on, the electric blanket didn't work and the bathroom tap was broken. Bit of a shame.
The Saxon Lodge needs to make its website more realistic and be honest about what it is actually offering in the way of food. It was very unwelcoming with no fires lit, I just don't think they could be bothered because only two other people were staying.. it was such a shame.
I would not have charged unhappy customers 50% for the night that we did not stay - the hotel was deserted by then! Caron knew we were unhappy and I thought this was most unfair and very shortsighted - she had radically changed what was on offer (no food!!). Saxon Lodge must decided its target market (film crews etc.) and perhaps close down totally during the quieter times of year - we were given really bad service.
Interestingly, we had tried to book into other B&B's for our stay but they were all booked... we easily got into Saxon Lodge which is interesting...
I would suggest staying in Stansfield, nice Victorian town nearby with excellent facilities.
We saw fantastic whales at De Kelders near Gansbaai but you don't have to stay in Gansbaai to see them!
Sorry if this sounds negative, but what was meant to be the highlight of our trip to see the great whites was a tremendous let down.
Avoid the Albatross Suite at all costs - it looks out over the car park and the fish processing fact...
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Thank you for your heartfelt feedback about our lodge. By now at least I am sure you are feeling much better as I know you arrived feeling somewhat unwell in the harsh weather we had during the week of your visit, which also did not permit the shark boats to go out .
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I am quite alarmed at some of your comments about the state of our lodge especially given we had such a long, and what I considered friendly discussion about the area, our experience at the lodge and the difficulties of seaside properties, in our bar and at breakfast. I really was not aware of how deeply unhappy you were with being here, but certainly got the message when you did not greet when you left
So, I will use this opportunity to contextualise your concerns and comments on this forum:
1. The Western Cape, where Gansbaai is situated is nicknamed “The Cape of Storms” and that type of weather is what you and your husband experienced at the Lodge. 40 knot (approximately 80Km/h) gusting winds with 6metre swells are wild and not much can stand up to them. Gansbaai is a real fishing village and has two major tourist attractions, Whales and Great White Sharks, besides wine, Fynbos, caves, cycling and hiking, to name a few, and the fish canning factory forms an integral part of the village and its “charm”. Your husband said you were feeling miserable when you arrived and the stormy weather certainly would not assist in making you feel less miserable.
2. Saxon Lodge is positioned ‘majestically’ above the harbour – a working harbour, with a fish factory, which occasionally produces the smell of fish in Gansbaai (and if you look from the harbour, we do stand out rather majestically).This does not in my opinion or in the opinion of almost all our other guests (90% foreigners throughout the year with an average of 60% occupancy) detract from the spectacular view and interest in the workings of the harbour. The fish factory runs about 180 days a year and possibly 10% of those days the wind blows onshore and brings the smell of fish into Gansbaai.
3. Dinner is prepared by arrangement and in my response letter sent with all bookings and confirmations, I am clear that I would need to know by 12:00 midday, latest, on the day, if dinner is required, as I buy fresh and cook from scratch. I will make some amendments to the website to make this clearer, thank you for the valuable input. You did have many weeks to let me know that you wanted dinner at our lodge, to the contrary, I heard nothing from you until you arrived in the storm on Thursday night 27th September.
4. Our breakfasts are standard as follows: Buffet, cold, includes a choice of 4 cereals, milk (hot or cold) yoghurts, fresh fruit salad and or fruit, FRESH juice – we do not have long life anything (it would be really great if you asked the question rather than broadcast falsely on a social media forum), muffins- baked myself either on the day or the day before, (we have NEVER served scones for breakfast), foiled jams as well as jars of home/farm made jams, Marmite, Bovril, Nutella, peanut butter, health bread and rusks. Plus a hot farmhouse breakfast of bacon, pork or beef sausage, eggs to order, toast, fried tomato, mushrooms, baked beans or parts thereof.
5. We had had up to 40 knot gusting winds laden with salt water blowing directly at the lodge for 2 -3 days that week which led to the water leaks in the restaurant. I apologise (and did on the morning) for the inconvenience caused by this. It happens in our lodge despite our best efforts to keep up with the ‘leaks’, high speed winds with vertical rain force the water through the windows where they meet the frames. It is the nature of sea-facing properties. We used towels under one window to soak up the water so that no-one would slip and injure themselves.
6. Maintenance is an ongoing task, as it is anywhere, and especially since we are a sea facing property on the direct face of the prevailing North West wind. We have purposefully created a subtle, warm atmosphere – no fluorescent or bright lighting, no unnatural lighting – gentle ambient lighting for a warm atmosphere. I am sad that you experienced it as dark & gloomy. Our Lodge does not need lots of maintenance other than day to day, changing bulbs, watching out for and repairing leaks, torn blinds (wind damage), faulty taps, plugs, drains – the list goes on. These issues come up after each stay, each day and each room check and sometimes when guests provide this valuable feedback.
7. You were in the room called Albatross, one of our premium rooms, which have always had good reviews. That you found it cold and clammy might have had something to do with the really cold and wet weather. The heater was on when I took you to the room and I was not aware that the electric blanket was not working until you told me. Thank you for that – it has since been replaced. We check the blankets by switching them on and if the pilot lights are on accept they are working – this I now know is a mistake. I have changed our housekeeping policy based on your feedback, at the time, to ‘feel’ the heat before we accept that it is working. Thank you.
Yes, Albatross is above the car park (the bathroom part) – residents only – and overlooks the factory if you look out the small west facing side window or at the top of the stairway going up to the suite, where you chose to take the photo you attached from, The main view, which you neglected to mention, looks straight over the North West part of the ‘old’ harbour over Walker Bay, onto the Hottentots Holland Mountains – VERY beautiful, especially at Sunset and sunrise – this is the photo you will see on our website. Sorry you missed it!
8. You are right there were no fires lit.
9. I had no idea of how unhappy you were, I knew you were not well as you and your husband told me often. There was no time, face to face, that you told me how you were feeling about your stay or that I had delivered bad service – not one time! Even in our conversation in the pub in the evening and the next morning at breakfast you did not give me the impression that you were so deeply unhappy. You gave me some feedback about the electric blanket and the ‘broken’ tap, which was not broken, just loose in its setting – subsequently repaired, thank you . I did get the impression that you were extremely disappointed with the weather and perhaps the style of our lodge – which is not modern chic – and I assumed and was told by your husband that you were leaving early because you weren’t feeling well and you would prefer to be in Cape Town where you are more comfortable.
10. We are very clear about our target market, film crews are but one segment. The night you did not stay and for many nights thereafter we were fully occupied to the point that I referred guests to other accommodation, which is our norm. These guests are European mostly (90%) and until your feedback, have only had compliments about our lodge, our service and our offerings. It is also the reason why I charged the 50% cancellation as I am not desperate (as you say) for your booking.
11. Perhaps you should consider that you, personally, as part of a flight crew that is accustomed to a temperature controlled cabin environment rather than a wild stormy Gansbaai on the day, just don’t fall into the segment which is looking for a warm homely, personal, hands on environment. And that’s OK, we just think you should be a little more contextual in your postings to a public space – please don’t post photos taken from a stairway or side window and present them as “the view”...
12. The whales are always a joy to see from your room, Albatross and in De Kelders, and absolutely, you do not have to stay in the area to see them. What a pleasure though, to wake in the morning and look over the bay and see whales breaching and saying good morning to the day.
13. Had you mentioned that you wanted to drink, we would have run you up to the restaurant you visited, because the weather caused you to choose to drive rather than walk, we would have driven you there and fetched you afterwards as we do with guests from time to time.
14. STANFORD is a little village about 20km north and inland of Gansbaai, very beautiful with good facilities, we agree.
Your posting doesn’t sound negative, it is negative which you are fully entitled to express, as I am to my response, which I know to be constructive and suggestive of other reasons for your poor experience. I am sad that you did not get to see the sharks because the weather was bad, added to which you were not feeling well. It is hardly fair to blame the area, the lodge or me for the experience you had. I hope one day you will be able to come to the village and have a different experience.
Dave and I are personally committed and invested in this lodge – it is our home our passion and our joy - and we get personally involved with our guests and their enjoyment and concerns. So a review such as this impacts on us personally. I only wish you had the courage at the time to say enough to me that I might have saved you the discomfort you experienced, even if it meant me finding another place to stay. Contrary to your suggestion that everything else was fully booked (just not possible anyway), I know our market very well, it is my business and it would have been very simple to find a place which was more suitable for you to stay.
Once again thank you for your feedback and I hope that my response will offer some context to you and others who read this review.
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.