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“Fabulous place to stay” 5 of 5 stars
Review of The Makokola Retreat

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The Makokola Retreat
3.0 of 5 Resort   |   P.O.Box 59, Mangochi, Malawi (Formerly Club Makokola)   |  
Hotel amenities
Ranked #1 of 3 hotels in Mangochi
South Africa
3 reviews 3 reviews
3 hotel reviews
Reviews in 3 cities Reviews in 3 cities
2 helpful votes 2 helpful votes
“Fabulous place to stay”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed December 29, 2012

Me and my husband stayed there for 5 nights! Most beautiful view from our beachview room! Beautiful beach! Excellent service and food!

A must do are the snorkling trip!

The motorized activities are a bit expensive!

It was our first time there - definitely not the last! Will definitly go back!

Room Tip: We enjoyed staying in a beach view room!
See more room tips
  • Stayed December 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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57 people have reviewed this hotel

Traveler rating
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Rating summary
  • Location
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Sleep Quality
    4 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    4 of 5 stars
  • Service
    4 of 5 stars
  • Value
    3.5 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    4 of 5 stars
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (11)
Date | Rating
  • Dutch first
  • English first
  • French first
  • Any
English first
London, United Kingdom
1 review
3 helpful votes 3 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed November 1, 2012

After having done extensive research over the web on resorts by Lake Malawi and also having read all the reviews on tripadvisor, I decided to give club mak a go (as i'd narrowed it down to the Pumulani resort and Nkopola Lodge - and the Pumulani resort almost literally cost an arm and a leg and didn't even look half as decent as club mak, which, was later confirmed by a fellow traveller that i'd met who knew a person who had stayed there). In any case, at first, to be honest, I was pretty hesitant about this place as 1) i didn't know anything about Malawi as i'd never been there before and 2) I had no idea what to expect of hotels in such a poverty ridden country. But I took a chance and gave it a go and prayed that this would be somewhat acceptable (as i would stay for 5 nights); my standards in hotels are generally very high... i.e. four seasons type standard wherever possible. But this resort has exceeded my expectations and then some more. And here are the reasons why:

Location wise, it is 3.50 hours away by car from Lilongwe. Along the way, you will see poverty to a staggering degree yet it is an amazing experience nonetheless as it opens your eyes to something new and different. The resort sits along lake malawi and is 25mins away from Mangochi, the nearest town. It is a beautiful resort, idyllic and so relaxing that (as cliched as it sounds) it takes you away from the manic pace that is everyday life and transports you to experience a little piece of paradise - it is just stunning.

Cleanliness - this resort is extremely well kept. From the garden, to the bathrooms around the resort, to the rooms, and even to even the sand along the beach (!) it is just immaculate. Everyday you will see people cleaning, mopping/sweeping the floor, and essentially, doing their job! And I did not experience any infestation of insects of any kind in the room (as one traveller wrote in their post).

Rooms - spacious, with a full mosquitoe net over a king sized bed (much needed in a malaria infested region). The rooms are beautifully designed with african pieces, and in the bathroom, there is a his and her sink and GOOD SHOWER PRESSURE (i cannot stress how rubbish some shower pressures are in some resorts, which i must say, is one of my gripes). Housekeeping comes twice a day to clean the room. However, there is no air conditioning but there are two big fans in the room - which is perfectly fine as i managed to sleep like a baby every night.

Food & drink - lovely food, mix of Malawian and European cuisine - quite tasty. Bar by the beach also has all kinds of drinks including the local beer (Kuche Kuche). But most importantly, the thing that matters to me the most, is the quality of the food/drink. Water, for example, is drinkable. You can actually brush your teeth with tap water in the resort as it is filtered. Also, you can have ice cubes in your drink or eat a bowl of salad as it is completely safe. Having travelled through most of the Middle East and Africa, i am extremely careful about what i eat. But, this place has already thought of it, which means, you will not get "delhi belly" which, is reassuring.

There are many activities that you can do whilst there - from playing tennis (got floodlights too so that you could play in the evening), a football pitch, and even a golf course. Otherwise, if you fancy doing something else, you could go snorkelling, scuba diving, tubing, go on a "sunset cruise", speed boating to bird island to see the african fish eagles dine on fish heads (amazing experience), just to name a few, etc... or you could simply sunbathe by the pool or plan excursions to see different parts of Malawi - all of this can be arranged with ease. For relaxation, you could use the spa (and jacuzzi), which is partly outdoors and is so luxurious (Memory, the masseuse, i guarantee, will take care of those knots...and with a smile too). And for women who like to shop (or at least find souvenirs), they have their own souvenir shop within the resort where you could buy all kinds of stuff. Or, just outside the resort, there are traders selling Malawian wood carvings - but beware, make sure you bargain hard because these guys will try to sell high.

Although for me, the highlight was the airstrip. They've got an airstrip which you could actually see on googlemap - you can charter a plane to take you to and from wherever you want to go and the staff will take care of the paperwork. It is really neat and definitely worth a try.

Benedetto, the owner of the place is extremely helpful and friendly. The welcome you feel from him and his staff is amazing. He always makes time to chat with you and tell you about Malawi and the history behind the resort (as it is a family business). But overall, he goes above and beyond to make sure you are having a good time. And I think it's the attention to detail and the level of service that separates a great hotel from a mediocre one. For example, i went and sat on the beach/lounge chair (which had no cushion) because I wanted to have a quick smoke and from afar a staff saw that i was going to sit down and immediately brought over a cushion and an ashtray - i was only going to be there for 5 mins tops(!). Or, when we went into Mangochi to have a look around, the driver that we'd hired to drive us there and back (Makanga his name was if i remember correctly), became almost like a tour guide. He explained the history of the town, its people, and was always very attentive to what we wanted/needed. He was just lovely as i did not expect a driver to do so much more than just drive.

Overall, having read some of the travellers' reviews about club mak, it is hardly on the expensive side as you are getting SO much out of it. The level of attentiveness/service from Benedetto and his staff , the quality of food, the high standards of conduct, the range of activities, the beauty of the resort, the cleanliness and attention to detail all make this place worth every penny. And as a bonus, you will also get to see monkeys in and around the resort but as someone in a previous post already mentioned, they do not bug you and they just leave you alone. I really have nothing but positive things to say and would definitely be coming back here on my next African holiday. I think this place could be the next big thing (i.e. it is a hidden gem in southern Africa) as I would not be surprised if it was featured in Vogue, the FT wknd travel section or some conde nast publication in a few years time as the next "exotic luxury resort in Africa".

All in all, I was very impressed with this resort as this place really knows what they're doing.

  • Stayed October 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 3
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Flitwick, United Kingdom
17 reviews 17 reviews
10 hotel reviews
Reviews in 10 cities Reviews in 10 cities
8 helpful votes 8 helpful votes
3 of 5 stars Reviewed October 28, 2012

We spent only one night at Club Mak. The lake & beach are beautiful but I did not like the local salesmen in their dugouts "lying in wait" to sell there ware. Whilst I appreciate tourists are their best customers I did not like being hassled as they do not take no for an answer.
The staff were very friendly, like everywhere in Malawi, the chalet was clean and spacious but felt dark (probably great to keep cool when it's really hot) and a little dated. I loved the bathroom, beautifully done.
The view from the bar for sundowners was wonderful with it setting behind the palm trees.
Enjoyed the food and the service in the lapa-style restaurant area.

  • Stayed May 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Blantyre, Malawi
1 review
5 of 5 stars Reviewed October 26, 2012

A truly exceptional place that offers an unforgettable experience. Our arrival was warmly welcomed. We were then kindly escorted to our room that watched the beautiful lake in front of it. my family found the rooms to be a perfect blend of African culture and modern design; beautifully allocated and arranged that almost gave it a magical feel: I HIGHLY recommend it, you will NOT be disappointed.

  • Stayed April 2012, traveled with family
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
1 review
4 helpful votes 4 helpful votes
1 of 5 stars Reviewed October 9, 2012

the most terrible experience ever , we stayed there during april/may (couple and daughter) and were given a room in the furthest corner (25) and the rooms was absolutely infested with ants ,my daughter spent the weekend terrified to enter the bath or leave the bed as the bath and floor was totally covered with a carpet of ants - it was revolting

after constant omplaining we were allocated another room to bath in yet not to sleep in which was weird ??? there was some aircraft flight show so the customers from this were given preferance whilst we were treated like second class visitors ... at dinner the hosts ensured they greeted everyone at their tables and walked straight past our table like we didnt exist ...

I was exteremly annoyed and despite plans to extend we checked out the next morning and moved to a different resort.

what annoyed me the most was that after complaining their response was next time we shall upgrade your room...pathetic , i would never return

my biggest regret is not saving the room pics from the visit to upload so others can see how terribly we were treated whilst others were given priority

  • Stayed May 2012, traveled with family
    • 1 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 1 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 1 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 1 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 1 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 4
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
gnamoloto, Manager at The Makokola Retreat, responded to this review, October 11, 2012
Dear Guest,

I am sorry to hear about your unfortunate experience. That was truly not our intention to disappoint you. We really appreciate your constructive feedback, and hope you do give us the chance to make it right! I would also like to take this chance to comment on your points...

Ants: This is an issue that we have been facing for a few months now, despite our regular ‘natural spaying’ around the property. As you may have noticed our property is very green with lush gardens (compared to our surroundings) which get watered on a daily basis creating a moist atmosphere. Unfortunately, this attracts insects and specially ants in search of water. I wish there was something we could do to stop it – but its Mother Nature. We are proud in trying to stay as natural as possible in order not to affect the environment and I can assure you that all our rooms and public areas are treated frequently for our guests comfort.

Dining experience: I can acknowledge that during an event such as the air flight group our staff could have been overwhelmed and it affected your experience. I really apologise for the lack of attention by our hosts during dinner. We strive to make all our guests feel welcome and special at all times, therefore to hear that you felt ‘second class guests’ is unacceptable.

I do hope you don’t judge the entire Retreat by this one experience. We make every effort to listen to our guest opinions and experiences as they are extremely important to us and the progress of our business that has been running for over 25 years. Feel free to reach out directly to Management in case you have any further comments, or if there is any we can do to remedy your experience.

Benedetto M. Calvani
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Boksburg, South Africa
2 reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
4 helpful votes 4 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed July 20, 2012

We flew in with 14 light aircraft from Johannesburg South Africa. We, 40 pax stayed at Makokola retreat for 3 nights. The service, accommodation and food was excellent. For water sport lovers it was paradise. Water skiing, tube riding, snorkeling and scuba diving available. The Director bought aircraft Av gas before we arrived so that we could fuel our aircraft before leaving for the Serengeti. This stay over was paradise!!!!

  • Stayed July 2012, traveled with friends
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 3
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Austin, Texas
11 reviews 11 reviews
5 hotel reviews
Reviews in 9 cities Reviews in 9 cities
6 helpful votes 6 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed July 19, 2012

Club Mak is GORGEOUS. They keep the bugs to a minimum and the baboons/monkeys do not approach you (or your food!). The management had made a mistake with our reservation and gave us a free upgrade to a waterfront suite. It was clean and well kept. Our internet router worked very well here. The grounds are stunning.

The only negative about the place is the dinner prices are WAY too expensive. I would highly recommend going out of the resort for dinner. However, the staff was so polite and catered to our needs.

We brought my three and four year old. They loved playing on the beach and kyaking.

Overall, this was a great place to stay! Very relaxing and peaceful.

  • Stayed July 2012, traveled with family
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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Additional Information about The Makokola Retreat

Address: P.O.Box 59, Mangochi, Malawi (Formerly Club Makokola)
Location: Malawi > Southern Region > Mangochi
Business Center with Internet Access Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Restaurant Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 3 hotels in Mangochi
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $
Hotel Class:3 star — The Makokola Retreat 3*
Also Known As:
The Makokola Retreat Hotel Mangochi
The Makokola Retreat Malawi/Mangochi

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