Thinking of going to Askari…well think carefully as you may have some disappointments.
Communication- Askari do not communicate
a. In early June we booked 3 nights at the last minute - we’d been let down by an agent and wanted to escape from Joburg for a few days before flying back to the UK. Both the location and price was good and so we booked. On arrival I was taken astonished to find that game drives were an “extra”- I had thought game lodges were about safari drives and not an add on? Askari think differently. It would have been helpful to have been given the option or been made aware of the “extra” at the time of booking.
b. We had a problem in the room on the 1st night and tried to call reception. Unfortunately the phones were out of order- they didn't work at all during out stay. Quite why no one told us when we checked in is a complete mystery. Moreover in the event of an emergency I’m not sure how Reception would have notified guests- not very considerate or perhaps they don’t care.
c. we booked game drives on successive days and on both occasions we weren’t expected and arrangements had to be rushed to organise the drives at the last minute. We were told to book by notifying any member of staff who would inform reception etc-from our experience this never happened.
d. Even the rangers were no better in this regard- I wanted a final trip on our last morning and the Ranger agreed to check and come back to confirm. That was the last we saw or heard ..they couldn't be bothered finding out if a trip was possible and come back to us.
e. I gave reception staff a 3 page list of “comments/observations” on the afternoon before we left assuming that management or someone in a position of responsibility would address the issues and talk them over with us. An effort was made to correct some of the shortcomings but nobody made an effort to discuss this , to clarify matters or give reassurance and explain that what we had found might be unusual/unacceptable/ not their normal standard. 8 weeks on and I still await a response. Actually no, I don't expect any reply.
A. Don’t go to Askari in SA winter- the lodges are heated by a small 2KW oil filled heater and a log fire which does not heat the lounge where the room temperature remained equivalent to outdoors on a raw Scottish evening! What’s more the bathroom has no heat at all....the slipper bath must simply be an objet d’art as I can’t imagine it being used in the winter months. When there is frost outside you expect a claimed 4 **** star lodge to reasonably provide so guests can use the basic facilities in the lodge.
B. The restaurant was equally cold. It is my first experience apart from when camping in the UK in winter when I had to wrap up to eat dinner.
C. Restaurant again
a. They closed the restaurant for lunch on day 2 withoutany sign or notice. Surely it's a simple message to pass on during breakfast. It’s not rocket science... a pen, paper, and simple notice would have done..no problem for most but beyond the wit of Askari.
b. On our final night there was a brai starting at 19.00. Again we weren't told about this, finding out in the course of conversation. We were also expected to turn up on the dot of 7.00pm rather than have the convenience of the advertised 19-21.00 dining hours.
c. Breakfast..one day we had service at the table; the next day we ended up self service with no reason , explanation given.
d. Tinned fruit for breakfast in South Africa!
D. Think carefully about using the tea and coffee in your room- apparently it’s not routine to check and see whether anything needs replacing; it becomes a chore when you can’t ring reception to get things put right.
E. Don’t expect to be shown to your chalet / cottage; reception give directions and you are left after driving and parking to find your own way. This is 4**** accommodation?
F. Think carefully about the amount of luggage you bring as you are expected to carry it to your accomodation and we had 2 OAPs in the party..........make sure you can carry it yourself as there is no porter service!
G. Is the lodge a Big 5 game lodge?
a. Maybe, but it’s interesting that the elephants (two) are be guided around by handlers who bring them up to the chalet area during the lunch period. Otherwise the elephants don’t roam the estate..... not quite a big 5 experience.
b. The lions are in a small enclosure and viewed only with luck..if they are not by the fence then you won’t see them. Apparently a larger enclosure is being created but we were given no information if this will give reasonable access to the cats or remain a hit and miss affair as at present.
c. A leopard apparently inhabits the hills at the edge of the estate and has been seen once in the last 6/8 years. It was the leopard trek I missed out on the last day and wonder whetehr there is one on the estate. I know that leopard are difficult to see but I remain sceptical.
Askari overall- I found the staff helpful when called upon but felt let down by the overall experience. It would take a lot to persuade me to go back. A great shame as I love SA. Askari was the last leg of a 3 week trip and it was my 4th visit in 5 years so I do love S/Africa and am reasonably aware of the SA experience and what to expect. Without a doubt of all the accommodation we have used in SA this was the least satisfying.
Askari let our party down and compounded this by ignoring our feedback / comment and continue with their inability to communicate about our experiences.
Rating? I would say 2** at most, with a possibility of 3*** if they improve communication, how they treat guests, and improve the chalet heating!
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Askari Game Lodge & Spa is situated on the Plumari Africa Game Reserve in the Magaliesberg, just over an hour from Johannesburg or Pretoria and offers guests a memorable Big 5 wildlife experience within a malaria free environment. Plumari Africa Game Reserve is set within a pristine wilderness area of over 5000 hectares with natural African bushveld and an abundance of flora, fauna, birdlife and wildlife. Two game drives, each approximately 2 - 2,5 hours in duration, are scheduled daily. Elephant Experiences entails interaction with our elephants, which include a 'touch and feed' experience. The main lodge, which is in fact the old Bodenstein family farmhouse, overlooks the Elephant Dam and invites guests to take a step back in time while admiring South African decor pieces dating back to the 1800's. Slipper baths, a coal stove, wash stands, luggage chests, antique Oregon cupboards and tables are subtly placed within the luxury four-star surrounding, to emphasize the captivating history of the Magaliesberg area. Askari Lodge has one of the largest private collections of ox wagons, carts and other animal drawn vehicles from the period 1800 to 1900. A variety of stone and iron-age arte facts, items from the Boer War and San Bushmen rock carvings tell the history of the area, which is also known for the nearby Battle of Nooitgedacht. Examples are available in the museum and guided bush walks take guests through areas where many stone carvings can be found. In contrast with the rich Boere and Afrikaner history depicted by the main farmhouse decor, the Day Visitors Center is abundant with African symbology, rich earthy colours and unique African decor focal points. The two contrasting decor themes pay homage to the history while highlighting the significant influence of the indigenous African tribes of the area. Askari Game Lodge caters for romantic getaways, conferences, teambuilding initiatives, training courses and weddings in both the main lodge and Day Visitors Centre. Nature lovers and birding enthusiasts will find the experience most rewarding, while stressed city dwellers will leave feeling rejuvenated and well-rested. Askari Lodge - the legend lingers. ... more less
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