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“A place to avoid?”

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Askari Game Lodge & Spa
Certificate of Excellence
Northampton, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
8 reviews
7 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 4 helpful votes
“A place to avoid?”
Reviewed July 26, 2013

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.

Other matters
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!

  • Stayed June 2013, traveled with family
    • Value
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    • Sleep Quality
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Helpful?
3 Thank paul a
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (45)
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English first
Cape Town Central, South Africa
Level Contributor
92 reviews
41 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 51 helpful votes
Reviewed June 9, 2013

I stayed at the Askari Safari Lodge for a business meeting held in the conference centre. The conference centre is obviously a late addition to the complex and is more modern and quite well appointed - so no complaints on that score. However, the hotel itself and the rooms are very obviously not new and rather tired with old metal window and door frames, very little light and thatch roof that is beginning to fray quite badly. The property is great and is well situated with game - but the experience of staying there could have been a lot more pleasant. The conference food was buffet based and nothing to write home about although adequate. Not sure i would like to go back!

  • Stayed May 2013, traveled on business
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
2 Thank Magriet11
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
London, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
159 reviews
44 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 46 helpful votes
Reviewed May 27, 2013

I'd gone to the Askari Game Lodge for a wedding but could easily see it as a perfect location for a spa weekend or just a few days away from the bustle. I stayed in one of the small lodges towards the far end of the complex. It was well appointed with a rustic feel which was perfect for the location and the small veranda caught the sun all day so was great for chilling out :) The outlook over the watering holes was lovely and whilst not a huge selection of animals visited, those that did seemed happy to stay about and graze.
Breakfast was served in the lower lodge and was extensive, tasty and plentiful with staff on hand all the time to ensure you had everything you needed.
The main Lodge was a short walk up the hill which was only used during the wedding and for the following morning breakfast. None the less it was beautiful inside and the balcony offered stunning views over the complex and surrounding landscape.
I'd definitely visit again if my plans took me to that area :)

  • Stayed May 2013, traveled solo
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
Thank timcr005
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
London
Level Contributor
5 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
Reviewed May 19, 2013

My husband and I got married at Askari Lodge in December 2012. It was recommended to us by our wedding planner and we had our first visit in January 2012. From the moment we started organising our wedding Marlene and all of the staff were helpful and attentive to our every need. All of our requests were met and exceeded our expectations. All of our wedding guests stayed for the night of our wedding and most of them stayed a second night. Our guests mostly travelled from the UK, Australia and from various places in SA. They were all impressed with the service. There are so many things to comment on but here are a few things that may help you decide if this is the place for you to get married:

-The stunning forest ceremony venue is secluded and so special for those who want to get married outdoors. All of our guests were driven out in the safari vehicles which was a nice touch. They also have a little chapel for those who would prefer a ceremony indoors.
-We organised a game drive for all guests immediately after our ceremony while we had our photographs taken. They have the big 5 which was great for our international guests.
-They have a big conference room but we opted to have our reception on the deck outside which had a fantastic view of the mountains.
- The food was divine - especially the steak. Our guests commented on how lovely the wedding meal was.
-The rooms have an 'antique Dutch' feel which is not really my style but the rooms were clean, spacious and well equipped. They can accomodate 60 guests so we booked out the entire venue for the night which meant that we had complete exclusivity and it was very private.
-We did the 'Elephant Experience' for our wedding photographs. It was a bit scary but it was so special to have wedding pics with the ellies!

There is nothing about our wedding that I would change. It was absolutely perfect. Thank you to all of the wonderful staff for making it so special.

Room Tip: There are two rows of rooms. Ask for one in the first row (closest to the water hole- I think it'...
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  • Stayed December 2012, traveled with family
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
1 Thank sausagesandmash
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Johannesburg, South Africa
Level Contributor
76 reviews
29 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 36 helpful votes
Reviewed May 1, 2013 via mobile

Askari was the perfect spa weekend getaway. I booked a spa package which was phenomenal, the ladies at the spa tended to my every desire and were very flexible to my needs and schedule. The hotel staff couldn't do enough to make sure I had an excellent stay, they were phenomenal. I was in the executive room (3 Impala), the room was spacious, comfortable and was beyond my expectations. The food was delicious as well as the cocktails, the afternoon game drive was exciting and fun I liked the fact that they knew me by name and my needs off by heart. This was truly a remarkable experience that I intend making my annual retreat! Well done to the team at Askari!

Stayed April 2013, traveled solo
Helpful?
Thank Lungi05
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Boksburg, South Africa
Level Contributor
144 reviews
41 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 64 helpful votes
Reviewed March 23, 2013

Due to an error in judgement we had to find alternate accommodation and Askari happened to be "IT", thankfully I chose much better this time. Only had one night stay but it was very enjoyable. Staff made a mistake in our room choice which was corrected and complimented with a bottle of champagne (much appreciated) but Room No. 1 is not a place I would book, it is close to the workers area and kitchen so noise is inevitable.
Executive chalet is a nice size, clean, neat and an earthy smell due to the thatch, which we like. Bathroom large with bath and shower, plenty of towels.
Food good and view lovely on the terrace. Elephants, Warthog, Nyala were all viewed in one day!
Pity we couldn't stay longer.

Room Tip: Chalets 10 to 14 are the best, view of watering hole and roomy.
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  • Stayed March 2013, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
Thank jbb88
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Washington DC, District of Columbia
Level Contributor
103 reviews
60 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 37 helpful votes
Reviewed February 19, 2013

This "resort" is about 90 minutes from Johannesburg. The staff is beyond phenomenal. They cannot do enough for the guests. The place itself needs some serious work.

The "Chalet" to which we were assigned was clean enough but had some serious odor problems and a moldy shower. Even if it is in the wilderness, there are ways to control that. Food was scary. I am usually adventurous but after a couple of attempts at some of the native delights, I was not delighted and went back to safe things. Like bread. And Jam.

The game drive is very artificial. It IS a game reserve so the lions are fenced and it does appear that the giraffes and wildebeest are trained to appear at the sign of the game trucks. Even the elephants have a stable. It IS nice for an non-wild view of the animals. The conference center is airconditioned but nothing else is -- so beware on those hot days -- it could be a little tough.

Again -- maybe the rustic nature of this place isn't for me. But there could be improvements

  • Stayed February 2013, traveled on business
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
Thank Probably2Picky
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Askari Game Lodge & Spa

Property: Askari Game Lodge & Spa
Address: 1 Doornspruit Road | Magaliesberg, Hekpoort 1791, South Africa
Phone Number:
Location: South Africa > Gauteng > Hekpoort
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Free Breakfast Free Parking Restaurant Room Service Spa Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 13 Specialty Lodging in Hekpoort
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$
Hotel Class:4 star — Askari Game Lodge & Spa 4*
Number of rooms: 48
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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