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“A good dining experience, with great Staff”

Dining at Askari Game Lodge
Ranked #4 of 4 Restaurants in Hekpoort
Restaurant details
Reviewed January 8, 2014

A buffet is not always the most exciting type of meal to review, but the Food was good, with the Buffet being replenished constantly.

The Staff were the stand out feature of the afternoon - nothing was too much for them, with Caesar taking personal interest in all diners (the restaurant was full, due to a large family get together).

Watching the Elephant interact near to the pool, was the cherry on top

Thanks for a relaxed afternoon

    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
1  Thank Tony_Rubin
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviewed July 26, 2013

Thinking of going to Askari…well think carefully as you may have some disappointments.
Communication- Askari do not communicate
a. We booked 3 nights at the last minute at the beginning of June- we’d been let down by an agent and wanted to get out of Joburg for a few days before flying back to the UK. The location and price were good and so we booked. On arrival I was taken aback / dumbstruck 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 called reception. Unfortunately the phones were out of order- they stayed out of order all week. 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 the Lodge would have notified guests- perhaps they don’t care.
c. When booking a game drive it was disconcerting to find that we weren’t expected and arrangements had to be made to organise the drives at the last minute. The booking method is to notify a member of staff who will do the rest. From our experience this never happened.
d. Even the rangers were remiss in this aspect- I hoped to go on a final trip on our last morning, but they couldn’t be bothered finding out if a trip was possible or letting us know and explaining why.
e. I handed in a 3 page list of “comments/observations” on the afternoon before we left assuming that management or someone in a position of responsibility might like to address the issues and talk them over with us. An effort was made to correct some of the shortcomings but nobody could be bothered to speak with any member of our party to clarify matters or give reassurance that what we had found might be unusual/unacceptable/ not their normal standard. 3 weeks on and I have heard nothing further.

Askari don’t communicate.
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 sends all the heat up the chimney. The room temperature was equivalent to outdoor living in the Scottish mountains in snow. 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 so called 4 star lodge to reasonably provide for guests comfort.
B. The restaurant was equally cold. It shouldn’t be necessary to be wrapped up to eat in comfort!

C. Restaurant again
a. They closed the restaurant for lunch without leaving any notice or bothering to tell us that lunch would have to be taken in the main lodge. It’s not rocket science- pen, paper, simple notice..no problem for most but beyond the wit of Askari.
b. On our final night there was a brai starting at 19.00. We found this out by accident and if we hadn’t turned up we may have missed out despite the advertised 19-21.00 dining hours.
c. Breakfast..one day service at table the next self serve…there’s no indication you have to guess.
d. Tinned fruit for breakfast in South Africa! Really……

D. Think carefully about using the tea and coffee in the room- it’s not routine check and replace everyday; it becomes a chore if you can’t ring reception to get things put right.
E. Don’t expect to be shown to your chalet / cottage; directions are given and you can expect to find your own way there. Different standards obviously apply for 4**** accommodation ; I would expect even lower * accommodation to be more helpful.

F. Think carefully before you bring luggage with you.. I know most people do… but 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) appear to be guided around the estate by their handlers turning up around the chalet area during the lunch period and don’t otherwise roam the estate, not quite a big 5 experience.
b. The lions are in a small enclosure and accessible only with luck..if they are not by the fence then you won’t see them. Apparently a larger enclosure is being created but I have no idea if this will give reasonable access to the big cats or 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 about it’s presence in the lodge estate. I know that leopard can be difficult to see but I remain sceptical.
Askari overall- I found the staff helpful when called upon but you are badly 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 love Africa and am reasonably aware of the SA experience and what to expect. Certainly 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 made no effort to discuss and explain what had gone wrong. I can only assume that Askari has other means of surviving if it can treat guests in this way.
I’d say 2** at most, possibly 3*** if they can improve how they treat their guests.

Thank paul a
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed June 9, 2013

Sent the GM a note, this an abbreviated edit thereof.

I had the pleasure of being a guest at a birthday luncheon at Askari today. The thought of yet another average-to-sad buffet meal as one often experiences with this style of cuisine was not a happy one. Especially trekking all the way from Joburg’s culinary epicentres….

Well I could not have been more surprised. I had a brief chat to chef Nick to compliment him on the fare but thought it was worth dropping you a note. The food was way beyond the ‘buffet standard’, had none of that ‘sameness taste’ that seems to be the rule of making food for the masses, with everything gravitating to the blandness imposed by the generics of bulk-purchased catering spices and supplies.

I could quite happily have stuck just to the starters (the tomato soup was particularly memorable) but did taste some of the main courses (cant speak for all). In any event I could taste the hand of a chef who bothered about each dish (how nice to have a curry which actually was a curry, even if made for such a table) as opposed to, well, something nothing more than commercial bulk supply.

I do hope you will share my sentiments with your staff and, in particular, the chef and kitchen team. A gold star to all of them.

    • Service
Thank MattJNB
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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