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“Average stay, restaurant was disappointing”

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Riverwood Downs Mountain Valley Resort
Ranked #1 of 1 Hotels in Monkerai
Reviewed November 4, 2012

Our stay at Riverwood Downs was fun and I found there were a lot of activities to do. However, for anyone with food allergies or food preferences the food was quite disappointing. They do not understand food allergies and when I could not eat my meal due to an allergy, which was not listed on the menu, I still had to pay for it. As there is nowhere else to eat for 40 minutes this was quite disappointing. The service in the restaurant is also horrible, one night it took 2 hours and 20 minutes for us to have 2 courses, which made it too dark after dinner for us to go look for platypuses. Besides the food we really loved our stay, but wouldn't stay here again until they improve restaurant service.

  • Stayed: November 2012, traveled as a couple
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Thank LeanneEllen
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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153 - 159 of 209 reviews

Reviewed October 28, 2012

SHORT REVIEW

We had a wonderful time but dinner service on Friday night was appalling & the food on Saturday night was inedible!
For stays in the Park Cabins BYO sharp knife as there are only butter knives supplied in the kitchenette!

FULL REVIEW

Booking:
I booked a few weeks in advance as I was hoping to secure the River Cottage. Unfortunately you need to book MONTHS in advance, not weeks, for the cottage so we settled on a Park Cabin for a family of two adults & two young children. I also booked a pony ride for my oldest daughter & a massage for myself. The reservations clerk then promised to email a confirmation as well as payment details & information about the extras I had booked. After a week, several emails from me & a couple of phone calls a confirmation & payment details FINALLY arrived however there was nothing about the pony ride or the massage so I assumed that this information would be given to me on check in.

The Drive There:
The road is a little winding & bumpy but if you take it slowly you get the opportunity to spot lizards sunning themselves beside the road, kangaroos napping alongside cows in paddocks & some of the loveliest countryside in Australia! Stop in Dungog or Stroud for supplies (depending on which way you travel) & maybe grab a coffee in one of the cafes in either town (I liked the Coffee Bean in Dungog).

Check-In:
We arrived after a beautiful drive through some wonderful scenery! I was handed a waiver to sign for the pony ride & told that my daughter & I would BOTH need covered shoes & long pants. I had packed these for her but not myself & I asked why I needed them & they told me that I would have to lead her on the horse. Unfortunately as I had not packed appropriately (as I had not been given all the info on booking) we had to cancel & break a horse mad girl's heart! After this initial disappointment I was given the key to Cabin 8 as well as a park map & given excellent directions. I asked if there was any availability for dinner that evening & was told "Yes. Plenty." but no one said that bookings were essential so I did not book.

The Cabin:
The Park Cabins are your basic tourist park cabin arrangement but they are comfortable & provide you with almost everything you need for a short to medium length stay. For us, we could stay here for up to a week (in good weather) before they size became an issue & we began to feel cramped! There is a very comfy queen bed in a separate bedroom, a set of bunk beds in an alcove & a pull-out sofa bed in the main kitchen/meals/lounge area. The bathroom is TINY however how long do you need to be in there????? The towels they provided were big & fluffy & there were plenty. We had a small veranda with an outdoor setting for two which was a lovely place to sit & watch while out girls rode their bikes around on the gravel area in front of the cabins. There is only one parking space per cabin but there is an additional car park up near the kiosk area for additional vehicles & this is visible from Cabins 1 & 8 if you are concerned & like to check occasionally!

The Facilities:
Pool -
crystal clear, nice deck, near reception & the resort rooms. We didn't use it much as I didn't want my children to be too disruptive of the couples having romantic weekends in the resort rooms so we swam in the river mostly!
Massage -
OH! MY! GOD! BLISS! The masseuse was wonderful & did a full injury history before hand which allowed her to work on areas that needed attention & go easy on areas with contraindications! Worth every cent!
River -
In my opinion, a better swimming experience than the pool but some people prefer the pool. The water is cold & clear with some very deep pools as well as shallower ones. If you are quiet & there at the right time of the day you MIGHT spot a platypus. We were not so lucky but the people in the cabin next to ours did & got pictures!
Gift Shop -
Stocks some lovely items. Have a look for yourself.
Kiosk -
Best wedges ever! Ice creams, hot food, soap/toothpaste/etc, nappies, pet food, just bits & pieces you may have forgotten or run out of. No salt & vinegar chips though... :0(
The Bar -
Nice for a quiet drink. Open from 10am. Surprisingly comprehensive selection of beers, wines & spirits but no cruisers/breezers unfortunately!

The Restaurant:
Breakfast -
Excellent food, attentive service, beautiful views from the deck across the lawns.
We had The Big Breaky, which my hubby said was really god but not big enough for him so the following morning I ordered him extra bacon & he was happy. I had the Eggs Benedict which is actually served as Eggs Florentine (with spinach) & it was very nice too. Just the right amount of food! The kids had french toast with syrup which they gobbled up! The coffee was awful on Saturday morning but great on Sunday morning...perhaps a different barista?
Dinner -
As I have already mentioned, no one told me I HAD to book so we just showed up on Friday night. We were told that they were very busy but instead of turning us away (which they should have) they found us a table & got us set up. Then we waited. After 15 minutes of seeing NO ONE I went to the bar area & ordered our drinks & asked let them know we were ready to order. Then I returned to our table with our drinks & waited another 15 minutes. I went back in & asked if we could order & RANI was sent out to take our order. RANI came outside, took the order from the table next to ours (who arrived 20 minutes after us), looked me square in the eye & WALKED RIGHT PAST US! We gave her a few more minutes but by then we had been waiting for 40 minutes with a 2 year old & a 4 year old, who were getting quite irritable, so we decided to leave. I let reception know that we were tired of waiting & annoyed at being completely snubbed by RANI the snooty waitress so we were leaving.
Saturday night was slightly different. We booked, for starters, which we would have done the previous night had someone told us we had to! We arrived & were shown to our table. The girls were given a kids activity pack (nice & sensible touch) & we looked over the menus. I have to say, for a place billing themselves as fine dining, they are WAY off the mark! The menu SOUNDS fancy but the food is terrible! My husband ordered the Scotch Fillet & he was disappointed. The sauce was store bought, the vegetables were over cooked & his steak was tough. I had the Satay Chicken salad...what arrived at the table was awful! Lettuce, cucumber, tomato, grilled chicken all smothered in a cheap brand of store bought satay sauce which I suspect is one that the chicken should be cooked IN, not poured over the top after cooking! I took two bites & sent it back but by this time the children had finished eating & were getting grumpy so we decided to leave & I made sandwiches back at the cabin!
The kids meals were very good though! Excellent selection & they enjoyed the meal.

All in all I was sad to have to leave after only two nights & we WILL be back for another holiday. Next time I will book early & try to get the River Cottage for a minimum of 4 or 5 nights but if I can't get it I won't have a problem booking a Park Cabin again...next time I may ask for Cabin 2 or 3 as they had larger verandas & a slightly different layout inside which seemed to be more practical or Cabin 5 or 6 as they had a nicer aspect & you really could look out & see no one else!

*Have tried uploading some photos but for some reason I am unable...will try again once the review has been posted!

Room Tip: Book early for the River Cottage - it books out MONTHS in advance! Park Cabins 2 & 3 have bigge...
See more room tips
  • Stayed: October 2012, traveled with family
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5  Thank Beau_Skye_Brand
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed October 28, 2012

We had been to Riverwood Downs a few years ago and enjoyed it greatly, we received another voucher as a gift to visit again. I read the reviews and thought this was not going to be good. But to our surprise it was great again, the food was wonderful, we canoed on the river and played on the half tennis indoor court, and had a lovely walk. If you are camping and keeping costs down the food is quite expensive but it is well worth the money. We had a really nice time and would recommend for a quiet getaway. We found the rooms clean and comfortable and the staff were helpful and pleasant. Careful how many days you book, depending on your activities.

  • Stayed: October 2012, traveled as a couple
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Thank mrbenjie
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed October 28, 2012

I would agree with a previous reviewer, the 4 star rating is very misleading - is it meant to be 4 paws? They did have an award for being dog friendly. Or perhaps it's 4 star for a camp site?
If you book a cabin (rather than a bunk room), then treat this as a step up from camping. The cabins are average but perfectly ok, just a bit old. My friend and I got worried about some of the reviews and took our own pillows which made us feel better, and I would recommend taking your own towels if you are a fan of fresh smelling thick towels, but overall we were happy enough for the price we paid and what we got. The staff were perfectly polite too.

  • Stayed: October 2012, traveled with friends
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Thank PJP2012
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
ChelleandCo, Guest Relations Manager at Riverwood Downs Mountain Valley Resort, responded to this reviewResponded November 19, 2012

Thank you for your feedback. Our Boutique Rooms are AAA 4 star rated (which is a Guest House Rating). Our Timber Cabins are rated AAA 3.5 star (which is a Park Rating). The website explains the rating for each accommodation type.

Yes we are proud to be a Pet Friendly property and selected accommodation is available for guests with pets.

We pride ourselves by our friendly country hospitality and the Riverwood Downs Team is committed to the “100% Satisfaction Guarantee” program.

We look forward to welcoming you back to Riverwood Downs:)

Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed October 12, 2012

The 4 star rating of this place place is completely misleading. The accommodation has aged badly although I suspect it was never really 4 star worthy. The photography on the website is very deceptive.

The restaurant serves nice food but I did not expect $30 a main at what is effectively a caravan park. We ended up having dinner in Gloucester one night instead.

Our own mistake was also coming during school holidays as well.

  • Stayed: October 2012, traveled as a couple
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3  Thank Ashe E
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed October 5, 2012

The accommodation is cramped and tired. We had two adults, two children and two dogs in a tiny room. The facilities and equipment are also in need of repair - broken tennis racquets for the half court, broken pool cues and broken table tennis bats and table. The staff are rude and make you feel as though you are imposing when you ask for any information or assistance. They charge for everything - canoes, dogs to stay overnight( there is nowhere to leave your dogs if you leave the property or go horse riding). The horse riding is a joke - $52.00 for two children for half an hour where the parents have to lead their own children around a paddock (we were told we would have to drag the horses). There was no information provided on the type of ride or the cost. The air conditioner only blew warm air and the rooms are uncomfortable and poorly furnished. The river and setting is beautiful and the dogs had a ball.It would be a great destination if they didn't charge as much and staff were friendly.

  • Stayed: October 2012, traveled with family
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3  Thank Bettyharbott
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed October 4, 2012

Once it was good - now it's not and hasn’t been for several years. I'm very glad this place has finally received some honest / bad reviews, many due to the discount coupon offers. I was a regular visitor (with and without dog) for many years individually and in a group. In the last 4 years I have been disappointed on numerous occasions it's now a place I avoid at all costs.

If you are DESPERATE to go somewhere with your dog and choose this place over other dog-friendly places, then ‘value for money’ or ‘4 star’ as advertised would not be important to you.

It’s overpriced – even camping. The cabins are basic, and again, overpriced. The motel rooms are tiny. The food and service are poor and though there are occasional exceptions they are too random to change my rating.

The place is maintained to a 2 star standard. Avoid the restaurant food (and snack bar
on the rare occasions it’s opened) at all costs. There is no excuse for the bad food as this is NOT in a remote area. Maybe Sydney people think it’s remote, but the surrounding area has numerous notable eateries and a great supply of fresh food (Dungog, Gloucester, Maitland).

The bar area is very sweet, but it’s difficult to get service there. When the weather is hot, wet or cold, the bar is an opportunity lost to meet people as it has heating and air-conditioning.

There are irresponsible dog owners that seem to converge on the otherwise gorgeous property on weekends. Dogs running around open spaces and the occasional uncollected poo are too be expected on this pet-friendly property. A dog repeatedly running into your camp, jumping on you or barking every time you walk by is unacceptable behaviour and it’s not the dogs fault! Your chance of seeing wonderful happy dogs and meeting nice responsible owners is better during the week.

Sometimes it’s unfortunate that dog owners need to be reminded of social norms just like what happens in pubs or youth hostels. The management has been unwilling to do this on busy weekends. When they leave policing bad behaviour up to the guests, it’s not good and certainly not indicative of good management or 4 star service.

It’s all unfortunate as the Karuah River is lovely, and this is a spectacular property. If the management was good the staff would stay – it’s a good location from a rural perspective being close to services. There is no geographic reason for their high staff turn-around and I’ve seen them advertising for a chef on more than one occasion. I think the reviews answer this.

I hope RWD takes notes and brings the place back up to standard, OR, reduces their prices and customer’s expectations.

Until then, I’ll be staying at Poleys Place dot com au or Camp-Cobark with my dog.

Room Tip: Choose the least expensive cabin - by paying more you don't get more.
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  • Stayed: August 2012, traveled with friends
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11  Thank NationalHoliday
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Riverwood Downs Mountain Valley Resort

Address: 311 Upper Monkerai Rd, Monkerai, New South Wales 2415, Australia
Location: Australia > New South Wales > Monkerai
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Free Parking Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Kitchenette Pets Allowed ( Dog / Pet Friendly ) Restaurant Swimming Pool Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 1 Hotels in Monkerai
Price Range: $140 - $205 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:4 star — Riverwood Downs Mountain Valley Resort 4*
Number of rooms: 38
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Also Known As:
Riverwood Downs Mountain Valley Hotel Monkerai

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