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“Nice location, tired feel to room”

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Victoria Falls Safari Lodge
Ranked #7 of 16 Hotels in Victoria Falls
Certificate of Excellence
Toronto
Level 6 Contributor
514 reviews
90 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 195 helpful votes
“Nice location, tired feel to room”
Reviewed November 14, 2011

My hubby and I stayed here in early November 2011. We were booked in a pre-paid package that included breakfast & dinner. We had a large room (#9) - it was 2 floors with 1.5 baths (nice). We slept comfortably. The shower & towels were good. The furniture felt tired. The small balcony overlooking the watering hole was nice. If you are worried about malaria & mosquitoes you would not have been comfortable - the net was set over the top of the bed but had large gaps where the net was fitted on the "posts" and the net did not reach the floor. In addition there were gaps in the logs/thatch roof of the room ... lots of opportunity for mosquitoes to enter - however we didn't see a single one in our 2 night stay. Breakfast was quite good, we really enjoyed lunch in the bar and our dinners. The food was very tasty - but not necessarily like "at home". I was astounded to hear guests telling the staff how to cook the food. If you want your food like it tastes in your home country you may wish to travel in your home country. We came here from South Africa and found the prices to be much higher in VF.

  • Stayed November 2011, traveled as a couple
    • Value
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Helpful?
1 Thank travelfun001
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
ross k, General Manager at Victoria Falls Safari Lodge, responded to this review, November 22, 2011
Dear Travel Fun
We take great heart and comfort on the many positives in your review - our sincere thanks, they are of critical importance to us. You complimented the room, comfortable sleep, balcony view (isn't that just superb over such pristine wilderness), shower, towels, you didn't see a mosquito and you enjoyed breakfasts, lunches and dinners.

But you have us squirming and reacting on some of the not-so-goods, though these only seemed to be limited to "tired furniture" and "holes in the mosquito net". We apologise for the net and this has been replaced. We keep a good stock of new nets, but this one was obviously overlooked. We would have hung up a new one right away and wish you had brought it to the attention of management at the time.

For all the positives we didn't think we deserved the headline "Nice location...tired feel" though that is your prerogative. We have good news and hope you will help us to spread it. A major refurbishment programme has commenced and so by mid 2012 there will be totally new furniture and feel everywhere, plus we're investing in the future by building a new 20-room block of superior rooms. We have just been voted Best safari Lodge in Zimbabwe for the 16th successive year and we don't want to let that slip!

Finally, we're a bit puzzled and hope you will kindly clarify. You wrote "the food was tasty but not necessarily like at home...if you wish food to taste like home you should travel in your home country." ???? Guests travel to far flung corners of the world to experience other cultures, tastes, sounds......forgive us but we're stumped here. We have highly trained chefs who constantly produce food we are proud of, but if there were any slips please tell us about them and we shall investigate.

You said prices were much higher in Vic Falls than in South Africa, again we're not sure of the specifics, but because we are a land-locked country and import many items from South Africa these are bound to be higher due to transport and duties. However, we strive to provide good value and experiences and thank you for staying with us and for the good comments you made about us. I would value a chat on telephone or Skype as we take your points very seriously and wish to attend to them.

My very best wishes to you and your husband for a blessed Xmas and successful New Year. We hope you'll put us in your travel plans again one day.....

Jonathan Hudson
General Manager
Tel: + (263) 712 881 589
Skype: jono.hudson
Email: jonathan@saflodge.co.zw
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Toronto
Level 2 Contributor
9 reviews
6 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 20 helpful votes
Reviewed November 14, 2011

From the moment we arrived at the lodge, we knew we were in for something "different". The gentleman at the front desk was very monotone and didn't at all seem happy to help us. The only smiles we received were from the bellhops and the maids. All the waiters/bartenders were very much like the gentleman at the front desk. Service at the bar and at dinner were extremely slow. Wait let me rephrase. Service, if someone even came to you after trying your hardest to flag someone down was Extremely slow.
The rooms are in desperate need of an upgrade. If you get a room in the latter teens or 20s, you're likely not gonna have a view of the famous waterhole. I believe the view from the opposite side of the resort had a nice view. (but don't quote me on that).
The shower is very tight and if you're a big guy like me, you're def gonna have problems.
Dinner was decent, i had crocodile for the first time and it was pretty good.
Breakfast was painfully slow so we didn't have time to enjoy it since we had to catch a bus.
Overall, I would not go to this resort again. I was very disappointed.with the service and hearing others complain during their meals tells me other guests felt the same.

Room Tip: If you do HAVE to go to this resort, try to get a room in the 50's, i hear they had the best vie...
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  • Stayed November 2011, traveled as a couple
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Helpful?
2 Thank mo0o0
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
algarve
Level 6 Contributor
142 reviews
30 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 106 helpful votes
Reviewed November 11, 2011

the hotel promised much but delivered little. the rooms are tired and in need of upgrade, the daily menu is limited, samey and bland, and many of the staff are lethargic.
the sign in reception says its a top 500 hotel; ambiguous to say the least.

  • Stayed November 2011, traveled with family
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Helpful?
Thank AlgarveSunman
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
ross k, General Manager at Victoria Falls Safari Lodge, responded to this review, November 14, 2011
Dear Algarve Sunman
Thanks for your feedback, posted 11.11. We strive to exceed expectations and are always disappointed to receive feedback where guests’ expectations were not met – we are sincerely sorry you did not enjoy some aspects of your stay at VFSL.

May I ask if you raised any of these concerns with our management team whilst in-house? Also please advise us of the precise dates you were with us so we may review your feedback with our entire team – our sacrosanct policy for our standards review and also for training.

Of the 133 Trip Advisor reviews 122 are Excellent or Very Good, thus leaving 11 (which is “too many” for us) outside the top categories.

You remarked that “many staff are lethargic” – a surprising and first-time comment we would greatly appreciate more detail on so we may attend to the issue. The vast majority of comments in our Guest Book praise our staff and how good, friendly, proactive, responsive and service-oriented they are.

It also surprised us to read your view that the “daily menu is limited, samey, bland.” We have an extensive cosmopolitan and international a la carte menu and offer a Table d’hôte Menu where selected by guests or their agent. Again we would value some clarity on your menu issues so we may review issues with our Food & Beverage team. Our restaurants have won numerous awards in the past five years and your comments, whilst a surprise, are taken very seriously and we do not wish to simply rest on our laurels.

We are about to embark on a major refurbishment programme of the rooms and lodge along with the building of 20 new Premium Club rooms with private check-in, private lounge, deck and other facilities. Indeed contractors started on 10 November (due for completion in July 2012) and we are investing US$3 million. This will address your comments on the quality and we sincerely hope you may be persuaded to come and stay with us again when I should like to assure you of my personal attention.

I would welcome the opportunity to speak with you in person if you would provide me with a telephone number and convenient time. I would like to fully understand your concerns and strongly address them with my committed team.

Jonathan Hudson
General Manager
jonathan@saflodge.co.zw
+263 712 881 589
skype: jono.hudson
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2 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 7 helpful votes
Reviewed November 6, 2011

I'd been to Vic Falls the year before this trip and stayed at the Illala Lodge. Unfortunately, there was a conference in town this year, so the Vic Falls Safari Lodge was the only place with availability (we were trying for either the Victorial Falls Hotel or the Illala Lodge again).

For starters, the environment feels like a conference centre hotel with a Disneyland-safari feel. It it built of rickety wood (the craftsmanship was appallingly difficult to look at) and the property was expansive--it just felt like rooms after rooms after rooms. I suppose that the view is the most impressive part, but if you've been anywhere around Africa to do game-viewing, you'll realise that there are MUCH better places for that sort of thing, for instance, camping in Botswana at the Okavanga Delta; even campin in Pilanesburg outside of Johannesburg is better for viewing game. We were there in September so it was quite dry and we should have seen many animals, but the only creatures at the watering hole were birds, warthog, and an occasional springbok. It would be a great environment to watch preadators, however, there apparently haven't been any in that area for a long while (although rumour has it that there was a spectacular lion kill on the grounds a year or two ago).

The location is VERY far from the centre of town, so you are pretty much reliant on pre-booking activities (they will almost always provide transport from your hotel, no matter where you stay in Vic Falls) or taking the shuttle bus. The shuttle only runs on an hourly basis to some parts of town, which can make the timing awkward when you have pre-planned activities. We pretty much wasted 45 minutes after we'd seen the Falls themselves, just waiting for the shuttle to arrive.

A friend who works in the travel industry said that booking dinner at the Boma was essential. The Boma is a massive "traditional" style African restaurant that is on the hotel property, but services the rest of the hotels in the area through a shuttle bus. Again, it felt like being in Disneyland--hoards of tourists waiting in terribly long queues at the buffet. The occasional African dance performance was interesting, but I think that dinner at Moyo in Cape Town (the one on the Spier wine estate) was much better and more participatory...although it was a long time ago that I last visited there.

One final note--the bar is on a terrace overlooking the watering hole. The drinks were ridiculously expensive, as in, $12USD for a bottle of sparkling water, but I suppose that it's consistent with pricing in the area. The bar overlooks the pool on one side, so it was a it awkward when the bar area was full of drunken South African men and one wanted to take a quick dip in the pool. I was thinking that it killed the family-oriented vibe.

Given that the travel agency's rate for this hotel was fairly expensive for the area, I think it is extremely over-priced. We should have taken the cue when so many hotels were booked out that weekend, anyway, because the whole city was filled with a corporate conference and it turned out that most of the good game drivers, tour guides, and such were occupied with the corporate clientele. So it was a disappointing trip, in my view. A less crowded weekend might have been better, and then we could have stayed somewhere else. I will definitely look to stay at the Victoria Falls Hotel next time.

Oh, one more thing: Bring LOTS of small denominations of USD. Hardly anyone can give you change for your money, even in hotel restaurants, etc. And You end up needing to pay park fees (one per person) for every activity that you do. The fee for seeing the Falls themselves is something ridiculous like $30-$40 for person for Americans. So you almost need to plan an extra $60-$75 per person into your trip budget if you want to do lots of things while you're there.

Room Tip: You MUST ask for a room overlooking the watering hole! But all of the rooms have baboon problems, s...
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  • Stayed September 2011, traveled with family
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Helpful?
5 Thank MJGv
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
VFSL, General Manager at Victoria Falls Safari Lodge, responded to this review, November 9, 2011
As CEO of the lodge I am responding to your posting, which includes many complaints, criticisms and observations about Victoria Falls Safari Lodge, and indeed Victoria Falls itself. We take all feedback – the good and the bad - seriously and use it accordingly in staff training, standards and quality reviews with all employees, which includes incentive schemes and disciplinary action as and where relevant.

I am sorry that you had anything other than a completely satisfying stay with us and wish to address certain observations you make. Please be so kind as to clarify when you stayed with us and which room you occupied as this will assist us greatly to address the matter.

Investigations on property - with the Manager and his team, Duty Manager report book, Guest Relations reports book and all supervisors - reveal no record at all of your raising any such criticisms nor complaints whilst in-house with us. Given the obvious strength of your feelings this is surprising as the General Manager and all his team would have happily assisted with immediate response to any issues that you had as our guest.

I am sorry that you could not stay at your hotel of choice but, as observed, VF is very busy with ourselves, Ilala Lodge and Victoria Falls Hotels running at very high occupancies for the last five months as Zimbabwe and VF gets re-established on the international tourism map. We closed October at 81.5% occupancy, a record for the last nine years, of which we are proud.

You state that our hotel “Is like a conference centre hotel with Disneyland feel” - surprising given our location, architecture, design and size - a mere 72 rooms of Thatch and Timber construction overlooking the Zambezi National Park and nearly 80kms of pristine wilderness all the way to Botswana. We have a small conference and meeting facility which is, in fact, a separate building also of thatch and timber some 60 metres away from the hotel.

You state that “the craftsmanship is appallingly difficult to look at…..and feels like room after room after room”. We have only 72 rooms in six blocks of either eight or 16 rooms each, split three on either side of the central building - all with a view over or towards the waterhole and National Park, and sunset ,as we are west facing. You are quite right that not every one of the 72 rooms has the same view of the waterhole.

You state that “ there are much better places for game viewing” which we do not dispute, but then we do not sell ourselves as a game destination! Game viewing in VF and at VFSL itself is indeed a bonus to a trip to our wonderful destination with one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World, but certainly not a USP.

There is considerable but varied game movement on and around the estate and waterhole in particular, which also varies with change in seasons, but the Game viewing record book located on the Buffalo Bar counter records much of what visits and regularly includes elephant, buffalo, kudu, warthog, impala (we do not have springbok in Zimbabwe) jackal, hyena ,and occasional sightings of lion. leopard, wild dog and other game. There is prolific birdlife. We make no claims to guarantee the presence of wildlife, but many guests are enthralled at what they do see in what is a resort town.

You state that the Hotel is “ VERY far from town”. We are in fact 4 kms from Victoria Falls town centre and offer an on-the-hour Courtesy Bus Shuttle service from 0745 until 2200 daily. The timing and route schedule is published in reception and advised by Guest Relations/Reception to all guests on check in. Guests who use this service usually plan their excursions/trips to town/rain forest etc, around the schedule and complete their activity/excursion/shopping in time to catch a bus at one of the many stops in the town.

In describing The Boma Restaurant you use words such as “Disney-like/massive/hoards/queues” The Boma is a very popular venue in VF for guests from all other accommodation options/hotels in VF and is a very successful themed African dining/cultural/entertainment experience supported by large parts of the tourism supply chain.

When sometime sold to one exclusive group we can seat 300 guests, but in the normal course of business it seats up to 225/240 per night. In October we averaged 172 diners per night. There will be times at certain moments in the evening where guests do queue at the Cookhouse, but usually for no more than 10 minutes when The Boma is very busy or full.

I do know that Disney have a similarly themed restaurant at their Animal Kingdom resort in Disney….but assure you that our Boma has been in existence since 1992,….long before theirs. Perhaps they “borrowed” some ideas from us ? There are three “sets” of entertainment per night at The Boma, including dance, song and drumming, with the finale being the Interactive drumming show that usually starts at about 2100/2115 and - depending on guest’s interaction - usually goes on for up to 30 minutes.

You state that “the bar is ridiculously expensive with a bottle of sparkling water costing US$ 12.00 !” We certainly do not charge such amounts for bottled water and nor does anyone else in VF. Had you been charged such an amount for a bottle of water I have no doubt that you would have questioned that price and then demanded to see a Manager to deal with the issue. There is no record of this happening ? I certainly would NOT pay US$ 12.00 for a bottle of water anywhere in the world.!

You mention “ a group of drunken South African men by the pool” adjacent to the bar.
As I don’t know when you stayed with us I cannot comment, but have asked the management team for a report on any such occurrence or incident involving such a group as it is our policy to “manage/control/restrict” any such behavior that impacts on the experience of other guests. Where necessary we will request that such unruly guests leave the premises.

You mention National Park fees/Entry fees etc. The relevant authorities such as Museums and Monuments, National Parks etc do indeed levy charges for various activities such as Entry to Rain Forest, River Usage fee for water based activities. These charges are to maintain and grow infrastructure, develop human resources and upgrade services and certainly compare favourably with competitor destinations and Fees in other parts of the world.

In closing I am aware that your entire posting on TripAdvisor carries a very negative, derogatory and critical view of not only our property but also the destination and thus I felt strongly about replying with clear factual information where applicable and a counter-view to certain of your assertions.

I would welcome the opportunity to speak with you in person and seek to learn more about -and attempt to correct - your obvious and clear dissatisfaction. We pride ourselves on our service and hospitality and have a well earned reputation across the world. Thus your harsh criticism – the like of which we have never encountered - is both surprising and baffling. We wish to address the factual elements therein and hope we may make personal contact.

-Ross Kennedy (CEO Africa Albida Tourism Group)
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Bowling Green, Ohio
Level 6 Contributor
203 reviews
30 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 108 helpful votes
Reviewed October 25, 2011

We stayed at Victoria Falls Safari Lodge as part of a Gate1 tour October, 2011. The lodge is beautiful, rooms are ample and perfectly appointed and every room has a view of the "water hole" which attracts wildlife especially in the morning. Wart hogs roam the grounds. The restaurant is super. All employees are friendly, informative and are always ready to help you.

Room Tip: This is a unique example of a place where all the rooms are 100% equal in quality & view!
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  • Stayed October 2011, traveled as a couple
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Helpful?
2 Thank bsmith45
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Carmarthen, United Kingdom
Level 1 Contributor
3 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 9 helpful votes
Reviewed October 23, 2011

Impressive arrival with stylish public areas and good quality 4 star rooms with amazing views over the waterhole.Service was good but a bit anonymous. Whole location felt very safe away from the traders in the immediate falls area.
Make sure you get a package price as it represents great value- superior rooms with views,breakfast and dinner, transport in and out from the falls. We went to the Boma one night( included in the package) which is a typically the best and worst of a tourist trap- all the stereotypes of dressing up but done with good grace and res quality food

Room Tip: Ask for rooms with full waterhole views
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  • Stayed July 2011, traveled with friends
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Helpful?
3 Thank sara978
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
canada
Level 3 Contributor
12 reviews
9 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 10 helpful votes
Reviewed October 22, 2011

Staff amazing
Food - bar was good, restaurant was OK
great view of watering hole if you get room on that side, beautiful pool
we have a 3 level room was beautiful
Offer free Shuttle to falls and shopping
They charge in USD - that i did not like
$3 USD for water bottle - way too much
Activities are $100 USD min per person - these same activities are so much cheaper in South Africa!
Our bill was like $800 USD for 3 days, when i went to pay with my MC, they converted that to African Rand, so now MC will do the convert - so they made money on the conversion. If you in Africa, charge in African dollars, dont rip us off. Gift shop was sooo expensive, save your shopping for the Boma restaurant. There is guy there who sells wooden elephants, animals for $1 USD, the lodge's gift shop and the shop around charge $10 for the same thing. He was amazing, we brought everything he had for friends as gift lol.

Room Tip: Carry cash Rand if you don't want to get ripped off on credit card and use the guy at Boma resta...
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  • Stayed October 2011, traveled as a couple
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Helpful?
1 Thank kimr153
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Victoria Falls Safari Lodge

Property: Victoria Falls Safari Lodge
Address: 471 Squire Cummings Road, Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe
Phone Number:
Location: Zimbabwe > Matabeleland North Province > Victoria Falls
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Business Center with Internet Access Free Breakfast Free Parking Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Restaurant Room Service Shuttle Bus service Spa Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access Airport Transportation
Hotel Style:
#2 Business Hotel in Victoria Falls
#4 Spa Hotel in Victoria Falls
#4 Romantic Hotel in Victoria Falls
#5 Family Hotel in Victoria Falls
#7 Luxury Hotel in Victoria Falls
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$$
Hotel Class:4 star — Victoria Falls Safari Lodge 4*
Number of rooms: 72
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Voted the best Safari Lodge in Zimbabwe for 20 years running, the world-famous Victoria Falls Safari Lodge offers easy access to the iconic Victoria Falls, coupled with a wildlife experience that is truly unrivalled. Now in its 22nd year of welcoming guests, the Lodge is built on a plateau overlooking the Zambezi National Park with endless unspoilt views to the horizon, just four kilometers from the Falls. This is the only sunset facing hotel in Victoria Falls, and the newly-renovated rooms and balconies are built up above a central waterhole which attracts herds of buffalo, elephant, giraffe, zebra, as well as night-time predators, such as lion and leopard. Our warm and personable staff are our greatest pride. Past guests frequently comment on our team's sublime hospitality and seamless delivery. The main areas of the lodge, such as the MaKuwa-Kuwa restaurant and the homely Buffalo Bar, are rich in ambience and also overlook the central waterhole, where drinks and dinners are often shared with wildlife meandering down to the water each day to quench their thirst. ... more   less 
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