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“It's a fixer-upper”

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Rivertime Resort and Ecolodge
Ranked #9 of 197 Vientiane B&B and Inns
Vientiane, Laos
Level Contributor
23 reviews
7 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 26 helpful votes
“It's a fixer-upper”
Reviewed February 18, 2014

Great location with a huge amount of potential, sadly this "eco" lodge has seen better days. It would be great to see this place receive some attention, particularly on the more pressing areas where safety is of concern like the floating restaurant which was in desperate need of repair with an alarming number of floor boards rotting through. The huts look very nice and given an equal amount of repair work could be suitable for accommodation. My friend and I may have been given the worst hut available, which should not have been offered as accommodation until repairs had been done. At the moment it's not a place I'll be going back to, and given the responses by the owner to less than glowing reviews (I have NEVER seen such a response from someone to bad reviews), sadly I don't think any suggestions will be taken on board.

Room Tip: Ask if the room comes with giant rotten timber holes and filthy bedsheets, or without.
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  • Stayed November 2013, traveled with friends
    • Value
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    • Sleep Quality
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    • Cleanliness
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Helpful?
5 Thank TarzB
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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112 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Location
  • Sleep Quality
  • Rooms
  • Service
  • Value
  • Cleanliness
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (9)
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henryboyson
Level Contributor
15 reviews
10 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 14 helpful votes
Reviewed January 26, 2014 via mobile

Stuck for ideas of where to stay near Vientiane we came across this and as travellers we thought we'd treat ourselves with a more expensive accommodation than we were used to on our last few nights.

First impressions of this place are great. It's quiet (until later) green setting on the bank was initially ideal for us to relax on the floating restaurant with pool and tubing. However after a few hours it became apparent that it's many faults would start to emerge.

The floating restaurant is literally falling apart. The wooden boards are covered in rusty nails and the wood is very rotten. The hammock area has been roped off as the metal is falling into the river. The seating around the restaurant is just a load of hard wooden uncomfortable chairs and considering there is a pool we had to make sun beds out of some old pillows lying around. Not so relaxing in fact.

The rooms at first glance were nice but it was a REALLY cold nights sleep and the wifi (which is and extra $5 a day) didn't stretch to our hut. The bathrooms were nice and clean though.

The overall setting needed so much attention but as we later found out the owner was on holiday the the staff did NOTHING the entire time but sleep. Used plates and cups on the floating restaurant were left on tables for hours at a time.

Noise: it was fairly quiet the entire time until the mornings when the local ferry, 50 feet away blasts(!!!) out some terrible local music at 7am as they start work. I guess they just don't think hotel guests mind?!

This place has SO MUCH potential, I actually would love to have owned it myself, but it's lazy unmotivated staff did little with the opportunity.

HOWEVER, I did have one of the best padthai meals in the restaurant on the hill next door to the lodge, whose staff were fast, efficient and friendly.

Stayed January 2014, traveled with friends
Helpful?
Thank henryboyson
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
London, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
103 reviews
33 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 31 helpful votes
Reviewed January 21, 2014

I got picked up from the friendship bridge by Sit who was really nice and friendly. I stayed here for 3 days before Christmas, it's right on the river which is beautiful and peaceful. The staff that I met were really helpful. It is really relaxing, I would recommend the Lao massage! It's a nice place to relax for a few days. It is good value for money and I would recommend this place..

  • Stayed December 2013, traveled solo
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
1 Thank Emmab22
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Berlin, Germany
Level Contributor
47 reviews
13 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 27 helpful votes
Reviewed November 1, 2013

I think this place could be good but unfortunately it isn't living up to its potential.

The main problem is cleanliness. We are aware that it is an eco-lodge but that is no excuse to let the place become run down. If there is a hole in the wooden floor, ceiling or walls, like in our bungalow, fix it! Also, the pillows and sheets were dusty, there were cobwebs everywhere, the blankets in the old dusty closet were filthy and smelled of cat pee, rats were coming in at leisure through the hole in the ground (one ran across my friend's chest at night, and yes, we did use the mosquito net)...the list goes on. We have stayed in Lao villages that were much cleaner than this. And the thing is, these problems would be so easy to fix, without compromising the "eco" nature of the place.

Considering all this, the place is horribly overpriced. Take your money elsewhere.

  • Stayed July 2013, traveled with friends
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
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    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
4 Thank Anja D
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
BarnsLaos, Manager at Rivertime Resort and Ecolodge, responded to this review, November 9, 2013
Oh, how I wish it was so simple! I presume you're talking about lodge 1 which, I fully agree, has been absolutely ravaged by termites during this year's rainy season and is in desperate need of repair and the process has now been set in motion despite a severe lack of funds after a very quiet rainy season.

However, unfortunately, we don't have a Yellow Pages in rural Laos so I can't simply look up a good carpenter and get him to come round the next day and fix things. Nor is there a reliable hardware/DIY store chain down the road where I can find quality wood panelling and other supplies. The nearest place which does the sort of wood panelling we need is about 15 km away and they would be very unlikely to have it in stock resulting in a delay of several more weeks while they try to get the people who actually make the panels to do so.

Here, I have to, first of all, put the word out around the villages and hope that someone comes forward which, in the Nonchalance World Cup-winning nation of Laos, may take anywhere between a few days and a few weeks if it happens at all.

Then I have to take the gamble that the carpenter/builder actually knows what he's doing since once they've got the money in their pocket you won't see hide nor hair of them again and even the concept of a guarantee is laughable here. Caveat emptor certainly rings true in Laos! Also, if they do the work badly and you refuse to pay them as a result you will have...erm...problems with the locals...to put it mildly.

Anyway, once you've found someone and taken the plunge you then have to begin negotiations...and oh what joy they are when you have a white face and are, therefore, a multi-millionaire according to local beliefs.

We have now, after unsuccessful talks with other builders, finally managed to track down the man who originally built the lodges and he came to have a look two days ago. I showed him what needed to be done and he said he would come back in the evening to give me a quote....I haven't seen him since.

Yes, there are rats/mice in the forest but they are not “sewer rats” as Westerners assume all rats/mice to be since we have no sewers here. Despite my initial misgivings as to betraying our eco concept I was assured by a local biologist and environmental campaigner that rats/mice are not at all endangered in Laos so we tried our damnedest to kill them off. We used standard mouse traps, the sticky glue traps you get here, poisoned food (it's true what they say about rats/mice liking cheese!) and even dug out their burrows from the river bank in an attempt to at least minimise the problem but, unfortunately, we had to accept defeat and realise that forest creatures are an unavoidable part of living in a forest.

They very, very rarely come in the lodges when there are people in them because they are scared of us and, in the four years I've been here, I have only seen two...alive anyway. The rats/mice would also come and go sometimes if there was a small hole in the wall or not since it was they who created the holes in the first place so I don't think it would stop them this time round.

With hindsight, I wish we'd built the lodges out of concrete with shallow-sloped, solid concrete roofs...I dream of having such lodges and the resulting lack of headaches...but it's a bit late six years down the line!

Basically, we are a REAL ecolodge based in a damp, secondary forest in the countryside of a poor nation rather than a smart resort with a big green label stuck on the front and SE Asian forests are usually inherently dirty places with forest creatures, dust and spiders' webs.

Some Lao villages may well be cleaner than here but they are very rarely built inside a forest and they usually have at least several hundred people living in them, each of which, or at least each family in them, is responsible for a very small area whereas we have 1.5 hectares and only 7 staff. We constantly clean but even a thorough cleaning by all of our staff together would be rendered meaningless within a few hours. Nature is far too resistant to our efforts.

We try to make up for the inevitable downsides involved in running such an ecolodge here and do manage to please the vast majority of our guests as you can see from previous reviews. There are good points and bad points to here as there are to any holiday location. Perfection is just not an attainable goal. However, you chose to solely focus on the bad points with no mention of the good. See below for other people's thoughts...

I just personally think that some people may pay lip-service to the idea of real, sustainable eco-tourism but, in fact, don't actually want it. They actually want a nice, smart, clean 5-star resort with a green label so as to assuage some of the guilt engendered by travelling round the world on holiday. They also want as much as possible, including perfection sometimes, for as little money as possible.

As to being overpriced, I disagree completely and I'm the one who sees the figures every month with the big red number at the end! I keep things as cheap as possible while still trying to keep the business open. Once again, several of the previous reviewers have been astonished at how cheap it all works out here overall given the cheap food prices.

Funnily enough, I just looked through your other 15 reviews....three of them mention the places being overpriced, two of them mention rats and over half of them class the relevant place as terrible, poor or average. Did you actually read up about Laos before coming here or did you just presume it was like Germany?? How much would an average night in a hotel/resort cost in Germany?? Presumably slightly more then the £25 including breakfast that we charge here...and I doubt they offer a huge floating restaurant on the river with beautiful views and a 1.5 ha forest...

I'm genuinely sorry you didn't like it. I can but try...
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Chiang Mai, Thailand
Level Contributor
7 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
Reviewed September 10, 2013

If you want to see the real Laos, away from the tourist spots, do yourself a favor and check out Rivertime. Manager Barnaby assures that all your needs are taken care of, and there are lots of excursions to choose from - make sure to include a trip to the Hmong village!

  • Stayed September 2013, traveled solo
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
Thank Chaz B B
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Texas
Level Contributor
21 reviews
4 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 8 helpful votes
Reviewed July 21, 2013

If you want an escape Rivertime is the place to go. The staff is absolutely wonderful, they will go out of their way to ensure that you have a great stay. Every single person there wanted to make sure we were happy at all times. Barnaby will arrange anything at the drop of a hat and Sit (one of the nicest people ever!) will carry it out. Rivertime is truly a great value; I ate three meals a days, drinks, and did almost everything I could for well under $150 for three days. The rooms are very comfortable and very clean for being in the rainforest; it also looks really cool. The western toilets are a very nice touch. Let me make one thing clear, Rivertime is in the middle of a rainforest, which means that it is damp, humid, moist, wet, soggy, and rainy most of the time and there is nothing that anyone can do about it. My suggestion is to go swimming in the river pool or get a cold drink. While you are there you can also go boating, biking, kayaking, watch movies, take a Lao cooking class, go to the local village and buy a sin (traditional Lao skirts), tubing, get a blessing, relax, and read. Boating is a must. I would come back here in a heartbeat. I recommended that everyone should check it out.

  • Stayed July 2013, traveled with friends
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
3 Thank Frankie_D5
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Byron Bay, Australia
Level Contributor
41 reviews
20 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 28 helpful votes
Reviewed April 22, 2013

Certainly worth the drive out of Vientiane! Set your expectations straight before coming though, cause it surely ain't for the party crowd. If you're looking for tranquility, however, this is the place to be.

The lodges do need a bit of maintenance work, but we still had a cozy sleep. They got a list of activities such as nature treks, local village visits, even cooking lessons. Because of my swollen ankle, we weren't able to give these a go. We did enjoy the DVDs we borrowed from Barnaby (He's got heaps!).

There's a floating restaurant where brekkie is served. The resto has an extensive menu. But again, because of my ankle (there's a few meters walk downhill to the river from our lodge) and my husband's pad thai craving, we ate more often at the Thai restaurant next door.

Our toddler Luna had fun playing with Barnaby's toddler Alicia. Will definitely come back if we get to visit Laos again.

  • Stayed March 2013, traveled with family
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
1 Thank nomadwifey
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Rivertime Resort and Ecolodge

Property: Rivertime Resort and Ecolodge
Address: Ban Thadokkam, Vientiane 01000, Laos (Formerly Rivertime Resort and Ecolodge)
Location: Laos > Vientiane Province > Vientiane
Amenities:
Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Pets Allowed ( Dog / Pet Friendly ) Restaurant Swimming Pool
Hotel Style:
Ranked #9 of 197 B&Bs / Inns in Vientiane
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $
Number of rooms: 9
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
We are a riverside ecolodge resort only 30 km outside of Vientiane which offers a true taste of rural Lao life but with most of the comforts of home. We have a floating restaurant on the river and offer a range of activities such as local village tours, tubing, cooking classes, massage, a sauna nearby, boat trips, fishing, free bicycles etc. We do our best to live in harmony with both the local people and the surrounding forest. We also donate $2 per guest night to local education and community projects. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Rivertime Resort And Ecolodge Hotel Vientiane
Rivertime Hotel And Ecolodge
Rivertime Hotel Vientiane

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