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“Not a happy bunny!”
Review of HANDS ON RETREAT - CLOSED

HANDS ON RETREAT
Price range: $5 - $10
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Restaurant details
Dining options: Reservations
Description: Www.handsonretreat.co.za
Reviewed August 23, 2013

Visited the restaurant with friends for the High Tea twice...Pretty setting...Very disappointed with the quality and quantity - or lack thereof - of the food. The service leaves a lot to be desired but the staff are friendly...I haven't tried the guesthouse or the Spa (consists of cheap looking wooden huts...not what I expected). It wasn't cheap either...

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Thank Julie W
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviews (11)
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5 - 9 of 11 reviews

Reviewed April 3, 2013

We went for the romantic picnic offered. It is a lovely setting although not really 'on the riverbank' as advertised. The whole experience was very pleasant and the food was lovely although a bit pricey for what you receive. There are no drinks included in the price but they do have a drinks menu and wine selection you can order from. It is a laid back serene venue with lots of special decor making the experience a memorable one. They also threw in a back and neck massage which was a lovely surprise and we thoroughly enjoyed. Friendly staff.

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Thank Fuzzynuit
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed October 20, 2012

Having been given a costly gift voucher to experience the "Grand High Tea" at the Fresh Coffee Shop @Hands on Retreat, we arrived at the venue with great expectations of a really pleasant treat. However,warning bells began to ring as we made our way through an unkempt garden and over a rickety bridge towards the coffee shop. Giant planters had weeds growing out of them and it was evident that much needed to be done to bring what could have been a delightful rustic retreat back to its former pristine state. The weather was inclement and so we decided not to eat among the weeds, but were shown to a small table within the coffee shop. There is no theme to "Fresh" but a collection of every conceivable item placed here, there and everywhere so that the interior looks more like a flea market than a venue for "Grand High Tea". The roses in the vases looked sad and long past their sell by date. As it was mid-afternoon, we asked our waitron, a pleasant lady, if we could possibly have some juice instead of champagne offered with the tea. She returned from the manager to say that we could not and brought us some sweet sparkling cheap wine instead. I felt like some coffee instead of tea and was told this would be charged for as "we cannot give every Tom, Dick and Harry coffee and cappuchinos." We told the manager that the High Teas we have experienced throughout SA and overseas didn't necessarily only mean tea was served, but included coffee as well. She relented and said she would "allow" this. When my partner asked for Earl Grey Tea, she said that she would "allow that" also. Asked if we could have low fat milk, the answer was no, they don't serve that. Having sorted all this out we waited for the Grand High Tea tasty treats to arrive. Imagine our disappointment when a three tier cake stand of small cubes of cake, sandwiches and pastries arrived. There was nothing attractive about them whatsoever and all we could say at the end of it was that it filled our tummies - certainly not a memorable experience! A great deal of attention and some sprucing up is urgently needed to make this tired venue Fresh again.

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Thank Grabev
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
HandsOn_10, Owner at HANDS ON RETREAT, responded to this reviewResponded October 26, 2012

We take all feedback seriously as we are a big supporter of word of mouth marketing and we as a team will look at all negative comments as an opportunity to improve our offering. All complaints are personally investigated by me , Martina, the owner in order to get the other side of the story. I try and be as objective as humanly possible as it is very important to me that my staff feel secure in their job and that I won’t reprimand them just because a client complained.
It is a myth that the customer is always right. There are always 3 sides to a story, my staff’s side, the client’s side and the truth.
In this instance, I also got feedback from another client who observed the situation, which helped immensely. Her feedback was that the couple, the husband apparently a “doctor”, enjoyed degrading my waitress and manager. The couple found fault in absolutely everything and when they left, the rest of the clients rejoiced as their presence was spoiling the ambiance for everybody else. It always amazes me that clients find time to write a lengthy essay on a public platform like Tripadvisor without giving the venue any recourse to make up. Sending me a short email would have been far more beneficial to both parties – I would have gladly refunded their money. My founding follows:
Firstly, this client’s “costly voucher” was a Groupon 60% discounted voucher. For the reader that is not familiar with Groupon, it is an online “bargain coupon” site where clients can purchase hugely discounted vouchers. The vendor, after giving a 60% discount to Groupon, the pays the merchant 50% commission on redemption of the voucher. In the instance, we promoted a Grand High tea for 2 with 1 glass of SPARKLING WINE, for R 144 (R 72 per person) The deal was for a 3 tier cake stand (4 savory and 4 cakes/tarts), 2 GLASSES OF SPARKLING WINE and a POT of ENGLISH TEA. We cleared R 31 per person on this deal. Clearly we do not make ANY profit on the deal, but the whole thinking behind this is that any extras that the client orders, will be at our normal price as per our menu. Hard copy advertising is very expensive and this is another way of marketing our venue. All the conditions are clearly stipulated on the deal as to make it very clear what is included in the deal.
Secondly, the giant planters are filled with indigenous grass, our bridge is indeed old (this property belonged to 2 owners: we being the 2nd owner) The previous lived here for 2 generations and the older residents of Craighall get very nostalgic when they see that we have preserved the historical bridge. I am a very keen gardener and there might be the odd weed that has sprung up as in any normal garden, in no way do any clients eat among the weeds…We do have lots of agapanthus in the garden and as they are common in Johannesburg , maybe this client mistook my babies as weeds??
Thirdly, yes there is no formal theme to Fresh. We are very keen travelers, a lot of the décor are memoirs of our travel in Africa, the Far east, Brazil and Europe. It is an acquired taste – very eclectic and I am well aware that it is not for everybody. I support local craftsman and potters for the crockery, so yes you won’t find white continental crockery at this venue. As for my darling roses, we hand pick them out of our garden daily, maybe the company made them sad on this particular day :)

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed April 22, 2012

Drive past here quickly and you wouldn't even know the place existed!

Fresh@Hands On Retreat is a guesthouse with a spa on the premises. It's set in a gorgeous lush garden with a little river running through the property. They have water features everywhere, so you always have the sound of running water. It is very rustic - you're not going to find manicured lawns and topiary shrubs here - think overgrown secret garden.
We went there for tea and the service was very quick and friendly. The menu is small but good.

A lovely place to visit to relax and forget that you're in the heart of Joburg city.

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Thank Aimeelloyd9
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
HandsOn_10, Manager at HANDS ON RETREAT, responded to this reviewResponded November 4, 2012

Thanks for this great review, we're delighted that you enjoyed our hidden treasure. We hope to see you again soon.

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Reviewed April 3, 2012

Fantastic food, friendly service. Very fresh, as the name says.

Thank ElleEm
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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