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“Luxury in Kwa-Zulu Natal”

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Fairmont Zimbali Resort
Ranked #1 of 7 Hotels in Ballito
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed January 14, 2012

The Fairmont Zimbali is an incredible slice of paradise in east coast South Africa. So many pools to choose from, each with a different flavour.Tennis courts nearby (recommend you take your racquet if you are the least serious about your play). Bikes available, golf course, running routes (be prepared for hills!) a nice little deli and more. While the beach is not a swimming beach (water far too rough) there is a shuttle that will take you to Ballito where there are swimming beaches. We stayed here for four nights after a five week tour around Namibia, Botswana, and Zimbabwe...a ture vacation form the vacation!

Room Tip: All rooms have a view of the grounds, main pool, etc. Suites are located off the main hotel in qua...
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  • Stayed: September 2011, traveled with family
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2  Thank madelineped
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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807 - 813 of 897 reviews

Reviewed January 9, 2012

We checked in on 28 December at 3:15pm - our room was not ready. After making a fuss then a room was ready. The stay was just marked by one poor service episode after another. Ordered an ice bucket and this took an hour to arrive, shower gel was not always replaced, we had one bath towel between my husband and i on occassion, the bath robe i got on check in was still the same five days later (despite an obvious stain on it). You are asked to indicate if you would like chang of linen - we made this indication a few times and linen was not changed. The same cigarette box at balcony on our first day was there on our departure. We travelled as two couples and our friends had the same experience. We ordered cocktails at 31 degrees Bar and most times got the wrong cocktail - and on one occassion the waiter insisted on charging for the cocktail. Ordered glass champagned and then 15 minutes later the waiter returns to ask 'what was it that you ordered again'. I had stayed at the Lodge some four years ago and had found it excellent - the Resort was however very dissappointing. Went to the spa and our booking was mixed up, then the steamer did not work properly and the manager was quick to mention they would charge for the prior treatment - forgetting to first offer an apology for my cancelled facial! Its a pity as Fairmont has made significant financial investment, the views are great, the ambience is good. The food did not meet expectations at the Coral Tree or the Pool Bar. but there are enough eating options around.

  • Stayed: December 2011, traveled as a couple
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1  Thank yonititi
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed January 7, 2012

Well it's a long list but the mini bar does not even have a bottle of water! Obviously the hotel expects guests to use tap water! The sheets were filthy dirty and had numerous holes! Three out of five restaurants were closed in the main Xmas new year holiday season! The quality of the food was so appalling we drove into ballito and had excellent food at other restaurants. The bar closes at 9pm. The shower door allows the room to be flooded when u take a shower! A total of seven light bulbs needed replacing in the room. There were only three coat hangers in the cupboard! It is a resort but they only provide chlorinated pools! We went to the valley of pools and were told we had to wait for a transfer bus to pick us up. The first one was full and we were told to wait a half hour. The next one came and we were told that it was only for staff!!! Eventually we walked to the lodge and hot a driver to take us from there! Having paid for two rooms upfront in cash and necked in with a Amex credit card I was told that I had to pay a bar bill of a few hundred rands in cash as I had run out of credit! And to cap it all I asked to see the manager or that he call me! He never did!

  • Stayed: December 2011
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3  Thank Tokoloshi1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed January 4, 2012

Wow we had the most amazing, amazing time at Zimbali. It is such a great 5 star resort with unbelievable facilities. The pools are stunning as are the rooms (We upgraded to a suite).
The worst part of the holiday was the housekeeping. Night 1 we had to wait till 9pm to have a bed made up for my 3 yr old even though we had requested this hours before. Also they didnt tell us that there are monkeys at the resort and they came into our room and ate all our food which is fine but at check in just warn the guests or have a note in the room.
If you dont phone for your room to be cleaned this will only happen at 3pm and then they forget to give you necessities like towels. And when you phone for towels it takes min. 45 minutes to get them, even if you phone 6 times.
If you want a turn down you have to phone for one or it will happen at 8pm-9pm when you trying to get the kids to sleep.
Another complaint was the entire 2 weeks we were there the womans toilet at breakfast was broken/didnt have a toilet seat. So with kids everytime they had to go one would have to go to the 5th floor on the other side of the resort as the handicapped was also out of order.
And if you complain nothing happens and no apologies. I can understand a toilet breaking but not for 2 weeks!
The food service at the pool was slow but acceptable over their busiest period.
The kids club is very average. Half the activities that were scheduled never happened. I tried it once with my 3 year old but its better suited for 10 year olds. I paid R75 for my kids to paint and draw. I have been to other kids clubs in Mauritius and at the "one and only hotel" in CT and those are far far better, doing things like sand art and impressive activities.
Could definitely do with a shake up to become a 5 star hotel for the prices we are paying.

The rest of the staff were quite friendly.

  • Stayed: December 2011, traveled with family
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2  Thank Tallula-18
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed January 3, 2012

Never book between Christmas and New year at Zimbali resort. I'm sure that most staff have taken leave during this period. It took more than 4 hours to check in as the front desk staff overbooked the hotel and trying to allocate inferior rooms to arriving guests. Make sure that you have transport to travel to Ballito for dinner as the food in the hotel is both boring and of sub standard quality. The hotel offers very little entertainment activities other than various swimming pools. This Hotel has great potential, just waiting to be unlocked by some creative thinking management.

  • Stayed: December 2011
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2  Thank Nn2299
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed December 28, 2011

My partner and I stayed at the Fairmont Hotel, Zimbali on 13 December 2011 as we are members of the International Wine and Food Society and were having our annual gala dinner there that evening.

We arrived mid-afternoon and drove into the secure estate and were instantly impressed with the warm, 5 star treatment we received from the arrivals staff. Our car doors were opened for us, luggage taken inside and the car driven away to the parking area for us. We were then supplied with facecloths to freshen up with and given a welcome complimentary fruit juice before being checked in. A very good start to our gourmet, romantic night away.

Once our room was allocated, the porter guided us to our room, a deluxe sea-facing, which was very unusually designed, but impressive. Since we were also celebrating our anniversary, I had specifically asked for a kingsize bed when we made our booking but we were given a room with 2 queen beds. Regardless, we settled in, unpacked and were about to go for a drink when we noticed a problem with the toilet that I will not go into detail with here. I went off to reception to complain about this (having taken a photograph with my phone) and the reception desk lady, on seeing the photo hurriedly told me that the duty manager would be called. Once I explained our issue to him I was offered a free upgrade to a suite to compensate for the problem.

However, we were then taken to an identical room, just higher up in the hotel. When we called reception to query this we were told it was superior to what we had previously had as apparently you pay slightly more for the higher rooms as the sea views are better (we actually preferred our initial room on the ground floor as it had its own private garden, rather than a balcony which was very close to the neighbours so really no privacy when out there if there's someone using there's next door).

We then started to look around the room itself and discovered that it was in a shabby condition with water damage on the bath, peeling walls near the headboard of the bed and generally quite grubby, not 5 star by any stretch, so back to reception we went where we were told it was actually due for renovation and shouldn’t have been allocated. At this point I told the duty manager that we would be going to the bar until our room was sorted as my patience was starting to wear thin. He told us the drinks would be comped and that he would personally call us when our room was ready.

We sat on the deck of the bar and eventually began to unwind overlooking the magnificent estate with its lush greenery, paths and pools with the Indian Ocean lapping at its borders. It was truly a balm for the soul.

About 45 minutes and 2 drinks later we were taken to room, now the originally promised suite, which was absolutely gorgeous with a large dining area, large balcony with sea views, a large bedroom (finally with the king-size bed) and a gorgeous double bathroom with the hotels signature design of having the bath placed in the middle of the room. There was a dressing room to one side of this open area and the toilet and shower to the other.

We also had our own little kitchenette area with a Nespresso machine (a very nice touch) as well as a guest toilet, which was quite useful as we invited some guests from the dinner up to the suite afterwards to wind down after the magnificent meal we had enjoyed, with a bottle of bubbly.

The next morning we enjoyed our breakfast from the buffet which catered for all and every palate, and then departed after a personal apology from the housekeeping manager for our initial debacle.

So, what was my overall impression? Well, the grounds, pools, design, architecture and décor are stunning and I would certainly go back for the scenery and to use other amenities that we didn’t have a chance to use due to the short duration of our visit and wasted time sorting out our room. The food too was also very impressive at both our dinner and the breakfast buffet.

However, my main 'concern' was the seeming lack of experience of many of the staff we dealt with particularly the front desk staff and the duty manager. One would expect that a 5 star hotel in a resort such as this would have staff with more experience and skill to deal with the issue we had initially and not push us from pillar to post (especially since the hotel was not full and there were plenty of rooms available from what I could tell).

From initially not giving us the type of room we booked (king-sized bed, not queens as we got in the original) to secondly, when there is a problem (which we all know can happen at times) dealing with it more efficiently, it was clear to me that attention to detail is lacking and the staff at this hotel are not passionate about their work. Having travelled extensively and stayed in hotels around the world of varying standards, most of the 3-stars I have stayed in had more experienced, skilled, professional & committed staff than what we experienced at this 5-star hotel.

With some attention to the type of staff hired and their experience & commitment to their work, I believe the Fairmont could be a great hotel all round. Right now however, there is a lot of room for improvement.

Room Tip: If you want privacy, ask for one of the rooms on the ground floor as these have their own small gard...
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  • Stayed: December 2011, traveled as a couple
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2  Thank ChantalElgie
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed December 22, 2011

I agree with many of the previous reviews. The hotel is in a stunning setting, but the service poor. My room was only available at 15h15. No room service menu, so I phoned guest services. After an hour I went to reception to get one myself. No hotel information book, a bit on the tv, but I had to ask everything, what is the checkout time etc. The second afternoon just as my child was trying to sleep, I heard a hard noise, like drilling, phoned to reception. Oh, they're working in the room next to you! They assured me that they will stop them, but it continued for another 30 minutes!

  • Stayed: December 2011, traveled with family
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Thank Floristry
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Fairmont Zimbali Resort

Address: PO Box 17, Zimbali | 4420, Ballito 4422, South Africa
Phone Number:
Location: South Africa > KwaZulu-Natal > Ballito
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beach Business Center with Internet Access Fitness Center with Gym / Workout Room Free Parking Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Restaurant Room Service Shuttle Bus service Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access Airport Transportation
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 7 Hotels in Ballito
Price Range: $197 - $420 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:5 star — Fairmont Zimbali Resort 5*
Number of rooms: 154
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Also Known As:
Fairmont Zimbali Hotel Ballito

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