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“Great staff in a slightly run down hotel.. Lots of plusses witha few minuses”

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Fairmont Zimbali Resort
Ranked #1 of 7 Hotels in Ballito
Certificate of Excellence
Johannesburg, South Africa
Level 4 Contributor
23 reviews
16 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 17 helpful votes
“Great staff in a slightly run down hotel.. Lots of plusses witha few minuses”
Reviewed October 3, 2012

I visitied this hotel a few weeks ago over a public holiday. Our expectation after reading trip advisor comments was not very high . When we first arrived I though I had arrived at Faulty towers... no staff to meet and greet, renovations in the front entrance making the place look pretty awful etc. We were shown to our room on the fifth floor which had a balcony and was not ideal for our young children so asked to see alternatives. The hotel staff kindly showed us two options and we chose a very nice unit near the front of the hotel with views of the sea and access to kiddies area and main pool. We moved into the room and we were a little put out to find plugs not working, a door fell off the cupboard and the safe mafunctioned due to lack of batteries... So far NOT GOOD!!! We then went up to the a restaurant which we were told was open only to find that there was a event on an a waiter told us we could not dine there..

Fuming I called for the manager who was very polite and helpful...calmed us down. gave us a nice table and a really good meal which he the made complimentary. He also ensured the room was sorted out in our absesnce so that when we arrrived back in the room all was working and in order... Things were looking up.

The room was more than adequate but the room service was confused. Some days beds would be turned down and some not. Once we had dicussed this with the manager again the service was corrected and became satisfactory. The breakfast buffet was excellent and the service very good in the restaurant.

The beach pool unit was very nice and we spent most of the days there relaxing in the sun and being pampered. We walked along the beach a few days which was also very pleasant but this is a walking beach...not a swimming beach.

The kids club which must be paid for ( a no no fo far as I am concerned) was run down..poorly managed and did not allow for adults to inteact with the kiddies. Consquently it was always empty and you did not want to leave your kiddies there. It was located a long way from the main hotel as well and was very isolated. This area needs attention from management.
Kiddies nights where a movie was shown was very well done by the same man that runs the gym. Our kiddies loved it.

The spa was well run and gave great treatments for my wife.

The rate we got was excellent for a hotel of this callibre.

There has been much comment about poor service in this hotel. Our experience was more that the organisation of the staff was a little out but that the staff themselves were VERY willing and friendly and put themselves out to assist you. Check lists need to be developed to ensure rooms are 100% before you move in. Child friendly rooms need to be allocated to families...servicing of rooms need to be at times that relate to a familys needs. The kids club must be renovated and the charge removed to encourage attendance.

There are maintenance issues that need resolution. Cracked glass on doors, empty pond with stagnant water, paint pealing off of walls, plus not working, lights not working etc etc. This really pulls the hotel down.

The golf course near by is excellent !

OVERALL well done to the staff for putting on a brave face and saving this hotel . It needs a capital injection to get it back up to 5 star fairmont standing and some more staff traing and careful managent. It is in a wonderful location and should be able to be rated a fully five star experience with a few tweats and an maintenance overhall.

I would like to return if I could get the same rate

Room Tip: Beach front rooms are nice and quiet. Hotel floor rooms have great views.
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  • Stayed September 2012, traveled with family
    • Value
    • Location
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Helpful?
1 Thank Greg W
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Mark S, General Manager at Fairmont Zimbali Resort, responded to this review, October 11, 2012
Dear Valued Guest

Thank you for taking the time to give us feedback on your stay at Fairmont Zimbali Resort. Constructive feedback is always welcomed as it gives us the opportunity to improve our service to our valued guests.

I do apologise for the inconveniences that you experienced during your stay.

We are currently busy with some maintenance projects to improve the appearance and functionality of the facilities. A few highlights are the ponds at the front entrance which are being redone, the Coral Tree decks are being extended and a new children's recreation room is being created inside the hotel building.

We have also recently appointed an activities manager to relook and revamp our entire children's program. Norman, the gentleman that ran the movie evenings while you were here, will be in charge of the revamp.

I do hope that you will visit the Fairmont Zimbali Resort again in the near future so that you can experience all the new changes that are currently being implemented.

Please do not hesitate to contact me directly if you have any further concerns.

Kind Regards,
Mark Sawkins
General Manager
Fairmont Zimbali Resort
Mark.sawkins@fairmont.com
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Rating summary
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  • Sleep Quality
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  • Value
  • Cleanliness
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English first
Johannesburg, Gauteng, South Africa
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
Reviewed October 1, 2012

We recently visited Zimbali for a weekend retreat with my husbands company and encountered terrible service.

We were t the resort for 4 days and whilst sitting round the pool got asked once whether we wanted anything to drink. We got locked out of our room twice because of the keys not working properly, asked another resident whether we could use their phone to call reception and after waiting for 15 minutes and no one arriving, eventually walked to reception ourselves to resolve the probem. We recieved no apology (at all) and were unable to contact a manager to raises our grievences.

Room service takes between 1h30 to 2h00's and the food is cold. Room service also called at 23h00 to enquire as to whether they could collect the tray. Turn down service is at 21h30, on more than one occassion a members of our party was already in bed and got bothered by this "service".

Ordering drinks from the bar take forever, the food is average and don't expect a "hot" chocolate, luke warm if you lucky.

These are soe of the more blatant problems, the list could however go on.

We won't return or recommend Zimbali to anyone. We have in fact advised many people against visiting the resort.

  • Stayed September 2012, traveled on business
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Helpful?
1 Thank Frances P
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
2 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 6 helpful votes
Reviewed September 26, 2012

The severely over priced and limited selection of restaurants and activities at the resort are disappointing. Management seems to be lacking in attention to detail. Needs improvement. Prices are not commensurate with services.

  • Stayed September 2012
    • Value
    • Location
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
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Helpful?
1 Thank Natalielaurencik
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Cape Town Central, South Africa
Level 4 Contributor
43 reviews
25 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 18 helpful votes
Reviewed September 25, 2012

Lovely resort a little bit posh. It was our first vacation with our Son 4 months old. He enjoyed it very much. We really had fun and definitely will go back. Service was great. Staff friendly.Had good time with the family.Went for nature walks .it will be great maybe if they had fireplace on the informal sitting area

Room Tip: sea facing rooms.... excellent view
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  • Stayed August 2012, traveled with family
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
Thank Lovelybeach
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Johannesburg, Gauteng, South Africa
Level 2 Contributor
5 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
Reviewed September 6, 2012

Really enjoyed our stay, and extended it by a couple of days. Loads of activities on site and nearby... I played golf, took nature walks, went quad-biking, had a surfing lesson, and there was plenty more I wanted to do. The resort caters for all ages as there are many pools, play areas, bars, restaurants, etc. If you get bored, Ballito has many delights to experience, vibrant night-life, beaches, restaurants, and so on. Durban is also just a short drive if you want to check out the city attractions or go shopping. PLUS it's always summer in Ballito.

  • Stayed January 2012, traveled with family
    • Location
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    • Cleanliness
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Helpful?
Thank bspoke
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
cape town
Level 3 Contributor
15 reviews
9 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 9 helpful votes
Reviewed August 15, 2012

We spent our July holiday at the Fairmont Zimbali and despite having read some bad reviews prior to our stay regarding service etc, I have to say that we had overall a great experience.

It was off season so it was quite empty, the staff was very friendly and very efficient when we had special requests e.g. extra towels and extra sleeper couch brought to the room etc. We had a one bedroom suite (we have 3 kids) and it was a beautiful spacious room with a nice lawn in front for the kids. It also had a small kitchenette, which was great when the kids needed meals in between. The setting is breath taking, unfortunately the pools were too cold to swim. No problems with monkeys or anything like that.

My only criticism is really that it is a Fairmont Hotel. I have stayed at several Fairmont Hotels in the US and Canada and what works there, does not necessarily work in South Africa. For example to charge a delivery fee for room service does not go down well with South Africans who expect such service to be free of charge as it is with other 5 star hotels here. Also we had to pay some exorbitant fee for watching a movie, then my kids only watched it halfway and when they wanted to continue we had to pay the price again. All in all we spent close to R 500 for watching the same move 3 times.

But otherwise I can definitely recommend this venue.

Room Tip: one bedroom suite definitely recommended
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  • Stayed July 2012, traveled with family
    • Value
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Helpful?
Thank CapeTownHasen
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Harare, Zimbabwe
Level 2 Contributor
6 reviews
5 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 9 helpful votes
Reviewed August 7, 2012

1st year wedding anniversary, we decided to go to Durban and had heard about Zimbali from friends who had stayed there. We unfortunately did not realise that there was a golf tournament at the time we were going to be staying there, and had not been advised of this, but we didn't expect that to detract from our stay or experience since we were paying customers. However, we were downgraded to a twin room and were told it was because they had a number of " important functions" over the weekend (we received a bottle of champagne to "make up for the mishap" - my husband and I both don't drink). Only 1 restaurant was accessible, also because of the events - the rest were reserved for the other guests. The shower was not draining properly so our bathroom flooded on the first night, and the AC was not working (but they did send someone to check it out as soon as we called the reception/ concierge) Definitely NOT the 5 star experience they claim to offer. Not impressed at all.

Room Tip: Sea facing rooms have a gorgeous view.
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  • Stayed November 2011, traveled as a couple
    • Value
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Helpful?
2 Thank VheeV
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

Property: 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 (Based on Average Rates): $$
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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