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“Dissappointed and appauled by the service of a 5 star establishment”

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Fairmont Zimbali Lodge
Ranked #2 of 7 Hotels in Ballito
Pietermaritzburg, South Africa
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
“Dissappointed and appauled by the service of a 5 star establishment”
Reviewed January 9, 2013

On the 20 December 2012 my husband and I booked in at your hotel.
On arrival my husband I are were treated very politely and professionally. The remainder of our stay was not so good. Hereunder is a list of issues I faced at the hotel:
1. I had requested an iron from the gentlemen who I had escorted us to our room. He advised that every room has been equipped with an iron but for some reason mine didn't have one. He made a call to housekeeping and had requested an iron be sent to my room. I advised him I need the iron urgently as I had dinner reservations out the hotel. I had waited 20 minutes and had still not received the iron. I thereafter had to make 2 calls to housekeeping. The iron had arrived more the half an hour later.
2. Later that night my husband called the concierge's desk and had requested a spa brochure. A brochure detailing the activities of your hotel was sent to us half an hour later.
3. The next day the key lock to our room was not working. I had to make to calls to reception for a maintenance person to be sent to fix the problem.I had waited 25 minutes.
4. My room had not be cleaned when I returned to it at about 1pm. I made a call to reception and was advised, to my amazement, that you have to tell housekeeping you want your room cleaned.
5. On the day we checked our the clerk at the desk debited my husband's card twice for payment despite us having advised him that he had already reserved the amount.
I find the service I have received at your hotel extremely appauling to say the least, for a five star establishment. The service I received is the total opposite to your introduction about your hotels on your website. There was absolutely nothing excellent about your service especially from your admin staff. Your website speaks about the Fairmont being global leaders in hospitality, this is far from the service I had received.
The only people that displayed any customer skills were the waiters, cleaning staff and the valet service. They were the most friendliest and efficient. Your admin staff at the front desk had no customer skills at all.
I have emailed the manager at the Fairmont and have not received a response.

  • Stayed December 2012, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
2 Thank Girisha R
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
FairmontZimbaliLodge, Public Relations Manager at Fairmont Zimbali Lodge, responded to this review, January 10, 2013
Dear Valued Guest

Thank you for constructive feedback. It is greatly valued as it allows us to provide a better service to you, our guest.

We have investigated the challenges that you picked up on during your stay with us at Fairmont Zimbali Lodge and are happy to report that they are being addressed.

We apologise for the inconvenience and we hope that you will visit the Fairmont Zimbali Lodge in the near future again.

Kind Regards,
The Fairmont Zimbali Lodge Team
Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Rating summary
  • Location
  • Sleep Quality
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  • Service
  • Value
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Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (91)
Date | Rating
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English first
London, United Kingdom
Level 3 Contributor
15 reviews
10 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 8 helpful votes
Reviewed January 9, 2013

We had been travelling around South Africa quite a lot and were looking forward to some R&R in Zimbali....what a mistake! The room at first looks presentable and is large, that is the only bonus. It started off with little things, no mini bar for example, okay, i could handle that, next thing was the sheets, strange stains, probably best not questioning what or where they were from...they came straight off the bed! After the initial disappointment i thought, ok, why not take shower, v refreshing after a long journey!.....ohhh no, the shower flooded and there was no drain, so we had to use towels. Next day, those wet towels were still there, no new towels, ok! So we thought, to help ease the pain, maybe we should do a spot of traditional retail therapy and check out Ballito, which is about 10 minutes away in a taxi, so max 40 rand maybe. Oh not Zimbali, no they charged 150 rand, this came as quite a shock, especially since the taxi then arrived 30 minutes late to pick us up!
Ok we thought, lets give them another chance. The pool looked amazing from afar so we were tempted, after all it was 30 degrees heat and beautiful sunshine, what could go wrong?! Well, apart from ash in the pool, kids (and adults) jumping in fully clothed (without a shower), glasses and no tea at the pool, it was okay....
Bonus was the beautiful beach, it really was stunning. Other than that, breakfast was very good and the service in the restaurant and bar areas was good. But i'm afraid to say that was about it. A lot of staff hanging around in the main foyer and looking a bit lost...maybe they should be fixing the showers?!

  • Stayed January 2013, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
1 Thank alex c
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Calgary, Canada
Level 6 Contributor
147 reviews
59 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 101 helpful votes
Reviewed January 8, 2013

Well! this has not been our best experience with Fairmont and frankly speaking we were expecting a totally different level of quality of service: The rooms are old and the paint (stucco) make them look not very clean. We reserved for New Year’s Eve dinner (supposedly including fresh crushed lobster, sushi and seafood. When we arrived (right at the time we made our reservation) it was long gone and we got a couple of pieces of roll, some swordfish and had to fish for skinny shrimps in a bowl containing, supposedly, a prawn curry. The wine was excellent (but again that was not part of the deal). Dreadful evening…..
The swimming pool could be the salvation, but it is a complete mess with guests smoking in it, drinking with glass (no plastic glasses policy) and they put their chairs so close to the pool that it is something hard to get to the water. All of this said I must say that the staffs are very nice and helpful, I think they just don’t get the right policies in place to enforce. Sooooo I was going to redirect my frustration on the golf course and surprise no tee time available……. So you travel 15,000 km across the globe and can’t play. Never mind, my wife and I thought: we will go to the spa!!! But again no appointment available………I will never return.

  • Stayed January 2013, traveled with family
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
1 Thank SGB59
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
FairmontZimbaliLodge, Public Relations Manager at Fairmont Zimbali Lodge, responded to this review, January 10, 2013
Dear Valued Guest

Thank you for taking the time to write to us regarding your experience at Fairmont Zimbali Lodge. Guest feedback is extremely valuable to us as it affords us the opportunity to focus on the challenges highlighted by our guests. Please be assured that your comments will be addressed with the department heads concerned to ensure that the matters you have raised are dealt with efficiently.

We hope that you will return to our wonderful property in the near future, and allow us the opportunity to show that this is not the standard of the guest experience which we strive to deliver.

Kind Regards
The Fairmont Zimbali Lodge Team
Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
2 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
Reviewed January 6, 2013 via mobile

This was our fourth visit to Zimbali Lodge over the past few years. Although still a great place to relax we found the following of a concern and certainly not what is expected of a five star hotel standard. 1) The bed linen was tatty and torn and the towels were a lighter shade of grey and not the fluffy white towels we were used to. 2) At 12:45 our room had still not been cleaned and when we asked the attendant she advised that she was tired and would do it later. 3) After dinner (at another venue) we were hoping to enjoy an after dinner drink in the Zimbali bar next to the pool, just to find no seating available as small children were lying on the couches while their parents were enjoying a drink. 4) Breakfast is served in an area that is exposed to sunlight with no fans or aircon, therefore the food becomes unappetizing. 5) When my easy over fried eggs eventually arrived after 15 min, I was told that the chef apologized for the ill prepared eggs that looked more like an omelet. 6) Room service food trays are not collected and left outside the room for an entire day allowing monkeys and insects to feast on the left overs. We can however say that the staff attending to trips between the rooms and the reception area on golf carts were friendly and eager to assist. We will unfortunately now have to find another luxury resort to enjoy a breakaway.

Stayed January 2013, traveled as a couple
Helpful?
1 Thank Karen V
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
FairmontZimbaliLodge, Public Relations Manager at Fairmont Zimbali Lodge, responded to this review, January 9, 2013
Dear Valued Guest

Thank you for taking the time to write to us regarding your experience at Fairmont Zimbali Lodge. Guest feedback is extremely valuable to us as it affords us the opportunity to focus on the challenges highlighted by our guests. Please be assured that your comments will be addressed with the department heads concerned to ensure that the matters you have raised are dealt with efficiently.

We hope that you will return to our wonderful property in the near future, and allow us the opportunity to show that this is not the standard of the guest experience which we strive to deliver.

Kind Regards
The Fairmont Zimbali Lodge Team
Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Toronto
Level 3 Contributor
11 reviews
8 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 19 helpful votes
Reviewed January 5, 2013

Zimbali is a large gated ocean community that is located 50 km north of Durban. We just spent 5 days there as part of a 3-week South African holiday and it was the only minor disappointment of our trip. Zimbali consists of private homes, the Fairmont Hotel, the Zimbali Lodge and Forest Suites, which is where we stayed and is the subject of this review.

Forest Suites consists of 10 beautifully appointed suites that are located, as the name suggests, in the forest. There is no view, just forest. The rooms are done in a colonial African/plantation theme which we found very attractive and pleasant. The outdoor shower was a big hit for my family of four. Each suite is supplied with a golf cart for getting around the resort and down to the beach. There is a small restaurant at the Suites and a small plunge pool. It is very quiet and best-suited for a romantic couples getaway.

Being at the Suites provides guests with access to the beach, the Kids Zone, and the large pools that are at the resort. All were very nice and our kids were (surprisingly) enthralled with riding around in the golf cart (as passengers!).

The letdown part of our stay was partially a function of our travel agent, partly a function of the time of year of our stay (straddling Christmas Day) and partly a function of the Forest Suites staff. We were told that we would have access to all of the restaurants at Zimbali which would typically be true but Christmas is high season and we were told on arrival that all restaurants were booked solid until January 12th. Gulp. So we had to eat at the the Suites (the Ballito restaurants were packed to the gills). The Forest Suites kitchen is really just set up for room service (we were almost always the only ones in the little restaurant) and the room service menu was not very extensive. Most of the time one or more menu items was not available. We were able to convince them to set another table for us for Christmas lunch (which was nice of the staff) but we got tired of the food quickly and because of the small staff we had to wait ages for our meals (we were a group of 7 in total).

The other letdown was that our agent said Zimbali was a nature haven, great for outdoors people with extensive hiking trails, horseback riding etc. It isn't. True, the setting is beautiful but this is a North American-style golf course development that is on the beach. The people staying/living at Zimbali seemed to be affluent individuals who liked to lounge around the beach but who weren't otherwise interested in anything too active (nothing wrong with that, it just isn't us and it wasn't as advertised).

So if I were to do it again, what would I do? First, I would stay at Zimbali Lodge, not the Suites. It is a nice compromise between the Suites and the Hotel and has a beautiful infinity pool and a hiking trail that goes down to the beach. Second, I would book every single meal months in advance if visiting over Christmas. Third, I would only stay for a few days. Fourth, I wouldn't take the kids. Fifth, I would take my golf clubs.

Room Tip: Stay at the Lodge or Hotel but not the Suites.
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  • Stayed December 2012, traveled with family
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
Thank Dave_In_Oakville
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
FairmontZimbaliLodge, Public Relations Manager at Fairmont Zimbali Lodge, responded to this review, January 7, 2013
Dear Valued Guest,

Thank you for your review on the Forest Suites.

As of the 1st of April 2011 Forest Suites was no longer being run by Fairmont Hotel and Resorts.

We do however look forward to welcoming you to the Fairmont Zimbali Lodge and Resort on your next visit.

Kind Regards
The Fairmont Zimbali Lodge Team
Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Johannesburg, South Africa
Level 5 Contributor
41 reviews
17 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 30 helpful votes
Reviewed December 30, 2012

After a rather disappointing stay at a nearby so-called four star boutique hotel we were fortunate enough to find accommodation at Zimbali Lodge.
From the moment one drives through the gates one enters the 'rarified atmosphere of wealth and luxury'! Speed limits inside a secure estate don't really bother us...

Nestled almost seamlessly into the lush Forrest, the actual accommodation units boast spacious, well-appointed and luxuriously furnished spacious rooms - wooden toilet seats don't bother us...

Take a stroll through the lush Forrest and admire the abundance of nature (it takes about 15 min) to reach the beach - excellent to work up the appetite needed to enjoy the excellent food on offer.

For the slightly more lazy, the lodge has a fleet of golf carts to ferry you around!!!

Whilst it might have lost some of its lustre from years gone by, it is still one of a selected few destinations making the trip to the KZN coast worth-while!

The only critism has to be the newly built Fairmont Zimbali Resort, which we visited for all of about 5 min... Las Vegas by the Sea!!! Horrible Architecture, replenish some of the trees you cut for this one...

Room Tip: Upstairs units generally have a better view
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  • Stayed December 2012, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
Thank ironmountainrobi
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
FairmontZimbaliLodge, Public Relations Manager at Fairmont Zimbali Lodge, responded to this review, December 31, 2012
Dear Valued Guest,

We are truly delighted that you enjoyed your stay with us. Thank you for your wonderful feedback. We hope to you see you again soon!

Kind Regards
The Fairmont Zimbali Lodge Team
Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Johannesburg, South Africa
Level 6 Contributor
123 reviews
32 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 40 helpful votes
Reviewed December 27, 2012 via mobile

My wife and I stayed for two nights. The golf cart drivers were excellent, picking us up as and when we needed transport to and from our room.

The cleaning teams could do with a bit more hands on supervision. There were patches of dust in the room. The tea cups in the room were not clean.

We however enjoyed the food, though quite on the expensive side. There is only one restuarant at the lodge. We alternatively drove to the Fairmont Resort, +/-2km away, which has more restuarants. We also went to the shopping malls in Ballito, +/-3km away, where there are numerous eateries.

There are numerous activities including cycling, swimming, long walks to the beach, etc. Unfortunately no swimming is allowed on the beach. The tranquility in the forest is so soothing and the sound of birds and insects is theraputic.

The lodge needs to improve on very small issues which will make a huge difference to their guests.

Next time we will try the Zimbali Resort.

  • Stayed November 2012
    • Value
    • Location
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
Thank HRH2011
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Fairmont Zimbali Lodge

Property: Fairmont Zimbali Lodge
Address: Zimbali Estate | Umhlali, Ballito 4390, South Africa
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 Shuttle Bus service Spa Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
Ranked #2 of 7 Hotels in Ballito
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$
Hotel Class:5 star — Fairmont Zimbali Lodge 5*
Number of rooms: 76
Reservation Options:
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Also Known As:
Fairmont Zimbali Hotel Ballito
Zimbali Hotel
Zimbali Lodge

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