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“Unprofessional Hotel -- The Service Was So Awful That It Ruined Our Stay”

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Chimp Eden Boutique Hotel
New York City, New York
Level Contributor
138 reviews
72 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 152 helpful votes
“Unprofessional Hotel -- The Service Was So Awful That It Ruined Our Stay”
2 of 5 bubbles Reviewed December 13, 2009

The Chimp Eden Hotel had the worst service I've ever encountered at a hotel, and it was so bad that it wound up ruining our entire experience. Do NOT stay at this hotel!

When we stayed at the Chimp Eden, we were the only guests and we only stayed for one night, and yet the hotel was completely incompetent and unable to handle all basic hotel service requirements. It took them 30 minutes to check us into our room because they couldn't find the key. Also, even though we were the only guest, the room we requested and confirmed 2 days before was somehow "unavailable." The normal desk manager wasn't there during our entire stay, and the woman checking us in usually works in the kitchen and clearly knew nothing about the hotel and was painfully dumb. Due to her incompetence, we wound up missing the beginning of the first chimp tour, which was the sole reason for our stay at Chimp Eden so we were incredibly disappointed. A few hours after the last chimp tour of the day, we were scheduled to have dinner at the hotel, and nobody was around to tell us where the restaurant was located. We walked around for 20 minutes, but couldn't find the restaurant or anyone around the property. As we walked, we even screamed "HELP" as loud as possible, hoping someone would hear us and help out. Nobody did. Finally, we went back to our room and called the main number and someone answered and directed us to the restaurant. Dinner that night was disgusting and absurdly priced. Dinner at Chimp Eden was one of the most expensive meals we had on our entire trip, even though we stayed at all luxury hotels and Relais and Chauteax properties with critically acclaimed restaurants, as well as the top independent restaurants in all the parts of the country that we visited. There is no excuse for charging such expensive prices for South Africa and then serving barely edible food.

Seeing how bad and slow the service was during check-in, as well as how hard it is to find someone to help you, we asked if we could pay and check out that night for our stay so it wouldn't ruin the activities for the next day. We didn't want to miss any of the morning chimp tour and we needed to leave the hotel immediately after the tour so that we would be on time for our safari. The lady working didn't know how to do this, so she told us to ask someone else the next day. The next morning, we had breakfast (disgusting again) and spent over an hour trying to check out and pay. Nobody could figure this out and kept directing us to someone else since they didn't want to do it themselves. We threatened to not pay at all if they took so long that we miss the chimp tour, and this motivated them to at least try to help us check-out. Due to their incompetence, we AGAIN missed the beginning of the morning chimp tour, which is the only reason to stay at the hotel. The hotel had arranged in advance for a driver to pick us up immediately after the chimp tour and drive us to our safari lodge in Sabi Sands. Aggravatingly, they were incompetent and didn't communicate to their guards that the driver should be allowed into the property. So our driver (that they arranged!) was at their front gate trying to be allowed inside to pick us up for over an hour, even though the entire time we were following up with the hotel and asking them to find out what happened to our driver and alerting them that we would miss our safari that we paid a small fortune for if the driver didn't arrive soon. It took over an hour for them to figure out what was going on and we wound up missing our safari due to their incompetence.

As we were leaving, the owner of the hotel happened to be walking by and heard my husband complaining. She offered to give him some wine as an apology for the incessant mistakes. He asked instead that a donation be made to the chimp institute (it is owned by separate management than the hotel) and she promised that she would make a donation for 1000 rand ($130) and guaranteed to follow-up immediately with proof of the donation. We never heard back from the hotel with confirmation of the donation, and emailed them about the donation to follow-up. It has been weeks now and they ignore our emails and fail to fulfill their promise, and it is completely clear now that they have no integrity. While the Jane Goodall Chimp Institute is incredible and was one of the most fascinating parts of our visit to South Africa, the Chimp Eden Hotel is awful and uses the chimp institute to allure guests and make a profit, but it does not care about the well being of either the chimps, nor the hotel guests. I highly recommend avoiding the Chimp Eden Hotel, but I do recommend visiting the Jane Goodall Chimp Institute for a fascinating tour, but definitely stay at a different hotel. Since transportation around Nelspruit is expensive, and driving seemed easy, I recommend renting a car.

  • Stayed November 2009, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
12 Thank ThirtyByThirty
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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8 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Location
    4 of 5 bubbles
  • Sleep Quality
    3.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Rooms
    4 of 5 bubbles
  • Service
    3.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Value
    3.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Cleanliness
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • Any
English first
Chicago, Illinois
Level Contributor
2 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 10 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed October 10, 2009

We watched "Escape to Chimp Eden" television show for two years on Animal planet and finally got to see the facility in person. Flying into the Nelspruit airport was effortless, as was the 45 minute drive to get to the lodge. Turning off of the main road, a long winding road lead us to the main gate. We had no idea what we were about to experience.

The hotel staff greeted us with warmth and passion as if we were long time friends. They were so very friendly. Richard, Robert, Willie and George all took such good care of us while we were there.

The rooms were very comfortable and clean. Excellent hot and cold running water too - you never know what you'll get when traveling. Our room was a two level with the bedroom on the 2nd floor. A great view of the chimp sanctuary could be seen from our balcony. We could hear the 30+ chimps from our room at night and in the morning when they were let out to have breakfast. Since there are only 13 rooms, it's a very quiet and relaxing stay with few people to get in your way.

The guided chimp tours were very informative. they were offered 3 times a day and lasted for an hour and a half each. If you're staying at the hotel there is no additional charge to take the tours. We were able to get very close to the chimps, all the while protecteed by electric fence. there are many areas for great photo opportunities of the chimps. They are quite interested in visitors, so getting them to come over by you was never a problem. You can even buy souvineirs of your favorite chimp in the gift shop.

The property has numerous other wild animals on it. We say giraffe, zebras, baboons and impala feeding in the fields in the early mornings and just before sunset.

We were very happy to see that the chimpanzees had very large enclosures to live and grow in. they are very well treated and truely seemed happy. Eugene Cussons and his talented staff at the Jane Goodall Institute's Chimpanzee Eden are truely doing an amaizing thing. We will forever remember their hospitality, and the sacrifices they make in order to keep the chimpanzees safe and better educate the world about these wonderful animals.

  • Stayed August 2009, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
6 Thank EEEandGEE
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Milwaukee, WI
Level Contributor
9 reviews
5 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed September 13, 2008

What an incredible experience. Where to start? First off, the hosts/owners of the property: Gene, Marina and Eugene could not have been more hospitable and welcoming.

The property is stunningly beautiful. The lodge is made up of spacious, luxurious hotel suites that have lofted bedrooms. The rooms with which we stayed had balconies that overlooked the chimpanzee sanctuary.

The meals (breakfast and dinner), which are included in the price of stay, are generous servings of flavorful, gourmet cuisine, cooked to your preference. For dinner I recommend the chicken, while my friend loved the steak and lamb chops. The made-to-order omelet was a breakfast favorite of mine.

The Cussons' have devoted their time, resources and property to the care and rehabilitation of abused chimpanzees, rescued from various African countries. When asked about their passion, they are very accommodating and generous in their education. We had many a lovely chat with Marina. Gene gave us a complimentary, impromptu, late night game drive, while Eugene had breakfast with us one morning. You really feel like not only a guest but friends of the family.

It was incredible to watch the chimps that I have come to know on the "Escape to Chimp Eden" thrive in their new, ample accommodations. Even though aggressive (with good reason), Cozy is my favorite primate.

We have told the Cussons' that we aim to return some day soon. A promise we are sure to keep.

One side note: There is an extra (unadvertised) cost for use of the internet and if ordering alcoholic drinks with your meals. We found the cost incredibly reasonable and understandable. But for those budget-minded folks (South Africa trips can add up), something to keep in mind.

  • Liked — Spacious, comfortable rooms and delicious meals.
  • Stayed September 2008, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
    • Business service (e.g., internet access)
Helpful?
1 Thank mgb330
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Red Bank, NJ
Level Contributor
6 reviews
4 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 11 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed August 26, 2008

Following a fabulous safari at Jackalberry Lodge in the private Thornybush Game Reserve, we decided to stay overnight at Umhloti Lodge in Nelspruit before flying to Johannesburg to continue our vacation. We chose Umhloti due to the proximity to the airport in Nelspruit & to visit Chimp Eden. As great fans of the television program, we thought it might make for an interesting stopover. Well, we were not disappointed! The lodge is beautiful set amidst lushly manicured grounds overlooking the expansive estate with gorgeous views of the surrounding mountains. Game drives can be arranged on the estate. The rooms were very comfortable with all modern amenities & a nice balcony. There was also a nice bar, pool & restaurant.. The food quality & service were truly first rate. Of course the main attraction is the tours of the Jane Goodall Institute at Chimp Eden located on the grounds of the lodge. The facilities constructed for the rescued chimpanzees are magnificent. We had arrived just in time for the last afternoon tour. The tour lasted about 90 minutes & was fascinating. We enjoyed the tour so much, that we took 2 additional tours the following day ..... We just couldn't learn enough about the chimps & the mission of Chimp Eden. Finally, at lunch on the first day, we had mentioned to our waiter that we were interested in meeting Eugene Cussons, host of the television program. As it turned out, he was away for the weekend & we were somewhat disppointed ..... Well, at dinner that evening, Mr. & Mrs. Cussons (Eugene's parents & proprietors) introduced themselves to us & they spoke with us at great length, Mrs. Cussons also took great care of us at lunch the following day eventhough there was a conference checking in ....... She was truly charming & delightful!!!!! We can not more highly recommend this facility & we look forward to returning!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Liked — The hosts!!!
  • Disliked — Leaving
  • Stayed August 2008, traveled with family
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
    • Business service (e.g., internet access)
Helpful?
5 Thank Murraytwins
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Chimp Eden Boutique Hotel

Property: Chimp Eden Boutique Hotel
Address: PO Box 408 | (Umhloti Lodge), Nelspruit 1200, South Africa
Location: South Africa > Mpumalanga > Nelspruit
Amenities:
Restaurant Swimming Pool Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
Ranked #46 of 64 Specialty Lodging in Nelspruit
Hotel Class:3.5 star — Chimp Eden Boutique Hotel 3.5*
Number of rooms: 20

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