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“An excellent place to stay”

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Shepherd's Tree Game Lodge
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed May 31, 2011

I have just come back from my trip to Shepherd's Tree Game Lodge and i would highly recommend it. My friends and I had a wonderful time both in the hotel and out on the game drives. The hotel was clean and tidy with lovely rooms. The staff were very welcoming and warm especially Portia. Our game guide, Joannel was absolutely brilliant. She was so enthusiastic about every sighting that we had. We managed to see lions, elephants, white and black rhino, hippos, giraffes, zebra, leopard and many more. My friends all sampled the spa and said that the massages that they had were really relaxing. We only stayed for 2 nights and so wish we could have stayed longer. I have not one bad thing to say about this place. It was all outstanding. Go there if you can.

  • Stayed: May 2011, traveled with friends
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1  Thank louisewalsh1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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481 - 487 of 572 reviews

Reviewed May 31, 2011

While the Shepherds Tree is beautifully situated with great rooms overlooking the savanna, the food and service was hugely disappointing.

On the positive side, the ranger and the game was isolated seen fine. However, on the cold morning drive in minus degrees, we were informed that coffee was not provided as the machine broke down and there were no addtional blankets as agreed the previous night as they were not clean. The very professional ranger did however make up for these challenges that one does not expect from a 5 star facility.

The rest of the stay has much room for improvement. The lunch consisted of deepfried and greasy snacks, breakfast orders took 45 min to arrive, internet was down, staff constantly gave contradicting information - one showed us the shared living space between rooms while the other told us it had been locked because we have not paid for it -, the ranger told us he would bring snacks and drinks to the sundowner and we could choose what we wanted but without mentioning that all orders would be billed to us directly, lunch the second day consisted of a tiny greek salad and another very mediocre salad with pieces of salmon (naturally not fresh) and upon request only bread being overheated in the microwave though staff stated it was freshly baked - all at the price of 220 excluding drinks, spiderwebs in my bathroom. And so I could continue. Too many slips for a 5 start get away. I informed the Acting GM, who listened politely without making one single attempt to improve the experience.

The previous 10 days we had stayed at Didimala lodge where service was impeccable and the change was a sincere disappointment. I believe staff was trying to do their best, but they were all light years from being at a level one would expect at a 3 star hotel, and absolutely not at a 5 star lodge. They came across as very untrained, desorganized and unfamiliar with the hospitality sector.

  • Stayed: May 2011
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5  Thank Journey1967
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed March 11, 2011

The game lodge is fantastic !!!! you are like "the only guess" good food, wine, game drive, very experienced rangers, pool ...just like a paradise.
Thank's for the nice experience.

  • Stayed: March 2011, traveled on business
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1  Thank soserge
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed March 9, 2011

The standard rooms were not up to my idea of 5-star, which made for a disappointing visit. The staff were enthusiastic, game viewing was good, food was good (apart from the cheese board).

  • Stayed: February 2011, traveled as a couple
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1  Thank mgc711
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed January 29, 2011

We know the Pilanesberg inside out as Tour Guides, and both Zania (my wife) and I completed a part-time two year Field Guide course some years ago, during which we camped out in an unspoilt part of the Park. Since then, we have both been inside this section of the Pilanesberg Crater that remains closed to the public visiting a temporary tented camp. Once during the FIFA Confederation Cup in 2009 and again during the FIFA World Cup in 2010. We have seen Shepherd's Tree Game Lodge take root and grow from a distance.

We had seen and experienced the different types of accommodation in the Pilanesberg, including camping, time-share, game lodges, hotels and the famous Palace of the Lost City at the Sun City Resort, but we had not yet seen or experienced the new lodge at Shepherd's Tree.

We contacted African Anthology to arrange a site inspection of Shepherd's Tree because as a Tour Operator you should sell what you know, rather than what you don't know.... The visit was arranged, and as we are quite busy, we opted for a very short stay of one night only. Just enough to see and experience the lodge, it's ambience, ethics, food and wine. Meet the staff and get the vibe..... or so we thought.... if it were up to me now, I would opt for a minimum of two nights on the inspection because we really enjoyed it!

I will try to keep the review short and simple, but I always find it difficult to limit myself, especially when I feel strongly about what I am describing. I guess my being of Mediterranean origin provides the excuse, and my tendency to elaborate can be forgiven....

Zania and I are accustomed to little surprises caused by inter-departmental communication hiccups, so we printed out the reservation and the invite, just to be on the safe side and to ensure that we would have all our ducks in a row at check-in. Some two hours after leaving our house in Pretoria we arrived at the gate to the Lodge, we were asked by the security at the gate for our names. We told the guard that we were the Collin Party. He looked at his file and said; "François and Zania?" What a wonderful surprise!

He directed us in towards the lodge. As we pulled up at reception, friendly faces came out to great us, with moist towels to wipe the dust of the trip away, and with refreshing welcome drinks topped with a slice of pineapple and a cherry. They greeted us by name, and immediately made us feel at home.

The check-in was professional and smooth, no fuss, everything was as it should be. We were whisked off and quickly shown the public areas such as the cigar lounge, the restaurant and the pool. The staff informed us about the programme for lunch and the afternoon game-drive. We then went to our room to freshen up for lunch.

There are three types of room configurations.
- Standard Rooms (with no lounge/no kitchenette)
- Luxury Rooms (the same rooms, but with an inter-leading door to the lounge)
- Executive suites (larger rooms with the lounge area and a private steam room)

Our Luxury Room was clean and very neat. The en-suite lounge was equipped with DSTV, a semi-self-catering setup and an outside entertainment area . Personally when I go to the bush, DSTV is the last thing I need, but I realise that this is very important for many people, so I'll leave it at that. The décor was very modern, everything was of high quality and had an opulent look to it.... a bit flashy for my conservative side, yet not uncomfortably so. The safe was large enough to keep a full size laptop locked away.... not one of those huge laptops that some graphic artists use... but the regular 14"/15" variety.

The bathroom, with the bath in front of the window, the his and hers basins and the separate toilet was again very modern. The outside shower was really.... how can I put this.... outside!

I had a quick invigorating shower behind the shoulder-height sheet of smoked glass as I looked out over the Pilanesberg. The water was hot and had good pressure. The towel and the gown were nice and fluffy! We went back to the main building complex to have a light lunch, where we were greeted by the very friendly and efficient Portia... and again, she also new our names.

The food was light and tasty, but after having three courses, it was more than enough! All the ingredients in the salad were fresh and crisp. The restaurant, from the cutlery down to the Peugeot salt and pepper grinders is well equipped with fine quality, but again as in the room, the look is a bit flashy for my conservative tastes.

After the lunch we had a look around. Tha Amani African Spa, a haven for the ladies... and even for the men! The pool area with it's huge fireplace and great views of the plains is a winner! The cigar bar with it's outside terrace... everything is modern and has a great views... the selection of drinks in the bar was a level up on many other hotels and lodges, and included several good Cognacs, Cape Potstill Brandies and even a Calvados!

We departed on the afternoon game-drive with Lyam, the Head Ranger, who we were no longer surprised to discover, also knew our names. We told him that we wanted to see the concession area belonging to the Lodge, and not so much the wildlife of the Pilanesberg. He gave us exactly what we had asked for, and showed us the area in which the game walks (walking safaris) are conducted, and I must say that the area could not be more spectacular! Afterwards we stopped for sundowners and then entered the main Pilanesberg for a night drive on the Park's road network, before returning to the lodge for dinner.

Wow! Candles on the floor leading into the cigar lounge, a fire in the fireplace, a table set for Lyam and ourselves. A great wine list with many top South African wines at fairly reasonable prices... and again very well prepared and beautifully presented food served with a smile!

We decided to forego the game-drive in the morning, and to rather have a leisurely breakfast and meet the management. We had just wondered into the restaurant for breakies, when a huge downpour began. Within minutes, there were rivers flowing down the hillsides! To put it into perspective, one must note that the lodge was completed in June 2010, and this is its first rainy season since completion. The rains have been heavy in may parts of South Africa. An older hotel in the area has suffered flood damage, and a couple of cities in South Africa have been submerged in places.

We noticed that the gardens and landscaping at the lodge will require some redesign in places to cater for the flow of water, but all in all, I would say the lodge staff handled the huge downpour while we were there very well! When the water started, we were impressed at how quickly the staff were galvanised into action, some started collecting outdoor pillows, while others placed warning signs at all the wet and potentially slippery places, and towels on the floor at all the entrances.

The breakfast was good, even while this was happening.

After the downpour, we had a meeting with the management and gave them our feedback before leaving the lodge. We could not help but notice that the management has a great rapport with the rest of the staff, and everyone seems to do his/her bit without having to be chased around. We expect this new lodge to become one of the top lodges in the country!

PROS:
- Great location in the Pilanesberg, and the pool area!
- Quiet, but unlike traditional lodges this one has a trendy feel and background music is played.
- The staff and management are a huge asset. They have a very happy feel to them that is contagious, and service is not compromised.
- Every guest is made to feel special.
- The food! Although plated meals are served, the portions are more than adequate. I dare-say, if a guest were really ravenous, I am sure the lodge would more than adequately provide additional food.

CONS:
- The rooms are roomy and comfortable, but with the curtains closed and the mosquito nets down at night, Zania felt slightly claustrophobic. This could have something to do with the décor, or possibly the dropped ceilings.
- Although there is a DSTV bouquet, Internet access was not really a strong point.
- GSM mobile phone communications were patch at best. This is a problem for me, but I guess some guests will feel this is a blessing!

WOULD I RECOMMEND THIS HOTEL? Yes I would. I do emphasise that the décor is very trendy.... possibly even a bit glitzy for my taste. This is not a reason for concern, as the lodge more than lives up to expectation. However, one should consider the guest's expectations before the time. I expect guests with very traditional safari expectations may not be completely satisfied, but for the more cool and funky guests, this lodge will be a unique and very satisfying experience!

  • Stayed: January 2011, traveled on business
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3  Thank TechnoWarrior
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed January 21, 2011

This is a magnificent property in the Pilanesburg Game Reserve area. It just opened last summer for the World Cup games and the rooms seem barely slept in. They are lovely, each with a view of the game reserve and an outdoor shower - no curtains necessary. The rooms aren't especially spacious and it would have been nice to have had use of the living area between the rooms - available at what seemed like too many rand. Challenges: the phones did not all work, which was a problem in calling for a cart to transport to the main lodge, as well as getting calls for game drives. Shoutouts: lovely dining room and other common areas, great food and terrific spa. And the game viewing was spectacular - giraffe, zebras, lions, elephants, rumor of leopards (seen by others) and numerous other animals.

  • Stayed: January 2011, traveled on business
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Thank trackervienna
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed 1 week ago
Google Translation

  • Stayed: November 2017, traveled as a couple
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Thank AnaPaula129
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Shepherd's Tree Game Lodge

Address: Pilanesberg Game Reserve | Sun City, Pilanesberg National Park 316, South Africa
Location: South Africa > North-West Province > Pilanesberg National Park
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Free Breakfast Free Parking Restaurant Room Service Suites Swimming Pool
Hotel Style:
Ranked #2 of 14 Specialty Lodging in Pilanesberg National Park
Price Range: $497 - $1,659 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:5 star — Shepherd's Tree Game Lodge 5*
Number of rooms: 30
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Skirting the northern slopes of an amphitheatre within the Pilanesberg Game Reserve lies Shepherd’s Tree Game Lodge, the lodge enjoys unrestricted vistas of the wilderness area of this big 5 wildlife sanctuary. Sweeping patios and sun decks adjoin the generous guest entertainment areas and rim-flow swimming pool. A gourmet restaurant, open entertainment decks, cigar lounge and gift gallery are amongst some of the facilities that discerning guests will find during their African safari. The lodge also includes a conference facility and Amani Spa. Attention to detail extends beyond the pleasure of your hosts, and is perhaps only rivaled by the contemporary cuisine, freshly prepared by dedicated chefs. Shepherd’s Tree features 13 double and 4 executive suites accommodating a maximum of 60 guests. Absolute privacy is ensures through the linear positioning of the suites along an elevated contour line, and providing panoramic vistas of the reserve. Each chalet features full en-suite bathrooms, tea and coffee making facilities, mini bar and safe. Whilst some of our guests will find proximity to the Sun City complex appealing, most of our guests are at Shepherd’s Tree for the thrill and excitement of big game viewing from the comfort of our custom built game viewers. Qualified and experienced guides are tasked with the pleasure of interpreting the sights and sounds of this vast wildlife sanctuary. The reserve is home to the big 5 and cheetah, wild dogs and hippo. Guests are encouraged to join their guide and host on 2 daily safaris, designed around optimal game activity periods, these occur in the early morning and in the late afternoon and evening, the afternoon safari is punctuated by a sundowner stop before continuing into the night with the use of a powerful spotlight. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Shepherd`s Tree Game Hotel Pilanesberg National Park

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