Safari West (SW) is a great experience for kids and adults alike. We really wanted to splurge so we decided to stay overnight and then complete the safari tour the next day. It's important to note that if you want a couples romantic getaway experiencing animals, then you may want to look a little further! SW for the most part, really packs in a ton of families with very small, excitable children running and screaming about the grounds. It's certainly something to experience once, but a steady diet of it should be left to families with small children.
SW is off the beaten path and is tucked away, so be sure that you get a map and study the directions before going to SW. Once inside the park, you travel on an unpaved road, so be certain not to bring a luxury car or one that doesn't run well as neither will be helpful here!
The reception staff bend over backwards to be polite to register you, but if you arrive right at the requested check-in time, it can be difficult to get a ride up the hills to the cabin. Reason being, there are a very limited number of 4-wheel drive vehicles so you end of waiting for an attendant to give you and your luggage a ride up the hill. Try slipping one of the attendants a tip to get better service and ensure a speedier transport to your cabin or come earlier or a little later than the requested check-in time. SW recently hired a new general manager (GM) who has appeared to understand the need to invest in better vehicles to transport guests to their cabins. Unlike the prior vehicles which slipped out of gears or slid down hills, the new jeep vehicles appear to be much more reliable.
If you stay overnight at SW, here’s some tips to making it an enjoyable stay…
This is an African Tent camp and the room is lined with a heavy canvas with thick plastic windows that form the walls. If you’re staying in the fall or winter, be sure to close the inside tent flaps, turn your heater on low and start your ceiling fan on low before you leave for dinner. This will make the hot air flow down and you can will return back to a warm room. The bathroom cannot be kept warm; so shower in the evening, otherwise you will have icicles on your nose when if you wait until the morning to shower. Also, keep flashlights by your bed to use if you are prone to getting up in the middle of the night to use the restroom. Be sure to bring your own flashlights because the front desk is usually in low supply and/or many of the flashlights are inoperable. Keep the bathroom door closed to avoid having the cold morning draft waft into your room. Finally, before you fall asleep, be sure to turn the electric blankets on, but be aware that there appears to be an auto shut off, so upon waking, you may be shivering due to the lack of heat!
The rooms are nicely decorated but this not the place to get good night's rest. The barking dogs on the property and the dogs brought by other guests can easily start a stir which will wake up the entire lot of animals on the property. Once that is done, then the birds et al will sing all night. Wow! I understand that if you come in colder months, then there is less traffic and you probably won't experience this, but who wants to camp in the winter? Not many of us...
The BBQ dinner was a bit costly but in the past it seemed as though it was a good value. But, on this trip, it appears that SW made a policy decision to modify the menu and the quantity and quality of the food as well. We were told that the appetizers would begin at 6:30 p.m., and that dinner would start at 7:00 p.m. Around 6:55 p.m., the SW crew arrived with four medium sized plates containing: sliced veggies, an artichoke salad with crackers and sliced pork sausages for about 100 guests. So, the line for the appetizers wrapped around the room and outside the door as very hungry guests proceeded to pile small appetizer plates with food. If you didn't get in line right away, then you were out of luck because mountains of children descended on the appetizers getting seconds and thirds even before some of the guests were able to get an initial serving. The appetizers were not replenished, so many of us hungrily sat and waited another 20 minutes until dinner was served. As for dinner, the food was good, but the portions were small and larger portions of the main entree (chicken or Tri-Tip beef) was only provided upon request. The tiramisu dessert which had been served in the past, was substituted for a very dry brownie dowsed with whip cream and that was quite a disappointment. Finally, if you pay a visit to the bathroom after dinner, you'll find toilets that don't flush well and often times a line. Searching around to find another bathroom is a futile exercise as well because you will find either closed facilities or those marked private and the general public cannot enter. One of the staff said there are other hidden bathrooms on the property, but those are for "staff only". So, if you need to really go to the restroom, you have to brave the one with the malfunctioning toilets or hike back to your tent.
Breakfast the next day was not much better than what we experienced with the appetizers at dinner the night before. A continental breakfast of fruit, oatmeal and bread was served, which would have been fine had SW staff replenished the food. Breakfast started at 7:00 a.m. and ended at 10:00 a.m. and for the first two hours, there were hordes of people pushing and grabbing food that it reminded me of pigs at a trough! We tried a few times to get a meal, but it was so crazy that we opted to eat oatmeal bars in our room! Yikes!
The best part of the trip was the safari. The guides are knowledgeable, friendly and know the terrain well. So, take the safari and skip the rest!!
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Escape to Africa by way of Sonoma County…Come discover the Sonoma Serengeti.The classic African safari is a trip of a lifetime for intrepid travelers from around the globe - and, it is closer than you think!. Families who are curious and wild at heart can get close to nature...very close! Marvel under the gaze of a graceful giraffe or explore the Sonoma Serengeti alongside romping rhinos. Our guests enjoy enlightening African wildlife safari drives, and “glamping” tent cabin accommodations. The sounds of Africa will echo in your dreams. Stay one night in a luxury safari tent located on Giraffe Alley, meet some giraffes and go on Safari! Is Safari West Family Friendly?The entire Safari West experience is a kid-friendly adventure for families to enjoy together. ... more less
- Reservation Options:
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- Also Known As:
- Safari West Hotel Santa Rosa
- Safari West Santa Rosa, CA - Sonoma County