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“Bit of a Let Down”

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Grootbos Private Nature Reserve
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed January 8, 2008

Also see Selctaspace review which I completely agree with. We also visited with our young family after reading about Grootbos in Tatler magazine.

The website does look great ,with amazing modern contemporary accomodation and lots of emphasis on children. The reality was quite different.

If you are a couple without children you will stay in the Forest Lodge, which is the modern looking accomodation as featured on the website. Rooms are very contemporary, and modern with a nice pool.

If you are a family with children then you will be all lumped into the Garden Lodge, which means that you are in the original accomodation which is old and tired. Rooms are basic, with no air conditioning. We did ask and receive a fan for the children's room (which was surprisingly on a sofa bed)

We stayed for 4 nights and although it was OK, was nothing it had been built up to be on the website. We did actually provide all this feedback when we left but they didn't seem interested.

The kids club and in particular Noleen are good but there appears to be little structure so I wasn't sure about leaving them for too long. Also, when we arrived we were told that there was a kids club with games and dinner between 6 - 9 pm so that we adults could have some grown up time. This never happened and our children were extremely disappointed.

The guides knowledge and input - thank you Thea and Beauty.

So summing up......Grootbos seems to thrive on an arrogance believing that it's better than it actually is. We stayed in better places.

  • Stayed: December 2007, traveled with family
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4  Thank mcmillan924
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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578 - 584 of 743 reviews

Reviewed January 6, 2008

We spent Xmas here with my young family after reading about Grootbos in Tatler magazine.

The website looks great ,with amazing modern contemporary accomodation quite abstractly photographed, but it looks very very nice. Grootbos uses all these images in all it's press and media.

Different story when you actually arrive at the resort, as then you find out that there's actually 2 lodges that make up Grootbos.

If you are a couple without children you will stay in the Forest Lodge, which is the modern looking accomodation as featured on the website. Rooms are very contemporary, and modern with a nice pool.

If you are a family with children then you will be all lumped into the Garden Lodge, which means that you are in the original accomodation which is old and tired. Rooms are basic, with no air conditioning and are kinda 1980's modern. bedrooms are slightly better with nice bathrooms. When it's hot it's excruciating uncomfortable in the room. The central garden lodge itself is fine , pool is very small and old, pool wasn't cleaned regularly and had a dead mouse in it one morning........our 4 day stay here was a real let down, and in particular, we felt the website was very misleading, so much so that you think theres gonna be a fantastic room with amazing decor waiting for you - but if youre a family, you wont get that room - you'll get an over hot crummy room...and you're probably paying more than a childless couple over the ridge in the forest lodge.

Positives with Grootbos are the food and wine list is absolutely amazing - completely A+, thank god.
The fact that all the kids are lumped in together means they make friends easily.
The kids club and in particular Noleen are amazing.
The guides knowledge and input - thank you Thea and Beauty.

So summing up......Forest Lodge 5 star......Garden Lodge 3 star

  • Stayed: December 2007, traveled with family
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6  Thank SELECTASPACE
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed January 3, 2008

Grootbos looks and sounds amazing and first impressions on arrival matched our expectations. The location is amazing and the buildings breath taking.

On arrival we were shown to a table with a view of the dunes and sea and given a glass of bubbly and our check in forms to complete. 20 mins later and we're still sat there. 30 mins later and it's getting ridiculous, 40 mins later and we're finally seen to. It's not that we sat there like lemons - all the staff had disappearred!!!!

We had a beach safari booked at 4pm (the time now being 3.40pm) and we were finally shown to our room. It was HUGE. It had a separate living room, bedroom with four poster bed, and a bathroom to die for. In fact, we had four showers - a double in the master en-suite, a single in the guest bathroom and one on the veranda. The sheets were gorgeous Egyptian cotton and the toiletries Charlotte Rhys. No expense had been spared.

All ready to go on our beach safari and realised our luggage hasn't arrived. A quick call to reception revealed that it had already been sent to our room. Well, not our room, but somebody elses....................

So a full hour and ten minutes after arrival we were in our room with our luggage. Hmmmmmmmmmm.

The beach safari with Ally was superb. He was so knowledgeable and passionate about his job. It's well worth taking advantage of the inclusive activities.

Dinner was served in the main building (note - it's a good couple of minutes walk from the forest lodge rooms to the main building) between 6.30 and 7.30. We arrived, ordered some drinks at the bar and before we knew it we were sat there eating our dinner. It was all a bit rushed and the service was extremely rehearsed. The staff didn't seem to know what to do if you went "off script". Ordering a bottle of white wine with a separate glass of red wine for my husband to have with his venison main was totally forgotten despite being asked for THREE times.

We went to bed with stomachs full of amazing food but feeling very let down in the service front.

The next day we had booked a shark cage diving trip and were expecting more of the same. We were, however, pleasantly surprised as the whole day went by with superb service at the hotel, including going to collect our shark DVD from the dive location the next morning. We just could not understand how things had gone from so bad to so good in the space of 24 hours.

On the final night the weather suddenly changed. What can only be described as howling gales passed over and led to a very wet and miserable morning - made all the more worse by our bathroom ceiling leaking quite badly. The ceiling in the main building also had the same problem and there were towels all over the floor.

So to sum up. The food was superb and when the service worked, the place was every bit as wonderful as you can imagine from their website. When it went wrong, it went horribly wrong.

The annoying thing is this is a £400 a night five star lodge. You expect sensible service - an error here or there is excusable, a whole shambles of a day is not. The food was superb and the guides were brilliant. The accomodation was a dream, apart from the leaking ceilings (again - is his five star??????).

It felt even more disappointing as it has so much potential to be great. I have very mixed feelings - I just hope they sort themselves out soon.

1  Thank zryder
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed November 20, 2007

Stayed here for two nights, November 10-12, 2007. The resort was extensively damaged by fire within the past year, and much has been rebuilt. Decor is minimalist, beautiful, very modern. Rooms were gorgeous and clean. This was our third reserve, and guides/naturalists were good. Food was good. The real problem is service, and I think it must be a management issue, as it was a problem in the dining room, bar and reception. I was ill upon arrival, and requested, pleasantly, to be allowed to go to my room as soon as possible. I was told by Derdre it would be ten minutes or so. I lay down on a sofa in the lobby while the rest of my group went on into lunch. About 30 minutes later, I asked Derdre when I could go to my room, and was told in about 10 minutes. At this point, Michelle, another receptionist, took pity on me, intervened, and took me to my room. Another example was no person at bar to get a diet coke---again, Michelle intervened and got someone. Dinner service was fine, but we waited a long time to give breakfast orders every morning. Coffee took probably 15 minutes to arrive, and refills did not seem available. At times, we'd go to the kitchen door to knock for service!!! I don't think they are understaffed--just seem untrained, and not especially motivated. Resort is beautifully sited, but it is a ?mile to the beach. There are guided tours by the requisite Landrovers, but they aren't especially interesting. They do arrange whale-watching tours; will drive you into nearby towns, to the beach, etc. If I hadn't been part of a large group, I would have been bored here.

  • Stayed: November 2007
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3  Thank tonymsrad
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed October 25, 2007

Having spent 2 nights at Grootbos Lodge in 2004 and enjoyed every minute of the experience we decided that we wanted longer there on our trip this year....we dont often visit the same location twice for fear of dis-appointment...no chance of this...
The service, food, staff and experience were as good if not better than 2004.....even 4 nights wasnt long enough...amazing room with view over the sea...watching whales breach.....nothing was a problem with the staff...and on 2 evenings we came back to a log fire in our appartment.....
Would reccommend this experience to all.........and will always visit when back in Capetown....

  • Stayed: October 2007, traveled as a couple
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3  Thank WITHIES
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed October 14, 2007

We stayed here for 2 nights in October 07. It was in a fantastic location - high up on a hill side overlooking Walker Bay in the distance. Went out on a boat trip to see whales (additional cost ~ £50), but you could see whales from the coastline if the trip was not for you. (We went out with a family who were all sea sick). Food was very good and the staff were very friendly. When we were there it was bright sunshine - not certain what it would be like if it were cold and damp. The suites (we stayed in the garden lodge rather than the forest lodge) were very good - large lounge area with the private balcony, bedroom and bathroom (where you could lie in the bath and look across at the bay - as the sun set). The whales were the main reason for us to go here. There is also horseriding included if you want and there are guides who will take you through the grounds (including an old milkwood forest) looking for birds and flowers. The food was very well prepared and presented - a little too fancy for us (but that is just personal taste) in some regards. This is full board location - which does not include any drinks (alcoholic or not), apart from a welcome drink on arrival - and we felt that for a little extra it could be all inclusive (like Rovos Rail and Royal Malewane were - see other reviews!) to make it a completely relaxed stay. I do not think that this would be a good location for a longer stay as there were only limited 'things to do.
Summary - definitely recommend this for a short stay as a high quality base for viewing whales.

2  Thank dshep
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed August 8, 2007

Fabulous reserve. Stayed for 2 nights and would have happily stayed for longer. The staff was very friendly. Our rooms were amazing with fantastic views of the Atlantic Ocean. The reserve prepares an itinerary of activities to suit your stay length which was great. Regrettably, the weather was poor and we missed out on whale watching and horse riding.



Following our drive on the garden route and speaking to friends who also drove the garden route, we agree that staying in Grootbos gives one a better appreciation of the nature existing in South Africa than we would have got if we just stop off in different towns en route.

  • Stayed: July 2007, traveled as a couple
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3  Thank MJEIreland
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Grootbos Private Nature Reserve

Address: | R43 Between Stanford and Gansbaai, Grootbos Private Nature Reserve 7220, South Africa
Location: South Africa > Western Cape > Grootbos Private Nature Reserve
Amenities:
Business Center with Internet Access Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Restaurant Room Service Suites Swimming Pool
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 1 Specialty Lodging in Grootbos Private Nature Reserve
Price Range: $832 - $1,765 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:5 star — Grootbos Private Nature Reserve 5*
Number of rooms: 27
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Grootbos, with its two 5-star luxury lodges is spectacularly situated on the fynbos and forest clad hills overlooking the whale-watching haven of Walker Bay. Grootbos has carved a unique niche in the upmarket eco-lodge sector by specializing in the Cape region of South Africa’s world-renowned flora and marine biodiversity. This multi-award winning reserve is home to more than 740 different plant species, offers warm hospitality, excellent cuisine, fine wines and is a nature lover’s paradise. ... more   less 
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Grootbos Private Nature Reserve Hotel Grootbos Private Nature Reserve

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