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“Speechless - but I'll try!!”
Review of Dugong Beach Lodge

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Dugong Beach Lodge
Ranked #5 of 8 Hotels in Vilanculos
Cambridge
Level Contributor
28 reviews
9 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 26 helpful votes
“Speechless - but I'll try!!”
Reviewed August 19, 2012

You only need to look over the last few reviews to wonder what happened between March and July because they seem to have everything just right now. I can't add a lot to the previous 2 comments - speed boat, food, lodges, atmosphere, relaxation and a general feeling of happiness pervades. However, the staff I don't think can be praised enough because it is without them that our stay would not have been half so special. Brian & Ernesto - thank you so much, but try not to look so crest fallen if we brought something to your attention - you reacted so quickly to any hiccups! Domingues, Alfonso, Arthur, Acacio, Delphine (and others whose names I did not, unfortunately, learn) and of course Melissa for your wonderful massage. All of you - your singing and dancing is a joy to behold!! It should be noted that, in such a remote setting there will be occasions when things do not go according to plan - and maybe can not be corrected within the day, but with such willing and helpful staff and the idyllic location - life can wait! Just for info, the free hobbycat is wonderful - we encountered several dolphins close up. My husband went kayaking across the channel to the sand bank to go crapping with the staff - they were much more succesful than he was - but we still had crab for dinner. We also took the dhow picnic cruise to Bangue island - about an hour's journey, snorkelling then lunch with tables, chairs, wine and waiters on the deserted island. Back in time for sunset.
I do want to thank everybody involved in the extra special meal that was set up on the beach for our anniversary - along with more singing and dancing :) you all made our celebrations so special. Ngiyabonga kakhulu, hambani kahle (and I apologise for any misspellings of names or Zulu!!!)

Room Tip: We were in Room 5 - Rock Cod which was wonderful; I would advise against Room 6 only because the won...
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  • Stayed August 2012, traveled as a couple
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Helpful?
2 Thank jlw5558
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Maputo, Mozambique
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 4 helpful votes
Reviewed July 17, 2012

During June 2012 we spent 3 unforgettable days at Dugong Beach Lodge in the Vilanculos Coastal Wildlife Sanctuary, Mozambique. At the airport we were welcomed by a driver of the Sanctuary and transferred in an open game-drive vehicle through the streets of Vilanculos to the beach where our boat was waiting. We had to wade through shallow water to embark and the boat ride took approximately 45 minutes. The journey was pleasant and we saw various bird species as well as dolphins frolicking in the water on our way to the Lodge. As we approached the Lodge, members of staff were gathering on the wooden jetty and while disembarking they sang and dance to welcome us. Our feet were rinsed and dried that we could put our shoes back on before we entered the Lodge to enjoy our welcome cocktails. In the lobby stands a bronze statue of a Dugong and we couldn’t help but wonder if we would be fortunate enough to see a living version of the elusive, allmost extinct creature after which the Lodge was named. We were pleasantly surprised by the luxurious, air-conditioned chalets (14 of them) all linked by wooden walkways, with the most spectacular view of the pristine, unspoilt beaches and turquoise waters. We are no divers, but the moment I walked out on the deck of our chalet I wished I could go diving to explore this beautiful ocean and everything it has to offer to the more adventurous. However, we were there to do nothing more than relax and indulge in the warm sunny weather, the delectable food and to chill with a few refreshing caipirinhas on the pool deck…sheer bliss! The variety and quality of the meals were outstanding – fresh, tasty and plentiful. The chef visited our table regularly to check whether we were enjoying our meals. The staff was well trained and at our beck and call all the time, even when we called from our room the service was quick and effortless. We were offered a private boat trip with a picnic basket to a nearby island, or to go horse riding, deep sea fishing or a game drive to the Sanctuary, but we didn’t feel adventurous at all…we were too relaxed. However, we went for long walks on the beach every day to enjoy the unforgettable sunsets over the ocean. Congratulations to the new Lodge manager, Brian and his staff, who have obviously managed to restore the Lodge to its previous beauty and splendour after the destruction of the tropical storm that hit it early 2012. We had a great time at Dugong - it is an idyllic paradise and a gem that we can recommend.

  • Stayed June 2012, traveled with family
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Helpful?
4 Thank Sonia N
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Sandwich, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
64 reviews
12 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 59 helpful votes
Reviewed June 26, 2012

We stayed at Dugong for 5 nights, coming here from Lakeside Lodge after a safari. The warmth and relaxed atmosphere of Dugong was exactly what we needed after a week of getting up early - which we expected - to see the animals.
The staff at Dugong could not do enough for us, we certainly had 5* treatment from all of them.
Alex the Chef was brilliant and gave us options as to what we could have for all our meals, even allowing us to decide on lunches that suited us, the fish salad was awsome. The food was plentiful, very fresh and tasty and to a high standard. Highlight was having breakfast on the jetty when the wind permitted watching the fish below, and having our final nights meal at the end of the jetty under the stars. We were never hungry.
My husband enjoyed catching crabs with some of the staff for dinner one evening out on the sand dunes.
The accommodation was luxurious, and to a very high standard, and the mosquito nets have all been replaced for new ones giving great protection, never got bitten once. The whole resort has obviously undergone a complete renovation and has been done to a very high standard.
All the equipment is new for kayaking and snorkelling which is fabullous in the clear waters.
My massage was blissfull (I had 2) especially after our walk to Pelican Bay to see the sun set .
The weather was lovely in Mozambique especially after the cold mornings in South Africa the week before. I did not realise that SA got cold!! All in all as I have said it was a holiday of a lifetime.

  • Stayed June 2012, traveled with friends
    • Value
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Helpful?
3 Thank Eleanor C
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
London, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
6 reviews
5 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 23 helpful votes
Reviewed March 4, 2012

The setting at Dugong Lodge was wonderful but the service and the food was appalling. We never saw a menu. On our first day we had chicken pie – I could have prepared that at home and it would have tasted better. Chicken pie was offered twice during the week we were there. We were offered chicken livers or soup for starters at dinner; neither was appealing. For lunch on one day we were offered processed meat which was quite disgusting and on one day pasta and mince. It was worse than school dinners. For dessert on one day we were offered a tiny portion of chocolate Angel Delight and on another day I am sure the cheesecake was a packet mix. If you were late for lunch you got nothing. The salad everyday was an iceberg lettuce and tomato. One day we were offered a Greek Salad which was the same iceberg lettuce with a single olive on top and a bottle of shop bought greek dressing; other guests had a cube of feta cheese but we missed out. Breakfast was the most palatable meal of the day but even that was poor. On the first day we were offered either golden syrup or honey with the pancakes but by the end of the second day the golden syrup had been used up and there was only honey. If you wanted Orange Juice (as I did) you had to buy it from the bar because the orange drink served at the buffet was orange squash – this is what we give to children at home and costs just pence.

Lots of people were complaining about the appalling food and lack of quantity as well – we were always hungry – and on only one day out of the week we had seafood which was very nice. One of the clients had caught a marlin which was grilled for supper and we had langoustines with it. However one decent meal did not make up for a week of really poor quality food. On New Year's Eve we had chicken curry that was full of bones or chicken a la King which was served luke warm.

The most disgusting meal was the processed meat for lunch. It was literally poor quality watery chicken and some kind of processed meat served in rounds that would have cost just pence at home. I would not eat it or serve it at home and do not see why I should have to eat it on holiday; there was no other choice.

Between meals we would sometimes sit at the bar in the hope of eating cashew nuts or crisps: we were all so hungry.

The phone signal was very poor and I could not get signal while we were there or I would have telephoned and asked to be moved.

The situation was made worse by us being on an island with nowhere to go to buy extra food.

Apart from the food situation the electricity supply was erratic and there was not usually air conditioning on during the night which made sleeping very uncomfortable.

Water should have been supplied in the refrigerators in the rooms but we only had it on one day and apart from that the fridge was empty. We had to go and ask for it from the bar.

Sometimes no towels were put in the rooms and we had to ask for them.

Staff were poorly trained and looked blank if they were asked the simplest of requests.
One of the Managers, Gayle, used to shout at the staff in front of us which made us feel uncomfortable. When other guests complained to the two other Managers, Richard and Blaize, about the poor quality food and shambolic administration of the resort Blaize said that she had been managing the place for a month and it was a "s***hole" and she wanted to leave. Not really what you want to hear about your holiday resort.

We spent most of our time comparing notes with other guests about the food and poor service. It is a shame that we spent 7 nights there, which was the longest we spent anywhere on our holiday and the other 2 places were so wonderful and were about half the price.

We did not feel that our complaints were taken seriously. Gayle told one of the other clients that she had spent some of her own money buying food to supplement what was available. She also said that they were short of food because of the New Year holiday. I felt that she was trying to make her problems our problems which was not appropriate. They should have made provision for New Year – it is the same time every year.

This was a very special trip for us and unfortunately, staying at Dugong Lodge, especially for the money we spent pretty much ruined our second week. Our travel agent has complained on our behalf, and we were offered a couple of nights away at a golfing lodge, however as we live in the UK, we will definitely not be spending hundreds to go out to Africa for a couple of nights at another Legend resort.

I hope that this precis gives a flavour of what we experienced at Dugong Lodge. It is a real shame, because the setting was stunning.

  • Stayed December 2011, traveled with family
    • Value
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Helpful?
14 Thank hanbag50
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Michelle B, Snr Marketing Asst. OBO Senior GM at Dugong Beach Lodge, responded to this review, March 7, 2012
Thank you for taking the time to post your review on Tripadvisor. We see you have already received a letter from us with an invitation back to any of our other properties in the group, which will be easier to travel to. As explained in our letter to you, we apologised for the breakdown in service delivery – this is definitely not the norm nor how we wish to be remembered. As explained in a response to another guest, the problems were caused by the sudden and unexplained departure of senior management and while we acted immediately to replace them we were unable to source the required supplies in the timescales available in order to deliver our usual 5* service. This has now been totally resolved and our lodge is operating at its premium again. We would like to mention once again that the offer is open to you whenever your travels bring you back to South Africa, so please contact us if you would like to discuss the details. We would like to impress upon you to keep faith in Dugong Beach Lodge and retain us as a destination of choice in the future.
Regards, Gary Millar, Senior GM, Legend Group - gary.m@legendlodges.co.za
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Cape Town Central, South Africa
Level Contributor
56 reviews
30 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 74 helpful votes
Reviewed February 24, 2012

Our response to our stay at Dugong Lodge is one of ambivalence. We spent 10 days there in early December with our two children aged 8 and 10. Part of the reason we chose the lodge, was because of the variety of activities on offer. They offered horseriding, fishing, scuba diving etc. When we arrived at the lodge, it became clear that all the activities came with enormous provisos. Yes, there was horseriding, if you were willing to cross the bay (at a cost of $80 per person return) and then pay an additional $50-odd for the actual horseride. Same for the scuba diving. A trip across the bay (at your expense), including the cost of the dive with an independent operator. Not quite what we were led to expect. There were a number of problems with the lodge itself. For half the days of our stay we had either no water or no hot water. On the remaining days we had enough water to take a shower, but not necessarily a bath. The electricity (on a generator) was cut off at around 10pm, leaving you to wake up in a sweat an hour or two later when the AC had turned off. We aren't great fans of AC, but the heat was so intense that it was impossible to sleep without it. For the first few nights we were sleeping on the far right-hand side of the lodge (facing it) and our room was directly opposite a small building that had staff members and the fishermen moving around all day. Not much privacy. We were also woken up more than once before 5am by visitors from another part of the island that were using the beach in front of our bungalow for their early morning swim. We subsequently moved to the other side of the lodge, which afforded us more privacy. The food was average. Breakfast was rudimentary, lunch never allowed for very much choice. The evening meals were of a better quality. There was little (if any) food available during the day and one had to ask if one wanted a snack. Not what one expects from a 5-star lodge, even if it is situated in Mozambique. What made our stay bearable were the incredible efforts of some of the staff members. We learned on arrival that the previous management had left just days before, having left the lodge in a state of disarray and disrepair. A young couple (Blaise and Richard) were called in to take over over the busy December holiday season. They were exceptional and had they not been there, we would have probably left early. They went out of their way to deal with all the problems we encountered and did a great job of keeping our kids occupied and happy (10 days at a lodge with few activities is a long time with two young children). They arranged island picnics for us, took us on walks to gather shells and were fantastic overall. The same for a lady named Gayle, who was in control of the food and tried very hard to fix everything that the previous management had managed to mess up. The location is spectacular, which makes the quality of the stay that much more disappointing. It has the potential to be an incredible destination and one that lives up to its promise, provided they manage to fix the problems we experienced and sort out their marketing. If they do, we would be happy to return one day.

Room Tip: When facing the lodge, the rooms to the left are more private.
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  • Stayed December 2011, traveled with family
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    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
6 Thank JezebelleH
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Pretoria, South Africa
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
Reviewed February 14, 2012

We also visited Dugong Lodge in December 2011. We loved it!
The lodge is beautiful, the hosts are wonderful and the food and service were great.
If one remembers that you are in Mozambique, it is realistic to expect that everything will not always be perfect, except for the scenery!
It is true that the lodge make use of a generator and that it cannot run at all times, but it never bothered us. We could make coffee every morning and if you keep your airconditioner on till the power shuts down, your room is cool when you fall asleep.
The rooms are lovely and our mosquito net definitely did not have holes in it.
The hosts made us feel totally at home. The lodge has a relaxed atmosphere and they helped us to do what we wanted to do, when we wanted to do it. We were asked what we wanted to eat and when it was to be served. The food was great, even though there were not too many choices.
We made wonderful friends, some of them were staff, some were day visitors who came to visit for the day and others were guests like ourselves.
I cannot wait to go back and will recommend the lodge to anybody!

  • Stayed December 2011, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
3 Thank 123Away
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 5 helpful votes
Reviewed January 17, 2012

We visited this lodge in Dec and could not wait to get to this "fantastic lodge". All I can say is that this was one of the most disappointing holidays we have ever had. We love traveling and have been to more than a few establishments. We were told that we are paying for full board which includes all local wine and beer just to be told that you can only have that with meals other than that you have to pay for it, this was a problem with all of the other guests as well. Don't bother with trying to have coffee in your room in the mornings as there is no power......the
power gets turned off when the last guest goes to bed and only gets turned on in the morning again at around 10 o clock ....if you lucky. Apparently this is due to the fact that they use generators and it is too expansive to run all the time.....or as they also like to say "they are being Eco friendly" So you will be sleeping with no air conditioner, if you planning on having
anything cold to drink in your room...it's not happening as the fridge will also not be working. Take extra food as you WILL go hungry! This was supposed to be a 5 star
lodge, but the food was that of maybe a 2 star (Really no jokes) I know that previous reviews
show that it was a stunning place....hence why we decided to go there.....but something has
seriously gone wrong. Also don't expect the daily water they promise either, we got it once
during our 4 night stay. .The food manager who is in charge of meals does not really care if you sare not happy, you eat what you get and you do not get an option at lunch. If you do not sit immediately when meal times start you will not get food. Apparently their walk in fridges were
not working and due to this they were not able to keep "to much" food. The service for drinks
is non existent you will have to go get it yourself at the bar. The barman Alfonso tried really
hard to serve us as best possible but he is only one person. Besides for the power and the
brown water you have to bath in ect, we found the rooms to be very nice and comfortable. But
we died of heat and were attacked by mozies due to the nets having holes in them and the aircon not working so we had to sleep with everything open. The location is very nice. We
really are not the complaining type and just want what we were told we will receive. If you pay
for 2 star then you will be happy to receive the service and food that goes with a 2 star
establishment, but if you are paying for a so called 5 star then you expect at least to be able to sleep at night and not go hungry every day. We were told you get constant snacks ect ....we had peanuts once and crab legs once in 4 days.....that was it. The day visitors also seem to just come in with a whole boat full of kids and take over the swimming pool and the little service they do manage to give you. This is a small establishment which is why we decided to
also go, .....more personalized....or so we thought...... a whole lot of day visitors taking over the pool and all the towels is just not acceptable. We have been to a few other lodges and can highly recommend Marlin lodge, Indigo bay is also good even Barra lodge was better that Dugong......

Room Tip: I would stay in room 1-5 as they have a beach area in the day where as the other rooms only have a b...
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  • Stayed December 2011, traveled as a couple
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    • Cleanliness
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Helpful?
5 Thank travels1976
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Michelle B, Snr Mark. Asst obo MD at Dugong Beach Lodge, responded to this review, January 29, 2012
Thank you for bringing these concerns to our attention. We apologise unreservedly for the issues you raise. As a luxury lodge, this is not the norm and definitely not how we wish to be remembered. The problems were caused by the sudden and unexplained departure of senior management and while we acted immediately to replace them we were unable to source the required supplies in the timescales available in order to deliver our usual 5* service. This has now been totally resolved.

I would like to impress upon you to keep faith in Dugong Beach Lodge. Should you wish to contact me directly, please do so via johann.dp@legendlodges.co.za as I am the managing director and would like to speak with you personally.
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Additional Information about Dugong Beach Lodge

Property: Dugong Beach Lodge
Address: Vilanculos Coastal Wildlife Sanctuary | San Sebastian Peninsula, Vilanculos, Mozambique
Location: Mozambique > Inhambane Province > Vilanculos
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beach Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Restaurant Suites Swimming Pool
Hotel Style:
Ranked #5 of 8 Hotels in Vilanculos
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$$$
Hotel Class:4 star — Dugong Beach Lodge 4*
Number of rooms: 12
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Located on 30 000 hectares of pristine Marine and Wildlife territory, it provides a unique Beach & Wilderness Experience in a hidden corner of sub-tropical Africa. This diverse eco-system of wilderness and wetland, with its powder white beaches and crystal clear water is host to a magnificent array of fish, dolphin and most importantly, the nearly extinct "Atlantic Dugong" (which resembles a sea lion). Shallow and deep water reefs reveal beautiful creatures such as the great leatherback turtles, sailfish and manta ray. Deep-sea fishing of marlin and barracuda is truly spectacular and the large flocks of flamingos and pelicans are a sight to behold. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Dugong Beach Hotel Vilanculos

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