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Arajilla Retreat - Lord Howe Island
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    Reviews (265)
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    All reviewssettlement beachkentia palmsbanyan treesfishwonderful massagespa treatmentstrying too hardincredible staffincluded mealsbbq lunchsnorkeling equipmentother guestsbbq packhigh tideattention to detailfive nightsfirst name basis
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    217 - 222 of 265 reviews
    Reviewed January 16, 2011

    1. the island is unique - lush mountains surrounded by farming land, which is surrounded by magnificent beaches & lagoons. It has a "stepping back 30years feel about it". There are no cars, commercial buildings, neon lights etc.. just tranquility
    2. Arajilla hotel is not only located in the best position on the island, close to the lagoon, on settlement beach where all the turtles swim and only a very short bike ride to the shops activities etc..; but the accommodation itself is outstanding - the staff are amazing, the food is to die for, the rooms are great - all in all, i could not rate this hotel and its staff high enough. It truly is a hidden secret very well worth experiencing.
    3. while we didnt stay at other hotels, we did meet quite a few people whom did and said they were either a little tired or in the case of one hotel, right down the other end and too far away from everything.

    • Stayed: January 2011, traveled with family
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    2  Thank randolfclinton
    This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
    Reviewed January 16, 2011

    Arajilla is a perfect mix of relaxed and casual but up-market service, food and environment for a really relaxing time. Each time we have stayed we have been impressed by the friendliness of the staff, and the quality of service. Nothing is too hard or too much bother. We could not recommend it more highly.

    • Stayed: January 2011, traveled as a couple
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    2  Thank Claudia255060
    This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
    Reviewed January 16, 2011

    We couldn't agree more with the review posted by “ddsheywo” Jan 11, 2011. We stayed at Capella before going to Arajilla and you can’t even begin to compare the two. Capella is the ONLY place to stay on Lord Howe Island if you are wanting a truly five star experience.

    Overall for us, Arajilla was a 2 to 3 star experience. The food at Arajilla is incredibly average with very little choice. The service is very patchy and even though the staff are well-meaning, it’s obvious that they haven’t been trained professionally. The Kentia rooms are lovely but quite small. The toiletries in the bathrooms are cheap and the room service certainly wasn’t up to standard. The condition of some of the bikes is very poor and they’ve obviously not being maintained properly. You get a sense that the owners are pinching every penny.

    This would all be fine, but at $1300 a night, it’s incredibly overpriced. Overall it was poor value for money and very disappointing.

    We went with high expectations after reading so many of the TripAdvisor reviews. However, I’m wondering how many reviews are actually independently verified reviews.

    On the plus side, the location is fantastic. And Lord Howe Island is absolutely stunning!

    • Stayed: January 2011, traveled as a couple
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    13  Thank sekaitravelers
    This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
    Reviewed January 13, 2011

    It has taken quite a while for us to finally get to Lord Howe as we travel quite a lot and was having difficulty fitting Lord Howe into our schedule.

    Last minute, that is September plans finally fell into place and we manged to get 8 nights on LHI. I had narrowed the accommodation to Capella, Arajilla and Earl's Anchorage however availabilty determined our locations to be Arajilla and Leanda Lei.

    Firstly I cannot speak highly enough of the co-ordination etc as we were working around a birthday and an unwell partner. My goal for this break was to recapture some of the 5* holiday we had experienced on Lizard Island in November (most relaxation style breaks are 5* in the House of Guru).

    Airport arrival..the flight to Lord Howe takes around 1hour 50 from Sydney and our flight was slightly delayed. Despite arriving in the rain we were met by Bill, our luggage was collected, and we were welcomed onsite at 9.30am with a juice. Offered breakfast we declined (we had had plenty to eat earlier) and were shown to our rooms. Side by side Banyan Suites. Gorgeous little bay window in the bathrooms and plenty of interior space for all 4 of us to play cards as the rain steadily got worse. Spotlessly clean and well kitted out with beach chairs, 2 umbrellas, back packs, rain ponchos and a reasonable sized mini bar fridge.

    The rooms were light and airy and it was pleasant to have the upper blinds open and look out onto the Kentia palms which gave us privacy.

    Meals: Breakfast was more than adequate, the corn fritters yummy, my only complaint was there was always too much food on the plate.

    Lunch: we never managed a picnic pack due to the weather however the special of the day. always fish however they substituted chicken for the non salmon lover.

    Dinner: Not a huge selection, but being used to high class all inclusives did not have any difficulty making a selection. The sides were a great addition as often gourmet dining means fancy plate and no veges. The carrots one night were to die for.

    Equipment: We had our own snorkelling/dive gear so cannot comment on these. We did have bikes, the kids bikes were in excellent condition and Guru's was brand new out of the box. Mine needed a few adjustments on the gears (not unusual in a sandy and humid environment and people who lay bikes against the derailleur). The chairs were brand new as were the ponchos.

    Fellow Guests and other visitors: Being peak season the island itself was pretty much brimming. There was one other family during our stay and a number of honeymoon and other couples. No little children at all which to me is abig thumbs up. Restaurant dining was quiet and reasonably timed.

    Location: I was so glad we weren't out at Capella. Several times during our stay we noted the capella ute come to pick up abandoned push bikes either at Ned's Beach or the lagoon. The ride back up to Capella in the humidity would have been less than pleasant. Capella also appeared to be little kid central and I mean close to 5s (easy to work out when the kids ride into Ned's shed and throw their bike up against your seat and the little tag on the back says the name) Based on the whinging and grizzling at the beach I doubt mealtimes would have been enjoyable.

    Arajilla is an easy walk to the shops for a browse, settlement for a snorkel or to the dive/tour huts. Note also that the bus will drop you off and pick you up promptly to any locations you desire. A must if mobility is an issue.

    Activities: GS spent most of his time diving, GD dived once, we did the 4 spot specialty snorkel as well as regular snorkels at Settlement and Ned's which was high quality but not as good as Lizard Island or outer reef. There is excellent visibility and a good variety of marine life.

    • Stayed: December 2010, traveled with family
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    6  Thank GurusW
    This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
    Reviewed January 11, 2011

    We spent 10 days at Arajilla in November after 6 days at Capella (see Capella Lodge). Arajilla comes out better rated than Capella on Tripadviser. This exposes a flaw in depending on tripadviser reviews. Our comments on Arajilla are after 10 days stay from two mature, very well traveled, 5 star travelers. By the way, we are people that never make complaints but vote with our feet.
    Our experiences were:
    Food was very ordinary, nothing like other reviewers would have you believe. Wine just drinkable. Service poor, very willing and friendly but inexperienced staff. We have many examples to prove this conclusion, but one which sticks out. One night at dinner, after many hours snorkeling , I was really hungry so I asked for another bread roll only to be told that they only budget on one per person. We had to ask for breakfast table to be restocked every morning, things like orange juice were always empty. You had to ask for skimmed milk which was always warm, that is, if it came. The general public use the restaurant which detracts from the atmosphere. It was often full with tables close together and very noisy.
    Other reviewers who stayed there just before us, during and after us leaves me baffled. Perhaps the fresh fruit was eaten before we arrived? My wife asked for fruit several times and was told we do not have any.
    The comment that Bill knew all the visitors is, in our experience, not true. In our ten days, we spoke to him briefly a couple of times. In fact, another couple who stayed there for a week, he only introduced himself when they were waiting for the bus to go to the airport. There was a group of people he did socialize with all the time and they were on a cooking weekend.
    Accommodation we found dark and poky although the upstairs bedrooms were OK. The bathroom products were very cheap and gave us both dermatitis. The House maid service was just a lick and a promise.
    The Bikes were not well maintained, several guests complained about the state of their bikes. Most of the staff, as reported by many reviewers, were friendly and tried hard to please, but at $1,300 per night nothing justified the cost.

    Positives, Arajilla was the close proximity to Settlement Beach and the Turtles on high tide. The setting among the palms with wooden walkways is nice but there is no view.
    If you are wondering Arajilla or Capella there is no comparison Arajilla was 2/3 star compared to Capella 5 Star.

    • Stayed: November 2010, traveled as a couple
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    11  Thank ddsheywo
    This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
    Arajilla, Owner at Arajilla Retreat - Lord Howe Island, responded to this reviewResponded January 14, 2011

    Unfair Criticism

    We were probably due for a good sledging after so many favourable comments received over the 23 years we have owned and operated Arajilla Retreat. However, how could so many other people be so wrong in offering our staff and the property great reviews? Our guest book and indeed the comments on TripAdvisor today all rave about the food and service.

    The reviewer’s comment that TripAdvisor reviews are flawed could be directed to this reviewer who made no complaints to us during the reviewer’s stay with us. It appears inconsistent that this guest so much later declares he is unhappy with our property and its services, yet remained without complaint for 10 days, having left with an acknowledgement to our Manager that he had had a good holiday! And then take the best part of three months to go to TripAdvisor with the most vicious complaints we have ever experienced!

    If this guest was so unhappy with us and had let us know we would have refunded payment and redirected him back to Capella!

    This guest did not pay $1,300 per night as claimed. The amount paid was $500 per night for 9 nights per person including all meals and the many other inclusions listed below.

    To address the matters:

    Our Wine list includes Geoff Weaver Sauvignon Blanc, 10 Minutes by Tractor Chardonnay, Flaxman Shh Cabernet Sauvignon, and Koltz Dog Day Shiraz – which can hardly be regarded as “just drinkable”.

    Our dinner menu has entrés that include Yellowfin Tuna sashimi, mains of Lord Howe Island fish, or pork belly, with a vegetarian option, and a delicious choice of desserts.
    Four chefs prepare the meals, generally regarded as some of the best on the Island. In the 23 years of our operation we have never had our food described as “very ordinary”. Special dietary requirements are met willingly by our competent chefs. The menu changes daily.

    We do not advertise that the restaurant is exclusive to our guests; as the restaurant will seat a maximum of about 30 patrons we take a few outsiders who may make a bit of noise when they are enjoying themselves, just as our guests will at times. There is always a substantial outside diner waitlist for the Arajilla Restaurant.

    We are in the hospitality industry and do not like to turn away people on holiday requiring hospitality. We are not exclusive or closed to the public, and naturally our guests of course have priority with bookings. We have afternoon teas open to the public, and these are included in the tariff for our guests.

    I can’t comprehend the complaint about the bread roll. If the reviewer had asked for a bread roll and we had run out, he would have been offered a slice of our homemade bread instead.
    As for breakfast, there is always sufficient fruit, juice and other food. The tariff includes buffet and cooked breakfast. Every time I appear at breakfast there is always plenty of fruit and if the juice is ever empty it has only just been emptied and is about to refilled.

    As for the lack of view: we do not advertise that we have a view; we have the most beautiful native LHI gardens on the Island on 2 ½ acres of land under a canopy of Lord Howe Island Banyans and Kentia Palms and are adjacent to Old Settlement Beach. The “view” is only meters distant. Our day spa operates under this canopy and is constantly busy.

    In December 2010 we purchased 20 new Giant bikes to replace the existing bikes that had indeed reached the end of their lives. The unlimited use of bicycles is a part of our all-inclusive tariff.

    We are a family business which doesn’t promote itself as a five star location. The tariff includes full daily breakfast, lunch and dinner with the menu changing daily. Selected wines are provided as complimentary drinks from 17:30 to 18:30 daily. We help organize guest daily activities and provide picnic and BBQ lunches or dinners as part of the tariff. Likewise, room service for meals is always available. We will drive our guests to any destination they wish and pick them up again.

    I am sorry that I didn’t converse with this guest more often; I am reticent about interrupting guests when they are in conversation or appear to be seeking privacy. We are an owner-operated business that prides itself on being friendly and welcoming to all our guests. In comparison Capella is a managed property whereby guests mostly do not have the opportunity to meet the owners. In the reviewer’s comments on Capella made at the same time as this review, there is no complaint of his/her lack of owner contact.

    The rooms are serviced daily in a manner that cannot be described as a “lick and a promise” – we employ up to four housekeepers on a location which has only 12 suites. We have never had this service so described.

    We provide only quality products in rooms – items such as Seascape toiletries made by well-respected Fragrance Holdings, Paddington Herbal Tea Infusions plus Dilmah teas, Robert Timms Italian Espresso Style coffee, Nestle Hot Chocolate Complete Mix, Sunraysia juices and many other items. All these items are complimentary. We often get guest comments that we have “thought of everything”.

    Yours sincerely,

    Bill Shead
    Proprietor

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    This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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