We recently visited two game lodges and spent 3 nights at each. We chose Shibula for the 2nd stay as it is advertised as a 5* lodge, has a spa, Big Five and thought this would be a perfect place to celebrate my husband’s birthday during our stay.
The location is good; and took 3hours to drive from Johannesburg. We were met at the Main Gate by Shaun; who would be our game ranger for the time we spent at the lodge. A 45 minute drive brought us to Shibula; and we were welcomed by singing staff and a refreshing drink.
The main area of the lodge is nice. We stayed in room 8; which was large and spacious. Plenty has been written on Trip Advisor to give guests in depth information about the room facilities; so I will not elaborate further on this aspect.
The aspects which we found very disappointing and which we felt did not meet 5* service is as follows:-
•Rooms could do with a good cleaning. Found an empty shampoo bottle in the outside shower area and loads of cigarette butts around our patio area and around the outside shower, left by previous guests.
•Mini bar was stocked on arrival; and during the 2nd evening dinner asked Jason if anyone could replenish some items like bottled water before we go to bed. This was not done, and only replenished the next day after speaking to Shaun about various things we were disappointed with. The mini bar also needs a good clean.
•Outdated television guide in the room. We did not use the TV in our room; but think that for a 5* lodge, this should not be?
•Two small bottles of shampoo/conditioner and shower gel supplied on arrival …. And then never again during our stay.
•Large holes in the mosquito netting and obvious places where this had been repaired ….. holes in netting not going to serve its purpose & very tacky!
•Meals were very disappointing, not well prepared and definitely not 5 star!
-Boxed cornflakes with pink/strawberry yogurt served with a sliver of pawpaw and pineapple.
-Two mornings we asked for a bowl of fruit salad in lieu of the cornflakes; to be presented with a chopped apple and orange! Found this unacceptable especially when there is a variety of in-season fruits which could be used to make this more appetizing.
-No condiments offered or available at the breakfast buffet. Had to always ask for this.
-Cheap looking and mismatched cutlery.
-Tea/coffee was available at the breakfast buffet …. self help & sachet style. No chance of receiving a served cup of hot delicious smelling percolated coffee at this lodge!
-Very ordinary and basic green salad served at various times. Sometimes with a salad dressing and sometimes not!
-Choice of two main dishes given at dinner. Fillet steak on 1st evening consisted of two tiny “finger sized” slices with gravy that tasted if it came out of a box. Last evening chose the grilled hake; this too was two “finger sized” portions so overcooked, you needed a steak knife to cut through it.
•The 2nd day, my husband’s birthday was the biggest disappointment. I asked one of the lady managers early in the morning if it would be possible to present my husband with a birthday cake and some staff to sing “Happy Birthday” at the end of the meal. Dinner that evening was in the boma for a traditional South African braai. Again the meal was a total disappointment with meat choices consisting of overcooked boerewors and chicken drum sticks! At the end of the meal nothing happened, so spoke to Jason who was on dinner duty. He seemed oblivious of my requests & hastily rustled up some staff to sing and present my husband with a bottle of wine. I discussed all the aspects we had found disappointing at the lodge with Shaun the next morning. He apologized and did try to fix things. Our mini-bar was restocked, and after dinner on our last evening my husband was presented with a birthday cake by singing staff ….. Somewhat a little late!
At no point during our stay did any member of senior management apologize or discuss any of the aspects we raised with Shaun. We have been to numerous lodges and feel that Shibula has so much potential, are very fortunate to have a consistent stream of foreign visitors; but are under delivering for a 5 star lodge.
Shaun our game ranger has a wonderful sense of humour and ensured wonderful game drives. He pointed out amazing things from big to small …. He is an asset to the lodge.
We would not rush back to Shibula; too many other lodges to choose from who do deliver on all aspects.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Shibula Lodge & Spa offers the discerning visitor a luxurious taste of wild Africa. Situated in the malaria free Welgevonden Private Game Reserve, Limpopo Province, a mere 2.5 hours' self-drive from Johannesburg. Look forward to an encounter with an lion on the hunt, a cheetah on the plains, a rhino calf with its mother or a herd of elephant during a game drive with experienced rangers.Return to the luxury of peace, experience nature in the comfort of each of Shibula's eight luxurious en-suite rooms. Equipped with telephone, air-conditioning, full bathroom, tea/coffee facilities, own patio and an outside shower. The Suite option of outside jacuzzi,private pool or inside spa bath caters for your preferential choice.Sooth the stresses of daily life with the sophisticated pampering of our Bush Spa, feast on fresh delights and experience Africa in all its untamed magnificence with our starlit boma dinners.Our superbly decorated main lodge boasts a reading corner and an elegant lounge and dining area. A sprawling deck with magnificent views leads one to the swimming pool overlooking the surrounding bush.Daily guided safaris on an open safari vehicle in the 36 000ha Reserve, afford guests the opportunity to get up-close and personal with some of Africa's untamed and most majestic creatures, as well as the magnificent plant life which abounds in this region of the country. The reserve is well stocked with lion, leopard, cheetah, wild dog, rhino, elephant, zebra, giraffe and many other mammals, birds and trees. ... more less
- Also Known As:
- Shibula Lodge & Bush Spa Vaalwater, Waterberg, South Africa