Review by: Mrs Jane Reay Jones

Countries Visited:
South Africa
Holiday Type:
Family Holiday
5 27/08/2012

Overall Impressions

We had a really fabulous time and were very pleased with the overall level of accommodation. Everything went very smoothly with our trip and we would certainly do it again and choose Mahlatini as a tour organizer.

Countries Visited

Accommodation Visited

Cape Riviera Guesthouse 2

This was one of the least impressive of the Guest Houses - not because of the standard of accommodation, although it was cold and draughty but because of our overall experience. Three issues - reverse order of importance 1. Quality of information - we asked about restaurants and were given directions to an Italian restaurant which had been closed for several months. As this was our first night in Cape Town and we had been told to be very careful walking about it was not a good experience to walk for 15 minutes in the dark to find that there was no restaurant. 2. Responsiveness - we asked that our balcony door be locked - it was open and we didn't have a key. It took them until the evening before our departure to fix this despite two reminders. The light in our room didn't work (table light) and we asked for this to be fixed as it was the light on the desk/dressing table - it wasn't. 3. Honesty of staff - this was a real shocker. My son left his jacket in the wardrobe when we left. In the jacket pocket was 500 rand. We returned to get the jacket after one hour. The jacket was there but the money was gone. A lady was cleaning the room and said that she hadn't looked in the wardrobe. I am certain that the money was in the jacket the night before as my son checked it. He hadn't left the room until the following morning. He forgot the jacket and we returned quickly. I phoned the Guest House and they promised to look into it and call or e mail me. I have heard nothing. Very disappointing frankly.

Rusthuiz Guest House 5

This was outstanding. They gave us a great welcome and went to no end of trouble about my husband's diet. He's a vegan for health reasons and they got soya milk, fruit and nuts etc. The rooms were warm and beautifully decorated. Breakfast was delicious and plentiful. They had a big roaring fire in the sitting room which made it very cosy indeed. Great place.

La Plume Guest House 5

This was also a lovely guest house and probably the one offering the most old world charm. Beautiful glasses, complementary port, beautiful fluffy towels and dressing gowns with a little sprig of herb for decoration, amazing dining room and delicious food. We were given a drink in the gazebo overlooking the plain when we arrived which was most welcome. The lady who met us (manageress) was lovely but somehow a bit less warm than we had experienced at the Rusthuiz - I think the need to have a timed breakfast and evening meal gave the impression of being a bit less flexible that we'd experience in the first two. There was a gentleman who showed up the second day and he was hugely warm and had a wonderful manner. They also, very kindly, let us leave our bags in a room during the day because we wanted to explore and were warned not to leave bags in our car. So they could not have been more charming and helpful. I would certainly give them an excellent rating and would stay with them again.

Hideaway Guest House 4

We really enjoyed our stay at the Hideaway. Colleen and Cyril Harding were charming and very helpful. The breakfast was excellent and a good effort was made to accommodate my husband's diet. Colleen was full of helpful, practical and useful information which we acted upon. The only reason I give them a good rather than an excellent is that relatively this was a much more "seaside guest house" experience. The furniture was adequate but not charming - a bit scuffed. They have big metal plates on the walls and in the rooms to protect the walls from suitcases. Whilst hugely practical it just doesn't give a very warm impression. Compared to La Plume it was "Pottery mug" versus "Bone China". We arrived pretty late and were offered tea or coffee. I said I'd love a glass of wine and was told there was a mini bar in the room - very practical but it would have been nice to have been offered a complementary glass of wine as we had been in the other Guest Houses(I gave Colleen this feedback and she may well act on it). This doesn't detract from the overall great hospitality we got nor from the fabulous views and location.

Amakhala Woodbury Lodge 5

This was another excellent - the location is stunning, the hospitality overwhelming and the service amazing. This is basically a top class meal interspersed with amazing views of wild animals! We ate and drank like kings - it just never stopped. They made huge effort again for my husband to accommodate his diet. The ranger we had, Justin, was so knowledgable about the animals and birds. He found cheetahs and lions for us although there were only two of each and hard to find in the bush. Our accommodation was amazing with great views. It's the first time I have even had a bath and been able to view grazing zebra from my window (whilst in the bath!). We never wanted to leave. I was also amazed that we paid nothing extra for any of it. I don't know the breakdown of costs but we consider the whole holiday great value for money. We talked to one of the owners, Giles, who said that they were working on expanding the number of animals eg lions and cheetah and doing some work on the river banks so they could have hippos. I would say that the size of the Game Reserve enabled us to see so much in a short period of time and 3 days was probably enough. I think if we'd stayed longer (apart from the need to find a crane to get me out because I'd eaten so much) we would have been doing a bit of repetition. So I think it's great that they are looking to expand a bit.

Staff Review 5

The service we got was excellent and very personalised. I particularly appreciated being asked to tell you about my family and what sort of holiday we would enjoy. You were very flexible and quite prepared to alter the schedule to best reflect our interests. In point of fact you only had to do one revision to shorten our holiday a little and checked with us what activities we'd prefer to omit. Everyone was very kind and helpful. If I think about our overall trip here a some things that I would now do differently and I give you this to help guide your questions to be even more specific. 1. The travel time via Dubai was very long-especially on the way back. It took us 32 hours to get home as we live near Geneva and flew from Zurich. I'm sure you gave us the very best price but I think I should have asked what a direct flight from Geneva would have cost. Perhaps it would have been too expensive but I think we should have had that conversation. 2. The hire car was small to do such a lot of driving. Although we went for a B grade vehicle as we are all very tall the little Hyundi car we had was pretty uncomfortable for the two long days driving we did. We should have taken an upgrade. 3. If I were to do the schedule again I would have had two days in Oudtshoorne because we didn't have long enough to do the caves, the cheetah sanctuary and the ostrich farm (it shut at 4) plus do the hours drive to Knysna. We used one of our days at Stellenbosch to drive to Hermanus and see the whales - this was really worth doing. We only visited one vineyard for lunch and I should have de priorized vineyards because we live in France we've visited a lot of vineyards. The brochure you sent with our pack of information could have been useful earlier when we were trying to decide what to do as a supplement to the suggested itinerary you sent. Your packing list was very helpful and I still took all the wrong stuff. I think a few words about packing for South Africa in the winter might be helpful for people like me who are bad packers anyway. Unless you are planning to go to a very posh hotel for a meal South Africa is very informal so you won't need extra clothes for the evening. It's a jeans and sweater kind of place unless you are going to top class restaurants. Also although it can get warm during the day you are not packing for a summer holiday. If you are driving about take a couple of small bags rather than one big one - often the Guest Houses have stairs and although will offer help you'd be better to have lighter bags. You must understand that I'm talking to myself here but there may be people like me out there who would appreciate the guidance!