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“Depends what you are looking for”

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The Fernery Lodge & Chalets
Certificate of Excellence
Singapore, Singapore
Level Contributor
10 reviews
9 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 7 helpful votes
“Depends what you are looking for”
Reviewed 16 April 2009

I can agree with most of the earlier reviews about the mixed feelings.

We stayed over New Year and the place was just amazingly beautiful. Although we were according to our travel agency booked in a chalet we ended up in the lodge, which was probably good. The room was huge, light and stylish - which we liked. The bed was comfortable.

We rented some bikes the day we arrived and enjoyed the beautiful area and being in the middle of nowhere.
It was a chilly and misty day and we were freezing so we asked about the Jaccuzzi. One person from the staff told us where to find it but did NOT mention that it was broken. After trying to turn it on for a while, we gave up and asked someone else who informed us the jaccuzzi was not working. So we asked them to put on the sauna for a specific time later that night and went for it... it as about 50 degrees... not really sauna temperature and rather funny for my Finnish fiancee :) We ended up just taking baths...

We had no trouble chosing the menu for the night after we arrived and were not rushed to do so. Dinner service was good, food arrived promptly and was delicious and reasonably priced.

Being very tired from the day we went to sleep early and got up at 6 to go running (great area for this). As we were informed breakfast starts at 8, we were ready just after 8... but noone was to be seen in the breakfast room (ok, it was 1st of January, but noone specified if this should make a difference). We waited for some time until a waitress came and slowly brought in breakfast supplies. It took almost 1.5 hours to get everything. We ordered to sets of eggs, but only got one after a long wait (maybe due to the waitresses lack of English skills?). We waited almost 20 minutes for the second one until we gave up and left - as we still had a far drive that day.


So, if you look for a secluded place in beautiful settings and outdoor activities that you can enjoy as a couple, this is a great location. Bring time and patience though and don't expect too great service. I would not pay for a full rate but we got this in a package deal and for one night, this was a good place... more than 2 nights I would probably not stay.

  • Stayed January 2009, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
2 Thank keppu1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Ireland
Level Contributor
10 reviews
6 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 8 helpful votes
Reviewed 10 April 2009

The Fernery has obviously taken on board the previous comments made as we found it to be a fabulous place to stay. The staff do still require some time to come up to scratch to 4 star but were helpful and pleasant. The chalets were stunning and really spacious. The secluded location made it so peaceful and relaxing- but 1/2 nights probably enough as its too far to travel anywhere else for dinner. The food was really good and we only had to choose whilst having our sundowners! there are really well set out trails for running/ hiking or cycling which are great and safe also. Bikes could be borrowed for free. Would definitely recommend for those looking for peace, quiet and realxtion.

  • Stayed April 2009, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
1 Thank IrelandGilly
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Cape Town
Level Contributor
6 reviews
6 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 7 helpful votes
Reviewed 30 January 2009

First of all, do NOT stay at the Fernery!

My wife and I stayed at the Fernery during our recent honeymoon. We stayed at the Lodge on 20 January 2009. Even though the place is beautiful, we had so many complaints about the level of service that we've received. I've discussed this with the manager at reception, who seemed very shocked by it all and endeavoured to give me thorough feedback of her findings. To date I have not had any correspondence from her.

Before booking, I read a few postings on Tripadvisor advising people not to stay there due to bad service encountered. I thought that it might be over-exaggerated, but it was not. Everything started when, about a month before our stay I contacted the Fernery to confirm my booking. I was told to send my proof of payment again, as they did not have any knowledge of my booking. After a strong letter back to you, my booking was eventually found.

Upon checking in, we were met by one of the staff who promptly escorted us to the lounge of the Lodge, only to prop two menus in our hands and being forced to make a choice in terms of dinner for the evening. This was still before even putting our bags in the room! We then asked if we could have more time and if we could take the menus to our room, but the response was a blunt "No".

I then had to ask her to show us the facilities. The jacuzzi was out of order, but no apology was offered. I then had to ask if there was an alternative, upon which I was informed that I can walk there.

As honeymooners, we were offered bubbly in the room. This was a nice touch, but unfortunately the service is so poor, that they did not even think of putting glasses in the room to drink from.

Breakfast the next morning was a total disaster. We had to get going early in the morning and planned to get to breakfast just after 8am (the time that we were given as the start of breakfast). Upon arrival, the breakfast was not set up yet and no excuse was offered. We had to wait for almost half an hour for everything to be organised, with the waitress running around and making a terrible noise while trying to set things up. We ordered eggs only (did not want to waste any more time), but was then told to make our own toast as the kitchen would not do that for us. My wife had to stand at the toaster and try and time it right to have our toast ready by the time the eggs arrived! The last straw came when I was asked to clear my plate in order for her to serve our eggs (this is after we had to clear our other plates as well, as she was still running around setting everything up!).

Upon checking out, I communicated all of the above to the manager. It was actually almost laughable when we were told that the waitress claims that we were at breakfast at 7:40am!!! This was the best she could come up with as an excuse for her not being ready at 8:05am when we arrived for breakfast. A blatant lie and I can't believe that she would even think about accusing guests like that.

We are regular travellers and definitely not snobs, but believe that there is a certain level of service to expect when paying the rate that we've paid at the Fernery. We stayed at some truly wonderful places during our honeymoon in SA's Garden Route (what a great place!), but the Fernery (and the service received from their staff) sticks out like a sore thumb in terms of being last on our list. Everything seemed like an effort to the staff and there was definitely no pride in their work. We left the place thinking about how wonderful it could be, but how awful it is. Great scenery, but unbelievably bad service. We will endeavour to tell everyone not to stay at this place!

  • Liked — Views
  • Disliked — Terrible service!
  • Stayed January 2008, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check-in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
    • Business service (e.g., internet access)
Helpful?
5 Thank SamandAndre
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
forestferns1, Owner at The Fernery Lodge & Chalets, responded to this review, 27 February 2009
It was with great concern that we read the negative feedback posted on Tripadvisor and felt extremely vulnerable as we were not aware that we were on this site. It is for this reason that we have not replied to the individual criticisms levelled at us on previous ocassions, and would like to take the opportunity now to respond to the negative reviews. May I mention that we were made aware of the site by one of our regular inbound travel groups who stay with us for 3 days at a time, and who were perturbed to see such negative comments about an establishment that they have chosen to use for the past 6 years.

The negative reviews obviously create an extremely bad and one sided impression that is available to thousands of viewers, so after being made aware of the site on 30th January 2009, we launched a full investigation into the criticism levelled against The Fernery and the general levels of service and client satisfaction. We hope that this will put the reviews into better perspective and allow prospective travellers to make a better informed decision. We have 6 Lodge suites and 12 beautifully appointed chalets which can accommodate a total of 40 people at any given time. Our current annual occupation is approximately 4000 bed nights. We analized the response forms that all guests are requested to complete when they check out, for the past two months namely December and January, these also being the busiest months of the year. One form is completed per couple or family at the end of their stay which varies from one to seven days. The breakdown is as follows:

December 2008 summary of feedback forms on overall experience was “Excellent” totalling 109, “Good” totalling 12 and “Poor” totalling 0.

January 2009 summary of feedback forms on overall experience was “Excellent” totalling 67, “Good” totalling 5 and “Poor” totalling 1.

These results speak for themselves but we are aware that extra training is needed in the areas of the dinner experience, breakfast and the checking in process. As owners we set high standards and will therefore react firmly and quickly to get service delivery back to where we believe it should be. We have already commenced with corrective training for the new year.

Our eventual aim is to become a boutique establishment, and our greatest challenge is to overcome a number of inherent limitations:
1.We are situated on a river ravine overlooking the Indian Ocean (plus point), but at the end of a 5 km gravel road (negative). We are in advanced negotiations with the Eastern Cape Province to upgrade this road to a tar road, and this may happen before the end of 2009.
2.We are very secluded and therefore a retreat from the bright lights and hectic city life. Our closest towns are Plettenberg Bay and Port Elizabeth which are respectively 75 km and 160 km away. This is not to everyone's liking and must be taken into consideration when choosing The Fernery as a destination. The activities we offer are all centred around nature and activities such as hiking, mountain biking, bass fishing, and birding. Lazing around the swimming pools, soaking up the sun, eating, reading and relaxing are other pastimes that are encouraged by our surroundings.
3.The Lodge and Chalets are situated on a working fern export farm, and plant production nursery. It was in fact due to the interest shown by people in our export operation that took us down the tourism path. All guests are welcome to view both the export and nursery operations in their entirity, and our experience is that most people find it extremely interesting.
4.The isolated nature of the farm, while lending itself to relaxing tourism, does unfortunately make the employment of well trained staff very difficult. Most qualified personnel, particularly if they are couples with children, would like to be closer to schools and all of the facilities that a town can offer. We have therefore taken what is proving to be a difficult though commendable route, and that is to employ staff (a total of 30) from the local community and train them ourselves. It is not an easy path, but it has over the years proved to be both rewarding and successful. Our staff are generally very willing and attentive, but sometimes a lack of confidence can be misinterpreted as a poor attitude. They also require constant supervision in order to prevent the sliding of standards, and for this reason we need strong management to uphold the standards.

We are not by any means insensitive to criticism and have in fact taken every complaint levelled at us over the past 7 years very seriously, and we follow up every problem that is brought to our attention. Our sincere apologies to each guest who has been disappointed by their experience at the Fernery – rest assured that we will continue to endeavour to deliver the best.

Yours sincerely
Frans Gerber
Owner
Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Guildford, UK
Level Contributor
13 reviews
9 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 27 helpful votes
Reviewed 12 December 2008

We booked two cottages for 6 adults. One was fine with beautiful views down a fern clad valley, the other was spendid and huge! We had a pleasant, if not outstanding, meal in the lodge and watched the spectacular sunset from there. Breakfast was up at the reception area and was slow and suffered from irritating music. I would agree with others - the lodge is an inhospitable place and you are not encouraged to linger there or visit at other times. It's a pity as it has the best views in the whole place. The jacuzzi was not working at all and was in need of a good clean (we were assured that it was the tanin in the water but we've been to that area before and never encounted problems). If you like being left to your own devices and solitude this place is for you. It's a wasted opportunity as the cottages were beyond our expectations. The long and dusty road didn't bother us, but then, we weren't washing the hire cars! The Fernery is worth a visit just for the experience - but only if the exchange rate is in your favour.

  • Liked — The accommodation and the views
  • Disliked — The staff and service
  • Stayed November 2008, travelled with family
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check-in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
2 Thank Halletwood
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Ireland
Level Contributor
6 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
Reviewed 3 November 2008

I would not recommend this accommodation at all.
Firstly it took us 20 minutes to drive down a very rough dirt track . A big ordeal if you don’t have a jeep. You have to drive through their fern factory area to get to the chalets and lodge- you dont want to look at work on holidays.
We stayed 2 nights. The first night (this is supposedly 4 star accommodation) we only had an option of a light menu - i.e. soup and salad. Service stopped at 8pm. When we asked if there was a restaurant around they said no - later we found out that Tsitsikamma Lodge was beside us and they had a restaurant we could have eaten in. Staff, we found were very unhelpful.
We felt stranded in our chalet. There was nobody around, our phone didn’t work and the main lodge was closed.

Chalets were very badly insulated. They looked nice though.
We had to ask several times for matches to light a fire in the chalet.
When we made the booking, we booked as a honeymoon couple - we got single beds.
The 2nd night - we were offered dinner in the main lodge. We had to decide straight after breakfast what we would like to eat that evening. My lamb was very tough. We were kicked out of the Lodge at 10 (Saturday night) to go back to our miserable cold chalet. Couldn’t staying on for a few sociable drinks.
As it is in such a so secluded location, the service they offer on their over marketed brochures should be available. It opened approx 8 years - and it looks good but seems to have been forgotton about. Management is very poor!!
We didn’t see the manager till we were checking out - and she was clueless to everything we told her. Our biggest mistake was staying around for even the first night when we found out that there were no facilities available but we couldnt face the car sickness of driving out the horrible avenue so quickly again. Extortionary prices for what they offer. They should be charging at max half price of what they are charging while they are sorting out their problems – which they admitted to us that they have plenty of. Dont do it to yourself - stay somewhere else.
It would be great to re-enact "Sleeping With The Enemy" here!!

  • Liked — Views
  • Disliked — Service
  • Stayed October 2008, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check-in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
    • Business service (e.g., internet access)
Helpful?
2 Thank sroberts29
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Dubai
Level Contributor
10 reviews
10 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 17 helpful votes
Reviewed 6 June 2008

We spent 7 nights at The Fernery for our honeymoon. We enjoyed every moment and left feeling rested and relaxed! Our room was beautiful, the view amazing and the food above average! It's far enough from everything to give you a feeling of privacy and exclusivity, but close enough to the nearest town so you can easily drive there if your looking for some activities. We thoroughly enjoyed our stay!

  • Liked — The location
  • Stayed May 2008, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check-in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
    • Business service (e.g., internet access)
Helpful?
Thank hcarinus
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
South Africa
Level Contributor
4 reviews
4 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 6 helpful votes
Reviewed 6 June 2008

I stayed in one of the self-catering chalets with friends for 2 days. It is a beautiful setting and the chalets are charming. As a self catering holiday it is just gorgeous.

One of the highlights was a jucuzzi set on the side of the gorge with the most breathtaking views. There is also a common room area with a television (as the chalets do not have any) and a big rouring fire. To this end it was really enjoyable.

The lodge itself is very far removed from the atmosphere of the chalets. I definitely agree with another reviewer that the atmosphere is stiff and uncomfortable.

The treatment of guests at this establishment is astonishing. A friend traveling with us had gone to watch television in the common room and was yelled at by one of the managers who assumed that he was the carpet installer. Upon explaining that we were in fact guests, this individual merely grunted and walked off. I later asked a staff member if I could make a telephone call to be billed to my account (as there is no cell phone reception) and was told that I could not, but should walk up to the top of the grounds, find a certain hill and attempt a call fronm my cell phone there.

It is really a lovely place to holiday as long as you keep well away from the staff and management.

  • Liked — The setting, view and accomodation
  • Disliked — The rude staff
  • Stayed April 2008, travelled with friends
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check-in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
    • Business service (e.g., internet access)
Helpful?
1 Thank Restless911
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about The Fernery Lodge & Chalets

Property: The Fernery Lodge & Chalets
Address: Forest Ferns Estate | Bluelilies Bush, Tsitsikamma, Storms River, Tsitsikamma National Park 6308, South Africa
Phone Number:
Region: South Africa > Eastern Cape > Tsitsikamma National Park > Storms River
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Free Parking Restaurant Room Service Shuttle Bus service Swimming Pool Airport Transportation
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 12 Speciality Lodging in Storms River
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): ££
Hotel Class:4 star — The Fernery Lodge & Chalets 4*
Number of rooms: 19
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
The Fernery Lodge and Chalets situated above a 30m waterfall with breathtaking views of the river gorge is the perfect romantic and peaceful getaway for natural lovers. The luxurious and opulent rooms in the lodge and the private chalets are each tastefully decorated with every effort made to ensure our guests' comfort. Each unit has a unique theme inspired by the magnificent surroundings. Start your day with a hearty breakfast and end off with a wander through the wine cellar where you can select a bottle of your choice before heading up to experience excellent cuisine in our plush diningroom with its special ambiance. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
The Fernery Lodge And Chalets
The Fernery Lodge & Chalets Hotel Tsitsikamma National Park
The Fernery Lodge & Chalets Storms River, Tsitsikamma National Park, South Africa

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