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“Unbelievable and highly recommended experience”

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Protea Simunye Zulu Lodge
Denver, Colorado
Level 2 Contributor
6 reviews
6 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 6 helpful votes
“Unbelievable and highly recommended experience”
Reviewed 22 July 2011

This is no longer a Protea property; it is owned and operated very well by the community itself. From our five kilometer trip into the valley on horseback -- we could have driven with our luggage had we chosen to -- through our morning with the chief and his wife, the stay was magical. We were accompanied by a guide on horseback and Eric, our interpreter who walked with us and was there throughout our visit. On arrival at the village, we were greeted with a glass of refreshing juice and escorted to our room near the chief's compound. The room was one of those recently added and was clean, attractive and well appointed. We enjoyed a delicious Zulu dinner and afterwards participated in a traditional evening including homemade beer and Zulu dancing. After a full English breakfast we joined the Chief and his wife to learn more about traditions and customs. We recommend this village and experience.

Room Tip: The older, smaller rooms are nearer the guest dining pavilion. We liked our newer room very much.
See more room tips
  • Stayed July 2011, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Sleep Quality
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
1 Thank JWO51
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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21 reviews from our community

Traveller rating
    5
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13
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Rating summary
  • Sleep Quality
  • Location
  • Rooms
  • Service
  • Value
  • Cleanliness
Traveller tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (2)
Date | Rating
  • Dutch first
  • English first
  • French first
  • German first
  • Any
English first
Eliot, ME
Level 5 Contributor
73 reviews
22 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 59 helpful votes
Reviewed 29 June 2011

We stayed at the lodge while on a tour and for us, it was the high spot of the tour. The staff were exceedingly friendly and helpful and the food excellent in every way. One could not find a more beautiful setting than this. It was a unique experience staying here. The Zulu evening was breathtaking with song and dance and audience participation. The room was very clean though somewhat rustic. Other rooms were extremely rustic - the shower/ tub were made completely out of stone. I had one of the most wonderful massages I've ever had by a lovely Zulu woman. I can't recommend this spot enough. Its beauty is enough to recommend going there.

  • Stayed June 2011, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Sleep Quality
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
Thank tiza
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Leefdaal
Level 1 Contributor
4 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
Reviewed 5 June 2011

At the old factory where we left the cars, our Zulu-guide 'Eric' welcomed us with coffee and tea before we got into the valley by horse (the children loved it).We were treated as we were old friends and everything was very spontaneous and pleasant.We joined the evening with the chief , one of his wives and the great dancers.The diner was excellent,and the rooms very charming (we had enough water to take a shower and there was airco , the beds clean and we slept very well).Don't forget that you are in the middle of nowhere !After a perfect breakfast, we spend the whole morning with the Byela-clan visiting the kraal , listening to the chief's war-stories and we had a lot of fun throwing spears , making bread, traveling the land with the oxes, dancing and laughing with them...This is really worth while ..especially with children (ours are 18-16-13-11)we all enjoyed ! Thanks Eric and his Zulu-community

  • Stayed April 2011, travelled with family
    • Value
    • Sleep Quality
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
Thank AnnBelgium31
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
brussels
Level 6 Contributor
107 reviews
45 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 62 helpful votes
Reviewed 6 March 2011

We arrived at the meeting point without much hope as you have to do 12 km in a very broken street, but as soon as we got there we discovered we had to go down the valley with two horses. That has been great. Our guide Sipho was so friendly and nice and while riding we could ask all the possible questions. Sipho is 20 something and lives in the nearby village and works in simunye. This has been the first contact with the zulu culture, and has been a great one. Later on we saw Sipho dancing for us with other guys from the fillage. We really appreciated this as we wanted to get the most of our contact with zulu people so it has been great to havve real zulus instead of professional dancers. The food was ok and the rooms were really good, all made of stones. Ok it is not luxury but for being in the middle of nowhere it's the greatest experience and I really don't understand how previous comments could say there were nothing to do. For us the time was really too short, there were places to explore, time to relax, people to talk to, the nature to admire. Great experience!

  • Stayed February 2011, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
Thank valib22
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
London
Level 5 Contributor
38 reviews
33 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 143 helpful votes
Reviewed 30 March 2009

My wife, two close friends and I stayed here for two nights en route between St. Lucia and Johannesburg. Our friends had been to Simunye before and had regaled us with tales of a genuine, cheese-free Zulu experience, along with excellent food and quirky, cozy accommodation. However, though the staff were faultless and we all enjoyed our stay immensely, it needs to be said that Simunye resides somewhere between a four-star, Zulu-themed, cultural lodge experience and a two-star, horse-trekker, dusty show-and-tell. Either would be fine but it charges for the former and, more often than not, delivers the latter, leaving a bittersweet taste when the final bill is signed.

First, the superlatives: Descending to the lodge via ox-cart and returning to our car on horseback provided excellent, memorable bookends to the trip. Vincent, the manager, was friendly, knowledgeable and more-than-capable in fielding our strange requests-- namely, delivering a delicious and unexpected hot lunch at the midway point of our horseback ride at little extra cost and organizing a consultation with a genuine Zulu sangoma (medicine man) which was of great interest to my wife. The rooms were, as promised, eccentric and comfortable and I very much enjoyed staying in the Eagle's Nest, the topmost of the new "rock rooms" built into the cliff face. In the early mornings we had visits from various colorful birds and even a troop of curious monkeys-- all right outside our window. The bedding and linens were clean, we were provided with a coffee-maker and the view out over the trees, into the valley was simply stunning. I also appreciated the peace and solitude of wandering along the riverside paths which proved halfway-decent for birding-- though don't expect much wildlife. While we were there, two visiting ten-year-olds (with parents) appeared to be having a fabulous time wading through the shallows, catching frogs, skipping stones, learning to dance, throw spears, etc. Their raucous delight was actually quite endearing as opposed to just annoying. To the previous reviewer who complained there was nothing to do and not enough to keep his children occupied, I would suggest this reveals more about the person writing and less about Simunye-- another reason to love Tripadvisor.

Our lodgings, along with the bar and eating area, were located directly across the river from an authentic Zulu village and kraal. On our first evening we were taken to meet the village chief in all his leopard-skin finery-- a charming, dignified host, along with his mischievous, patient wife. As is the custom, we were provided with draughts of local beer and offers of grilled meat, followed by local children performing traditional dances. This last bit was, unfortunately, participatory but done in a spirit of welcome and good fun, as was the following morning's introduction to Zulu crafts, history and culture. We also enjoyed our meals (some of which were delicious and full of local flair), the wandering-minstrel wake-up and the good-natured, laissez-faire vibe of the lodge, the village and all the locals we encountered.

On the negative side, if Simunye is going to claim Protea hotel affiliation-- and charge Protea hotel prices-- they need to deliver a cleaner, more polished experience. Or they can drop the pretense, lower prices, lose the new electric lights and give themselves a back-to-basics feel. Either of these options would have raised this review to five stars and, in my opinion, made he experience entirely worthwhile. As it currently stands, however, I was somewhat disappointed and would recommend the following:

To wit, at these prices, at the minimum:
• Serve fresh coffee as opposed to instant. At least at breakfast.
• Scrub the rooms from top to bottom, including the filthy, cobweb-encrusted windows and ceilings.
• Install a real tap in the bathroom, or the room, instead of the clunky pitcher-and-basin set-up currently on offer.
• Lose the comedy rock-bath/shower. It's more important to have hot water with pressure than to have a gorgeous rock-tub that would take a good two hours to fill and even then would be luke-warm at best. The ablution facilities outside our room could in no way be used by capable adults after more than, say, two beers-- too many stone steps at odd heights to negotiate, especially in the dark.
• On the subject of booze, a wine list would be nice. A sufficient supply of decent wine would be even better, especially when both English and South African guests are present. The wines on offer were all, unfortunately, bottom shelf.
• Employ genuine, professional Zulu dancers-- like they apparently did a few years ago-- as opposed to local schoolchildren at the first night's meet-and-greet. Our friends originally enticed us to Simunye with stories of men with torches escorting them across the river to a serious, full-fledged, ground-shaking Zulu welcome. The teenagers on offer these days are undeniably cute and doing their best but are in no ways mesmerizing. What could have been a powerful introduction to life in the kraal was therefore rendered harmless at best and hokey at the worst..
• Serve fresh fruit. There's no excuse for tinned fruit when you're surrounded by innumerable mango fields at the peak of harvest.
• If you're going to have a pool, why not keep it clean?

All that being said, Simunye offers an experience that can't be replicated elsewhere and your money does seem to enter and support the local economy. For these reasons, I'm glad I went. But right now Simunye is in the process of building more huts, a conference center, a spa-- and these high-reaching, mostly corporate ambitions are producing ground-level growing pains for the casual tourist. Personally, I either wanted them to scale it back or polish it up-- and though I had a marvellous, memorable experience on the whole, especially on horseback, I couldn't help but feel frustration at the halfway position Simunye currently embodies which robs the place of both cultural and holiday perfection.

  • Stayed March 2009, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
6 Thank octopusmessiah
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
kentucky
2 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 8 helpful votes
Reviewed 21 March 2009

I have been to SA many times and have stayed at Symunye many times. I have found the experience at Simunye to always be great. As for things to do there are many towns to visit as well as craft shops etc. At my request I have been given massage therapy, trips to local weddings and coming of age ceremony's. I have never found the staff indignant ot rude...on the contrary...I have found them very helpful and kind. The owner is not afrikans nor is he anything but a leader in the Zulu community and very helpful in area schools etc. I am sorry that someone visited Simunye but I find it hard to understand that they could not find something that made them comfortable...I have stayed in most rooms and there is certainly running water etc. in the bath.

  • Stayed January 2009, travelled with friends
    • Value
    • Location
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
1 Thank kentuckyhorses
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Warsaw
Level 3 Contributor
12 reviews
6 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 14 helpful votes
Reviewed 15 January 2009

We stayed for 2 very long nights at Simunya as part of a 3 week trip round South Africa. Brits out there, listen up! It was the single most uncomfortable and unpleasant part of our whole trip and only bit I would have happily cancelled. Beautiful setting in a deep valley, stunning Zulu village and interesting roundels to stay in BUT; indifferent staff, arrogant Afrikans owner, nothing Protea about it save marketing, food served in foil and ran out every meal, bugs and insects like you wouldn't believe, no fans or AC which is part of the experience but combined with little light at night, weak running water in the showers, no hand basins or running water at all in rooms (you brush your teeth with a pitcher of water) uncomfortable hard beds, no way to leave as it takes 30 mins to get down there and you leave your car at the top of the hill - and NOTHING to do all day. ONe hour's morning with the zulus, and one hour's evening dancing show and then a long long long boring day in between in a tiny space. Boring boring boring - only thing on offer was horseriding off the valley by yourself. Nothing for kids to do, no pool, no use of the zulu village in the day, no spear making/pottery as advertised - don't go. If you want a zulu experience take a day trip to Shakaland. This might be all very real but it's hot, scratchy, uncomfortable and dull. NEVER AGAIN

  • Liked — authentic setting and architecture
  • Disliked — uncomfortable and too basic; zero to do all day
  • Stayed December 2008
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check-in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
1 Thank WarsawBritDip
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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Additional Information about Protea Simunye Zulu Lodge

Property: Protea Simunye Zulu Lodge
Address: 18 km from Melmoth on the D256, South Africa
Region: South Africa > KwaZulu-Natal > Zululand
Hotel Style:
Ranked #51 of 69 Speciality Lodging in Zululand
Hotel Class:4 star — Protea Simunye Zulu Lodge 4*
Number of rooms: 24
Reservation Options:
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Also Known As:
Protea Simunye Zulu Hotel Zululand

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