South Africa is famous for its many high quality B&B's located in picturesque settings. At the moment, the euro and dollar are strong compared with the rand - so it should be easy to find great deals on accommodations. That said... the Van Zylsvlei needs some work to bring it up to the standard of other nearby B&B's - but then I guess it wouldn't be rated as a 2* hotel in the first place. Anyway, this is my story...
We arrived and were delighted to see a baby goat, a calf, a puppy yellow lab, a black lab and an obese dachshund greet us at our car. It was surreal to watch the calf and goat jumping around and playing very doglike with the dogs. Cute. The owner greeted us (very nice lady!) and gave us keys to our room, and gave us a list of food items to choose from for dinner (a very basic menu).
The hotel grounds are a bit of a mess. The nicest rooms are each located in their own rondavel (round house). But the remaining grounds are quiet a mess, much as you would expect on a hobby farm where the owners really don't have enough time to maintain the farm. When we arrived there were quite a few travellers cleaning out their camping trailers. Maybe they also stay there for the night? Hard to say. Ok, the rondavel area is nice, the rest is dirty. No problem.
Right after we arrived, my son was begging for a swim. We were in the Karoo, and it was 30C and sunny out - so I wanted a swim too! We donned our suits and went to the pool... the pool water was very cloudy and dirty. If this was my own pool, and I knew why the water was so cloudy I would probably still swim (after cleaning out the many dead bugs). But I really did not think it would be smart to swim in this pool not knowing how it got to this state... son didn't want to swim there either. Ok, no swimming.
Dinner time. Most of us ate lamb curry. The dining room is illuminated with fluorescent lights (the very lights I was trying to escape from at my office!). Hmm. Then the food comes. VERY basic white rice with lamb curry. I was told, classic afrikaaner food. Hmm. Ok, don't expect anything special for dinner. Time for bed.
We go to bed, try to figure out the TV. Once again, everyone seems to have DSTV in South Africa, but out of the 500 channels available, only 3 seem to work - SABC1 SABC2 SABC3. Figuring this out takes 5 minutes. Hmm ok, not here to watch TV anyway.
Middle of the night, we are all hot (windows closed because we are not sure if this is location is safe from crime); maybe I should have turned the air conditioning on. Wait! There is no air conditioning. Hmmm. Ok, turned on the portable fan. Son wakes up with a nightmare, so he comes to our bed, I go to his bed. I get in his bed, and it reeks of sweat and cigarettes! Gross! I rested the night in this bed. My sleeping clothes the next morning also picked up the aroma of old man sweat and cigarettes. barf. I have to sleep in these clothes for a week and half. Not impressed.
Ate breakfast. Basic eggs and toast fare. No problem. Started our drive to George... Arrived in George not feeling "right". Had a light salad for lunch at Wimpy's, then - OH NO! Ran to the washroom and threw up. Then ran back to the washroom to empty my bowels. Then went back again to throw up. Then empty my bowels. Hmm. The two hour drive from George to Tsitsikamma was HELL. I sat in the back with a paper bag between my legs, developed a fever and chills, and didn't eat again for 2.5days. Somehow, I got either a stomach bug or food poisoning - and the only possible location by my reckoning is the Van Zylsvlei.
Conclusion: owners seem like lovely people. But their B&B needs much more work, the rondavel room needs to be inspected by someone with a sense of smell, and they should poison guests less. We really should have pushed on to Graaff-Reinet (2hrs further) and stayed at one of the many, many upscale B&B's there. Sorry Van Zylsvlei. You need to bump up your game if you want to compete when the rand is so weak. Two stars because you had the cute animals, and the rondavels are nice (but the bed was gross!).
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