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“Unbelievable Concept”

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Karkloof Safari Spa
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed 24 May 2014

Has anyone ever told you on holiday do what you want, whenever you want and wherever you want?

Karkloof Safari Spa does exactly that. I had visited with my wife and one and half year old child( they don't normally accept children below a certain age but since I was in South Africa for a month, they made an exception).

One can check in at 8 am on day 1 and check out at 8 pm on day 2....that makes it a 36 hour stay unlike any other.

Location: 20 minutes drive from Pietermaritzburg Airport or 1 hour from Durban's King Shaka International Airport. Set upon a hill, surrounded by 3 river valleys, teeming with wildlife!

The accommodation: 16 well appointed villas with bath, shower, large beds, sofas and a private deck overlooking the valley. All in room facilities including well stocked "free" mini bar, Nespresso machines etc etc.

The Experience: Eat whenever you want, go on safari whenever you want and visit the spa anytime and as many times as you want. No restrictions...but you need to give some notice for them to prepare. This is all included in the price!

The Food: Stunning South African Food. In tune with their spa hence you find a lot of dishes based on their detox programme, however having said that,you can simply ask for junk food as well!
You can eat any meal anytime you want and wherever you want ( in your room, on the deck, in the dining room, in the spa or even on safari)...again no extra charge but needs reasonable amount of time to prepare.

The Safari: No claims on the big five. They have a lots of general game which are not afraid of human interaction. Nyalas and warthogs amble across the lawns around the villas, the other game is kept out by a discreet electric fence. Loads of Giraffe, Zebra, rhinos,hippos etc. Game drive vehicles are well appointed and the guides very knowledgeable. They even provided a car seat for our baby so that he could go out on the game drive with us.

The Spa: The spa is open till the last guest leaves! Multiple treatment rooms with therapies ranging from foot massages to full body, from Tai Chi to Yoga, different types of pools such as flotation and Turkish baths.

Overall a stunning experience and amazing staff. They never say no to anything...and always deliver.

Value for money for sure.

Put together what you get and what you pay against, what you get and what you WOULD have paid elsewhere... Karkloof Safari Spa comes out the winner...

I would go back...again and again and then yet again.

Room Tip: As mentioned all rooms are well appointed but 13 and 14 are set aside on top of the hill for honeymo...
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  • Stayed: May 2014, travelled with family
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Thank gobeyondtravels
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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150 - 156 of 254 reviews

Reviewed 21 May 2014 via mobile

It follows the concept of timelessness . They don't say no to anything you want. Absolute luxury, the best spa treatments, and service is fabulous, rooms are spacious. I woke up and saw antelopes outside my room

It's beautiful to be here.
It's a honeymooners delight

  • Stayed: May 2014
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Thank Alpanjani
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 28 April 2014

Karkloof Spa is located on 3,500 ha of scenic bushveld and forests of which our former family farm was part hence the title. Fred Wörner, the owner, has done an amazing job of looking after and improving the 3 valley's under his ownership. Seeing rhino (both black and white), hippo, buffalo and so many jackal's was a dream fulfilled.

However any quality experience needs to stand on many equal legs including, friendly staff, quality food, special accommodation, spectacular setting, world class spa and safari experience. Achieving this collective balance is where the magic happens and Karkloof Spa achieves this elusive balance.

The staff across all aspects of the experience are exceptional, friendly and interesting and interested. I have no hesitation in endorsing every aspect of our experience over the 3 nights we enjoyed. Well done to the team.

Room Tip: We stayed in Villa 1 but from what I could see all rooms are specifically sited for great views and...
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  • Stayed: April 2014, travelled with family
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1  Thank KevinLeoSmith
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 22 April 2014

We were fortunate enough to spend our honeymoon at Karkloof during April. I cannot think of a more magical venue and everything was more than we could have imagined:
- exceptional service
- wonderful food
- luxurious spa facility and treatments
- relaxing game drives
- world class suite

Karkloof is truly one of a kind, with attention given to every small detail. Karkloof oozes understated luxury, and every aspect of the experience is of the highest quality. We enjoyed every moment of our stay at Karkloof and cannot wait to return. It is certainly a memory that we will cherish, and a venue that I can not recommend highly enough.

A big thank you to Fred and his wonderful team.
Derik and Sanet Coetzer

Room Tip: Make sure who check-in early and check-out late.
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  • Stayed: April 2014, travelled as a couple
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2  Thank DerikCoetzer
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 11 March 2014

My husband surprised me with a weekend to the Karkloof Safari Spa as a birthday treat.What a weekeend of sheer luxury and indulgence! We experienced 3 days of heaven. The venue and accomodation was awesome , the service was unparalleled and the food and spa facilities were outstanding. We experienced total relaxation in an exclusive and very private enviroment. The Spa facilities, the game drives with our own ranger and the gentle polite service from the lodge staff all lived up to the 5 star award.Free to enjoy all this luxury at one's own pace makes this destination an ideal escape from the frantic pace of daily living. This is truly a secret gem in Kwazulu Natal.

  • Stayed: March 2014, travelled as a couple
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2  Thank DHaug2014
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 14 February 2014

Gaye and I have just returned from our fifth visit to Karkloof Safari Spa in as many years. The stunning location and the features and facilities available in the Lodge and chalets contribute to our enjoyment, but the people of Karkloof Safari Spa make the experience memorable. Their friendliness, levels of service and attention to detail is unsurpassed. The cleaners, gardeners, the Lodge, kitchen, reception, Spa, rangers - they all contribute to make you feel special.
The Spa is always a delight and I don't believe we have ever had an unenjoyable treatment. I have only one complaint - it should be closer to my home so I could visit monthly !
To Makoni, Freedom and Lovemore - thanks for researching and answering all our questions so patiently.
See you all soon.

Stayed: February 2014, travelled as a couple
1  Thank MikeAshby
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 12 February 2014

Ok, this is going to be a bit longer and I had to do some thinking about it so for those of you who want to have the gist up front (the others will be able to get a more detailed review in several paragraphs): It is (especially with the rand devaluation) fully worth the money and we will most likely come back nevertheless there are area which could and imo should be improved.

So that you know what my comparison is: Southern Ocean Lodge in Australia the Nam Hai in Vietnam, Woodall in South Africa, Tawi in Kenia, Mandarin Oriental and the Anantara in Thailand and some others are my referencepoints when it comes to judging 5 or 7 star hotels and clearly Karkloof wants to play in that league.

After finding this resort in a travel catalogue I was set to trying it out and with a nice flight offer to South Africa the chance came up. Lawrence as a reservation manager dealed with me fast, efficient and very friendly and even though with the 4 night package there came a lot of mails exchanged nothing seemed to be too much for him or too complicated.

The flights were booked without trouble and we arrived in Petermaritzburg and were greeted by lovemore, our driver also for the next days who took care of our luggage and dorve us up to the lodge (the last couple of kilometers is a bit rough but the car was good enough for it). At the reception we received another warm welcome, a nice drink and just behind the buildings we had zebras, nyala, impalas and rhino so all started extremely well.

Now I am going through it a bit area by area:

The Spa: Let´s start with the diamond of this lodge. A very large, bright and sunny area with a charming, friendly, helpful and professionell staff. The treatment rooms are very big and bright as well and it was very fun to have a pedicure and see the nyalas outside or having a lunch close to some warthogs. We had 7-8 treatments each and we enjoyed them very much. If you want to they drive you to and from the Spa, I recommend walking it makes for nice wildlife encounters.

Game driving:Lovemore turned out to be a birding enthusiast and so we had a wonderful time together. We saw all kind of big mammals we even had a jackal howl at us from 5 meters away while we had our GT sundowner, rhinos, giraffe, zebars, you name it. Also lots of birds and the big advantage to other areas is, the animals are not frightened so you can really have close encounters. Giraffes within 20m , zebars and impalas within 10. There even are some nyalas and warthogs who made the ground their residence so close encounters are pretty often. Lovemore did a wonderful job.

Lodging: Large villas in an african earthen decor with a large bath includinh shower, double sink and bath tub, a large minibar (free of charge) a/c, a wonderful view out to the river with some monkeys on the terrace as regular guests, A large bed and a good wifi and all needed and wanted amenities. In the evening port gets brought out and caddles are lit. I recommend having a dinner on your own terrace. Much to be enjoyed with the one main weakness that the ac is blowing directly upon the bed.

Public areas: Well kept in a wooden african decor, a large terrace (perfect for the breakfasts) a nice library and bar and a walk in wine cabinet (very good choices to be had) a lot of nice areas to sit and enjoy the area. A not too big pool with some nice shade from the trees. A very nice garden surrounding everything.

Food: Here we start, there are some points in the a.m. areas as well but the food has a big part for giving only 4 stars: With one notable exception it was well prepared and tasty and it included some local meat (warthog for example) and the chefs as we have seen in a very remarkable moment were more than willing to change as the customers want.

But... it lacked something memorable. Take one example, there is a cheese platter in the evening which is very nice more than generous (as all food is, forget about the salads being light) but it is the same every evening. So what do you do on the third evening? As we said there was no food on the menu that we could not have cooked ourselves and it was far from what we have seen at other 5 star etablissements. Do not get me wrong, it is not bad food in anay way, it is good food but it is surely not 7 stars food.

Staff: Once again do not get me wrong: All the staff we met was more than friendly, more than helpful and very easy to have a nice interaction with. What is lacking for a 5 or 7 star ressort is efficiency in communication and training. One example: The resort has the second most generous all inclusive bars I have ever seen (the best one being southern ocean lodge in Australia) but my request for a Martini led to me showing them how to mix one! Also sometimes there was a language barrier,

There are some more flaws. If you ask people questions during the booking, this should have a result, Living ants in my villa are africa, several dozen dead ones over two days is bad housekeeping as well as not checking regularly what must be replaced or refilled at the villa (minibar!). Not being able to coordinate housekeeping with breakfast times is bad efficiency/training. Do you remember the point of the shade under the trees at the pool? That also lead to fruit etc. raining down.on the loungers! It is very nice if someone comes up and asks you what to drink the moment you go to the pool but cleaning the loungers, replacing spent towels (having some spare ones for guests would help as well) would be as nice as well. But that did not happen (also not in the Spaarea)

This is not asking for things like a cold towel when returning from a game drive or similar luxuries which are in my experience provided in other 5 star hotels, there is I think some lack of attention in areas which are not the Spa and they show. They do have the hardware in place for 5 stars (not 7 again) but the software is closer to 4.

All in all, you get a very good value for money and I recommend a stay there. But for 7 stars, there is a way to go and therefor only 4 stars in my review. It is much about managing expectations.

One last recommendation: There is a wonderful landscape all aorund with lots of animals and as nice as the spa is. Do not miss this part. The waterfall is wonderful and well worth the walk.

  • Stayed: January 2014, travelled as a couple
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5  Thank Florian254
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about Karkloof Safari Spa

Address: Otto's Bluff Road, Pietermaritzburg 3231, South Africa
Region: South Africa > KwaZulu-Natal > Pietermaritzburg
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Restaurant Room Service Shuttle Bus service Spa Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
Ranked #2 of 31 Speciality Lodging in Pietermaritzbu...
Price Range: £433 - £1,591 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Number of rooms: 16
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Surrounded by the cinematic splendor of the Karkloof Valley, this modern and contemporary wellness and wildlife retreat is enhanced with the big heart of African sensibility. Karkloof Safari Spa offers a selection of supreme secluded lodges complimented by the finest cuisine and impeccable international standards. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Karkloof Hotel Pietermaritzburg

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