Just returned from a holiday in Tanzania. Safari and Kilimanjaro climb were both booked with Zara tours so became well acquainted with Springlands Hotel. Read a lot of reviews from 2009/2010. Things have changed. Also appears some reviews have been written by inexperienced travellers. Luggage storage should be expected - not exceptional service.
My companions and I CANNOT recommend Springlands Hotel as value for money. Yes, the people are friendly and helpful - there are LOTS of them hovering around the dining area waiting to whisk away your plate before you've finished chewing the last bite of your meal. Apart from feeling a bit smothered by all the staff at mealtimes, they were very pleasant. However, friendly staff does not mean good service and value for money.
The rooms can, at best, be described as basic and outdated - not what I would expect for ~US$78 in a developing African country. Regarding room size, they appear to put guests in certain rooms depending on your next activity. For example, on our second stay, we had just returned from safari and were preparing to leave for Kili the next day so they put us in a massive room. Presumably, this is to allow us plenty of space to organise our kit. This would have been a very useful room if it wasn't for the numerous mosquitoes and the massive gaping holes in the mosquito net which did not even come close to fitting over the bed. ??? When they were not able to provide us with a can of bug spray (was a helpful service they offered at Highview Hotel), we had no choice but to ask for another room. We were then given the tiniest room you have ever seen. All that aside, the rooms are ok - nothing more. We never had a problem with cleanliness but we did have mixed success with fans. A couple times we had a small air con unit which helped but there are only 2 sockets in the room which means you really only have one for your use and it is not very accessible as it is hidden behind the bed head/mosquito net.
Food - every meal is a buffet and is available for a certain period; 1.5-2 hours. One night we turned up for dinner an hour into service and both salads and dessert were gone. Nothing was replenished. We did not think too much of it as we were not expecting to have to pay for it. Accommodation the night before and after our climb were provided so we assumed that dinner would also be provided. Never assume - they stiffed us for $10 each! We argued the point with management but that's a different story.
A side note - not only is dinner not worth $10/person but the meals are largely 'safe western cuisine'. When I travel, a huge part of that experience has to be eating what the locals eat. You're eating what they eat because what they eat is what they grow in the area. I could never get my head around tourists in Tanzania gorging themselves on waffles and cornflakes for breakfast. By the way - Springlands no longer offers fresh milk. It is powdered all the way, although if you go on safari and stay at Highview - they had fresh milk.
The hotel is out of town a bit which was not a big deal for us. They do have a shuttle bus but that costs $1/person/each way and the 'schedule' cannot always be relied on. Approx 5 minutes of the journey is on a VERY bad VERY bumpy dirt road. With all the Safari 4WDs, buses for climbers, buses for airport transfers, shuttle buses for town, Springlands hotel is a very busy place on a daily basis. All this traffic is only aggravating the road conditions. As a service to their immediate community (which appears to be among the poorest around) why do they not fix the road they use so much and destroy in the process? Their hotels proudly display media articles of the company's charitable efforts. But what about on the other side of the fortress, where there are no photographers and journalists?
The real sting in our stay was that we did not feel we received value for money. We felt like we were being ripped off left, right, and, centre. The rooms were overpriced, the meals were overpriced. Postcards from the shop are really bad and sold at $1 each. International postage stamps are also sold at $1 each which are twice the price of their face value! You have to buy bottled water to drink which is overpriced - you can get it cheaper in town. Bottles of local beer are $3 - twice what you pay in town.
Many places in Tanzania allow you to pay in either US$ or shillings. Always ask both prices and ask what conversion rate they are using. If you pay in $ but don't have the exact amount you will get stiffed on the change - they will usually give it to you in shillings with the inferior exchange rate.
Unfortunately, I do not know if our experience at Springlands Hotel is typical of Tanzania or isolated to Zara Tours - so I cannot say you are better off going somewhere else. It wasn't all doom and gloom but it certainly left us with a bitter taste in our mouths. We did raise all these points with management and it wasn't until our last night that they gave us a free dinner. (Perhaps it was noticed that the night before we went into town for a meal instead of 'enjoying' their overpriced buffet.) Regardless, there was not much else he could do to make amends. The problem is with Zara Tours and their pricing policy. I am surprised there has not been much of this mentioned in other reviews.
I referred earlier to experiencing Highview Hotel, safari, and Kilimanjaro. I must stress that this review is only applicable to our experience at Springlands as a hotel.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Springlands Hotel, located on the Southern slopes of Kilimanjaro near Moshi in Tanzania, is the ideal base for mountain walking trips and safaris to Kilimanjaro and all Northern Tanzanian National Parks. Our hotel offers excellent value and high quality at competitive rates. It has a large swimming pool, an airy dining area set in pleasant gardens, and indoor and outdoor bars. The rooms have spacious en-suite facilities with showers, mosquito netting, and fans. ... more less
- Also Known As:
- Springlands Hotel Moshi, Tanzania - Kilimanjaro