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“Amazing weekend away”

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Umngazi River Bungalows & Spa
Ranked #1 of 1 Hotels in Port St Johns
Certificate of Excellence
Cape Town Central, South Africa
Level Contributor
34 reviews
28 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 23 helpful votes
“Amazing weekend away”
Reviewed 3 June 2014

Fantastic getaway. We went with our small baby but it's the kind of place that will suit families and couples alike. The staff are incredibly friendly, the buffet meals are brilliant and the lodges great. It's the perfect place to chill out. If you've got small kids, there are some great nannies who can entertain them whilst you enjoy some peace.

It's a long drive to get there but it's so worth it. Enjoy long walks on the beach, chilling by the pool, cocktails in the sun, snooker in the bar and the list goes on. Really nice spot.

  • Stayed May 2014, travelled with family
    • Value
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Helpful?
1 Thank zimdougal
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
GeneralManager81, General Manager at Umngazi River Bungalows & Spa, responded to this review, 7 June 2014
Dear Umngazi Guest,

Thank you so much for your kind review it was fantastic to read that you managed to fit in and enjoy all that you did during your stay at Umngazi River Bungalows. We of course look forward to welcoming you back again soon.

Thank you so much for your valuable support.

Best wishes,

Graham
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Rating summary
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Traveller tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (124)
Date | Rating
  • Dutch first
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English first
Cape Town Central, South Africa
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
Reviewed 2 June 2014

Very happy with everything.
Bathrooms need an upgrade, in the challet i was staying in there was a lingering smell that was unpleasent. The food was excellent, It might be a good idea to fence the pool off.

  • Stayed May 2014, travelled with family
    • Value
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Review collected in partnership with this hotel

Helpful?
1 Thank Des & Kerry T
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
GeneralManager81, General Manager at Umngazi River Bungalows & Spa, responded to this review, 7 June 2014
Dear Des and Kerry,

Thank you so much for taking the time to write this kind review, your comments and feedback are important. We have a planned refurbishment programme starting in 2015 this will take quite a while for full completion due to our high occupancies but it is on its way.

With regards to the pool the thought is that due to Umngazi being surrounded by water it would hardly be worth just fencing the smallest water area, all our team our very conscious of our young guests around the pool and the waters edge so we are vigilant towards this.

I do hope we get to welcome you back again soon, thank you so much for your valued support.

Best wishes,

Graham
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Shelly Beach, South Africa
2 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
Reviewed 2 June 2014

Excellent food throughout the week end especially Seafood on Saturday. Rooms can be upgraded. No phone connection to reception or spa. Spa is a must with best service and lovely sea view. Our room were not ready when we arrived there and had to wait till 20.00, while so many other were available, we had to wait for ours. It was our first visit and they could give us a better room immediately instead of trying to put us in a garden view unit. I made a reservation in January to get a sea view unit.

  • Stayed May 2014, travelled as a couple
    • Value
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Review collected in partnership with this hotel

Helpful?
1 Thank Marietjie & Han... S
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
GeneralManager81, General Manager at Umngazi River Bungalows & Spa, responded to this review, 7 June 2014
Dear Marietjie,

Thank you for taking the time to write this review, your comments and feedback are important to us. Thank you for also talking to me directly letting me know what had happened on check-in. My sincere apologies for the mistakes made, the reception team has been addressed on this matter. I was happy to read that the rest of the stay with us was a relaxing one.

Thank you so much for your support and I hope to welcome you back personally on your next visit.

Kind regards,

Graham
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Saltburn-by-the-Sea, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
24 reviews
8 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 8 helpful votes
Reviewed 30 May 2014

Drove from Drakkensburg mountains to arrive at Umngazi river lodges. The drive from the main road went on forever and we wondered what we were driving into. To our amazement the place is amazing.
Stayed in river bungalow 3a absolutely stunning inside and out. The views were beautiful.
The food was fantastic couldn't fault it. Went to the spa which was so relaxing all you could hear were the birds tweeting in the nearby trees, hence the long drive into the place.
Everything about the stay was wonderful and one day I hope to take my 2 daughters to visit.
We will definitely return
Staff lovely and couldn't do enough to help you

Room Tip: 3a river bungalow has amazing views
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  • Stayed February 2014, travelled as a couple
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Helpful?
2 Thank debie w
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
GeneralManager81, General Manager at Umngazi River Bungalows & Spa, responded to this review, 2 June 2014
Dear Debie,

Thank you for this amazing review, wonderful to read that you had enjoyed your stay with us and that we will hopefully be welcoming you back with your family oneday soon.

Thank you so much for taking the time to write this review and of course for staying with us at Umngazi.

Best wishes,

Graham
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reading, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
3 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
Reviewed 29 May 2014

Super hospitality. Really relaxing. Great place....
Would visit again. Food was yummy. Lovely wedding venue. Wish we could have stayed longer. Only negative was the rooms at the top of the hill didn't get any sun ...

  • Stayed May 2014, travelled with friends
    • Value
    • Location
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Review collected in partnership with this hotel

Helpful?
1 Thank Alison & Simon L
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
GeneralManager81, General Manager at Umngazi River Bungalows & Spa, responded to this review, 31 May 2014
Dear Alison and Simon,

Thank you so much for this kind review, wonderful to read that you enjoyed your stay with us at Umngazi, food is key to our success so it was great to see you found it 'yummy'. You mentioned missing the sun in your room, unfortunately during winter some bungalows do tend to get less sun during the day than others, outside you do get the same as everyone else!

I do hope we get to see you back again oneday.

Best wishes,

Graham
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Pietermaritzburg, South Africa
Level Contributor
60 reviews
59 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 85 helpful votes
Reviewed 28 May 2014

“Your one wild and precious life”

I love winter beach stays, where the days are clear and the sun warm and inviting. One can walk for many miles and feel energized and alive. In the evenings there is the enjoyment of sherry by the fire and the nights are just cool enough to sleep under cosy covers. Umgazi River Bungalows are the perfect place for a warm winter beach escape, as there are beautiful long beach walks, and much to do including canoeing, fishing, tennis, darts, snooker and a fabulous spa.

The setting is spectacular – as riverside and beachside as it gets, with cottages facing the river, indigenous forest or ocean. Not called “the Wild Coast” for nothing, the coastline is pristine, with dramatic gorges, river crossings and cliffs.

The luxury you will find here is not the usual imported, urban, angular modernist kind. It is soft, curved, natural and intensely local. The rounded thatched Pondo huts are finished with timber and stone, and even the door handles and towel rails are smooth, curved, natural timber. The bungalows all have wide glass doors, with little separating one from the beach other than a stretch of green lawn. Outdoor showers, generous baths with sea views and fine linen elevate this stay well above the usual beach bungalow standards. This is barefoot luxury at its best.

At Umgazi there are plentiful indoor and ourdoor seating areas – lounges decorated in bright colours by someone with a great love of fabrics, recliners, dining areas and decks facing all directions.

I like Pondo hospitality – there is no simpering or gushing, only dignified generosity. With a distrust of insincere “quick smiles” as they say here, you are more likely to receive an approving grunt when you make the most of their ample catering and you may find yourself making a lifelong meaningful connection with a true friend. The caregiving arrangements are excellent and I saw several children enthusiastically greet their hosts. I have heard of many rest-deprived parents of tiny tots travel to Umgazi just for the amazing baby-sitting service.

By contrast, I am in the Eastern Cape to visit a worthy project of incredibly dedicated women who care for the sick in their community. Having not visited this area often, I had a hankering to discover more of this pristine wild coast and found Umgazi River Bungalows one of the more accessible beachside locations. However I had worried that the contrast between the stories of these worthy women and a luxury stay might unhinge me. But the women in this project are now being paid by the government for their work, and supported by a local NGO with debriefing and training. They are assertive and professional. And at Umgazi, the evident respect for local culture, the plentiful employment created by the resort for the surrounding community, and the multiple local income generating projects made possible by this place leaves me feeling inspired and hopeful. True development is not about patronizing charity or handouts, but about inclusivity, ownership and employment which allows people the satisfaction to raise their own families well, and this is one of the best examples of that I have seen in a luxury holiday hotel. Both the women’s project and the Umgazi community support make me want to be a better person, to enjoy life to its fullest, while supporting others. As usual when I do community development work, I thought I was coming to give something, but find myself learning and gaining more than it was possible to offer.

Accommodation Experience:
And so I thoroughly enjoy my work and find I am able to have an energizing stay. My favourite time of day at Umgazi River Bungalows, it turns out, is the evening walk to and from supper. I stay in the furthest cottage from the restaurant and love the mindful stroll along the river. Schools of fish swim past me, catching the silvery light as they jump in unison. A cool breeze comes off the water. The skies are full of stars and it feels like I can tough the Milky Way. I swing my scarf to and fro as I walk and throw my head back to drink in the night sky. I feel wild and free and I am reminded of Mary Oliver’s questions:

Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?

  • Stayed May 2014, travelled on business
    • Value
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Review collected in partnership with this hotel

Helpful?
2 Thank Berenice M
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
GeneralManager81, General Manager at Umngazi River Bungalows & Spa, responded to this review, 31 May 2014
Dear Berenice,

Wow what an amazing review, you are welcome back anytime! It was wonderful to read how much you took in of the beauty of Umngazi and the area, it truly is beautiful. Thank you as well for taking such a personal interest in our surrounding communities, it is appreciated.

I do hope we get to welcome you back to Umngazi soon, thank you for choosing us a part of your travels.

Best wishes,

Graham
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Princes Risborough, United Kingdom
1 review
Reviewed 27 May 2014

It was an amazing stay and lovely to feel all the staff were highly motivated , friendly and honest! Nothing was too much trouble and everything , the food was outstanding and irresistible!! My only comment was that the horses, tho quiet and safe, and adored by all, could have been brushed and de ticked.... Foreign visitors would be very aware of this and it was the only blot on a perfect wedding weekend.this is not a criticism as much as a constructive comment! I hope to bring my other son and family there one day....from the uk. Many thanks for a wonderful stay.

  • Stayed May 2014, travelled with friends
    • Value
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    • Cleanliness
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Review collected in partnership with this hotel

Helpful?
Thank Joy S
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
GeneralManager81, General Manager at Umngazi River Bungalows & Spa, responded to this review, 7 June 2014
Dear Joy,

Thank you so much for your kind review, it was great to have you all with us to celebrate this amazing occasion. I was great to read how much fun you had. Your comment on the horses is noted, we do continuously monitor them as they are paddocked in open fields with cattle, ticks are an ongoing problem but they are well cared for, but we have let the community project team know of this comment.

I do hope we get to welcome you back again one day soon.

Kind regards,

Graham
Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about Umngazi River Bungalows & Spa

Property: Umngazi River Bungalows & Spa
Address: i, Port St Johns, South Africa
Region: South Africa > Eastern Cape > Port St Johns
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beach Fitness Centre with Gym / Workout Room Free Parking Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Restaurant Shuttle Bus service Spa Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 1 Hotels in Port St Johns
Hotel Class:4 star — Umngazi River Bungalows & Spa 4*
Number of rooms: 69
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Tucked away on the Wild Coast, in the heart of Pondoland, and encompassed by a rocky coastline, indigenous forests, secluded coves and breathtaking views of the Indian Ocean, lies the award winning Umngazi River Bungalows & Spa - an award winning family resort & spa. The thatch-roofed bungalows are situated amongst the indigenous gardens which provide the perfect setting for a totally relaxed holiday. Weekly fly-in packages are available Friday to Friday from Durban where you fly at 500 feet above sea level along the beautiful coastline - a wonderful way to start your holiday. ... more   less 
Also Known As:
Umngazi River Bungalows Hotel Port St Johns
Umngazi River Hotel
Umngazi River Resort

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