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“Great place with so much to do”

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Cavern Drakensberg Resort & Spa
Ranked #1 of 4 Hotels in Bergville
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed 5 May 2014

This was not my first trip to The Cavern, but it has never disappointed and this holiday was no different. The one thing that stands out at the Cavern, is the FOOD! Oh my word, it is simply amazing...designer dishes for dinner, a sizeable buffet for lunch and a full breakfast every day! And let me not forget the cookies and coffee mid-morning and -afternoon. Besides the amazing food, one has so many activities to choose from, such as hiking (various distances and difficulties), horse riding, mountain biking, fishing, bird watching, relaxing at the amazing spa, having a drink in the cave bar, or even just relaxing on the deck with a book. The Cavern really caters for everyone...they even have nannies for hire and a lot of activities for kids. I have always and will always be a big fan of the Cavern and I hope to go back there really soon!

Room Tip: They have a range of rooms to suite every budget, but personally, I will not spend money on a superi...
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  • Stayed: April 2014, travelled with family
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Thank CarmenPoole
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Reviewed 26 April 2014

The Cavern really should be a great place. Its setting, at the head of a secluded Drakensberg valley is stupendous. The walking around is undeniably fantastic.

Unfortunately, however, The Cavern (motto: "Having fun, feeling secure, valuing our family and community") is not great at all. It is, to my mind, a dismal, worn down, unwelcoming relic of a bygone era.

My young family stayed at The Cavern for five days this month. Our room was, um, small. It was also gloomy. The double bed was one of those small doubles which modern hotels don't really do any more. The sheets were at least partly polyester and came off every night. The room was accessed via a glum industrial-looking corridor (I'll try and include some pictures with this posting). Suffice to say, it wasn't a pleasant space.

Our bedroom was, however, connected to another room, containing a bunk bed for our two children. And the kids seemed happy enough, so, all these issues I could deal with.

What I found hardly to stomach, however, was the generally curmudgeonly attitude of the place. While it advertises itself as a family resort, I got the impression that children were actually as welcome as turds on a supper plate.

The resort is plastered with signs insisting that "Children are NOT allowed here" or "Children should NOT do this". I'll try and include some pictures with this post, by the most striking one. I thought, was the sign above the entrance to the so-called Quiet Lounge, which read "Positively NO Children or Dogs".

It is, I think, fair enough to have an area of the hotel that's reserved for adults, but why not have the sign saying "Adults Only"? Wouldn't that be a bit, um, nicer?

The nannies were, I have to confess, very professional. But they had nowhere near enough room to work. The fenced off children's play area contained a few good soft blocks to play with, but also some ancient old swings and a climbing frame that looked as though it had been around for 50 years or so.

All this, plus the fact that most of the buildings are that gloomy 1950s English municipal style that I remember from my rainy schooldays meant the place just felt sad. Especially when it rained. Listen to some music by Morrissey or The Smiths and you'll get the picture.

When the weather turned I realised that, aside from the antique swing, the play blocks and the inevitable large television showing the inevitable episode of Toy Story 2, there wasn't an awful lot for the children to actually do.

Then there was the race thing.

I get that, in South Africa, most serving staff are likely to be black while their bosses are likely to be white. And I don't doubt that the family owners of The Cavern are committed to the integrative ideals of the new South Africa.

But there was something about the place that made me think "this is must have been like it was in South Africa's bad old days"

The place didn't feel "African" at all. The only concession to local Zulu culture, it seemed to me, was the clearly-not-at-all-impromptu song and dance routine performed at 8.30pm sharp every night by the black staff who had waited on us at supper.

Their singing was lovely. And they appeared to be enjoying themselves. But it was so obviously contrived (one minute they are pouring out your gravy; the next they're singing in perfect harmony) and so completely out of context with the English feel of the place, that it made me feel a little uncomfortable.

My concerns about race were exacerbated when I went into the rather nice wine cellar and looked closely at the hotel's small collection of war memorabilia. There, among the Allied service medals and the SA army berets were, I saw, three Nazi medals.

Why? I guess they belonged to some relative of the owner who picked them up while fighting the Germans in Europe (there was no note explaining the reason for them). But still! The Nazis did some very unpleasant things! Should these medals really be on proud display?

Some good points. The food was good and plentiful. The walking wonderful. The staff generally happy to help.

We did, in the end, have a nice time at The Cavern, but I think that was despite, rather than because, of the place.

Message to the owners: you may be busy with customers now, but I don't think that will last, unless you change. There is, in my view, great potential here but I think you need to invest a lot of money and bring your hotel into the 21st Century.

Stayed: April 2014, travelled with family
2  Thank nopolony
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
hiltondavid, Owner at Cavern Drakensberg Resort & Spa, responded to this reviewResponded 4 May 2014

Dear Mr NoPolony

Wow!! What a shattering review. It has taken a few days to digest and a good hike in the mountains to try and understand your comments.

I suppose it is always important to look at these Trip Advisor reviews within the context of all the other hugely positive feedback we receive – both on Trip Advisor and our internal guest returns. Since this is so far off the norm the initial thought was not to respond at all but you seem to gloss the surface, you pass quick, inaccurate judgement and not responding may make others think that your remarks are correct and quite true.

Your room did not have a double bed, it has a queen size double bed - an acceptable standard in any hotel. Your room was not small - it consisted of two inter-leading rooms with two bathrooms - more than enough space for your family of 2 adults and 2 small children and is well above the ‘standard’ for the tourism industry. The sheets are 100% cotton.
The room has recently been upgraded with new furniture and cheerful scatters. We promise comfortable standard family accommodation, nothing luxurious, flashy or pretentious.

Very importantly, we do love children. We have three young children of our own.

We have always welcomed them. The sign, ‘NO CHILDREN unaccompanied by an adult’, was put up on the swimming pool gate following a near drowning of a 12 year old child some time ago. It’s actually a legal requirement and found at all hotel pools.

We do care. Your words - I got the impression that children were actually as welcome as turds on a supper plate - really does make me wonder? You reluctantly say that the playroom ladies were professional and that your children enjoyed their stay. And the climbing frame is old – but well maintained – my kids love it. You failed to mention the huge jungle gym, tractor, trampolines that are also available in the gardens. Also the pony rides, walks, nannies for hire, dams and canoes, fishing, organised children’s afternoon activities, free nanny supervisors during all your adult meals in the diningroom, mountain bike trails, guided trekking etc. etc. You seem very selective in your criticisms.

We are a hotel with a history, a story, made up of many parts. ‘Positively no children or dogs’, is right next to ‘Friends Welcome, Family by Appointment Only’ high up above the door. Tongue-in- cheek? And, I don't suppose you noticed Daisy-Dog having her afternoon nap on the green chair in the Quiet Lounge?

Strange that you don't include other signs. ‘Playroom Rules: Laugh. Be Silly. Use Your Imagination. Make Music’... or... ‘Dear Parents, Please watch your children while they play...’

You then spend the next six paragraphs on your racist, ill informed, judgemental rant.

“The place didn’t feel ‘African’ at all.” – that is the most bigoted, racist sentence written in a long time. Please explain to me what ‘African’ is? And what do you mean by “concession to local Zulu culture”?

Most shocking is your comment about the singing in the dining room. Guests request birthday cakes. On these evenings, and not EVERY night, the staff congregate and sing. No-one does it against their free will and yes, they do enjoy it or else they would not do it. The choir even have a CD on sale in the shop. A pity you felt uncomfortable whilst everyone else was delighted.

The Wine Cellar was developed last year. We had been given a large collection of war memorabilia which has been displayed in this space inside a hand crafted table. Included were a few small Nazi medals. Our feeling is that historical relics should be displayed and spoken about. Pretending they didn't happen, hiding from our past is not what this country is about. The last thing we should do is forget the atrocities of our nation and others before.

Each and every day we are grateful for the business we have, thankful to those families that return time and time again, and appreciative that we are able to employ over 100 people from our local community. There is always work to do and there is always room for improvement but we know that we cannot be everyone's choice destination.

Yours,

Hilton and Megan Bedingham and all of the staff at The Cavern

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 27 March 2014

We attended the 2014 Flock in the Berg event organised by Birdlife South Africa and made the absolute best choice of accommodation for the 6 nights that we spent in the Berg. The Cavern is an experience that cannot be described. There is a reason why family owned places are so special and this one has quite a history. I can recommend The Cavern to anybody who likes the outdoors and do not mind getting spoilt! Even better, a combination of The Cavern and Birdlife SA. Plenty of special birds around if that is your thing. Else there are lovely plants and rock formations. Something for everyone! Go there and experience it for yourselves!

  • Stayed: March 2014, travelled as a couple
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1  Thank amour1401
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 21 March 2014

We stayed here for three nights in February. The drive from the main road was quite a challenge, about sixty km with plenty of potholes. Reception at the Cavern from Alex was warm and efficient. The room was clean, well appointed, with a balcony. Our first evening meal was a bit surreal, because we couldn't understand how the menu worked, and the waiter couldn't explain it. However, a chat with the chef revealed all. Breakfasts were really good. We had two good organised walks, especially the second with three young members of staff who were excellent company. We were impressed by the owners' involvement in the local primary school (they built it and seem to run it). The Cavern is an old-fashioned hotel in the best sense of that word. Staff are helpful and friendly, the setting is picturesque.

Room Tip: I don't think it matters. They all have outside balconies.
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  • Stayed: February 2014, travelled as a couple
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1  Thank pianoman43
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 18 March 2014

We have just returned from our 7th (I think) Cavern mid-week "pensioners special"
Other than the miserable weather everything was just perfect for a relaxing time away from the rat race!!
Our room has been re-furbished since our visit last year. Lovely new comfortable bed and furniture.
Our waitress Zinhle, was 'new' to us, what a star long may she keep working at the Cavern.

See you next year.

Room Tip: The rooms just above the tennis courts and bowling green (up or downstairs) have lovely views
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  • Stayed: March 2014, travelled with friends
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1  Thank Ken G
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 12 March 2014

If it's olde-worlde charm that turns you on, then The Cavern Hotel is the place for you. It is obvious from the moment you enter at the gate, that the successive family owners have loved it through-and-through. The sensitivity of the landscaping, of the buildings, of the walks through the fern forests, the labelled trees (botanical names), the little notice boards along the walks, inviting you to further your knowledge and appreciation of our natural history - everything is indicative of TAKING CARE. Perfect for kids, sportsmen, and baby boomers alike! There is a nursery which will take care of your little ones. Loads of activities, ponies, swimming, hiking, birding, tennis, bowls - everything is kept in perfect order, and the forest spa will pamper you from head to toe. Nearby is a 9-hole golf course, and All Out Adventures which supplies adrenalin-busting activities including mountain bike riding. // Three meals a day - lovely, old-fashioned, healthy food.

It is exceptional in every way, and as far as I am concerned hospitality begins and ends with The Cavern Hotel, Drakensberg.

Room Tip: Some of the rooms don't have TV, and internet is only available for one hour a day. Ask specifi...
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  • Stayed: March 2014, travelled as a couple
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1  Thank vita713
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 11 March 2014

My partner and I had the pleasure of spending the weekend at the Cavern Resort and we absolutely enjoyed ourselves. From the moment you enter the premises, you are greeted with friendly smiles and wonderful service. We were assisted by Alex, telephonically, initially and when we arrived, Alex was very welcoming and friendly. Although its a family resort, we were put into a room away from the kids which was wonderful. Our room was clean and neat, the staff were friendly and efficient.

We felt so relaxed and at home at the Resort. The food was really great, so well done to the chef. We did a hike and must say that its really a neat idea that the resort packs a lunch for the hike. The view is breathtakingly beautiful. There is also plenty to do during the day.

If you are looking for a place in the Berg that is value for money, be it a couples getaway or family weekend, the Cavern is definitely your option.

Room Tip: Couples stay at the Gate house rooms, away from the kids.
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  • Stayed: March 2014, travelled as a couple
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Thank ReneLeCordier
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about Cavern Drakensberg Resort & Spa

Address: End Of D 119 Road 3350 | Amphitheatre, Northern Drakensberg, Bergville 3350, South Africa
Region: South Africa > KwaZulu-Natal > Drakensberg Region > Bergville
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beverage Selection Free Parking Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Restaurant Spa Suites Swimming Pool
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 4 Hotels in Bergville
Price Range: £137 - £151 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:3 star — Cavern Drakensberg Resort & Spa 3*
Number of rooms: 55
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
The Cavern Resort & Spa welcomes you to the adventures of mountain holidays. The Cavern, named after the “Cannibal Cavern”, is situated on 3000 hectares of private mountain reserve adjacent to the Drakensberg Amphitheatre World Heritage Site.This holiday offers you daily guided hikes to bushman paintings and rock carvings. For the more energetic, walks are organised to the Tugela Gorge, the second highest waterfall in the world, and to the top of the Amphitheatre (3100m). An extensive range of recreational facilities, from a forest spa, horse trails, trout fishing and mountain bike trails are available. This stunning resort has won numerous accolades. Honeymoon suites, superior suites and standard accommodation are available with spectacular views of the surrounding valleys, indigenous forests and mountains. Honeymoon suites are complete with four-poster beds and fireplaces for cool evenings. The superior accommodation is set away from the resort, in tranquil gardens, with magnificent views of the surrounding mountains. The reserve is home to abundant wildlife including leopard, baboon and eland and over 200 species of birds and 150 species of trees.The Forest Spa, set high up in the indigenous forest, is a relaxing space to unwind in whilst being treated by our therapists. Afterwards the unique Cave Bar is the ideal place to meet for a sundowner while looking over the valley below. Just over three hours from Gauteng and Durban it is the ideal area to spend some time in the mountains. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
The Cavern Drakensberg Hotel Bergville
Cavern Drakensberg Resort & Spa South Africa/Bergville

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