Saturday, August 17, 2013

Spa Day at Etali Safari Lodge, Madikwe

Watering hole
Last weekend I took yet another trip down to Madikwe to check out a new lodge I hadn't visited yet - Etalit Safari Lodge. This time I traveled down with some friends in town rather than my usual husbandly companion. We didn't stay overnight, but had heard good things about the spa at Etali and so decided to treat ourselves to a Ladies' Spa Day south of the border.

The pool
The day started with drinks out the on terrace overlooking the lodge's watering hole. We sipped our drinks and watched zebra and impala gather around the watering hole for their midday refreshments... quite a lovely way to spend one's time. A tasty buffet lunch was served outdoors and we all helped ourselves to (very unladylike) portions of beef stew, baked chicken, bean salad, and bread with malva pudding and custard for dessert.

Spa treatments came after lunch, and this is where the day turned a little weird. There were five of us in our group, and we each had booked manicures (45 minutes each) and full body massages (one hour each). However, the lodge only had two spa staff working that day, which meant that they saw us two at a time and the rest of us had to hang around for four extra hours to receive our own spa treatments. That meant six hours total to do five pedicures and five massages! Because time was running short - Gabs is about a two hour drive from Madikwe and this was a Sunday afternoon - we decided to cut down on our original plans and just do either a pedicure or a massage each. I chose the massage, which was great and very relaxing, but I was disappointed that the lodge hadn't properly scheduled our spa treatments to allow us enough time to do what we wanted. That was poor planning on their part.... they should have started some of us before lunch.

The scene of the crime - day visitors out staying their welcome!
At the end of the day, we had a nice visit to Etali... after all, who wouldn't love lunching outdoors with a view of the animals and a massage afterwards?! However, the day could have been a lot better. We felt discriminated against as "day visitors" - sure, we weren't spending the night, but we were spending $100 each for the day and could have been a potential source of referrals and extra business for the lodge. They didn't see it that way, and chose to treat us more as cheapo bums who couldn't afford to stay there for the night. The clincher came late in the afternoon, when were sitting by the pool waiting for our last friend to finish her spa treatment. We practically kicked out of the pool area and told we needed to leave the lodge and now.... ostensibly because of Madikwe's rule that day visitors leave the park before dark, but I suspect also because we were taking up valuable pool space which could be better used by the lodge's more valued overnight guests.

My final review? A great day, but compared to the level of service I've found at Madikwe's other lodges, especially Mosetlha and Motswiri, Etali was nothing special. Save your money, or spend it somewhere else.


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  2. Oh my! I wonder why there were only two staff members to assist you that time. Well, I commend them both. Though they were clearly outnumbered, they still managed to make you feel relaxed and pampered. I hope the lodge can properly book spa schedules next time.

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