For as long as I can remember, I have always been in awe of The Irene Country Lodge. Although I never had the experience of staying there, I’ve stayed at other African Pride Hotels and I know the luxury and service is in a class of it’s own. I have had my eye and heart on someday experiencing the Camdeboo Day Spa at The Irene Country Lodge. I did not even mention this to my husband or anyone else but he somehow incidentally managed to surprise me and 3 special women in my life to a Spa treatment, for my birthday which was last week.
After the flowers and other gifts, he said, “would you like your other gift now?” Smiling, he airdropped the voucher to me and when I saw where he booked, I smiled with delight, I was overjoyed! He knows me so well! No hints were dropped, not at all.
The next morning (Saturday, the 03rd of October 2020), us four ladies headed to Camdeboo Day Spa at Irene Country Lodge. On arrival, the lady who attended to us wasn’t very impressed that we had not completed the client cards before arrival – even though my husband had completed the COVID-19 questionnaire for us all and send that through. He also advised the lady over the phone when making the booking that it’s a surprise and that he could not get the client cards completed as he did not know the answers to all the details required on the client cards.
Nevertheless, we waited at reception to be taken to the change rooms. It’s the first spa that we had been to that didn’t have that beautiful welcoming aromatic smells. It was not something that was observed by just me. When you walk into a spa, you want to get that spa feeling that is often accentuated by essential oils etc. No welcome drinks, no tour. We were just directed to the change rooms.
After getting into our gowns and slippers, 2 of us were asked to go toward the pool area to the gazebo and the other two to one of the treatment rooms. It was a cold morning, so there was a heater in between both massage beds in the gazebo.
So, we kept quiet at that stage…maybe one treatment would be done here and we will move for the next. Alas! that wasn’t the case. Our entire package which was the LADIES DAY OFF ULTIMATE Package, was done in the gazebo. This gazebo which by the way happened to be between a wall and I think what looked like a residential complex, I could be wrong. What I was not wrong about though is the garbage truck that was emptying rubbish bins, with a noise that lasted for just over 5 minutes or so.
How luxurious right!? As if the sound of the garbage truck was not annoying, the loud voices of the staff talking to each other couldn’t allow us to snooze, which we usually do when we have a good massage. Flip, I was irritated even more at this stage. When we entered the gazebo, there was also no inviting aromatherapy smells…did not smell like a spa. There were no pretty flowers or decor for you to look at under the bed as you lay on your tummy.
Our feet were left opened when they left to get warm water and with it being a cold morning, our feet got cold as the heater was between our heads. However, when the curtain was opened to do our facials, I don’t know if the heater was switched off, but the wind from outside through the open curtain of the gazebo left our shoulders feeling cold. Feeling cold during a massage and treatments IS NOT COMFORTABLE.
The lady who massaged me did a good job. I can’t say the same about the facial, it was not gentle. They were also almost going to give us head massages when we had informed on arrival that we selected the facials instead – so not very attentive.
There was no spa ambience in the gazebo – I could have just as well been in someone’s back yard who would have probably had some lovely lavender surrounding! If you think I am exaggerating, see for yourself:
After our treatments, we headed to our “light lunch meal”. Nothing to rave about here either. We had to go and have a real lunch afterward at some place else.
I am usually a person who tries very hard to give balanced and constructive feedback, especially when an experience is very poor but in line with keeping it real, I am afraid that I can’t find many positives to balance my feedback. I’ve actually waited a few days to feel more calm about the experience, in order to write this blog post. I am certain my tone would have been otherwise had I done this review on the day of the treatments.
So why have I done this review then? Well, I would not want someone else to waste their money and time on such an overrated Spa. I also learned a lesson which is not to judge a place based on it’s location. Whilst the Irene Country Lodge may have appealed to me, I assumed that it’s Spa would be much more than what we had experienced.
On the contrary, I previously did a review of Revive Wellness Spa, which isn’t in the prettiest of locations, but it is a gem – I honestly expected something of this standard to be at The Irene Country Lodge. It’s a lot of money – R1830.00 per person for 2 hours to be precise. For that amount of money for four of us, I certainly do not believe it was value for money. We have been to several Spa’s for even less than half that price, which offered excellent service together with that “spa feel’ and smell.
What makes me more disappointed, is the fact that we completed feedback/rating cards, of which we expressed our dissatisfaction. As I write this, it’s Thursday evening and to date, no one from the Spa has called to question or apologise for our poor experience, which tells me that they are not at all customer focused but I felt that the moment we walked in, sadly so.
On that note, will I go there again? Absolutely NOT! More like Camde BOO! Disappointed is an understatement, I’ve had to tone it down. I’ve been to many Spa’s in my life, I can honestly tell you that this was the worst experience ever.
I think what makes it feel worse is that my husband who doesn’t go to Spas himself and doesn’t know much about them, tried to surprise us, which he did- and I love and appreciate that as it’s a treat we all longed for which lockdown restricted us from doing. However, it’s a pity that it turned out to be so unpleasant.