I’m a daily deals addict. There, I said it. Instead of my inbox being filled with forwarded emails from friends, I’m greeted by about 7-10 daily deals emails every morning. I know, it is kind of sad, but if it wasn’t for my addiction, I would not have stumbled on a gem like this…
All the way back in April, I came across an email from Daddy’s Deals (I hadn’t heard of them either till a few days before when they had their R1 Kauai smoothie special). They were advertising a deal for Santé Hotel Resort and Spa. The deal costed R699 and included a 1 night stay in the spa suite with breakfast and a R150 spa voucher. R699 seemed a bit steep but the normal rate was almost R3000 so it was a huge discount. I’m not an impulsive spender so I read the terms and conditions a few times and I could not find a catch! I then went on my beloved TripAdvisor, the hotel is 4 star with pretty good reviews (many bad reviews recently though). I decided to purchase 2 nights and booked way in advance for the last weekend available when I knew it would be warmer (basically 6 months in advance).
We left on a Friday after I had been sick in bed for 3 days and I was not completely better. Boxes of tissues in hand, we were on our way. The drive should have taken under an hour but we were stuck in peak Friday afternoon traffic. The hotel is situated about mid-way between Paarl and Franschhoek. I loved how the landscape transformed from city to lush vineyards and farms as you near the hotel. We had to drive on a gravel road to get access to the hotel but that makes you feel like you are nice and far from the city when you are just around the corner.
We were met by the most stunning views as we drove up to hotel lobby. Check in was a breeze. we were in our room in no time. Our room (or suite) was in a block with 4 other suites but there was ample privacy. The room was HUGE. There was a small kitchenette (really just a basin and some cupboards), A large bathroom with a shower, free-standing bath and separate toilet. There was 2 extra-length twin beds which we did not bother to push together because the one was big enough. There was a sunlounger next to the window where you could admire the landscape, as well as a large balcony.
I wasn’t feeling too great but once I saw the pool and jacuzzi I had to jump in for a night time swim. They have a stunning heated indoor pool and it was properly heated- not the 25 degree heated that barely makes a difference. The spa area was deserted, not even a staff member which I found odd as we could walk through the whole spa area with all their products on display as well as the pool bar (maybe theft doesn’t happen here?).
The beds were very comfortable. By this point I was feeling like I was in a 6 star resort. Then some bothersome things started creeping up. There was no bar fridge, which is odd, but I never use the bar anyway. The huge shower was smelling musty but it wasn’t dirty at all and there was a happy family of daddy-long-legs in the bathroom. These things made me suspect that this room had not been inhabited for a while (other than by the spiders).
There were these silly, thin curtains in the room. The windows of our room faced east so it was wonderful to watch the sunrise after prayers, but by 5 am there was so much light shining into the room that I might as well have been sleeping outside. I was wide awake by 6 am both days.
The part that really killed me was the breakfast! I have never had such a poor buffet breakfast at a hotel. Ok, it was more of a continental breakfast- there were muffins (bran) and mini croissants and a couple of loaves of bread. The warm breakfast was basically scrambled eggs (lukewarm) and some unseasoned sauteed mushrooms. There was bacon, I think, but that was of no interest to us. The staff also took a long time to replenish the lukewarm scrambled eggs. Heck, my room was good enough, the breakfast was just a luck extra (not so lucky I guess) but if I had paid the full cost of the hotel then I would be pissed. Most 4- star hotels I have been to have had egg and pancake stations.
I can kind of understand their lack of breakfast variety- there were so few people at breakfast that having more options would probably be a waste for the hotel. But that is the problem! Why are there so few people at such an amazing hotel? Is the problem the management or the marketing? I can’t be sure. I am sure that who ever is in charge is wasting the hotels potential because this could be the ultimate Western Cape destination. The rooms are great, the scenery is breathtaking, the spa is superb and the distance from Cape Town is ideal. I think it is essentially a marketing problem (most people have not heard of this gem). They need to get their rooms filled and really put themselves on the map because that is what this hotel deserves (that’s obviously the reason they are doing daily deals- so it is a start).
I definitely got way more than I paid for and I couldn’t be happier with my weekend away. If you can’s stay at the hotel then check out the Spa. The spa is definitely one of the better spas I have seen. I cannot comment on the therapists but the setting is great.
Even with the shortcomings, I highly recommend this hotel. Perhaps save your appetite for neighbouring Paarl or Franschhoek though!
Daily deal tips:
- If you get sick of the hundreds of emails you have to sift through, use an aggregator like savemedeals
- Read the fine print again and again. many hotel deals have catches like no breakfast, no bookings during weekends, public holidays or peak seasons
- Phone the hotel before you buy the deal to find out if they have availability on the dates you want
- Book as soon as you have bought the deal- they often have a booking cut-off and you may even forget you have bought the deal
- If you get treated like a second-rate guest at the hotel then report it to the manager as well as the website you bought the deal from
- Read hotel reviews. Often if the deal seems too good to be true then it probably is. Reviews can give you warnings.