Lifestyle & Travel

Blue Gum Country Estate – Review

A little while ago I went to stay at the Blue Gum Country Estate to review their accommodation and service. Unlike traveling with a baby I was traveling to Cape Town on my own during that time. Since accommodation and food is not my main focus I arranged a collaboration with Chef Sue-Ann Allen.

Sue-Ann presents the cook along show on SABC3 afternoon express. She is also a restaurant consultant and private chef. Since Blue Gum Country Estate make no apologies about food being a main drawcard to their estate I thought it would be the perfect collaboration opportunity for everyone involved. But please, do not compare my personal review to follow, with that of a foodie, LOL.

Background of The Blue Gum Country Estate

According to their website, the Blue Gum Country Estate is a family run guest farm dating back to 1839.

Today the working farm is being established as a wine farm with three hectares of Shiraz grapes and seven hectares of Sauvignon blanc and Merlot and they also farm olives over two hectares of farmland.

Their website also advertises their accommodation under the ‘Hotel’ umbrella. Rates were comparable to Tsogo Sun’s Winter Specials, starting in a similar price bracket.

The value of my stay during the winter break weekend was R1300 per night and R995 per adult sharing during the week.

There is no star rating on www.bluegum.co.za however, according to the TripAdvisor and Google Reviews the overall rating is 4.6 stars with 5 stars for location, 4.6 stars for service and facilities and 3 stars for the rooms. A few other Influencers have also reviewed the estate, and their reviews seem to rate it consistently around 4.6 stars overall.

I had quite a different experience at Blue Gum Country Estate. This could have been due to the fact that it is a family run establishment and the owners were traveling at the time. Here is my review based on my personal experience.

Day 1

Arrival, Welcome and First Impressions

After parking our car, we went to reception to check-in before collecting our luggage.

There was nobody around, so I went to the toilet while we waited for someone to greet us. I was looking forward to washing my hands after a long drive. I was a bit disappointed that the soap dispenser was empty.

Since the ad on google advertises a 4.5 star rating my expectations were immediately underwhelmed on arrival. I considered whether the rating might be outdated so I searched for a plaque that would display an updated rating, but I couldn’t see one.

The lady who eventually greeted us was friendly and gave us the keys to our room.

We went back to the car to fetch our luggage.

At this point I expected someone to come and offer to help us with our bags, as would be consistent with a 4-star rating. Unfortunately, this didn’t happen.

I was traveling quite heavy with a large suitcase. There was no universal accessibility where I could wheel my suitcase up. This doesn’t really bother me, but I had expected there would be something like this at a 4-star accommodation. Left to struggle alone, the only alternative was to drag my suitcase through a bit of sand until I got to a paved pathway to the stairs.

Whilst I was dragging my case, I was quite disappointed when three staff members walked past me dragging my suitcase and not one of them offered to help me. I assumed that they were off duty and on their way home after changing shifts, but this was not the ideal welcome in a 4-star facility.

My Initial Observations

As with slightly disappointed 4-star expectations, I noticed that the outside of the property could use a little bit of tender love and care. There are areas that could do with a single coat of paint. Some areas could do with a proper sweeping, particularly around the tennis court fencing where the leaves were piling up. In some of the general outside area it looked to me like it could simply be tidied up a little bit.

I thought to myself that if I were perhaps expecting a 3-star bed and breakfast then the reception on arrival and my initial observations may have felt a bit different.

My Room

I stayed in one of their Mountain View Cottages. Once in the room, I felt at home. My room was beautifully spacious, clean and welcoming with a spectacular view. It was comforting to wash my hands with complimentary soap before unpacking my bags. It finally felt like I was in a 4-star accommodation.

I needed to take a headache tablet and noticed that there was no complimentary water on offer. I would expect a bottle of water as standard in a stunning room like that.

We made a fire and called reception to bring us an ashtray and a wine opener. They were responsive, friendly and quick. I found it a bit strange that there were wine glasses in the room but no opener, especially since it’s located in the wine region but I’m not sure if shopping for wines in the region and drinking them on site is perhaps not encouraged.

We had a lovely time outside on the verandah in front of the fire with some red wine.

As I wanted to check in to my social media I noticed problems with connectivity. I contacted reception to find out about wi-fi and they advised about access. The wi-fi connection was really poor but they did mention that we would find better connection downstairs at the restaurant.

Dinner

As we arrived in the restaurant we met Zain and is wife, the in-laws of the estate owner. They were friendly and welcoming hosts.

Sue-Ann and I had a set menu for the evening and chose to have two courses each at the value of R255.  After our waitress kindly moved our settings to a different table as the original table we were seated at was covered with ants, we ordered. We decided to order a starter and main course, as well as main course and dessert in order to try all courses.

Our starter was delicious. It was advertised as a tartlet, so I expected something like a little round tart but instead it was more like a slice of Quiche. However, it was very enjoyable.

The main course was a fillet steak that was advertised with root vegetables on a printed menu. I was expecting a vegetable like carrots, but it was served with delicious green beans (not a root vegetable). Unfortunately, I cannot confidently say that the gravy with my steak was homemade or even that I thoroughly enjoyed my main course. The starter and dessert were both very delicious, but I was starting to question the value for money of the meal at R255 for two courses.

After dinner we went to sit on the verandah and finished our wine with a few cigarettes.
When I got back to my room my bed had been turned down and they had left a night-time chocolate and a bottled water. It was a lovely touch and surprised me a bit because I had comfortably settled into 2 – 3-star guest house expectations by that stage.

Day 2

Breakfast

The staff on duty were friendly. I was slightly underwhelmed by the continental spread and juices, but the coffee was good enough, and I loved my French toast which was presented well.

I felt at home and Zain was friendly and generous with recommendations of places to visit nearby.

After breakfast I went outside and the verandah was unfortunately still untidy from the night before. It was not as windy anymore, so I felt that they could have given it a bit of a sweep and at least emptied the ashtray from the night before.

It was disappointing to find that they no longer farm olives and that their website is somewhat outdated. I was starting to feel as though my expectations were what was letting me down.

Sue-Ann and I discussed our needs for later that evening as we were heading out to explore Stanford for the day. We ordered our dinner in advance before we went out for the day. The staff were very accommodating and happy to help with anything we needed.

When we arrived back at Blue Gum we had afternoon scones delivered to our rooms. Overall the staff were very accommodating with things like that. They don’t bat an eyelid to walk in the rain to bring stuff up to the rooms.

Supper that evening

For supper we had a toasted cheese and tomato with chips and a cheese platter delivered to our rooms. We called reception to ask if we could have some ciabatta bread on the side with the cheese, but they didn’t have any. I was fine with that, but it was a bit disappointing that they didn’t suggest an alternative.

The sandwich and cheese platter was lovely and all the ingredients were fresh.

Day 3

For breakfast I didn’t order a hot meal as I had been eating a lot all weekend.

Summary

I had a pleasant stay at Blue Gum. The location is genuinely breath-taking. The staff were friendly and very willing to help. Sadly, the service is very inconsistent. The quality of the food is great but also inconsistent.

I was traveling alone from Johannesburg and meeting up with a friend to do some work. Unfortunately, due to the very poor connectivity this didn’t end up happening. But, I was still on a parenting break. Instead, we spent the time catching up over many glasses of wine by the fire. I did have a lovely time.

To me, this would be the perfect location to visit with friends, or with my family for a break from city life. It’s a place to go where you can be surrounded by picturesque nature and completely switch off.

For me, the website was somewhat misleading by advertising ‘hotel facilities and vibes’. In fact, I would personally rate it as 3-star bed and breakfast family lodge.

Perhaps my expectations were also set too high based on other reviews of the facility. If I had been expecting a 3-star family vibe this would have been one of my best stays to date.

I would have been slightly disappointed with the rates compared to similar accommodation for a winter break-away to the countryside in Gauteng as well as hotel stays country wide. However, I have not compared prices to similar places in the Overberg.

I personally give 5 stars for location, 4 stars for the rooms and 3 stars for service and facilities.

The response I received from Blue Gum Country Estate

I can’t lie about this review and I must tell you that I fought some serious internal battles about publishing this post.

That said, I was very surprised about the response from the owners at Blue Gum Country Estate. They were incredibly appreciative, kind and thankful for my honest feedback. They have assured me that they are enlightened about the negative aspects that I have personally experienced and that they are keen to address all of them.

As a result of my experience, the owners have shown an interest in finding a consultant to help them in continuously improving their service and providing the best in their niche to their clientele. Despite my less than glowing review, the next time I am in the Overberg, I will definitely visit them again.

With Love and Gratitude,
Laetitia

*This is not a sponsored blog post.

*My stay was complimentary.

*Views and opinions are always my own, regardless.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

8 Comments

  • Melissa Javan (@melissa_nel)

    This honest review is so refreshing. It’s nice to hear that everyone is human and we make mistakes and we can improve where we did wrong. Thank you.

  • Heather

    Laetitia I think people do value honest feedback. I think your feedback has been helpful to me too. And you’ve also asked me some penetrating questions that made me think. I’m glad you’ve given them this information and that they are committed to changing. Sometimes it takes that fresh perspective from an outsider to make you think again, and that’s probably what they needed.

    • Laetitia Corder

      That makes perfect sense. I think for smokers as minority, we enjoy not having to ask for ashtrays in areas where smoking is permitted. That said, I guess an ashtray inside the room’s kitchen cupboard may give an impression that smoking is permitted in the rooms.

  • Ashley W

    They have an amazing place, judging by the photos, so I’m glad they’ve decided to take your words to heart and make the experience even better for their future guests. 🙂

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