This a detailed, honest review of my recent stay (December 2020) at The Breakers Resort in Umhlanga.
While the hospitality industry in South Africa (and undoubtedly, around the world) does all it can to go out of its way to revive itself and once again welcome guests with as much warmth and bonhomie as possible, there’s one place that really and truly just couldn’t give a damn. One place that is still flying the flag high to the old tenets of bad service, rudeness, and general lack of all-round care and attention to detail. That place is The Breakers Resort in Umhlanga. Settled comfortably and arrogantly on its laurels of always having been a popular holiday vacation spot and location of choice for the many who visit there and who own timeshare there, they clearly feel absolutely no need to update a thing or to pay heed to any complaints posted on Booking.com and to their Facebook page – which was last updated in 2016 (actually they did update their phone number on the page in November 2019). Similarly, their website informs us that the next AGM will be in May 2017!
So … where does one even start with this dinosaur of a resort?! Let me start with the positive things (there are actually a few).
Positive aspects of the resort:
- The gentlemen who work at the boom entrance/exit to the parking areas are extremely friendly!
- The air-conditioning in our room was excellent – much needed in the heat and humidity in December.
- The entertainment team at the pool during our stay were great. I don’t have young kids, but Ryan, Ben and Tyra really kept the little ones busy and they were amazing!
- The pool area itself is lovely and as the beaches shut down half-way through our stay, we were lucky to be able to spend time sitting at the pool.
- Access to the promenade and beach is easy.
Negative aspects of the resort:
- The staff have to be the unfriendliest bunch of people ever to have worked in the hospitality industry … ever! In the almost 2 weeks that we were there, I never saw any evidence of a manager or any type of management figure anywhere on the resort.
- At check-in, the welcome I got was lukewarm. I filled in all the necessary paperwork, and was then given wristbands that each of us were instructed to wear “at ALL times!” I got the feeling that “or else!” should have been added to that statement!! What a ridiculous, antiquated system! I was told that if any of us lose our wristbands – heaven forfend!! – it would cost R300 to replace!! Seriously!!?? Oh, and absolutely no guest information was given to me! Do any other resorts do this?
- The story of my checkout deserves an entire paragraph all of its own! It’s a shocker, trust me! It’s worth reading ’til the end just for that!
- Although I did say that the pool area is lovely, unfortunately, this comes with a bunch of the most sullen staff you will ever have the disadvantage of encountering! These are the individuals who man the pool loungers and umbrellas (masks usually under their noses or around their chins) – you MAY NOT just help yourself to these! They will bring these to you – but don’t ask for chairs for members of your group who have yet to arrive … that is NOT permitted. Only once they are there, are they permitted to get one! And believe me, as soon as you get up to leave, these unhappy men immediately come and remove the loungers and umbrellas you’ve used. We wouldn’t want any other guests unwittingly sitting on them. And just in case you’re wondering … no, this was not for the purposes of sanitizing in between use, because not once did I see them do this! As a side-note, many of the covers of pool loungers are old and worn. Some are torn, others have holes in them. They definitely need upgrading!
- The one and only resort restaurant/bar – closes at around 6 pm. Don’t expect any of the staff to come and offer you a menu while you’re sitting at the pool. You might, instead, find yourself chasing one of them to get any sort of service. Once you’ve ordered, you’d better not be too hungry or thirsty as it takes a while for your order to arrive! The service is abysmal! And again … the staff are not a friendly bunch!
- According to both the website and Booking.com, the resort has BBQ/Braai facilities! This is surely a joke? There are no built-in braai’s onsite. I’ve never, ever encountered a holiday resort or venue of any sort that doesn’t have this. If you want to braai, you must go and let them know at reception from 5pm, and they will wheel out a braai for you (I kid you not). Their braai area is a narrow alley-way with nowhere for you to put any of your braai supplies. Surprisingly for a resort this size, not many people braai on a nightly basis. Until that was … new, earlier curfew times were introduced, and then it became a messy bun-fight, with one particularly Covid-paranoid individual creating absolute havoc that the braai area was too small for all the people who suddenly wanted to use it! We then decided we’d braai at my daughter’s place! Resort rules state that there’s no braai’ing on the weekend either! (So basically braai ‘facilities’ are only available Monday to Thursdays.) Guests were then informed during the day on New Year’s Eve that there would be no braai’s permitted that night … and until further notice. Sorry for you, if you’d planned to use the ‘braai facilities’ (I use the term loosely) that night as I’m sure many people had, as these were now off limits! We were actually gobsmacked!!
- Wi-fi – Yes, there is very limited, extremely weak wifi. You can get 500 megs at a time for free. We were lucky that this worked in our room, as I’ve seen many a complaint that the wifi doesn’t work in many rooms. BUT … the wifi gets switched off every night some time between about 10.30 and 11.00, and is then switched on again early in the morning … I’m not joking!! We were so lucky on the 31st of December that the wifi got left on and we could use it until much later! We felt like naughty schoolchildren who’d snuck out without the Headmistress’s permission!
- DSTV channels – according to the website there are 40 channels available! Well, we certainly couldn’t find them! There are very limited channels available and the sound on the TV was very wonky. It was either deafening, or non-existent. We often landed up watching CBeebies, purely for that feeling one gets of having taking hallucinogenic drugs!
- Housekeeping – Staff will arrive for shifts early in the morning and yell up and down the corridors at each other, oblivious to sleeping holiday guests. Cleanliness is lacking. Sheets had dubious stains on them. Cleaning was quite peripheral. The bathroom was not cleaned properly for about 3 or 4 days around the basin area and I actually started counting the days to see how long it would take for it to get cleaned. Until it really got on my nerves. I went to reception to complain and to ask for someone to be sent to clean properly. I received no apology, and was just told someone would be sent. One gets the feeling that complaints of this nature are so commonplace that it’s felt that no apologies are required.
- General maintenance – It looked like our room had been re-furbished sometime recently. However, the bath/shower was a shocker. It had a shabby shower curtain that was affixed with pieces of plastic!!!! Seriously!!!! And done so badly that it was virtually impossible to take a shower without flooding the entire bathroom! Not to mention that it was also quite a feat not to slip and concuss yourself while standing in the bath! Or to bruise yourself while bumping into the grab rail affixed to the wall! Taking a shower was quite an exercise in gymnastics!
- The corridors have a bit of an institutionalised feeling to them. Long, blandly coloured, echoing passageways with railings affixed to the walls and no pictures to brighten them up at all. It’s all a bit dull and depressing to be honest.
- Booking.com – The photo’s on your site are lovely, but the only one that looked anything like our room was one of the pics of the balcony! Our room didn’t look remotely like any one of the other photo’s that you have on your site of the rooms at this resort. Also, you mention that all rooms have a tea/coffee maker. Do you mean a kettle? Because that was what we had. You also list in the resort facilities a ‘mini-market’. We never found this anywhere at the resort. The resort website doesn’t provide any photo’s of the rooms at all!
- Checking out – This is my experience, as it happened. I am not embellishing or dramatising it in any way. I checked out on Friday 1 January 2021, even though I was actually only due to check out the following day. I dealt with a Ms K. Govender. She was tending to the reception desk at the time with another gentleman. I told her I was there to check out and gave her my room number. She informed me of the amount that I owed as I had opted for the undercover parking (at a cost of R20 per day). I said this was fine and give her my credit card. At this point she started up a conversation with her colleague, while she processed my payment. Once my payment was done, she stated “You’re checking out a day early?” To which I replied that I was. She didn’t ask me why. She then asked if I would like my invoice and I replied that I would indeed like to have this. She asked her colleague to go and fetch the printed copy off the printer in the office behind them. He did so, and then handed it to me. And I stood there … waiting … I’m not sure what for. After a minute or so, I asked if I was done. Ms Govender replied to say that yes, we were now done with my checkout. No “Thank you for your stay.” No “We hope to see you again.” Not even a polite “Goodbye.” Just blank stares from both her and her colleague. To say that I was taken aback would be an understatement. I said that I’d been told I’d receive a guest survey when I checked out. She told me that I’d receive it as a link via SMS. And I then turned around and walked out … with their deafening silence following me! Needless to say, to date (just over a week later) I have received no link and no survey! I’m assuming that’s because they couldn’t give a hoot as to what their guests think of their resort. It is my unequivocal opinion that Ms K. Govender should not be allowed near a single guest unless this resort wishes to make a lasting negative impression on them. She is as warm and welcoming as the iceberg was to the Titanic! What a disgrace to the entire hospitality profession and to those who take pride in it.
But all in all I’m of the opinion that The Breakers Resort (and all who work within her walls) should be put out to pasture. She is a tired old Madame, still plying her wares, long after her heyday has passed. Either give her the botox, surgery and fillers she so desperately needs, along with an entirely brand new team of staff, or lay her gently to rest and allow those who enjoyed her to remember her as she was in better times.