From the 2018 TA reviews Edenbrook Country Manor looked delightful so I booked months in advance. Sadly I found it's gone downhill in several ways......
Bruce Wiley the manager greeted me upon arrival with a slight air of overkill for what the property might offer in the future. I understood from him that he had been in charge of the place for about 9 months as he moved back to SA from the US. Also the establishment had changed hands in the last 18 months. I couldn't work out if the place had been foreclosed on or sold on and the new owners who I understood to be two non resident overseas based individuals, seemed from his comments to be difficult to please as expense was needed on the property but money was tight. He also stated that I was to be the only client staying (with two friends) over the next four nights which slightly concerned me as I was travelling during the holiday season.
I must state that I owned for 15 years an award winning small inn located in Woodstock VT USA, so I do know more than most travellers about both sides of hospitality, good and the bad clients and also generally accepted standards. Thus I am particularly knowledgeable about running a small lodging business but pride myself in being fair in any comments that I make as a traveller, as I know hospitality is a difficult game to crack.
The room I had reserved was in a separate building at the rear of the property. The short drive to it looked sad as the garden was overgrown and a general air of tattiness prevailed. This sadly continued in my room, with a loose broken toilet seat, a mirror that had become unstuck from the wall sitting on top of a chest, scruffy marked paint on the walls, one halogen ceiling light fitting had broken but the wire casing was still sitting on the suspended wire, even the small private shared plunge pool had ivy growing out of the liner top around the wooden decking boards. The place when it was built had obviously had some serious money spent on fittings, linen and alike but it had not been well maintained. There was even a smart Mercedes with monogrammed doors and a minibus for client use sitting outside of the property which looked impressive. All in all as the pictures on TA show the place looks smart and a cut above the standard. Had I been paying a paltry nightly rate which I was not I might have been a little more forgiving......
During my long touring trip to South Africa there was electricity 'load sharing' taking place and this was further complicated by a local issue of a sub station malfunctioning. This was not an issue any small hospitality business could have foreseen or resolved. In fact I understood it took 4 days to be resolved. However again Bruce let himself down by not providing a flashlight, I had to ask. He also didn't give me any reassurance that he was confident that as Manager of the property he could 'muddle through' and achieve a satisfactory resolution. A complimentary bottle of vino, a credit on my account for supper locally, not one single offer was proffered.
I sought Bruce out before I went out for supper and brought the above concerns to his attention, yet his response upon reflection was ineffective. I returned later that night to a dark property but I slept OK. The general internal cleanliness of the establishment was good and the view overlooking the countryside was delightful.
The next morning when I walked across the garden for my breakfast, Bruce was not to be found. I understood he had gone out to see what was happening with the power situation. He returned and I was surprised that he did not grab the moment to see if I was any happier or suggest a resolution. So I took the initiative and suggested that I would like to move on as I was disappointed in the way the establishment was presented and felt seriously underwhelmed. Bruce attempted to make some excuses blaming staff problems on the maintenance, however I pointed out that for the client (me) he was the person who should have double checked standards etc. and they were not currently overwhelmed with many clients! I requested that I might not be charged for the 50% balance of my stay which he agreed and requested a partial refund of my deposit however I would still pay for the night I had stayed. This was agreed to by him.
I left and checked into the Hunters Country Hotel who were not only professional but offered an exceptional stay for a fair and not inexpensive rate.
So why the really poor rating......? Well I checked out on Feb 1st but despite e-mails, unanswered phone messages I left over the next few weeks no refund was forthcoming. I am however a persistent chap and when finally I collared Bruce on the phone on March 21st SEVEN weeks later he was not even apologetic for inaction, blaming staffing issues, Covid 19, his accounts department and stating that he thought I wasn't happy when I checked in, so he was at least aware of the issue! After about 20 minutes of excuses on the phone he begrudgingly took my credit card details but still claimed he could not process a refund as he would need to charge back my credit card. At this point I lost what little cool I still had (I think I'd been more than reasonable) informing him that I was 'less than happy' (FURIOUS) and that I knew perfectly well how you can use a credit card terminal for charging and refunding any payments, as I'd spent 15 years doing just that! What really annoyed me was the fact that he had stated he would do something but he had not and gave the impression of seemingly not wanting to! To say this was a red rag to a bull would be an understatement.
However.......within one hour Bruce now seemed able to process my refund and also e-mailed me a copy of my hard fought after agreed refund credit card slip. This credit still took over two weeks to hit my US credit card account but then that's international banking for you.
So in conclusion I would suggest you stay just up the road at Hunters which was delightful (see my separate TA review) and let Bruce perfect his individual style of hospitality on other less knowledgeable travellers. He has a lot to learn about the craft of hospitality and the handling of my aborted stay was sadly not professionally executed.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC