Preparing for a return stay at Acara. Remiss in posting after initial stay, however compelled to express the glorious nature of this special property. Impeccable standards abound in a little slice of SA paradise. A must stay retreat after long haul from the states. If sterile hotel haute with bell attached to pinky is your calling, perhaps this is not the right fit. If lovely & cozy, well appointed accommodation engulfed in nature, with awe inspiring vistas and every accoutrement one desires, all in close proximity to coast, wineries and city then this is the spot! Amidst all covid complexities, I appreciated the increased measures implemented to ensure sanitization and limited exposure. Wonderful multilingual host was very accommodating. A true gem.
The room was stunning with great vistas across the rolling lawns to the horses in the paddocks & the mountains over the willow trees. The highlight was definitely the young owls playing on the lawn in the evenings and feeding the horses. If you love horses and want them to love you, then bring a bag of carrots. We played with the friendly Ridgeback dogs and swam in the pool every day. Fiona our host was a hive of information on what to do & where to go. The rooms had everything we could possibly need and the beds were very comfy. Definitely coming back.
I found Acara from Tripadvisor and one Stellenbosch-based guesthouse recommended it several years ago. The website of the Guest house includes nice garden photos and due to quite high day rate (R3.300), I had high expectations when I arrived in Acara. The photos of owls, horses and gardens in Tripadvisor were true in practice. How the whole place functions was far from expectations. My first impression was a small swimming pool which was full of leaves, and I assume it had been without cleaning for at least weeks. Acara offers two cottages and two rooms in the main house. We used both cottages. Other guesthouses and lodges during my six earlier stays in the area had offered a welcome glass, a fresh flower or something small. When I entered Willowtree cottage, I was surprised that I found plastic flowers. Second surprise, there is no baby crib even though I had informed Acara months in advance that I have a six-month-old baby. After we noticed that, we asked Acara to bring such. It took hours to contact the host, and finally the host promised to bring it but the first night was spoiled due to lack of a safe bed for the baby. The maintenance of these two cottages was an endless topic of wondering. - The batteries of the remote controls of the air conditioning and TV were empty. Clearly nobody even checked if everything worked before we arrived. - The biggest surprise was the electricity system. In Willowtree and Lavender cottages, I would say there were countless times electricity went partially/fully off. When electricity was off, water was also off. Hence it happened several times that we put on shampoo and tried to take a shower. Water was off. We had to run around with the shampoo to figure out what was to be fixed. The worst was when the baby pooped in the middle of the night, the diaper was too full and water was off. We had to throw the baby´s shirt away. - In Lavender cottage, there was an extremely bad smell during the first days we stayed. The host did not reimburse that at all although two rooms were totally empty in the main house at the same time. The bad smell came from the electricity board cabin. We figured out that whenever electricity went off, it affected a smelly blue smoke, and created a small lightning. After hundreds of smelly smoky clouds, the twin room of Lavender was absolutely inappropriate for accommodating use at European standards. We reported to the host but the host was not interested at all. The host only said the electricity man "will come sometimes". - Regarding water, Lavender cottage had only ice cold water in the shower. Its guests cannot use shower when the Lavender Cottage water heater did not work at all. I have seen dogs in lodges in Paarl, Stellenbosch, Somerset West, Constantia and Franschhoek. Earlier the hosts of the places had control over their dogs. This is not the case in Acara. After the first night, we thought it would be nice to eat breakfast outside at the terrace. We looked out and saw something not so attractive. At night, dogs of Acara used the terrace of Willow Tree as a general toilet. Afterwards, we noticed that those dogs steal our food from the backside of our car and even from inside the cottage. The host only said "Keep the door closed". Never before have the dogs of any guesthouse stolen anything, no matter if doors are open to the room or a cottage. It was really difficult sometimes to eat outside at dinner time when dogs put their noses practically at the table and tried to take food from the table. The kitchen of Willowtree was a mixture of new and very old things. The new thing was a dishwasher from Miele. This device was a regular topic of headache. Either it was totally off or it started to run but suddenly stopped washing. We were also wondering why the host clearly saved the powder for the dishwasher. The host brought every time only some cups powder, and it affected we had to ask more almost every day. The old side in the kitchen of Willowtree was all other things. For instance, the oventop worked only partly due to its high age. Similarly, the cover of the freezer inside the fridge dropped all the time. I would estimate the maintenance of Willowtree stays in 2014. This estimation is based on the book of house rules. It is a folder in Willowtree and this folder includes information for guests. The book still advertises an African dance show called Amazink. The last show of this dance team was in 2014. In this area, it is a common practice to provide daily cleaning for guests. Same practice was also in a self-catering cottage in Paarl in December 2020, in the middle of the Corona crisis. Even seven years old house rules of Acara says they offer daily cleaning except weekends. However, during my stay, this was not true. Really appropriate cleaning was offered during two weeks two times. Changing bed linens is not an appropriate cleaning, and even this was not available every working day. Regarding laundry, my team included four adults and a baby. We asked for four washing bags so that Acara could wash clothes. The host denied. The host was saying we all should use two bags. In previous lodges, we have used four or five bags for laundry without a problem. Due to lack of proper daily cleaning, we had continuous lack of toilet paper. Never before have I remembered that lack of toilet paper was a regular topic of dinner discussions. We had to send often Whatapp message and reminded, and then we received a bit more paper. At that point, I started feeling that the system does not work at all. Although we reported all things to the host, the host did not say even sorry or did not give any reimbursement. Though, the host bought new food after dogs ate our own, and as usual, the host did not apologize at all. During our stay, it was a continuous problem to contact the host. When we needed something, such as more toilet paper, she replied that she would do it soon and something actually happened for hours or days. Sometimes the host replied with a long delay, and mainly it was hard to contact her at evening time. The slogan of the host to all our difficulties was "This is Africa". I think it is not true at all. I have visited several African countries and many times in South Africa. Things I reported are a sign of poor maintenance, not related to Africa.…
I had the pleasure of spending a week at Acara. It is a very special place. Truly an inspirational part of Africa. Thatched cottages adjacent to the main house. Wonderful, friendly place to stay with a very accommodating host. You feel very much a part of nature. Will definitely be back.
We stayed at Acara for a weekend in the begining of September. What an absolute fantastic experience!! Apart from the facilities, which was top notch, the setting and surroundings, especially the garden, makes this one of my favorate geust houses to date! Thanks to our host, Fiona, for an unforgettable weekend!!