I had been looking forward to our Sunset Bridge Dinner at the https://www.hippohollow.co.za Hippo Hollow Country Hotel in Hazyview, even though I had no idea what to expect. We raced through from Johannesburg Airport in our rental car to check into Perry’s Hollow in Hazyview, plus we were booked in for dinner at the Hippo Hollow Hotel. Due to traffic and an accident on the road, we ran a bit late and I really wanted to shower and check in before arriving at dinner at the Hollow.
We had to be at dinner at 5h30pm sharp, and we did not want to be late! We also did not know what to expect, what is a Sunset Bridge Dinner? I looked at the details of the booked dinner and it stated that we had to be there promptly at 5h30pm. It said that we would be met and then briefed before the dinner.
This is what the email stated:
Please be at Hippo Hollow at 17h30 for the Sunset Bridge Dinner briefing as well as pre-dinner drinks. Dinner will start at 18h00.
As we were driving to our destination we were trying to guess and put the puzzle together. Early meeting time for dinner at 5h30pm, then briefing….ok. So we finally realized with shocked faces that this was actually a Bridge game! Most people who played Bridge were of the older generation. We had no idea at all how to play Bridge. Plus we could not get any cell phone reception to find out how the game worked. We had to meet early and, knowing from our grans, the older generation did prefer to eat earlier. The briefing we worked out was explaining how Bridge worked and which teams we were in. Well, we would have to go in our road gear even though we were feeling dusty, as we could not be late at all!!! We would not look the part of well- presented, neatly dressed, showered and smelling clean, actually we would be a little embarrassing to say the least. More like road rats that had just arrived unexpectedly.
5h30 pm: Arrival at the Hippo Hollow Hotel
We finally arrived and tried to make our un-kept hair look a little neater. We went straight to reception where we were told to take a seat. Sitting in the lobby were a few other elderly couples and some British tourists down on holiday who were waiting. Next to the lobby we could smell and see the dinner buffet and it looked good and smelled delicious. I had a good look around and never saw any table that could be used for our Bridge game. But we waited and waited.
Roll on 6h00 pm and we still waiting. By now I am starting to get anxious, the details were very clear that we could not be late and had to be at reception at 5h30. By now some of the British tourists had left to find themselves seats and were eating, chatting and laughing. Ok, so they were not part of our Sunset Bridge dinner after all.
1 hour had lapsed and still no cards on the table!! We were still waiting and sitting in the lobby, frustrated now to say the least. I got up and went to go speak to Reception to enquire about what was going on. She called the Duty Manager, Lebo who told us that they were still waiting for a few more people, and then we would start. By now this was not turning into the fun game we had imagined. We needed a shower, we were thirsty and we never felt fresh and clean. Plus it was getting a bit cold.
And still no ace was brought to the table. Finally I got up now and I demanded to know what we were waiting for as we were told 5h30 and we didn’t even go and check in, or shower after our airport arrival .We were now not in the mood for games! Again Lebo was called, and came and informed us that they had phoned the other ladies and they were on their way. We asked for a drink, which they gave us and we continued to wait again.
Leisurely in walks 3 ladies without a care in the world, looking smashing, well dressed, showered and in a good mood. We all got seated together for our briefing and received a welcome drink. The briefing was really about wanting to know what drinks we would like with our dinner! We were going out onto the bridge for our dinner!! It was supposed to have been a Sunset dinner on the Bridge!! Well we had missed the sunset!! We had been caught in a bluff!!
We go out to the dinner on the bridge. There are hippos below, but the light is too dark to take photos. We can hear a few sounds, but the cold has muffled the enjoyment. We are each given one blanket, and when I asked for more blankets as I was so cold, I was told they don’t have?? So I guess they can only cater for 5 people for the dinner.
Some of the food was great and some not, dry and overcooked! Actually the whole Sunset Bridge Dinner was a let-down, and the only thing that went down on time was the Sunset!! Which we had now missed!
(photo taken off the web – not our photo!)
I did email Management the next day to express our feelings and thoughts on this arrangement, stating that if clients pay R450 pp for the Sunset Bridge dinner, that they should not have to wait for other clients to arrive, it was unprofessional!!
I also gave our opinion and suggestions for the menu. We received feedback to say that Management would get back to us, which they never did! And no apology at all was given either.
It could have been one of the highlights of our trip, but it failed miserably and was the worst experience we had ever had. We were glad we were not booked into that Hollow for the night.
(picture from their website)