The first time we did a hike at Hell’s Gate we stayed at the Chui Lodge. It was amazing. We decided to stay there again on second hike at Hell’s Gate. Sadly, I must report that Chui has gone downhill, and in only six months.
Chui is a luxury lodge and the price is reflective of that. When we went before, you got your money’s worth. You were pampered, the grounds were amazing, the service was excellent, the food was excellent, and there were all these little touches that really made the experience special. Things have changed.
The price is the same, but it no longer is inclusive of drinks. The grounds are still amazing. The rooms are still great. But a lot of the little things are missing, for example there are no longer fresh flowers in the room and the hairdryer didn’t work. Also, they got bills mixed up when it was time to check out (there are only eight rooms).
Another weird thing, they ran out of bottled water. We asked for sparkling water and were told that they were running low so could we please not ask for it. So we had still water, which came from a pitcher, which is unusual. We heard a couple at the table next to ours plead for bottled still water and they were given a hard time.
These are little things but for a luxury lodge this shouldn’t happen. The owners are obviously struggling with business. I know tourism has taken a hit in Kenya. However, if you are charging a luxury fee, you have to deliver.
The worst part, and the saddest part really, was the very end. We left on a Sunday right after lunch. Well, that was the plan.
We sat down at 12:30. We were told lunch would be “a little late.” There were some problems in the kitchen. This happens. We understand. This was not the issue.
The issue is that, after waiting for over an hour (with no food) we told them that we had to leave and could they please just make a couple sandwiches that we could take on road…we were told no! They said it would take too long. Now, it doesn’t take more than 10-15 minutes to make a couple sandwiches, but okay fine. We would just go then. And if it had been left at that it would have been okay.
The problem is that they kept blocking our departure even though they knew we had to go. We had gotten up and were preparing to leave and they kept trying to get us to stay saying,”it will be ready soon.” No one seemed to understand that we no longer had time to eat, even though we very clearly said so. It was really frustrating to have the waiter continue to block us from trying to leave.
They then had the chef throw together the lunch that was finally ready—heavily sauced stuffed chicken breast—into tin foil and put in a box to take with us. How were we supposed to eat that on the road? We left the box in the parking lot.
The worst part—even worse than being told that they would not make us sandwiches—was that the chef then proceeded to go on and on about the problem in the kitchen. We didn’t care. We just had to go, and made it clear we had to go. Yet he kept delaying our departure. We were actually starting to feel trapped there!
Again, things happen. The problem in the kitchen wasn’t the issue. The issue is how they handled it. The right response would have been to make the sandwiches and let us leave instead of arguing with us. At the very least they should have known not to deliberately further delay guests who needed to leave and were running late.
It was sad to end things on that note and I wish that hadn’t happened that way. I would have still thought highly of them and just would have considered them overpriced if that hadn’t happened. But, it kind of falls line with the decline I mentioned above with the little things. It’s really too bad because it used to be so nice and worth every shilling.
If you are thinking about staying someplace in Naivasha, I can no longer recommend Chui. It’s not worth the money anymore.