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- Reviews: 178
Vakona Forest Lodge: Peace in the forest
Vakona is the top rated place in the area of Andasibe National Park, though it is located closer to the less visited Mantadia Park so it does take a little longer to get to and from the hotel that the alternatives closer to the RN2. The road in is quite rough as well.
It is a beautiful place to stay. We found it very comfortable. The room heater protected us from the cold (it was winter, though I'd expected warmer weather at the lower altitude). The bed was comfortable though the mosquito net was occasionally annoying.
We found the food at the restaurant very good, though there are mixed reports. The bread at breakfast is indeed of variable freshness, but possibly due to the remote location
We did have some money stolen from the safe in our room. The thief was careful enough to select only a couple of notes in the hope that the theft was not detected. The hotel was disturbed by our report, but not overly so. Do bear this in mind - room safes are only as secure as the master key.
A main attraction of the Lodge is its proximity to the Lemur Island, where you can get up close and personal with your relatives. Since these are apparently rescued pet lemurs, they are pretty accustomed to human visitors, and tend to climb and crawl all over people.
- Reviews: 2217
Hotel Feon' ny Ala: Where rustic becomes rundown
Hotel Feon' ny Ala looks picturesque from the postcards, and may indeed once have been charmingly rustic - sadly its heyday was clearly several years ago, and precious little in the way of essential maintenance appears to have been undertaken since then.
On the positive side, the setting of the hotel is idyllic, separated from the forest reserve by a pretty lake. During the day, the place has an air of tranquility that is periodically punctuated by the baleful cries of the indri in the forest. It is indescribable - haunting and otherworldly - and is the 'sound effect' that best characterises the uniqueness of Madagascar for me.
So far, so good. The problems start when you enter the room, which comprises a thatch A frame hut. The advertised 'en suite' facilities are simply ablutions separated by a waist high wall, so the shy and retiring might want to think twice about sharing a room with someone they don't know really well. However, the bigger problem is the paper thinness of the walls and the close proximity of the huts to each other, which mean that you can hear EVERYTHING that is going on in the next hut ... and the next ... and the next. Privacy is clearly not a priority for this hotel, so unless being party to the nocturnal sound effects of your neighbours is the sort of wildlife experience that excites you, be warned!
The saddest aspect of the accommodation is the apparent lack of repair or maintenance. In our room, the toilet cistern was broken, the seat was cracked and several other fixtures were either broken or not functioning (and had clearly been that way for some time). The hotel seems to enjoy good occupancy rates, so it would seem that failure to act on this front reflects a lack of priority rather than a shortage of money. When we visited, they were erecting something that appeared to be an undercover dining terrace, but frankly, we felt that the money could have been spent on more pressing maintenance priorities.
The restaurant menu reflects the Chinese heritage of the owners, and is a welcome change to the usual offerings: however, like much about this hotel, the food is disappointing (if adequate). Perhaps the most annoying aspect of the restaurant is that it closes fairly early and promptly, which seems odd in an area where most tourists make the most of their time in Andasibe by taking night walks. The lack of flexibility and failure to anticipate the requirements of its clientele seem symptomatic of a hotel whose service ethic is not much in evidence: sad to say that if you are lucky enough to encounter something really specacular on your night walk, you run the risk of returning to contemplate your good fortune on an empty tummy!
I have no idea of what the other accommodation in the area is like (there are several other hotels, so there are other options), but I would strongly suggest that you investigate these. Andasibe is such a special place that you shouldn't 'shortchange' your experience by staying somewhere that doesn't appear to value your custom and could well detract from the overall experience.
The setting is glorious
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