Setam Lodge

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September, 2018

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We stayed at Setam Lodge whilst visiting Madagascar’s Ranomafana National Park.
It was a long drive and we were welcomed with flannels, asked to choose dinner, and sat down with a pot of reviving cinnamon tea.

The rows of rooms were on three levels, up steep flights of stone steps, and so we were delighted to find our room (10A), was not only on the first level, it was the nearest reception. The surrounding gardens were lovely, especially a row of colourful amaryllis outside our room. The paved area in front, only had one hard chair so we had to take one from the room when we both wanted to sit out.

Our large room was simply furnished with cream tiled floor and double bed, with orange-trimmed mosquito net and orange-curtained windows. We had a table, two dining room chairs, desk, wardrobe but no shelving, and a notice warned that any laundry done in the room would incur a fine of 10,000 Ariary (£2.19) per item. Complimentary water was provided, and the room had heater and fan to cover all weathers. Wi-Fi was available in the main area only, but the signal was flaky.

The bathroom was unglamorous but functional, with a large open shower and plenty of hot water. However, the lack of a shower curtain and the inability to position the head, resulted in a wet floor. So much for the anti-laundry sign, which was about damp clothes damaging furniture.

The communal area had the restaurant, bar, an outside seating area with good views and small gift shop. Our travel itinerary warned us not to eat fish here as Ranomafana was so far from the coast. So, on the first night when our starter was potato salad with sardines or soup, we both chose the latter. Likewise, when the mains were calamari or zebu, we plumped for the meat. Pudding was either fresh fruit or a huge pastry patisserie concoction. Subsequent meals followed a similar pattern and the food was reasonable but not exceptional. On our final night we ate by candlelight after we’d been plunged into darkness with a power cut: fortunately, we’d just showered and changed for dinner otherwise it would have been a nightmare as our room only had one solar powered light. At breakfast, we were served a fruit platter of banana, pineapple and papaya followed by a basket with a variety of pastries and bread, juice and yoghurt. Eggs were on offer and cooked to order.

They guest dynamics changed considerably each night depending on whether there was a large tour group staying.

All the accommodation we stayed in had a communal staff tip box which we liked and used, as it meant everyone got a share and not just those you saw. So, it was a little annoying, when with our final breakfast, they served a basket with a scrappy piece of paper saying, ‘Thank you – Staff’. We left our tip in the box and the empty basket next to it.

Helen Jackson

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