New Year in Gaborone (Botswana)

Happy New Year! And goodbye 2015, of course.

Greetings from Gaborone in Botswana, where we welcomed the new year with family and Filipino friends.

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My parents had moved to Kasane, northern part of Botswana, so we’re “homeless” in Gaborone. Peermont’s 4-star Walmont at the Grand Palm was my first choice, having stayed there previously. I’m a creature of habit and it’s not always that I go back to a place because it’s good but because it’s familiar. Better the devil I know, I say. My father said there’s the new Lansmore Masa Square, a Lonrho Hotel. According to some website, Lansmore is a 5-star hotel. I checked the availability and rates for both hotels and considering the rating and the cost, with Lansmore being slightly more reasonable than Walmont, I decided on the new kid in town and booked online, paying the required un refundable deposit. Apparently, it’s the place to be for Gaborone’s movers and shakers. After all, Walmont’s pool is open until 5pm only. With the African desert heat of Botswana, my perfect summer pool time is after 5. I was confident that the new hotel would have their pool open until much later, if not 24/7.

We didn’t expect that the newbie would have its reception and restaurant areas under renovation.  Quite a disappointment but there is more.  I have to digress a bit though to get to that “more”.

It is not that I was ignorant of the law that the majority in the tourism industry do not agree with. I simply totally forgot about it and I wanted to kick myself right there at the South African border when the official asked for my toddler’s unabridged birth certificate. However, my shortcoming did not stop me from almost cursing the darned law that I really don’t think does much to stop child trafficking. As if the criminals would go through the airports and borders declaring the children that are being smuggled.. I don’t know!

To cut the long story short, we were refused exit out of South Africa and could not proceed to Botswana. We were advised to get help from the Home Affairs in Zeerust, the nearest South African town, first thing in the morning. This means that at 9pm, we had to drive back 90km. We were fortunate to find Grey Lourie Bed and Breakfast. It’s not a manger but it felt like that moment “long time ago in Bethlehem…”

Side comment: Grey Lourie is a good bed and breakfast if you find yourself in Zeerust in need of a place to rest. It is on the main road immediately upon entering Zeerust from Gaborone.

Going back to our border problem, I then called Lansmore saying that we would not make our intended check-in and asked if we could cancel the first night without being held liable for it. I was fully aware of the deposit being non-refundable. I was going to send my parents to stay in the hotel if the cancellation was not possible. I was told that the hotel would get back to me. Knowing that I would lose my cell phone signal between the border and Zeerust, I asked my father to call the hotel. We were both told that the first night could be cancelled.

Having resolved our unabridged birth certificate problem, we made it to Gaborone at about 12 noon the next day. I was surprised and rather upset to learn that because I made my booking online, the deposit, which goes to a third party, is lost. At least the first night was cancelled and I was liable only for the remaining nights. The not-so-bad part about it is that the hotel took the original balance after deposit and divided it by the number of nights to get to the applicable daily rate. This then made it less than standard. However, taking into consideration the deposit paid, basically I was still paying more than the expected rate. There was nothing I could do about it. This miscommunication was very disappointing indeed. We could have stayed at the Walmont.

It was not a totally bad experience though. If it wasn’t for the African heat, we would have enjoyed the hotel a bit more. I would probably give it a try again. I would have loved to chill at the pool area on the third floor but it was way too hot that I didn’t even have the energy to take any picture. There was also still a bit of cleaning up that needed to happen after the New year’s Eve party. Next time, I would give the restaurant a try, check out the mall and enjoy the pool.  I might also try their breakfast. And if I’m into fitness then, I might even use the gym.

But no, it is not a 5-star hotel.

 

Our room

 

The view from our room could be better

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