I don’t do this often, but I thought I would offer my two cents on a recent family holiday we took. I thought, for those of you reading this blog, if you happen to be in Australia, this review could come in handy and prevent you from making a costly mistake. So, here it is, my review of Turon Gates, who define themselves as “an authentic bush hideaway, tranquil and unspoilt only 2.5 hours from Sydney. It is located in the Blue Mountains on the way to Mudgee. With 7 well-builtrustic log cabins situated along 15km of crystal clear trout stream and 6 cottages with sensational mountain views, Turon Gates has long been an all-year-round favourite holiday destination for many Australian couples and families.”
Here’s the reality:
We arrived Friday afternoon, for a three day long weekend stay with friends. To say we were looking forward to the break was an understatement. We were so excited.
The members of our rabble included six adults, and seven kids. We had the makings of a great long weekend… but alas it wasn’t to be that way.
The best, and only, good thing about the weekend, was spending quality time with our friends. The rest, was a pure nightmare from the moment we arrived.
Upon arriving, we realised that our cabin was not near our friends cabins. Even though we booked in advance by three months, with a detailed email stating that there would be three couples and we wanted to be in close quarters, the owner, Sonja, hadn’t read the e-mail and we ended up in Cabin five, an un-walkable distance at night, from cabins two and three where our friends were staying.
The only way to get to their cabins, safely with two children under seven, was to drive.
We weren’t happy, but we accepted the distance and went to our cabin. Now, it’s winter – the beginning of August – so it was COLD. That’s okay, we had rugged up and spent a lot of time in cold climates. However, when we entered our cabin, the wood fire had gone out and we had to build a new one. That takes a lot of time as you have have to go and chop your own wood.
We didn’t get that far though, because two minutes later as we were putting our clothes away and getting settled, the power went out. The fuses looked okay, but as the cabin’s electricity runs on solar power, we didn’t know how to turn it back on. We also discovered that there was no linen in the cabin, even though I’d ordered some.
So, I went to the managers office to ask for help. Now, the managers office is 3km’s away! You have to drive. The manager – Soren – had less of an idea than I did about the electrical problem, calling it “white man’s magic”, but agreed to take a look for us. It was dark by now and we needed lights to see. At this time, I also reminded Soren that we had asked for linen, but he didn’t recall the phone conversation we had had the day before when I asked for it and admitted it was his fault.
Back at the cabin, after another 3km drive, Soren showed up a little later, pottered around, said that he had no idea how to fix it, and just reset the solar power in the hope that the power would come back on. It did! I asked him to show me how he reset it, but he told me no, that it wouldn’t happen again, so not to worry.
Perhaps having the wrong cabin, no linen, and the power going off after 2 minutes were the only problems that we would have… I wish!
Soren left, having used his “white man’s magic” to fix the lights, and five minutes later – bam, the lights went out again. It’s getting late by this point, and the sun had gone down. The temperature was about freezing temp. We couldn’t see to build the fire and our two young children were staying with our friends to keep warm.
So, with no phone – yes, that’s right folks, no phone – (your mobile won’t work as there’s no reception) and there is no phone to call the managers office from your cabin – my wife and I had to drive (another 3 km’s) to the managers office to ask (again) for the electricity to be fixed.
By this time, our friends both had roaring fires, every light on, and were getting comfortable.
At the “managers” office, Soren was also keeping warm, playing a bit of solitaire, and chillaxing with his dogs. We were not happy! My wife told Soren that we had not had a break in so long, and had spent a lot of money (around $400) and we didn’t even have electricity in our cabin. This, we said, was unacceptable. Soren’s reply? You seem upset, I don’t know what’s wrong (confusing “white man’s magic blah blah blah), and asked if we would like to go home? Would we WHAT? Would we like to GO HOME? Well, yeah, we would, now that you ask! However, we’ve just driven 4 hours to get there, and didn’t want to leave our friends. This is the customer service you’ll get folks.
He said he would come and have a look (again), but admitted he wasn’t sure how to fix it. When we made it back (3 km’s later)… that’s 12km’s backwards and forwards so far… he used the same trick as before but this time he actually showed me how to fix it for next time. That came in handy I can tell you.
As it happens, he believed the cause of the electricity cutting out was the new fridge they put in. We should just turn it off, he said. That wasn’t too much of an issue, given it was almost at freezing temp in the cabin anyway, but if we ever did have the time to get the fire burning and the cabin did heat up, we’d need the fridge as we brought a lot of meat to cook, and salads. So, we got electricity, but not the use of our fridge. By this time it was freezing inside and out, pitch black outside, and we had to build our fire from scratch… but we had light at least, huh? But, you know what I was thinking? I was thinking of you folks stuck in that cabin during summer without the use of a fridge.
An hour later we had a semblance of a flame but it would take hours for the cabin to warm up, so we went and stayed in our friends cabin (toasty warm by this time). We tried to walk across to their cabins, but I twisted my ankle – that’s when we knew we would have to drive to their cabins from that point forward so we could use the cars lights as a guide.
Spending time with our friends was fantastic, and one would be inclined to think that everything was now as it should be – and it kind of was, if you could get over the fact that we had been treated worse than Soren’s dogs. But, worse was to come.
On the last day, we decided to take the kids horseriding. We arrived on-time and the woman looking after the stables began asking us some questions about who would be riding. I could tell immediately that this woman had a bad attitude. It was kind of like she’d woken up on the wrong side of the bed, combined perhaps with a dislike for her job, or dealing with people. Either way, her manner came across as rude and “short”. When she shouted at my 3 year old son to get away from the horses, I allowed that as he was getting a little too close. I pulled him aside and asked him to stay close to me.
She told us to fill in some forms (notice I said told, not asked) and put some helmets on the kids. My daughter was on the pony first. The woman took her to the fence and back (took about a minute and a half if that) and brought her back. I turned to my wife and asked, is that it? We were paying $40 for that?!
Then all hell broke loose. The woman turned to my boy and screamed at him to get out of the way of the pony – I might add, he was nowhere near the pony at this point. And I’m standing there thinking, this is really what defines Turon Gates: rudeness, and the I don’t give a f@ck attitudes of the people running the place.
There’s a way to ask a three year old, or any person to be careful, and shouting and scaring them into their mother’s arms isn’t the way to do it. Now, some people may have handled things differently, but given the lack of respect and basic customer service we had received up until that point, I decided to tell this woman what I thought of her for shouting at my child, before I grabbed my wife and kids and drove away.
I stopped at “managers” office, told Soren what had happened (not that he cared as you can imagine). I told him we certainly wouldn’t be paying the $200 for horseriding as that didn’t happen – unless you count the 2 minutes my daughter rode the pony. When I tried to give him the key to the cabin, he told us to drop it off there…
Another 3km drive and then, thankfully, home to electricity and warmth.
My review has now ended, but I implore those of you reading this not to go to Turon Gates. Or, if you do go, know what to expect.
1. Dreadful customer service
2. Poor accommodation
3. No kids activities
4. No wi-fi (though we expected that)
5. No mobile phone service (also expected)
6. No phone to call for help from the manager (WTF???)
7. An hour+ drive to the nearest inhabitable town (Mudgee) where everything shuts at midday on Saturday.
8. Appliances which you can’t run because they short circuit the power
9. Dreadful Customer Service
10. Dreadful Customer Service
If you DO decide to go to Turon Gates however – I have seen some good reviews on here, but I’m not sure if they’re real or not – then I ask only that you avoid Cabin 5, and ensure you have lots of petrol in your car, because if you’re driving to and from the “managers'” office you’ll need it!
Best thing about the long weekend? Spending time with our friends.
Worst thing about the long weekend? Everything else!
Don’t go. Please. Spend your money somewhere else…