Thursday, March 17, 2011

African Safari Club has finally ceased trading

A holiday company has gone under and, just for a change, that's good news. The following is all that's left on African Safari Club's website:


A company that brought nothing to Kenya but dissatisfied customers who vowed they would never return, and left nothing in Kenya after extracting its profits but exploited and often unpaid staff, is finally no more.

You have to feel sorry for people whose holidays have been ruined, or are now not going to happen, but this demise has been a very long time in the making, as any glance at the Trip Advisor Kenya forum would show. Caveat emptor indeed.

Even more deserving of sympathy are ASC's miserable hotel employees in Kenya who were always left dangling from a string of empty promises and who only stayed in work because they could at least expect some tips from sympathetic guests.

What's good about this news is the benefit to Kenya's tourist industry, which has been cursed for years by an organisation that seemed almost intent on maximising the stink of negative PR about Kenya that blew off every disappointing holiday it sold like an unemptied dustbin.

It's not as if every other company in Kenya tourism is a paragon of virtue – there's plenty of room for improvement – but this one really stood out as one to avoid, and one that was damaging Kenya's image.

Good riddance. 

35 comments:

  1. Oh dear! What a terribly biased and unjustified view. Having stayed in the Flamingo once and the Dolphin 6 times (for four weeks on each occasion as we are running a charity out here) I guess I am also entitled to an opinion.

    No-one would suggest that there have been no complaints but for every whinger there have been 10 times as many very satisfied customers.

    ASC itself has probably been badly managed in recent years and the post election violence, global recession and finally the troubles in Egypt probably caused its final demise.

    I am currently at the Dolphin hotel. The staff are carrying on as normal (no spoilt holidays)though there is a certain sadness around the place, including my own. As you say the staff are in about 12 months salary arrears but they are loyal not only because of the tips, but because they have worked for ASC for 20 or more years. ASC used to pay well and they had hoped that things would improve again.

    We have never had any complaints that have not been satifactorily and instantly dealt with. ASC have provided excellent value for money. Of course there are plusher hotels around here but I guess you get what you pay for.

    One can only hope that someone else will take over these great hotels which are in an idyllic location with fantastic staff. Almost the entire local economy is built upon these hotels and their closure would be devastating.

    This is a very sad day.

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  2. Sorry but it used to be ones the best Company in Kenyas Tourism years ago.
    I worked there in a time when you could be proud to be part of the team. I dont agree with your post but must say i left because i did not agree with the product anymore and the founder Mr.Ruedin was not in his best health anymore.
    In my time there the club paid the local staff always on time and better than 99% of there competitors. My wife and i have seen what guide books like yours and the lonly planet can do and we do not agree with your statment its to easy to kick someone on the ground.
    I bet mr. Ruedin did more good for Kenya in his Lifetime than you will ever do.
    Juergen

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  3. i also disagree with the first post, we went to Kenya in August 2009 with ASC staying at the seahorse in kalifi we have also been to the dolphin hotel we was planning to bag a bargain in April and are gutted it has ceased trading we thought there prices was unbelievable,we thought the hotel was basic but adequate for our needs the staff was fantastic and wages was discussed with our bar tender who said that sometimes wages was late but they believed they would get paid. we are very sad about the news of the closure and are hoping that someone will take it over!

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    1. we also stayed at the Sea Horse and found it charming. Food was basic but the surroundings were fantastic. Pity it has gone

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  4. Laurent Gbagbo, can't accept he lost power democratically. That is how I can describe the three comments above. The author of the post captures the exact of what African Safari Club was. Like Mobutu Sese seko and ilk, RIP Africa Safari Club.

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  5. Well I was wondering when I'd get some support for my views. Thank you, whoever you are, for the interesting "in denial" conflation!

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  6. You must be joking... !! You are missing the price offered : 14 nights in Kenya for (sometimes) less than £500, as ASC offered...?? This was the opportunity of many people travel to this so interesting destination !! Sure, people that just stay at hotel and nothing more about discovering Mombasa area would not be satisfied, because hotels didn´t offered luxury. But they were a magnificent basis to dicover the region. You must be a "all inclusive" tourist...

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  7. Thanks for your comment, Paulo. There's no question that ASC offered cheap holidays, and for clued-up clients who were prepared for the inadequacies of the hotels, they did offer a cheap base for exploring Kenya. But I think you've possibly missed the key point that most of its clients were first-time visitors to Kenya with little knowledge of the country. Any hospitality company that abuses its staff and rips off its clients is likely to fail unless it radically reforms. ASC didn't want to reform.

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  8. Kenya's tourism developed in recent years. Lets hope for an improvement.

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  9. anche io sono stata molte volte in kenya con asc
    ultima volta in dicembre 2010 hotel flamingo il migliore, ma avevo pagato per il schanzu-paradise hotel che era chiuso per riattazioni,mi dispiace che sia andata a finire male , anche perché dovevo partire al 3 aprile per 2 settimane e non mi hanno ancora rimborsato i soldi che mi hanno promesso kwaheri

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  10. Thank you so much for sharing this post, I agree that it is sad news that the company went under as they did sell holidays to Africa for a cheap price but their customers that they were aiming at were only first time visitors to Africa, most people who have experienced Africa will not mind paying the extra money to go on safari as there have been many documented cases about the staff being poor and unprofessional.

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  11. They haven't stopped even under new management and its gotten worse. See this link : http://youtu.be/9ltll_WGClA and secondly, they deny fellow Kenyan's from patronising the hotels and Kenyan's actually spend a LOT more money at hotels...you'd be very SURPRISED . I've made sure i've told all and sundry about this on my Facebook Page : Stop Racism in Hotels in Kenya ! Even after Pollmans took over, nothing changed! Still practicing racism at all the establishments and locals are locked out and treated like criminals yet we Kenyans aka Locals, spend a hell of a lot more money whenever we go on holiday! Heck, we are the ones that kept the tourism industry going when all foreign tour operators opted to sell tours in Tanzania, South Africa ...countries where locals themselves can't afford to go on holiday! I DESPISE ACs WITH A PASSION! check this link out and explain why a Kenyan tour operator should be treated like he's a thug : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9ltll_WGClA&feature=email

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  12. We stayed at the Watamu Beach Club the week before it burned down and to be honest, we loved it. Yes it was basic, but it was in a fantastic location and suited us perfectly. Much more character than the 'colonial' super expensive hotels. Maybe things had gone down hill as they ran into financial trouble, but we travel a lot and it was no worse than any other tour operator. By the way, we are not in any way associated with AFC or their employees, so we are unbiased. I do feel particularly sorry for their employees now.

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  13. Why the anonymity? Anyway, it's all history now. I felt sorry for their employees *before* the company went bust. I think it's a merciful release for most of them.

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  14. The posts here are disturbing, the issue has nothing to do with the patron's satisfaction, it has to do with how the workers were being treated, and it is such a shame to hear the people whining about their lost vacations when some workers weren't paid for over a year, and most workers at this an other 'all-inclusives' in this region are paid less than minimum wage - which is only a couple dollars a day. It is really just shameful.

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  15. hi - does anyone know what actually happened to all the properties on the North coast of Mombasa - i.e. who took them over?

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  16. i have met some people recently that enjoyed going to the dolphin and flamingo.i personally stayed at the hotel on the hill to the side of the beach but for the life of me can't remember it's name at that hotel the food gave everybody food poisoning the staff were always friendly but there was also alot of fraud by the staff and i can only put that down to piss poor wages or by the sounds of it not getting paid and the day we were returning to england we a were held up by management(and i us that term in the losest sense of the word)because they had a bill for drinks unpaid and it turned out to be a man that had been transferred to another hotel after 2 days and of course the rowing between the so called manager and a hotel guest due to the sales staff in england telling the customer if she paid for her sunbed and towel in advance she would get a refund at the resort if she didn't use it everyday,which he was unwilling to give a refund but i will say one thing about african safari club i would never have gone to kenya without there cheap holiday and the two day outing to tsvao for a safari memories i will always treasure. and that i will always think of instead of the bad times

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  17. I was six times in ASC-hotels - and it was fine. No question that it was basic - but ther price was fair, the food was good and the locations of all the hotels (Shanzu, Paradise and Flamingo) are for shure superb.

    And to some of the postings above: Don't confuse business and tourism with a senseless political disussion. To make it short: If you hand overa hotel to a local guy in kenya it will be for shure bankrupt within weeks. Some might not like to hear this but "the white man" brought a shipload of good things to Kenya: Business, health, western money, an acceptable way how to eat at tables, electricity, philosophy and - last but not least - tourists. What manmade do you get from Kenya......?

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  18. Thanks for making the effort to post a comment Mr/Ms Anonymous.

    It says how little you know about hotels in Kenya, many of which are locally owned and successful. And it neatly contradicts itself, since African Safari Club was foreign-owned. And it surely failed.

    As for the rest of your comments - colourful claptrap which will might make some people laugh (table manners - love it!). Thank goodness your viewpoint is an increasingly small minority one these days…

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  19. I was a mechanic at ASC. The vehicles where mostly old Toyota LC and Nissa E23/4. The boats at Mnarani and Mtwapa where really shit. And the swiss mechanics dumb lazybums who enjoyed to order others about.

    I don't miss any of this ASC crap. And by the way, Moi and Rudin did bleed out the country as no one before in (recent years).

    Kenya yetu.

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    1. I do agree...I worked there too. ASC went way too far and exploited people to a maximum. Good riddance!!!

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  20. Does anyone know what happened to Mama Safari, Haidsieck (the man with the cash in the suitcase) or Bachmann?

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  21. The natives at the beach wanted my socks and sandals. they where really agressiv at times. I had to flee into the water and it was awefull

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  22. I was the original Game Lodge Manager at Kimana Lodge. I did enjoy working for ASC at first, but then they introduced the wrong people into their organisation and the guests were not happy about that. The only sane person working there at that time was Dr. Kashmiri. May he R.I.P. Sad to read the comments made about the company though.

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  23. Thanks for your comment about being the original manager at Kimana Lodge. I hear what you say about being sad to read the comments made about ASC, but I'm afraid the comments about a rapacious and selfish company that had no interest in looking after its staff or promoting a positive image of Kenya are reflected in the experiences of very many guests and staff.

    If you have an alternative view of ASC, I would be very interested to hear it. You can of course also contact me privately at richard.trillo [at] me.com. I'm very interested in ensuring that Kenyans get a good deal from tourism in their country, and that visitors gain something positive and lasting from the experience of a holiday there.

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  24. My husband and I also had a wonderful 2 week holiday at Watamu with African Safari Club in 2006 where my partner proposed....We enjoyed our hotel complex, food and beach, getting to see local culture in the village and exploring East Tsavo National Park. We have recommended African Safari Club to many others. Neither of us knew what to expect when we arrived, but if they wer estill here, I would travel back with them again.......We are both very sorry about the demise of this company.

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  25. I worked in Asc for more than 20yrs but left with nothing. Sadra aka Mama Ruedin had a hand on the collapsing managment. I hate Her Passionately. She ruined the lives of many.

    CHD

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  26. I also worked for African safari club sometimes back. Sad to hear that guests got a warm welcome in ASC while us staffs suffered. I also hated that mama Ruedin. This woman what she used to do to staffs was so bad. African Safari Club can go to Hell if thats how working with Hotels entail.

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  27. who were always left dangling from a string of empty promises and who only stayed in work because they could at least expect some tips from sympathetic guests. Safari Africa

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  28. I worked at ASC from 1995 to 2000, first as a tourist officer and then as the PA to Mr Ruedin. Beneath his rough personality he was very soft! I also liked Mama Safari (Brigitte Huetzli), it took some time as she was running a tight ship but rightly so. Although it was difficult in the beginning due to the very strict policies to work there, I am so very happy that I was able to work there for 5 years, I loved Kenya and still do but going back 3 years ago, it just wasnt the same with coral and palm beach in ruins. I have the most wonderful memories of happy guests, some of which are still writing me, of stunning safaris, wonderful beach days at Yul's and more. Before anyone judges this, I have also come across the tricks the local employees used day in and out to get money from the tourists so before taking one side, look at the other one too!

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  29. mama Ruedin was the worst!

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  30. I also worked for ASC in the late 90s. Even back then there was issues with the salary. I had to really fight for my last few months salary when I left the company and the local workers had similar troubles. I remember they had a new accountant back then and he was tearing his hair out because the accounting was such an incredible mess incl. bills, salaries etc. that had not been paid. I still loved my time in Kenya, because I love the country, but the company was not at all a good one to work for. Some of the staff were horribly arrogant towards the locals. However, I would be interested to know what happened to the other nice ones.

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  31. I also worked for the company in the late 90s. Even back then there was trouble with the salaries for both the locals and myself. I loved my time there, because I love Kenya, but it was tough going at times. Back then they had a new accountant and he was pulling his hair out, because the accounting was such a mess with bills not having been paid and salaries withheld etc. Some of the staff were really arrogant towards the locals. Would love to know though what happened to the others.

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  32. It looks like there are some repeat comments going in here. Sorry for any confusion. Comments aren't posted automatically. I moderate them, and post all those that appear to be genuine. This system allows me to filter out spam and people posting advertising links.

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  33. hi i knew Roland Ruedin from the ship MS Ocean liberty. we have been working some weeks on the Red Sea for diving liveaboard trips. 1993 1994 . i would like to get in contact with Roland. so iff you read this pleade contact me. cor heeremans.

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