Monday, May 05, 2014

El Djenne Djenno es un hotel muy especial

I am in constant touch with Hotel Djenné Djenno and very thrilled that we have had a whole series of very good new Trip Advisor reviews. This is surprising considering there have been only a few visitors, and the US state Department still insist on putting up the following travel warning:
The U.S. Department of State warns U.S. citizens against all travel to Mali because of ongoing fighting in northern Mali, fluid political conditions, and continuing threats of attacks and kidnappings of westerners. While the security situation in Bamako remains relatively stable, there are ongoing security concerns and military operations taking place in the northern and western parts of the country. Mali continues to face challenges including food shortages, internally displaced persons, and the presence in northern Mali of factions linked to Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM). ...

However, many other nations are beginning to loosen up, and the hotel is certainly doing better this year than last, as the following Trip Advisor reviews confirm:

El Djenne Djenno es un hotel muy especial
says one Spanish review and continues in Google’s colourful translation:

First, by its location: at the gates of Djenne, one of the most beautiful, least conventional and more authentic places left in this world. But not only that. Sophie Sarin, its charming owner, has created a cozy accommodation with all the amenities you need visitors but perfectly integrated in its environment. Tasty and imaginative food. Personal attention. The architecture of the hotel is a spectacular experience,  enlivened by the singing of birds, the sunset on the terrace when the sun hides behind the mosque of Djenné ;  breakfast, dinner by the light of the lamps, under the stars. A place to visit at least once in life.

Jane from Australia who stayed last January writes a lovely review and says: “Hotel Djenne Djenno is like a dream - a must when visiting Mali.” She also gives Papa the chef compliments about the food and she wants to reassure travellers about the security situation: “Rest assured, despite the scary TV coverage last year, this region of Mali is safe and tourists are very very welcome.”

There is a new German review that opines: “sehr schönes hotel” . However, this review contains a worrying part. The traveller writes: “a little remote, but very clean and quiet. Food and rooms are great! The only drawback was that we already at breakfast were accosted by a very intrusive guide who wanted to sell a tour.   We learned later from the owner that he was not allowed to offer his tours at the hotel. He had taken advantage of her brief absence.”

I have a very bad reputation amongst the guides of Djenné because I do not allow them in to the hotel grounds unless they are accompanying a hotel guest. They are certainly NOT allowed to approach the hotel guests when they are sitting at breakfast- or any other time! But this is a thorny subject. I have at times been too over protective of my guests and I have attempted to remove guides who were bona fide companions of my hotel guests, thinking they were loitering. In one or two cases the guests have then been annoyed and I have even been accused of being a racist!
 The hotel staff is less likely to keep the guides out now when I am not around, since some of the guides are their friends... I tell myself that if this is the worst that happens at the hotel in my absence it is perhaps not the end of the world, and I am still very pleased with my team. And one other review that was written just a couple of days ago bears me up on that:

 We loved Djenne Djenno. Despite the fact that Sophie, the owner, wasn't there - the service was brilliant. We loved the architecture and the roof terrace is a lovely touch. It's amazing to drink the homemade cocktails (rum and gingembre - one of the best drinks i've ever had!) as the sun goes down over Djenne. Rooms were well designed and comfy with aircon. The staff were incredibly helpful - even driving in to town 3 times in order to book us tickets for transport. The food was delicious and it was great eating by candlelight under the stars. We felt completely fine and safe in Djenne despite the conflict continuing in the North. HIghly recommended.


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