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“Eco does not equal filth!”

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Rivertime Resort and Ecolodge
Ranked #8 of 202 Vientiane B&B and Inns
Reviewed 5 August 2012

Started our weekend away by being picked up by a hungover staff member and things went progressively downhill from there. Greeted by Barnaby the 'resort' manager and had to reel back from the excessive alcohol fumes coming off him. Couldn't see the room as electricity out for servicing and wish we had...further explanation later...
Overall the resort has a terribly neglected and pitiful look. Everything overgrown and unloved. There is no excuse to leave tropical jungle to rot with pathways overgrown, unswept and out of control. That's not being eco, it's just lazy!
The Floating Restaurant is also looking tired and neglected and uncared for. Repairs are desperately needed and there is no legitimate reason for things to be left shabby. The staff in the restaurant were listless and bored. The food was average - most seemed frozen or fried, no fresh vegetables. It took ages for food and dirty plates etc to be cleared away and flies gathered. The place could look good if anyone cared - a few paper lanterns, some fresh, bright tablecloths and pretty scatter cushions, but it became evident throughout the rest of the day that there is no motivation from the manager other than to drink. He ended up so sloshed that he lost his balance and nearly fell, hurting his arm. He left soon after and wasn't seen again to the next morning at check out. It was a sad sight and embarrassing for one who could be setting a good example to staff and locals alike. Beware - There are nails sticking out everywhere and these are dangerous.
We went for a river cruise with some local lads who were the best staff they had. Unfortunately we did not feel like swimming in the river downstream with all the dead fish and rubbish floating down as well. This is not the fault of the resort but the manager could be putting more eco friendly measures in place by setting up daily 'clean the river' working bees together or education re clean waterways and waste management.
The room was the absolute pits. Dirty, in fact, filthy. If it was not so late the day we would have left, but I doubt there was anyone capable of driving us back after all the drink consumed! There was mould and stains on the pillows, there were holes in the walls, no cover on the manhole, cupboard falling apart, everything smelt and felt damp and just YUK!
Eco is NOT an excuse for bad health and hygiene management and to be unclean - there are plenty of eco resorts that use environmentally friendly, alternative cleaning products.
Overall a big shame! It is clear that with some love, care and attention, this place has potential, but in current hands, I fear it will continue to be allowed to deteriorate and rot.
There are far better places to stay in Laos at a cheaper price. Will not go back.

  • Stayed: August 2012, travelled with friends
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3  Thank Lisjane
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
BarnsLaos, Manager at Rivertime Resort and Ecolodge, responded to this reviewResponded 11 August 2012

First of all, you were here as part of the same group as the previous poster and you, as a group, obviously didn't like it, which clearly puts you in the minority given previous reviews, but fair enough. I can't please all of the people all of the time. However, why you felt the need to post two bad reviews rather than just one is beyond me. It makes it look like there were two groups of unhappy guests rather than just the one.

You clearly expected some 5-star resort rather than a rustic ecolodge in rural Laos and therefore didn't like it. Anyway, I'll reply to both of your reviews here.

The Nam Ngum river, which we are on, is 354 kilometres long and the Nam Ngum river basin is home to about 1 million people yet I am personally held responsible for what people throw into it? I should be sending out “clean the river working bees” to clear up a 354 km-long river? We fish out and throw away/recycle any rubbish we see and can reach but given the river is over 50 metres wide we would have to have a 24-hour boat patrol to make any difference.

Why do you presume we don't try to educate the locals about clean waterways and waste management? As is common with presumptions, yours is entirely wrong. We do try to educate the locals about such things and have had some success although people do tend to be a bit stubborn in a “don't-come-here-and-tell-us-what-to-do” way. Believe me, I try, but I cannot educate 1 million people...

The water in the river is perfectly clean. If you dangle your feet over the edge you can clearly see your toes and we swim in it every day. I have even drunk a glass of it before, with no ill effects, to show guests that it is perfectly safe. I'm pretty sure all rivers have dead fish in them...it's the cycle of life...but there are far fewer of them here than in the polluted waterways of the West.

Yes, the electricity company had cut our power for the first few hours you were here. Believe me, I would rather they didn't cut our power too but this is rural Laos not Manhattan and there is nothing I can do about it. Such things do occur and should be expected by people who travel to far-flung corners of the third world.

You were here at the height of the rainy season and things do tend to look very different in drizzly rain compared to when the sun is shining brightly as it usually is. One of the main ideas at Rivertime is to leave the forest as natural as possible in order to conserve it as natural rainforest rather than landscape it just to make it look pretty. Mother Nature knows far more than I do about such things. I think lush, green, natural rainforest looks pretty as it is myself.

This whole area used to be covered in rainforest but it has all been chopped down and sold, apart from our 1.5 hectares, so I believe it to be important to preserve one last bit of natural rainforest as it is. If we started landscaping it for purely aesthetic reasons then it would destroy the natural rainforest ecosystem. Fallen leaves serve as great mulch for the other plants, food for some animals and hiding spots for others. It has nothing to do with laziness, it is a conscious decision aimed at conserving the local flora and fauna.

We sweep the paths every single day but obviously leaves continue to fall as the day goes on. What's so bad about fallen leaves on the path anyway? They're not exactly hazardous...

The floating restaurant is 40 metres long, 12 metres wide and weighs over ten tonnes so we cannot simply lift it out, mend things, and put it back in. The wooden boards along the two sides of the restaurant area are constantly exposed to either blazing sunshine or pouring rain so obviously tend to warp thereby pushing up some of the nail heads. To say they are everywhere is a gross exaggeration and to say they are "sticking out", suggesting that the pointy end is sticking out not the flat head, is also misleading. We bang them back in or replace them constantly but it is a Sisyphean task. Why would you be walking around in a restaurant in bare feet anyway? Do you usually walk around restaurants in bare feet and then complain if you tread on something?

In the swimming pool area, where people would have bare feet, there are no nails sticking out whatsoever since there are no nails used in that section at all.

You say the staff were “listless and bored” but your friend says they were “absolutely fantastic...friendly, helpful...” which is quite a wide difference of opinion. I'll tell them not to be listless or bored again.

NONE of our food is frozen unless you count prawns, squid and bacon, which presumably you would prefer to be frozen, and ALL of our vegetables are freshly bought from the market down the road. Once again, if you look through previous reviews, you'll find nearly everyone says the food is delicious so, once again, your opinion is widely different to everyone else's.

I live and work here 7 days a week, I get no weekends off, and it's usually 12+ hours a day due to the nature of the job. It was a Saturday afternoon and one of my staff's family had come to visit and, yes, we had a few beers. Am I not allowed to relax and let my hair down now and again? Is drinking beer in my own restaurant now illegal? My driver had a hangover...so now my staff aren't allowed to drink before you even arrive? This is a holiday resort not the army and people are meant to enjoy themselves.

I can't see how it would have possibly affected your stay anyway since we were at the other end of the restaurant and didn't interfere with you in anyway. I think you are just complaining because you feel you can. I also don't see why you feel you have the right to launch personal attacks against me merely because I manage a resort which wasn't to your liking. I went to lean on the back of a chair which was there a moment before...it could have happened to anyone...

I should be setting an example to staff and locals alike? You sound as if you condescendingly consider Lao people to be poor little children who obviously can't think for themselves and should look up to Westerners as role models. Me not drinking beer would have absolutely zero effect on the beer consumption of Lao people, believe me. They are adults and perfectly capable of making their own choices in life. And of drinking beer. It's not a kindergarten.

Yes, it's damp. Especially in the rainy season. What do you expect in a rainforest in tropical SE Asia next to a huge, swollen river during the rainy season? Of course it's damp! Once more, I am being blamed for something I can do absolutely nothing about. The charcoal in your room, which you complained about, was suggested by a previous guest and is there in an effort to reduce the dampness but, unfortunately, dampness is a fact of life in a tropical SE Asian rainforest...

You once more greatly exaggerate when you talk about the state of the rooms. Yes, there are a few small holes in the thatched rattan walls due to the creatures of the forest but they do not lead to the outside since the walls have two layers and they do no harm to anyone. What do you want me to do? Tear down and replace the whole wall every time a hole appears? I have patched up the main holes with cloth flowers as you can see in your photo but obviously one of them seems to have fallen out.

While I fully agree that the soapdish should not be dirty and that that particular pillowcase should never have been used in the rooms, but personally I had to stand on tiptoe to see the dirt in the soapdish and, if you had merely mentioned it to me, since I was unaware my staff had made this particular mistake, then the pillowcase would have been changed forthwith. The same goes for the mosquito net. But no, you decided not to say anything, wait and then come on here and complain...

Hardly a day goes by when we do not continue with resort maintenance but it is impossible to keep rustic wooden bungalows in such an environment absolutely pristine and I don't think people travelling to an ecolodge in a forest in rural Laos should expect such. Most guests can see the problems we have and are far more understanding. We make it quite clear what we offer and it's quite obvious things are not 5-star if you look at previous reviews. It is not our aim to offer pristine accommodation with gleaming taps etc. Our aim is to offer a glimpse into real rural Lao life where you get to meet real Lao people who can also speak English and are quite willing to talk to guests and tell them about their lives and Lao culture. This is what most of our guests come here for. We also have several ongoing charitable projects in the area and do our best to conserve the local flora and fauna, this is what an ecolodge is meant to do, but that's obviously irrelevant if there's a hole in the wall and a leaf on the path.

Overall, I think you arrived here, decided you didn't like it and then proceeded to actively look for things to complain about and completely ignored all the positive aspects. I think you would have had to actually stand on a chair to take that photo in the corner of the ceiling. In my opinion, most of the things you complain about most travellers would consider minor when travelling to such a destination, especially when compared to the overall experience. I can't see that any of them would have any physical effect on your stay either, it's merely aesthetics.

Next time you go on holiday you should maybe try to relax and enjoy yourselves rather than seeking out things to complain about.

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54 - 58 of 115 reviews

Reviewed 5 August 2012

This place has SO MUCH potential but, unfortunately, the lack of ongoing repairs made it less than what it could have been.

While a mosquito net over the bed is a great idea, holes in the net more than 4 cm wide will not deter very many mozzies. The plywood base of the wardrobe was literally falling apart and I don't think the room had been checked for dust/dirt for weeks. The bathroom was terrific - new shower, sink, toilet & cistern, but the soap dish was full of insects and dirt - a sign that the room's cleanliness had not been checked prior to our arrival. Around the pool area was starting to deteriorate; nails were sticking dangerously out of the floorboards as well as out of the upright struts.

The Lao staff were absolutely fantastic... friendly, helpful, eager to practise their English, keen to help us with our Lao language.

We went for a boat trip up river and had planned to float downstream on rubber tubes, but decided against it after seeing many dead fish and rubbish in plastic bags floating on the water where we had intended to go. This problem may not be a direct result of the lodge's lack of care and concern for its own upkeep but, if a lodge is going to promote itself as an 'eco-lodge', then I believe it should be working towards the surrounding area's environmental health as well as in its own immediate surroundings.

I had looked forward to this weekend away. Unfortunately, I will not be recommending this place to anyone in Vientiane who's looking for some time away from the city.

  • Stayed: August 2012, travelled with friends
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1  Thank JeanneX23
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 20 July 2012

I had a few days to spare in Vientiane awaiting a visa so cycled out to the Rivertime Ecolodge and resort. Booked the cheapest room which was ok, don't expect palacial, it is remote. But the room was cheap and quite adequate. I didn't see the more expensive ones so there maybe more on offer. The main attraction is the floating restaurant, great food,extremely welcoming staff which made for a fantastic few days just swimming,eating, reading, chatting and of course an occassional Beer Lao and Lau Lao. Well reccomended.

  • Stayed: March 2012, travelled solo
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Thank David A
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 4 July 2012

I came to the Eco lodge on the recommendation of a friend. To start, the staff was super friendly and helpful. Over the course of 4 days I had several amazing conversations with owner(originally from england) and several of his staff(all originating from one of the two the local villages). The food was both tasty and reasonably priced. The restaurant adjacent to the lodge is also quite tasty. I opted for the dormitory option which during the low season amounts to a private room with shared bathroom.
Rivertime bills itself as an ecolodge. For them, that means maintaining a very sustainable footprint(minimizing construction, purchasing locally, recycling, etc...) and supporting the local community. The lodge encourages education and learning english through a combination of financial support and a bit of volunteer work. I was lucky to arrive at the start of a new program started by a Laos national who grew up in the USA. The lodge provided staff, housing, and transportation to help him start a new football program geared at kids. Guests were encouraged to come out and help. All in all, I was quite impressed by the genuine desire to help the lodge showed. Many other places use ecolodge more as a marketing point - Rivertime uses it more as a reminder of why they are there.

Room Tip: If you are wanting wi-fi in your room, mention that to them ahead of time. Certain rooms get a stro...
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  • Stayed: June 2012, travelled solo
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2  Thank ClaytonianG
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 29 April 2012 via mobile

Absolutely loved my five nights at the Rivertime. Really got the feel of Laos culture and it's amazing people. Spent Lao Pii Mai here and will never forget it. A million thanks to Barnaby, all staff and "Mr.Paul" for making my stay so memorable. Massage by the lady from the village was the best I've ever had. Food was superb and the beer was cold. Very reasonable prices aswell. Would love to go back and probably will. Thanks again, Bettina

  • Stayed: April 2012
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Thank Finland55
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about Rivertime Resort and Ecolodge

Address: Ban Thadokkam, Vientiane 0100, Laos (Formerly Rivertime Resort and Ecolodge)
Region: Laos > Vientiane Prefecture > Vientiane
Amenities:
Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Pets Allowed ( Dog / Pet Friendly ) Restaurant Swimming Pool
Hotel Style:
Ranked #8 of 202 B&Bs / Inns in Vientiane
Price Range: S$13 - S$26 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Number of rooms: 9
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
We are a riverside ecolodge resort only 30 km outside of Vientiane which offers a true taste of rural Lao life but with most of the comforts of home. We have a floating restaurant on the river and offer a range of activities such as local village tours, tubing, cooking classes, massage, a sauna nearby, boat trips, fishing, free bicycles etc. We do our best to live in harmony with both the local people and the surrounding forest. We also donate $2 per guest night to local education and community projects. ... more   less 
Also Known As:
Rivertime Resort And Ecolodge Hotel Vientiane
Rivertime Hotel And Ecolodge
Rivertime Hotel Vientiane

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