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Big Disappointment at KBR


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#21 jcclink

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Posted 11 December 2006 - 02:31 PM

I stayed at Lembeh Resort the last wk in Oct & KBR the first wk in Nov 2006. Had good food at both places, clean rooms, great dive guides, nitrox, etc. No problems at either resort. While in some respects the 2 resorts are similar, you can tell LR is newer. Not to say that KBR is run down - its just obviously an older establishment. Maybe KBR just got a new cook - don't know - but I heard few complaints about the food. If I had to choose one resort for my next stay it probably would be LR, but would not be disappointed if I had to stay at KBR. Both resorts have great guides but a couple at KBR have been diving the area from day one. The thing I noticed the most on this trip (compared to 2 yrs ago) was a general decline in the amount of marine life. Species were present but numbers were missing. This was not just Lembeh. I also experienced this at Raja Ampat & Bali. The locals agreed that this year has been different. No real explanations. Hopefully all the fishies return next year.
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#22 LChan

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Posted 11 December 2006 - 11:55 PM

Hey Jim.

welcome back. good diving with you at KBR. Looks like you bought that VR lens ;)


in reply:
I had a great experience at KBR. But then that was the only place I have been in that area. I thought the food was good, the diving was spectacular, and the rooms were above average. I have been to many dive locations, and I would certainly want to come back to KBR. I certainly would not have left before my vacation was over.

Essentially, expectations didn't meet reality. I think people just need to realize that the areas where the diving is incredible, also tend to be far off 3rd world countries where electricity and running water were put in not so long ago. One could always go to a nice swanky resort with all of the amenities, but then the iving may suck.

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#23 TimG

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Posted 17 December 2006 - 01:00 AM

I had a week at KBR in January 2006. I have to say my experience was nothing like the original post. The rooms were, I thought, really nice - dark wood for sure, but comfortable local-style furniture, nice drapes, good bathrooms, spacious and ocean views. A terrific infinity-style swimming pool.

Food was good, plenty of it - and maybe better than a lot of European-style food in that part of the world. Yeah, the pace of delivery was "leisurely" but no problems getting food on time to dive.

I thought the service very good: friendly, helpful and usually delivering what was asked for. The DMs were superb.

Bottom line, I'd go back for sure. And you can't say better than that.

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#24 Drew

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Posted 17 December 2006 - 01:54 AM

I've been going to KBR annually(sometimes twice) since 94/5 when Larry Smith was "head honcho". Back then they advertised "fine diving" and used ecologically sound methods like using dead wood etc to make the cabins. They had the 24hr kitchen later but pioneered the photographer's room and the term "muck diving". Other than a former employee operating out of Bitung and the day boats from Manado occasionally dropping over, KBR had the run of Lembeh Straits for a few years. And they charged accordingly.
Then came Lembeh Resort. I visited the place as they just completed the bungalows. Both Hans Schwarz (german editor) and I were bothered by the lack of breeze being on the leeward side of Lembeh Island (and situated in a valley) and noted they had modern things like a/c etc. I, personally, dislike a/c and loved the breeze KBR has in the evenings. However, while some people were unhappy with the stairs, I look at it as getting some much needed exercise.
Now with liveaboards and 4 other resorts, Lembeh is fast growing and competition has driven prices down. KBR responded by building ugly (imho) extensions and even a pool (which seeing what goes into the straits isn't all that bad an idea but seriously a pool?!?). As for food, KBR and Lembeh have decent chefs and the 24 hr kitchen is awesome for someone like me.
Still, quesadillas and spaghetti?!? Gringo food for gringos. I sometimes go to Bitung to get some local food, something you can't do as easily at LR.
Basically, the resorts at LembehStraits cater to different people. I know people who swear by LR or KBR for whatever reason, KBR being the first big resort has bragging rights but they are not perfect, having pissed off locals to the point where for one trip we had teenagers with AKs on the boat. Rather disconcerting. A lot of LR's exemplary points came from KBR's ex-manager.
Depelo's experience at KBR is very shocking indeed. And not the KBR I know. However, with the other forum members chiming in, it would seem his experience is the exception rather than the rule. It always pays to research the places you are going to, esp for cuisine and diving. I remember one person coming from the UK wondering where all the coral was and why we were all diving in sand and getting angry that we didn't do more coral reef dives? Obviously not a well researched trip.

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#25 DeanB

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Posted 18 December 2006 - 09:32 AM

In a way I agree with Mr priest as in the Americans do tend to complain more BUT its not always a bad thing. If the majority of divers going to any area are yanks then hospitality tends to be good in fear of getting their arses sued :wacko: My aunty came over from Missouri and boy did she moan when things weren't right..Sometimes it was embarrassing, but others well deserved.

Still being english we do tend to shut up and get on with it. But I agree if you've saved up a fortune and the holiday (to you) is shite then moan away. But hopefully you moaned to the right people and they listened and bought a Mexican cook book. One of the best Mexicans I had was on a little greek Island..She was pretty ;)

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#26 Kelpfish

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Posted 23 December 2006 - 07:58 AM

My wife and I were at KBR in 2005 and our expectations was the diving. It was exceptional. We never over-anticipate 3rd world rooms and food, even though they might think its delicious. We were very pleased with our rooms (not 5 star but very satisfactory) and the fact that they supplied mosquito coils to burn and fend off the bugs. I am at Coco View right now and am getting eaten alive in my bed!! The food at KBR was good if you hone in and find the right menu items for you. Not everything is American-expected quality so you gotta find those items you like. I also had an initial concern about NOT GETTING ANY PICTURES because the group was too big and the bottom got stirred up easily. I talked with their manager and he made some small adjustments that made a huge difference. I would go back to KBR in an instant.

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#27 okuma

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Posted 01 January 2007 - 09:37 PM

In November, we were surprised to read of "Depelos" disappointment of his experiences at KBR. As we were scheduled to dive there in late December, we with held comment until returning from our most recent visit. We had previously dived there in 1997 and twice again in 2005.

I am offering our comments, not to argue with other members but to share our observations of KBR based upon 65 other foreign dive trips over the past 29 years.

These are in no particular order:
1. With a resort capacity of about 35 divers, KBR processes a large number of divers through each year. They have the system developed and if one stays within it, it works very smoothly. We have seen it improved over the past visits.
2. When they are at about 50% full or more, breakfast and lunch is buffet style. Other wise it is order from the menu. If you do not see your item in the buffet, it can be requested. Since most of the food from the menu is cooked to order, one can not expect to place an order and have it arrive with in minutes. This is clearly explained at arrival. We normally head for breakfast about 60 minutes before the morning dive and have more than enough time. The menu is a combination of Indonesian, Euro/American and Mexican food. Coming from southern California, we find the Mexican selections to be quite good and the food service, in general, to be above average. We consider KBR to be primarily a diving resort and if one seeks a higher level of dining, a resort more directed towards that area would be more rewarding!
3. We stay at the upgraded cabins for a slightly increased charge. This includes; A/C, mini bar, TV, 24 hour room service and increased maid service. Requests for extra pillows or bathroom tissue are usually completed with in minutes. At a daily rate of about US$225/day including 3 dives and food, this is approximately $100/day below quality live aboard rates. It is a good deal!
4. The 'muck' at KBR is composed of very fine, black volcanic sand. It gets into every thing, including your camera gear. Consequently, camera care/maintenance is paramount! A well lighted, separate camera work room is located near the dive shack and it is better to work here rather than in an air conditioned room where cold induced moisture could be problematical. At the beginning of one dive we had a strobe go down. With no time to replace it before the dive boat left, the resort manager offered his own personal camera for our use. You can't ask for more!
5. Divers are usually assigned to the boats with respect to groups traveling together or as to their skill/photographic levels. Each day, telephone calls are made to the other resorts in the area to co ordinate dive sites and to respond to diver's requests for particular subjects. We believe the dive guides are among some of the best in the world; some are new, while others have been with the resort since it's beginning. They consider it a challenge to 'fill' out a list of special subjects. Beginning last year, they are being sent to dive masters school (PADI?).
6. As with many dive sites, they wax and wane over the years, however we believe KBR to be among the most consistent producer of unique photo subjects.

Well, that's about enough. As can be seen from reading other postings in this thread, divers have varying expectations and as for us, we're already thinking about out next return to KBR.

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