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Big Disappointment at KBR


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#1 depelos

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Posted 24 November 2006 - 07:40 AM

I have been dreaming of going to dive Lembeh Strait for years and I've always heard such great things about Kungkungan Bay Resort ("KBR") there in Lembeh. So I saved up my pennies and went to Bali and then Lembeh in October. I was so looking forward to staying at KBR, enjoying their 24 hour kitchen with unlimited food, and experiencing some great macro/muck diving. KBR picked me up at the airport and the staff was very friendly. I check in and am dying to use the restroom after a 1.5 hr drive. I go to my room, which was fine but certainly not what I would consider nice (nor worth the price), I go into the bathroom and am immediately shocked at the pee smell and the dried pee all over the toilet and nearby. I was disgusted that such a "quality" (AND NOT CHEAP) resort would have overlooked this. I complained and it was cleaned 10 minutes later. My impression of KBR had started an immense descent down the drain. Over the next 2 days, I had some great diving, however, meal time was another story. I don't think I've had slower service many other places and the food was mediocre when it finally arrived. A chicken quesadilla consisted of two tortillas with onions, tomatoes, and other veggies put together. The cheese and chicken must have fallen off on the way to my table. Now, I did mainly try local dishes, which were better, but if you can't make a chicken quesadilla, don't put it on the menu! Everyone there complained about the slow service and ordering your breakfast 30 minutes before boat departure would give you about 1 minute to wolf down your food. To top it all off, my camera stopped working on the 2nd day, and I still don't know why, so I couldn't take any more pictures. But I kept diving still anxious to see all those pigmy frogfish, mimic octopus, etc., etc. but I got extremely frustrated real quick when the dive guides would continuously spend 5 minutes or more in one spot molesting a shrimp or crab so that it would be out in the open for a particular photographer who would snap 100's of photos of anything interesting. I was totally ignored by the guides and this went on for one whole day. Finally, I had had enough and I got a car to take me to the airport. I was losing half of my paid week at KBR and I had to buy a new plane ticket, but I didn't care. I felt so let down by KBR, I just had to flee. Maybe my biggest problem was that I had just come from Scuba Seraya in Tulamben, Bali where I paid half as much as KBR, I had an amazing room and bathroom, awesome diving, and wonderful food and service. So, I'm already planning my return trip to Scuba Seraya, but KBR, you won't see me again!

#2 randapex

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Posted 24 November 2006 - 09:54 AM

Hi depelos,

Sorry to hear your expectations were not met at KBR. My kneejerk response would be, where did you read that the food would be good, the rooms clean and fresh and that the DM's wouldn't bother the critters?...LOL!
Truly, the experience you had, sounds average but also, very normal. I've eaten dinner at KBR, in fact, the chiken quesadilla was my choice as well. Blech! But I've never stayed at the resort. I've nearly starved on every trip to Lembeh because the food is so bad. (I hate curry) Pouring water in the toilet so it would flush, and finally figuring out I'd do better consientiously, diving without the guides if I didn't want to see them molest the critters.
Try Kima Bajo resort next time if you'd like better accomodations and food.

Rand

Edited by randapex, 24 November 2006 - 09:57 AM.

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#3 ronrosa

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Posted 24 November 2006 - 09:56 AM

Wow, sorry to hear about your disappointment.

I'm surprised you decided to leave mid trip especially if it was already paid for.

#4 tdpriest

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Posted 24 November 2006 - 12:14 PM

I've not travelled to that part of the world, and it sounds pretty dreadful.

It sounds just like the comments I read about the Blue Lagoon in Truk...
... where the food was fine, if not very interesting, and the rooms were basic.

Hotels in the Marshall Islands are also rather basic: no water for most of the day, but that's because the atolls are a bit low on water for the size of their population, and if the hotel loses its desalination, then the water is suddenly a precious commodity.

I am no longer surprised when divers, usually from the USA in my experience, moan about the peripherals. The diving's the thing! I've put up with hole-in-the-floor toilets, stringy chicken and water with instant (and unfortunate) effects on my intestines for the sake of getting wet (and all for 36 exposures of Fujichrome).

Perhaps we Europeans live in squalor. After all medicine can't have been invented by the Egyptians, cities by the Iraqis, science by the Greeks and plumbing by the Italians....


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#5 JackConnick

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Posted 24 November 2006 - 01:51 PM

Yes, Blue Lagoon and many restaurants in places like Fiji are crawlingly slow.

But gees, so you had one bad dish, one dirty toilet that was cleanned.
I wouldn't expect mexican food to be good there anyway.

And how is it their fault that your camera didn't work? Of course the guides are going to spend time with the photographers, that's why people go there. Did you tell them you weren't shooting and ask for a change?

I know you didn't have a great time, I agree with Rand - Kima Bajo rocks, but I don't see all of this as KBR's fault. Traveling in a 3 world country no matter what the resort requires flexibility.

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#6 Rattus

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Posted 24 November 2006 - 02:28 PM

Hi Johnathan,

It's a real shame you didn't enjoy your Lembeh section, but I appreciate you flagging up your experience. It's a shame to feel disappointed by a trip you were really looking forward to, for whatever the reason. Any joy with getting your camera working again?

Take it easy,

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#7 markhardy

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Posted 24 November 2006 - 04:44 PM

Hi Depelos,

I stayed at KBR a few years ago and have to agree that the food was not always great. I live in the Far East and fortunately I like Asian food.... which is by far the best way to go when choosing your dinner in this neck of the woods. For sure you shouldn't have expected good Mexican food from a dive lodge in Asia. And that is effectively what KBR is - a dive lodge, not unlike the sort of place I used to stay in on Sipadan where you go for some of the best diving in the world and not for creature comforts (despite the price).

The dive guides 3 years ago were fantastic. Martin Edge and I still talk about our favourite one, wishing that we could have him with us on all our dives. Yes, he/they did a cracking job of helping us photographers find our favourite subjects, but I destinctly remember that they were (then) very conscious about not harrassing the wild life.

I'm sorry that the place didn't live up to your expectations, but am just as sorry that you didn't stick with it (after having had a good chat with the manager about your issues). Mind you, I can't think of nything worse than being in KBR with a busted camera.... Ouch!

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#8 V_kids

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Posted 24 November 2006 - 06:36 PM

I agree with you!

i was at KBR 1 month ago
from my poersonal experience, the diving was superb
however, the food was very baddddddddd
specially the breakfast.
I paid $ 5 for the buffet breakfast everyday for 1 week.
The food they served you is not event worth of $2
they served you almost the same thing everyday
fried rice (without any meet inside, only vegy + egg)
toast bread
egg
some fruits
and some vegy noodle

basically, no meet at all for breakfast, not even some bacon or ham

I was amazed with this kind of service!
I did ask them to cook some ala carte breakfast for me. However, they answer me
"sorry, it will take a long time to cook a breakfast for you... therefore why dont you just pay and join the buffet breakfast"
??????????????????? :)


I have no complaint for the diving service, eco-divers is one of the best diving operator in North Sulawesi.


Im not going back to KBR anymore.
I prefer to stay at the new resort called
kasawari-lembeh.com
they just opened in August this year
the owner if from thailand (the same owner with AQUA-ONE luxury live on board)
the location of this kasawari-lembeh resort is just next to KBR
you should check it out
(www.kasawari-resort.com)









I have been dreaming of going to dive Lembeh Strait for years and I've always heard such great things about Kungkungan Bay Resort ("KBR") there in Lembeh. So I saved up my pennies and went to Bali and then Lembeh in October. I was so looking forward to staying at KBR, enjoying their 24 hour kitchen with unlimited food, and experiencing some great macro/muck diving. KBR picked me up at the airport and the staff was very friendly. I check in and am dying to use the restroom after a 1.5 hr drive. I go to my room, which was fine but certainly not what I would consider nice (nor worth the price), I go into the bathroom and am immediately shocked at the pee smell and the dried pee all over the toilet and nearby. I was disgusted that such a "quality" (AND NOT CHEAP) resort would have overlooked this. I complained and it was cleaned 10 minutes later. My impression of KBR had started an immense descent down the drain. Over the next 2 days, I had some great diving, however, meal time was another story. I don't think I've had slower service many other places and the food was mediocre when it finally arrived. A chicken quesadilla consisted of two tortillas with onions, tomatoes, and other veggies put together. The cheese and chicken must have fallen off on the way to my table. Now, I did mainly try local dishes, which were better, but if you can't make a chicken quesadilla, don't put it on the menu! Everyone there complained about the slow service and ordering your breakfast 30 minutes before boat departure would give you about 1 minute to wolf down your food. To top it all off, my camera stopped working on the 2nd day, and I still don't know why, so I couldn't take any more pictures. But I kept diving still anxious to see all those pigmy frogfish, mimic octopus, etc., etc. but I got extremely frustrated real quick when the dive guides would continuously spend 5 minutes or more in one spot molesting a shrimp or crab so that it would be out in the open for a particular photographer who would snap 100's of photos of anything interesting. I was totally ignored by the guides and this went on for one whole day. Finally, I had had enough and I got a car to take me to the airport. I was losing half of my paid week at KBR and I had to buy a new plane ticket, but I didn't care. I felt so let down by KBR, I just had to flee. Maybe my biggest problem was that I had just come from Scuba Seraya in Tulamben, Bali where I paid half as much as KBR, I had an amazing room and bathroom, awesome diving, and wonderful food and service. So, I'm already planning my return trip to Scuba Seraya, but KBR, you won't see me again!


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#9 AllisonFinch

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Posted 24 November 2006 - 08:24 PM

:)
I am leaving for Raja Ampat and Lembeh in January. Luckily, I am staying at Kasawari Lodge. I am hoping that since it is new, the amenities will be better. If not, I'll suck it up and Dive Dive Dive. I will eat cat food if I have to to stay and dive away.

#10 scorpio_fish

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Posted 29 November 2006 - 01:19 PM

I had heard of such experiences at KBR, which is why we choice Lembeh Resort year before last. While the food wasn't exceptional, it was definitely OK and the rooms were superb.
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#11 crcdiver

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Posted 30 November 2006 - 09:10 AM

Lembeh Resort got a new dining manager and chef.

#12 scubamarli

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Posted 30 November 2006 - 01:55 PM

Here's the correct link for Kasawari:
http://www.kasawari-lembeh.com/

I shall think again about a planned return to KBR in 2008. Certainly sounds nothing like my experience in 2001, before the ownership changed.

Cheers,
Marli
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#13 rinjani

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Posted 30 November 2006 - 02:26 PM

The food at Lembeh Resort (LR) is pretty good, right across from KBR. Too bad you didn't have a great time at KBR. Even so, the diving is the thing and Lembeh has some great critter diving. - you should have seen Wakatobi ten years ago (though I think it was probably preferable then with five divers at the place, rather than 30+ they have now), bad transportation, medicore food, no showers, just a plastic bucket. :(

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#14 davidrodkeller

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Posted 30 November 2006 - 02:54 PM

you should have seen Wakatobi ten years ago (though I think it was probably preferable then with five divers at the place, rather than 30+ they have now), bad transportation, medicore food, no showers, just a plastic bucket. :(


The difference is that in those days Wakatobi wasn't promising anything other than facilities, something to fill your stomach and a place to sleep. I was there in '97 and was told the Longhouse, no bungaloes and such in those days as you well know, was built so it could be moved away easily when the resort failed. I guess they weren't expecting to last this long or expand as they have. And like another much earlier, similar concept, Capt. Don's Habitat in Bonaire during the late 70's, the idea and the promise was lots of diving and little else.

In the case of KBR, they promise much more and so the disappointment and sense of being cheated is heightened a bit. I sympathize with this traveler.
Thanks,
DRK

#15 davidrodkeller

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Posted 30 November 2006 - 05:01 PM

I am no longer surprised when divers, usually from the USA in my experience, moan about the peripherals. The diving's the thing! I've put up with hole-in-the-floor toilets, stringy chicken and water with instant (and unfortunate) effects on my intestines for the sake of getting wet (and all for 36 exposures of Fujichrome).

I personally don't see a problem with someone, American or not, stating quite simply that the promised, expected and paid for accomodations and service wasn't delivered. I'm certain not everyone would agree with me but for their current pricing levels I think KBR blows, however for a lesser percentage of the price it would be an acceptable landbase for the diving. Nevertheless there is no "moan" in letting others know about one's own disappointing experience.

Nor is there is any great honor in paying good money for stringy chicken and a case of the trots.
Thanks,
DRK

#16 whitehead

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Posted 01 December 2006 - 04:51 AM

"Here's the correct link for Kasawari:
http://www.kasawari-lembeh.com/"


I have known both Kung and Poo (the owners; BTW their names translate to Shrimp and Crab respectively) for a number of years now - indeed I first met Poo in Lembeh even though I lived on the next street (in Bangkok) at the time.

Both the brothers are of the highest standard both at a personal level and professionally and they run their company as both professionals and as avid UW photographers and videographers.

I guarantee you will not be disappointed with their service. They are regarded as THE pinnacle amongst Thais as dive operators and are perhaps the only Thai operator I know without dual pricing standards (I know - I begged!)- they are that good. If it were not for my current problems that have stopped me diving I would be over there now basking in the luxury and critters.

Paul

Edited by whitehead, 01 December 2006 - 05:01 AM.


#17 wwu123

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Posted 07 December 2006 - 05:45 PM

Another endorsement here for the brand-new Kasawari Lembeh resort, where I just got back from staying for four nights. I haven't stayed at the KBR or Lembeh Resort, which are closely priced, so I can't make a direct comparison, but the service and facilities were fantastic for the price for my expectations for a boutique dive resort, even more so for one that effectively operates like a luxury "land-based liveaboard". Even better right now everything is brand-new - my usual expectation of dive resorts as they age is that anything that can't hold up to daily seawater-soaked gear eventually is replaced by spartan rattan furniture.

The villas are very nice for this price range, with a modern Asia sensibility and decor - typically clean geometric lines, dark stained wood, with a Thai cushion here and a flower bud there. Fluffy pure white down comforter with silk runner on the bed. Amazing marble and sandstone bathroom that I'd again not expect in a dive-only resort, though designed in a way I think will hold up very nicely over time. (The bathroom was frankly nicer than the one in the recently renovated Mandarin Oriental hotel in Singapore where we stayed on the way back.) Wonderful pure white fluffy towels, changed as often as we wanted them, and lots and lots of hot, hot water for showers. Pajama robes for sleeping and indoor slippers, so you don't have to track dirt from your booties or shoes into the room.

Food was good, not exceptional, but very good by "dive resort standards". Everything cooked when ordered - no buffets here - and carefully presented. They were out of prawns when I was there, so the menu was a bit more limited, but a decent mix of Western and Asian flavors. I'd say overall all the dishes had a more Asian tilt, as certain spices or flavors common in Western cooking were very subtle or not used - e.g. black pepper, mayonnaise, mustard, tangy cheeses.

Diving was really structured as I mentioned like a land-based liveaboard (I understand most of the other Lembeh resorts are also similarly excellent in this regard), and I'm somewhat speculating on this as my wife and I can get seasick and so we've never done an actual liveaboard. Very convenient facilities for your gear and camera equipment just a minute from the boat dock, not that you ever had to carry it back and forth yourself. The only other place I've stayed that made it so convenient to dive was the CoCoView in Roatan. Usually my wife is done after two dives, but here she did every single dive over 3 1/2 days. I thought it was even a bit of overkill that to do Jahir, the house reef, we'd actually all get into the boat and motor out for one minute.

Camera room has individual workstations with 120 and 220 V power, fresh towels, lint-free (I think) tissues, compressed air, and a basket system to carry your gear back and forth from the boat.

Satellite internet was just up and running when we got there, with wireless access from all villas - about two-way 100-200Kbps and no latency. A lounge off the dining room with satellite TV, DVD player, and lots of new dive books and magazines.

Dive guides and service staff were all very professional, I think some have had some years of experience at the other Lembeh resorts. I also met the owner-brothers, who were both there at different times, and they were both very friendly and genuinely interested in any suggestions or improvements for the place, but we really had none we could think of. All in all a great stay.

#18 Graham Abbott

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Posted 10 December 2006 - 10:10 PM

Dwi and I went to check out both KBR and Lembeh Resort, we thought KBR was far superior, while we at Lembeh Resort the food was not all that good and KBR was actaully slightly better. I have heard the food there has improved, we only recomend and send oru friends and clients to Lembeh Resort, this wya we have no complaints about anything!

#19 jtresfon

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Posted 10 December 2006 - 10:45 PM

I spent a week at KBR in August.

I found the rooms to be absolutely stunning. They are beautiful wooden chalets that blend into the surroundings beautifully. They were basic and rustic, but immaculately clean.

The food was very not very exciting, but certainly adequate and sustaining, and the service was fine. To avoid having to wolf down the food at the last minute one merely had to start early enough to allow sufficient time for the kitchen staff to prepare the meal. Most of the breakfast was buffet style in any case.

The staff were brilliant. Other than the incredible diving, their friendly "can do" attitude was what made the trip something to remember.

The diving was mindblowing, and the dive guides a must. Even the non camera toting divers were treated to their own guide, and saw just as much if not more than the shutterbugs who tended to have tunnel vision (or lens vision!)

I did not think that the prices were unreasonable.

Ultimately one goes there to dive, and the rest is just the garnish on the meal. I would go back in a heartbeat.

Jean.

PS. I found Tasik Rea to be a different story!

#20 docrobina

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Posted 11 December 2006 - 05:26 AM

I spent a week at KBR in August.

I found the rooms to be absolutely stunning. They are beautiful wooden chalets that blend into the surroundings beautifully. They were basic and rustic, but immaculately clean.

The food was very not very exciting, but certainly adequate and sustaining, and the service was fine. To avoid having to wolf down the food at the last minute one merely had to start early enough to allow sufficient time for the kitchen staff to prepare the meal. Most of the breakfast was buffet style in any case.

The staff were brilliant. Other than the incredible diving, their friendly "can do" attitude was what made the trip something to remember.

The diving was mindblowing, and the dive guides a must. Even the non camera toting divers were treated to their own guide, and saw just as much if not more than the shutterbugs who tended to have tunnel vision (or lens vision!)

I did not think that the prices were unreasonable.

Ultimately one goes there to dive, and the rest is just the garnish on the meal. I would go back in a heartbeat.



I am in agreement with the above post. I was there in fall 2004. Yes a couple years ago, but I had friends staying at the same time at Lembeh Resort. I LOVED my bungalow at KBR. They hated trudging up and down the steps to their much smaller room. I didn't expect food of gourmet quality, but was pleasantly pleased with my meals. Each was made to order, including breakfast, except for one day on buffet. If you wanted food cooked to order, you just had to ask and have enough time for them to prepare it.
Dinner orders were requested BEFORE we went on the night dive, so they could have it prepared when we returned. Perfect timing, with little waiting. No upset tummies at KBR. My friends both got severely upset tummies, which prevented both diving for several days and going to Tamkoko to see the Tarsiers on our last non-diving day.
I believe the DM talk enough between all the resorts for them all to know which critter is where. So the diving would be about the same. Except that the DMs went out of their way for me, why? I don't know, but some even stayed and dived with me even though they were off the clock. So I sometimes had two guides all to myself! :blink:
And what a wonderful camera room KBR has. ;)
Costs were similar enough to not matter.
Now, there is Kasawari, which has raised the standard, and I also want to go there, but it is a small resort, and if it were full, I would choose KBR over Lembeh Resort.

I too was at Wakatobi before the big developments... in 2002. Just after getting the landing strip, but before the desalinators, and before they had food that was not fish and rice to eat.... three times a day. Talk about
monotonous. Brackish water in the bathrooms, spotty hot water, no air con, sometimes unable to get the boat out to dive due to the tides and shallow drafts. Amazing what they did in a few years.

Just like anything else, speaking to the right people when there is a problem is all you have to do, and any of the places mentioned in this thread would probably bend over backwards to try to please you and correct the problem.