Ai-Ais Hot Springs Spa...
Ai-Ais Hot Springs Spa: Our full report
Ai-Ais Hot Springs Spa lies at the Southern end of Fish River Canyon, in a scenic area beside natural sulphurous hot springs, from which it got its name, as Ai-Ais means 'burning water' in the Nama language. It was completely renovated in August 2009, and the lodge now offers a relaxing stop for those travelling between South Africa and Namibia and for those visiting Fish River Canyon.
With 43 rooms, Ai-Ais offers a range of accommodation choices. There are 16 river view double rooms and 20 mountain view doubles rooms, as well as seven premier chalets that can also be used for families. When we last visited in June 2011, we found these room descriptions to be somewhat ambiguous, as the river view rooms look out over the campsites and the pool with the mountains behind, and the mountain view rooms are so close to the mountain, that perhaps 'rock view' might be a more appropriate name!
Other than the view, the river view and mountain view rooms are very similar, decorated in various shades of beige, with a double bed in the centre, a fridge, tea and coffee facilities, air conditioning and a small balcony. The rooms are well finished and clean and all have en-suite bathrooms, but the river view rooms also have an outdoor shower, although not with a view. Liquid soap, shampoo and towels are provided. It's worth noting that all the double rooms lead off the main indoor pool, which is convenient for those using the pool but we imagine this would make them quite noisy when the pool was busy.
The premier chalets are set away from the main building and are therefore quieter. These large chalets are suitable for families or friends travelling together, and have self catering facilities including a fridge, a stove, a microwave, a kettle and crockery, cutlery and pots and pans. As well as a kitchen there's also a dining room, a lounge with a TV, a small courtyard with a jacuzzi, two bedrooms (one twin one double), two bathrooms and an outdoor braai area.
Camping facilities are also available and at busy times guests may find tents pitched right in front of the main building and the outdoor pool.
The main area of Ai-Ais consists of a large complex containing the indoor pool fed by a natural spring, restaurant, bar, reception and curio shop which also sells basic food supplies. The indoor pool is fed by a hot spring, and so the temperature is warm. This is not really a swimming pool but more of a relaxing, soaking pool. Around the pool are various chairs and loungers for relaxing. Outside, opposite the main area is an outdoor pool, which is also warm but not as warm as the indoor pools.
Next to the indoor pool is the spa, which offers a variety of treatments (that must be pre booked) including various massages, facials, hydrotherapy and manicures and pedicures, all for an extra cost.
Other than relaxing in the hot pools, activities available at Ai-Ais include hikes in Fish River Canyon, guided nature walks, and visits to the canyon. The spa can also be visited and used (for a fee) by those staying at other camps in the area.
Our viewFor those who prefer to relax and take things a little more slowly, Ai-Ais Hot Springs Spa offers a place to do just that. Although a larger lodge, with less personal attention than others, it's location means that guests can drive themselves to the main view points of Fish River Canyon in the morning and soak in the hot springs in the afternoon.
Ideal length of stay: 2-3 nights
Directions: From Keetmanshoop, turn left off the B4 onto the C12, a bumpy road which you follow for 75 kilometres. Then turn right onto the C37, and follow it until it joins the C10. Turn right and follow the road to the end, where you will find Ai-Ais. From the South African border follow the C13 north until it joins the C37 at Aussenkehr. Turn right and follow the C37 for 51km, then turn left onto the C10. Follow this road to the end, where the spa is located.
Owner: Property chain
Food & drink
Usual board basis: B&B
Food quality: All meals served at Ai-Ais Hot Springs Spa are buffet meals, with the food being of a reasonable standard although perhaps a little unimaginative, as the restaurant can serve 100 guests in one sitting. Guests staying in the premier chalets can also use the self catering facilities available there.
Dining style: Individual Tables
Dining locations: Indoor and Outdoor Dining
Drinks included: No drinks are included.
Attitude towards children: Children are welcome at Ai-Ais Hot Springs Spa.
Equipment: Highchairs are available.
Generally recommended for children: Yes, as long as they are supervised in the pools.
Notes: Children must be supervised at all times, especially in the pools and baths. Children are not allowed into the spa area unless they are booked for a treatment.
Power supply: Mains Electricity
Communications: Guests can use the phone at reception if necessary. There is little mobile pone coverage.
TV & radio: Only the premier chalets have televisions.
Health & safety
Malarial area: No
Medical care: The nearest doctor is in Keetmanshoop, although many of the staff here know basic first aid.
Dangerous animals: Low Risk
Security measures: There is a guarded gate on the property.
Fire safety: Fire extinguishers are located outside each room.
Disabled access: On Request
Laundry facilities: Extra Charge
Money: Local currencies are accepted but there is no currency exchange available. A safe is available at reception.