* The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has seen only a minimal improvement in the growth in revenue passenger kilometers of 5,6% in the first quarter of this year, compared to 5,2 % for the same quarter in 2013. Global passenger growth in March 2014 was half that in February. Most regions showed minimal growth in March compared to February, with the exception of the Middle East, which had a 10% passenger growth and Latin America a 4,7% passenger growth in March relative to February. Africa was the only region with an outright passenger decline (2,6%), and South Africa’s passenger decline is said to be to blame due to poor economic conditions in our country.
* TripAdvisor is negotiating to buy lafourchette, an European restaurant booking platform representing 12000 restaurants in France, Switzerland, and Spain. At the World Travel Market Africa Conference held in Cape Town last week the audience was told that TripAdvisor would strongly focus on restaurants, this purchase being a reflection of the planned restaurant drive.
* De Grendel Merlot 2011 has won a Gold and its Shiraz 2012 a Silver Award at the SAKURA Awards held in Tokyo. Entries were received from 33 countries, and 1900 wines were evaluated on a 100 point scoring system. All 200 members of the judging panel was female. De Grendel’s Shiraz 2011 won a Gold Award in the Cathay Pacific Hong Kong International Wine and Spirit Competition. (received via media release from Errieda du Toit PR)
* The Royal Portfolio, owners of top accommodation establishments La Residence, Birkenhead House, and Royal Malewane, has established a new division, the Royal Portfolio Private Residences. One of its first properties is a 4-bedroom The One Above Penthouse on top of the One&Only Cape Town, with the services of a 24-hour butler, chef, driver, and concierge offered, as well as the facilities of the hotel.
* Bollinger is once again seeking entrants to The Bollinger Exceptional Wine Service Award 2014, with a closing date of 31 May. The winner of the Award will receive a Riedel Glass Trophy and a trip to France to visit the House of Champagne Bollinger. Past winners of the Award are sommeliers Kayetan Meissner (Grande Roche), Wayve Kolevsohn (The Test Kitchen), and Joakim Hansi Blackadder (Rust en Vrede). The Award aims to recognise the calibre of local sommeliers and wine service staff. Neil Grant, Chairman of the South African Sommelier Association (SASA), commented about the Award: ‘Wine service has a poor history in South Africa and only with incentives such as these will we find an improvement within the industry. Chefs in South Africa over the past 10 years have proven how good they are and now wine stewards/sommeliers need to be part of this movement so we can challenge the international markets‘. SASA will mentor the winning candidates. (received via media release via Hazell PR and Wine Consultants)
* The Helderberg restaurants and wine estates will showcase their products at the 6th ‘Taste of Helderberg’ at the Lord Charles Hotel in Somerset West on 12 June. More than 100 wines and signature dishes of the Helderberg Wine Route wine estates (25 producers) and restaurants will be available to taste, including Ken Forrester Wines, Longridge, Peter Falke, Waterkloof, Vergenoegd, Hidden Valley, Lyngrove, and Avontuur. Participating restaurants include 96 Winery Road, Avontuur, Longridge Restaurant, and Overture. Cost R70, ticket sales limited to 500. (received via media release from Random Hat Communications)
Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter: @WhaleCottage