Category Archives: Wedding tourism

SAA wine selection scandal, perfect SA bribery and corruption soapie!

South-African-Airways-3-720x330-702x330 pouring wineCity Press reported over the weekend that SAA sommelier and Global Food and Beverage Manager, Bongi Sodladla, was feted with bribes and incentives to offer wine purchase contracts to those wineries which greased her palms.  Had Bribery Bongi not been going through  a divorce, and had her still-current husband Wonga Sodladla not been so generous with information sent to SAA last month about his wife’s misdemeanours, SAA, the wine industry, and the South African public would never have known what was going on behind the scenes of SAA’s wine buying!

We first heard of Bribery Bongi in October last year, when she appeared in an episode of Season 3 of MasterChef Continue reading →

Babylonstoren, Oranjezicht City Farm, Farmer Angus win at 2014 Eat Out Zonnebloem Producer Awards!

Eat Out produce2014nr2-2269 (1)The winners of the 8th annual Eat Out Zonnebloem Produce Awards were announced at the Stellenbosch Slowmarket yesterday.  The Eat Out media release states that the quality of produce was excellent this year, and that it was not easy to choose the overall winners.

Judges were Deena Naidoo, MasterChef SA Season 1 winner, Eat Out Top 10 Chef Jackie Cameron of Hartford House,  Chef Vanessa Marx of Dear Me, Eat Out editor Abigail Donnelly, and Eat Out Editor-in-Chief Anelde Greeff.Eat Out Produce AWards 2014 judges produce2014-2534

We are delighted that the Oranjezicht City Farm has received recognition for its excellent work, in winning the South African Heritage Award.  Anel Potgieter’s ‘Life is a Zoo Biscuit’ won Best Local Food Blog for the second time.  Farmer Angus has been a pioneer for organic meat and egg production at Spier, and has been a previous winner too.  It is no surprise that Frankie Fenner Meat Merchants has received the ‘Outstanding Outlet’ award for the Cape area, having been the former 2013 Eat Out Top 10 Restaurant judge, yet it is surprising in that the outlet is in a dive location, and the service arrogant and poor – we are still waiting for the calf’s liver we ordered more than a month ago!

The 2014 Eat Out Zonnebloem Produce Awards winners are: Continue reading →

WhaleTales Tourism, Food, and Wine news headlines: 7 April

WhaleTalesTourism, Food, and Wine news headlines

*   The Elite 100 fine-dining restaurants in the world have been announced for 2014, with three Cape restaurants on the list: The Test Kitchen at 45th place, The Tasting Room at 82nd, and Rust en Vrede (which the Cape Argus placed in Durbanville rather than in Stellenbosch!) at 85th place.  The world’s top 10 restaurants, according to Elite, are Alinea in Chicago, Daniel Restaurant in New York, The Fat Duck in Bray in the UK, Eleven Madison Park in New York, Le Bernardin in New York, El Celler de Can Roca in Girona in Spain, Azurmendi in Vizcaya, La Pergola in Rome, The Ledbury in London, and Osteria Francescana in Modena in Italy.  The Cape Argus incorrectly created one restaurant name out of  the 7th and 8th ranked restaurants!  A surprise is the omission of five hundred at The Saxon, which kitchen is headed by South Africa’s Top Chef David Higgs.

*   After 45 years in the local and international hospitality industry, which includes the One&Only hotel group, Sol Kerzner is retiring, after selling a substantial stake of his Kerzner International Holdings to a Dubai-based company.

*   New York Travel focuses on Spring Travel in South Africa, specifically in Cape Town and surrounding areas.  In Cape Town the article mentions I Love my Laundry, the The Crypt Jazz Restaurant and The Marly in Camps Bay. It also refers to Cape Town’s role as host of World Design Capital 2014.   Continue reading →

Hospitality industry in a froth about beverage by-law!

The hospitality industry in Cape Town is up in arms about the proposed changes to the by-law the City of Cape Town is wishing to make to liquor trading days and hours.   The City has the right to stipulate the trading hours of alcoholic beverage sales, in accordance with the recently promulgated Western Cape Liquor Act.

 

The proposed by-law regulates that B & B’s and guest houses that are situated in residential areas,  that have not been rezoned for commercial use, may not sell any alcohol at all.    Those that are located in “local/neighbourhood business areas/nodes (including mixed use areas consisting of single/general residential interspersed with business uses)” may sell alcohol from 11h00 – 23h00, as are hotels, pubs, restaurants and even supermarkets.   Accommodation establishments in the CBD are allowed to sell alcohol from 11h00 – 2h00.    Wine farms are only allowed to sell alcohol from 9h00 – 18h00, closing off the very lucrative weddings market to them.

 

The by-law changes are designed to reduce alcohol abuse and violence against women and children induced by alcohol abuse, the City says.

 

Both FEDHASA Cape and SATSA have requested the City publicly to reconsider its by-law, in that some of its members would have to close their alcohol sales at 21h00 if they are located in predominantly residential areas.    FEDHASA says that the City has not consulted the association, and that the proposed by-law will damage Cape Town’s image as a world-class destination, especially in view of the city hosting the 2010 World Cup, and many international tourists preferring to eat later rather than early..  It also says that patrons will stock up on alcohol prior to the 21h00 deadline, to last them throughout the evening, which could lead to binge-drinking, which is exactly what the City wishes to avoid.   Alternatively, more restaurant patrons could be bringing their own wines, to get around the by-law, which is disadvantageous to the profitability of restaurants.

 

SATSA says that it does not believe that the proposed trading hours will solve the social problems related to alcohol abuse, and invites the City to consult with the tourism industry before passing the by-law.

 

The by-law could set an unwanted precedent for municipalities in the Western Cape to follow the example of the City of Cape Town, in a province that has tourism as its major source of revenue.   It has a further problem in that the definitions of “B & B’s” and “guest houses”, and the criteria for rezoning, are very vague.  Another department in the City is working on these, having received input from industry players early last year, but its final unified rezoning policy for Cape Town is yet to be seen. 

Franschhoek financial affair

The Minister of Finance, Trevor Manuel, and the previous CEO of Transnet and soon-to-be CEO of ABSA Bank Maria Ramos, are said to get married in Franschhoek on Saturday on L’Omarins estate, which belongs to the Rupert family, reports The Times.

Franschhoek is known as the Wedding Capital of South Africa, and is even said to be changing its name to the Franschhoek Wedding Valley, due to its popularity as a wedding destination.

Franschhoek becomes Wedding Valley!

The Franschhoek Wine Valley may soon change its name to the Franschhoek Wedding Valley, if the trend to an increasing number of weddings taking place in and outside Franschhoek continues!

 

The value of wedding tourism has never been calculated for Franschhoek, but could easily be in the region of R 25 million per year in direct venue and catering income, and double that when expenditure on accommodation, wine, restaurant meals and shopping in  Franschhoek before, during and after the wedding is added. 

 

Wedding Tourism has become a vastly important source of revenue for the Western Cape, and for Franschhoek particularly, and the valley will soon be called the Wedding Capital of South Africa, in addition to being the Gourmet Capital already.  Between 50 – 100 weddings take place in Franschhoek per month in summer, it is estimated.

 

Some wine estates have indicated that their revenue or profitability is greater from weddings than it is from their wine production!

 

How did this all come about?

 

For the past few years an increasing stream of young South African school leavers have left to do a gap year in London, while university graduates have also sought greener pastures there.  Many have opted to stay in London, due to their earning ability.  The young South African ladies get engaged to their British beaus, and get to choose the wedding venue back home.  Nostalgically, they think of the Cape Winelands, and the Cape Dutch gable buildings on them in particular, even if they did not grow up in the area.

Wedding tourism benefits tourism generally in that 50 – 100 British friends and family will come to South Africa to attend a wedding, and this introduces the country to many first-time visitors, who would not necessarily have chosen this country as a tourism destination.         

The value of the Wedding Tourism industry in the Western Cape has been estimated at R 120 million, according to The South African.   The United Kingdom is the major source of wedding business, with the bride usually being South African and the groom from the UK.    For the price of a wedding and reception in the UK the couple is able to hold a lavish wedding and enjoy their honeymoon in South Africa.    Local weddings are attractive as the weather is guaranteed to be better than in the UK, they cost less, and offer a variety of appealing venues in the Winelands and at top restaurants.  

While Stellenbosch used to be the premier wedding destination just a few years ago, local tourism players have seen an increasing number of weddings taking place in Franschhoek.   The large wine estates surrounding Franschhoek are well placed to cater for large weddings.

 

Jenny Prinsloo, CEO of the Franschhoek Wine Valley Tourism Association (FWVTA), says Franschhoek is well placed to be the perfect wedding venue for large and smaller weddings, offering an exclusive and personalized service to wedding guests wishing to make the most of their most memorable day.   “It is an exotic destination” she added, and well set to provide top quality catering, wines, professional staff and beautiful settings

 

Has the credit crunch affected the wedding industry in Franschhoek?   Most wedding venues state that the number of weddings they have hosted this season, and bookings ahead, show that the number of weddings will remain roughly the same.   However, what has changed is a shift in the period in which they are being held, the days of the week on which they are held, and the number of persons attending a wedding.

 

Karen Minnaar of the N G Church says that the number of bookings for the church for weddings will be down slightly, to 40 this year, from 44 last year, the best year for the church as far as weddings go.    She predicts that the number of weddings will not increase next year.   Up to 90 % of the weddings taking place at the church are held on Saturdays.    Most weddings are with “mixed” couples, a term a number of wedding venues used to describe the South African/UK partnership between bride and groom.

 

What does a wedding cost?     It can range from R 150 000 for a wedding of around 150 guests, up to R 500 000 at the exclusive La Residence, and this includes the wedding venue, food and wine only.  All other weddings services such as décor, music, special wedding cars, flowers, etc are contracted out and paid for separately.

 

The largest wedding venues are Allee Bleue, Le Franschhoek Hotel, Boschendal, and Vrede & Lust.

 

Allee Bleue’s Ashley Whaley, co-GM, says that weddings earn more revenue, and are more profitable at this stage than the estate’s wines.    Wedding bookings have increased year on year, and she sees an increasing number of international brides and grooms.  The estate prides itself on being the largest wedding venue in the Valley, in that up to 220 wedding guests can be accommodated.   The average wedding size is 150 guests.   Up to three weddings are hosted per weekend in summer, making it about 10 – 12 per month.  The wedding ceremony is conducted in the Conference Room, which is dressed as a chapel, and the reception takes place outside, with a free-form tent catering for less favourable weather conditions.   Allee Bleue’s weddings have the benefit that there is no noise control, and that they can carry on late, being located outside Franschhoek.

 

The Le Franschhoek Hotel is a popular wedding venue, especially as it can accommodate a large number of the wedding guests in its 79 rooms as well, being the largest hotel in the Valley.   Sunette Pringle, Head of Banqueting, says the hotel’s wedding business is growing year on year, and the hotel hosts one wedding per weekend.  She is not seeing a reduction in wedding business for the season ahead, but does see “international” weddings becoming smaller, with about 30 – 80 guests, while South African wedding groups are around 100 in size.   The Hotel has a number of Americans marrying at the venue, in addition to South African and British residents.  

 

Boschendal fits the Cape Dutch gabled building requirements of wedding couples most perfectly, and is steeped in tradition and history.  The ceremony is usually held at the nearby St George’s Anglican Church, drinks are served outside under the oak trees, and the reception is held in the restaurant.   The wine estate sees itself as a restaurant first and foremost, and does not actively encourage weddings.  Its catering offering offers bridal couples less flexibility in that the buffet must be utilised.   The estate only hosts one wedding per month with up to 120 guests on average, says Boschendal’s Neil Els.

 

Vrede & Lust is one of the most sought after venues, and is trendy since Johannesburg socialite and TV personality Gerry Rantseli married her second husband on the estate last year.   The wedding was featured in the Sunday Times’ social pages.   Wiena Riedel, Hospitality Manager of Vrede & Lust, sees a definite reduction in the size of their weddings this season, down from around 120 guests to about 60 – 70, and attributes this to the global credit crunch.    It is one of the most active wedding estates, with an average of six weddings per month, which can increase to 12 in March.  The estate is seeing an increase in weddings held on weekdays, due to the 15 % discount it offers for mid-week weddings.

 

Smaller weddings are held at Grande Provence, Mont Rochelle, Haute Cabriere, Dieu Donne, La Petite Ferme, Rickety Bridge, Le Manoir de Brendel , Franschhoek Country House, and La Petite Dauphine.

  

Mont Rochelle caters for weddings with an average size of fifty guests, and has seen a trend to smaller and more intimate weddings.   They host only one or two weddings a month, so that the hotel operation is not affected.  La Petite Ferme also focuses on its restaurant business, and will not accept wedding bookings between November and February.  It caters for about two weddings a month in the remaining summer months, with about 60 – 80 wedding guests.  If the bridal couple want dancing, they have to book all the accommodation at La Petite Ferme.    Wilmari Dippenaar, wedding co-ordinator at La Petite Ferme, says she is satisfied with the number of wedding enquiries she is receiving, and cannot see any change due to the downturn.

 

Dieu Donne has only been open for a year, but can also see a steady increase in its wedding bookings, with one to two per month and up to 140 guests per wedding.   The ceremony is held on the downstairs terrace, with the superb backdrop of the Valley, and the Reception in the restaurant upstairs.

 

Rickety Bridge Winery can cater for up to 85 guests, and offers an attractive wedding package with accommodation on the estate and at the neighbouring Basse Provence.  One wedding is hosted per week, and this booking level continues until April.   Cindy Muller says that the Winery offers its wedding clients good value for money.  Franschhoek is attractive because of its beauty and proximity to Cape Town, and the village “is steeped in romance”, she says.

 

Le Manoir de Brendel has its own chapel and spa, and is a popular venue because of this feature.   Shirleen Waskis, who co-ordinates the estate’s weddings, says that the last two summer months have been on par with last year as far as wedding bookings go, but sees a decline for this month.  She says that the next three summer months will be back in line with the past year.  Wedding sizes have reduced, and bridal couples are becoming more demanding, wanting more for less.   The property can cater for about 50 guests in the chapel and in-door venue, and can accommodate larger weddings in its gardens.  

 

La Petite Dauphine is one of the newest wedding venues, and caters for small intimate weddings, of round 30 wedding guests, but can accommodate up to 100 guests.   Marie-Louise Oosthuizen manages the weddings, and says that her clients are mainly locals, from Cape Town.   The venue only hosts day-time weddings, and February and March are particularly good wedding months.   She says that for smaller weddings, her guests are likely to book the accommodation over a four day period, and a series of wedding-related activities are planned for the wedding guests.    She has also seen a trend of an increasing number of same-gender weddings being held at her venue.

 

Haute Cabriere is one of the few Franschhoek restaurants focusing on weddings.  Nicky Gordon says Franschhoek is a popular wedding venue because of its natural beauty and setting, which makes for good wedding photographs, and it offers a good spread of accommodation, from 5 star indulgence to 3 and 4 star value for money accommodation.    The restaurant has 2 – 3 weddings per month from November to mid-year, and is a popular venue for winter weddings, given that it can host the service in the wine cellar, and the reception in the restaurant.   An increasing number of foreigners are getting married at Haute Cabriere, with one of the couple being from South Africa originally.   Gordon does not see a decline in the wedding business due to the credit crunch, whilst the restaurant is seeing the downturn for meal bookings.   

Wedding tourism is a huge contributor to the tourism industry, and Franschhoek benefits from it in the summer months.   It is not only the wine and wedding estates that benefit from weddings, but also many other tourist sectors.

In “mixed” international weddings, the South African bride recommends the accommodation, car rental, restaurants, and trips to take before and after the wedding to her wedding guests, thereby making the planning of the trip to South Africa easy.   The bridal couple offers more than just a reception, to “compensate” for the far distance the friends and family have travelled, and the money they have spent on the ticket and the trip – often a wedding in Franschhoek will be followed by a picnic at Boschendal the day after, and a sailing trip may precede a wedding whilst the group of guests is in Cape Town prior to the wedding.   

Weddings convert tourists to regular visitors, given their surprise and delight at the beauty, value for money, safety and quality they experience in the Winelands.

Wedding belles ring for SA

Wedding tourism is a huge contributor to the tourism industry, and a village like Franschhoek benefits from it in the summer months, and in February specifically, as it has become the Wedding Capital of South Africa.

The value of the Wedding Tourism industry in the Western Cape has been estimated at R 120 million, according to The South African.   The United Kingdom is the major source of wedding business, with the bride usually being South African and the groom from the UK.    For the price of a wedding and reception in the UK the couple are able to hold a lavish wedding and enjoy their honeymoon in South Africa.    Local weddings are attractive as the weather is guaranteed to be better than in the UK, they cost less,  and offer appealing venues in the Winelands and at top restaurants. 

Wedding tourism benefits tourism generally in that 50 – 100 British friends and family will come to South Africa to attend a wedding, and this introduces the country to many first-time visitors, who would not necessarily have chosen this country as a tourism destination.          

The South African bride recommends accommodation, car rental, restaurants, and trips to take before and after the wedding, thereby making the planning of the trip to South Africa easy.   The bridal couple offers more than just a reception, to “compensate” for the far distance the friends have travelled, and the money they have spent on the ticket and the trip – often a wedding in Franschhoek will be followed by a picnic at Boschendal the day after, and a sailing trip may precede a wedding whilst the group is in Cape Town. 

Celebration House in Cape Town is a “one-stop shop” representing suppliers of wedding services.   The company exhibited at the National Wedding Show in London last month, and has published a wedding directory called “Under African Skies”, listing not only Wedding & Honeymoon Association of South Africa approved suppliers but also advises on the legal implications of foreigners marrying in South Africa.