Tag Archives: American Express

American Express announces Top 2020 Dining Award winners, with a Johannesburg bias!

It was a multi-Award day on Monday this week, with both American Express (for the Western and Southern Cape), as well as the Gourmet Guide (National) announcing their 2020 Restaurant Award winners. A week earlier American Express had announced its Gauteng, Free State, and KwaZulu-Natal Awards. There were many similarities in the winners, yet some strange winners in the American Express Dining  awards documented in this post. Continue reading →

SA’s first Michelin-style Gourmet Guide to be launched!

imageI had heard from restaurants that a new ‘Gourmet Guide‘ is to published, with a listing and evaluation of our country’s Top 100 restaurants. The evaluation of the restaurants is to be done on the basis of the Michelin-system, with unidentified ‘inspectors’ visiting restaurants Continue reading →

Rossouw’s Restaurants confirms dominance of Western Cape restaurants in new 2016 Restaurant Guide!

imageIt was a surprise that the Rossouw’s by Diners Club International 2016 South African Restaurant Guide was launched on such a low-key level at the Platter’s Wine Guide launch in Cape Town on Thursday evening.  They might wish that they hadn’t launched it at all!

Publishing Editor JP Rossouw showed us the cover of the book briefly when he revealed the new blue cover of the 2016 Platter’s Wine Guide.  That was it! Last year the Restaurant Guide (with twenty 5-star restaurants then) was surprisingly Continue reading →

WhaleTales Tourism, Food, and Wine news headlines: 12/13 July

WhaleTalesTourism, Food, and Wine news headlines

*   Sales of alcoholic beverages in the UK have decreased by 6% in the last week of the five-week World Cup period compared to the same period a year ago, as interest in the soccer event has decreased in the last week of the tournament, despite reaching close to £ 1 billion in sales.  Sales in the first three weeks of the tournament showed an increase, however.  Champagne and sparkling wine showed the strongest growth in the past month.  Cider sales decreased by 11% compared to a year ago. England’s early World Cup exit and better weather in July 2013 have been the cause of the beverage sales decrease.

*   A Wine Intelligence study finds that UK wine drinkers almost equally accept cork and screw cap closures, at 40% each;  Australians prefer screw cap wines (55%) to cork (38%); and in the USA cork is strongly preferred (64%) compared to screw caps (21%).  The choice of closure is dictated by image and practicality, more than ‘scientific’ reasons of helping the wine to breathe, stifling ageing, or preventing spoilage.

*   A new MasterCard Multi-currency Cash Passport has been launched, and is available at ABSA and American Express Continue reading →

‘Stellenbosch Wine Experience’ pushes Stellenbosch to be ‘leading wine tourism destination in Africa’!

StellenboschWhen I see any writing by Mariette du Toit-Helmbold, CEO of tourism consultancy Destinate and former ineffective Mommy-Tweeting CEO of Cape Town Tourism, I have to hold back the urge to laugh, not only because of her poor writing skills (despite English being one of her BA majors!) but also because of her lack of marketing skills.  Helmbold has just launched the ‘Stellenbosch Wine Experience’ for the Stellenbosch Wine Routes and Stellenbosch 360, as a joint venture between the wine and tourism elements of the second oldest town in South Africa, with the goal of becoming ‘the leading wine tourism destination in Africa‘. Helmbold adds in her document that Stellenbosch should be positioned as ‘amongst top in the world‘ too, and become ‘Africa’s wine tourism capital’!

The Stellenbosch Wine Routes is the first wine route in our country, having been established in 1971 by Spatz Sperling of Delheim, the late Frans Malan of Simonsog, and the late Neil Joubert of Spier.  Its mandate is to market the wine estates and wines of the 150 or so wineries in Stellenbosch, with its CEO Annareth Bolton having mainly run a PR campaign to date.  Previously sponsored by American Express, it no longer appears to have the backing of the credit card company.  Credit card companies appear to be all over the seemingly lucrative wine industry, Diners Club appearing to have a head start. Stellenbosch 360 is the new name for the Stellenbosch Tourism Bureau, and is run by a very competent Annemarie Ferns, long the SA Tourism Country Manager for Germany.

Helmbold spent nine years at the helm of Cape Town Tourism, never being able to rise to the level of the marketing done with close to zero budget by her predecessor, the vivacious Sheryl Ozinsky.  Helmbold did formula marketing, if one can call it that Continue reading →

WhaleTales Tourism, Food, and Wine news headlines: 10 October

WhaleTalesTourism, Food, and Wine news headlines

*   American Express credit card holders will be rewarded (undefined as to how) for posting reviews on TripAdvisor, and will be flagged as cardholders on the rating site.  They will also receive trend information.

*   Signal at the Cape Grace has been ranked 39th and Le Verger at the Le Franschhoek Hotel has been ranked 46th in the 101 Best Hotel Restaurants around the World, the only South African entries on the list.

*   Comair and Skywise are facing a Social Media backlash for having their interdict against the commencement of FlySafair’s flights from next week granted by the court, and are calling for a boycott against the two airlines!

*   Col’Cacchio has added Breakfast to its menu at select branches, the Continue reading →

City of Cape Town/UCT Sweet Service and Theatre on the Bay/Dish Food & Social Sour Service Awards!

The Sweet Service Award goes to the City of Cape Town, and UCT’s Faculty of Engineering and the Built Environment for addressing the unfinished freeway on the Foreshore, in trying to find a creative solution for it.  The Engineering and Built environment students will present proposals for the Future Foreshore Freeway Precinct project, based on existing plans, the requirements of residents of Cape Town, and study benchmarks in other countries, taking the future development of the Cape Metropole into consideration.  The City’s Brett Herron, Councillor for Transport, Roads, and Stormwater, described the Foreshore as the most important precinct of Cape Town.

The Sour Service Award goes to the Theatre on the Bay, and its bar and restaurant supplier Dish Food & Social, for charging a 10% surcharge if one pays per credit card. This goes against the rules of the credit card companies, and is a rip-off, as the maximum fee that the merchant pays is 5% for American Express.  Most clients use a Mastercard or VISA, with a 2,5 – 3% commission rate at most!

POSTSCRIPT 26/4: We have received the following reply from Andrea Foulkes, the owner of Dish Food & Social, and are delighted that they have removed the sign: ‘Thank you for stimulating a second look at this issue.   The first time I saw the sign, I – too – did a double-take. I have to admit that the wording isn’t clear (I didn’t understand it first time around myself). Our manager explained to me that this is not a charge for the use of the credit card. As you rightly point out, this is against the rules (which doesn’t stop many establishments from doing it).   The ‘service’ charge is, in fact, gratuity. What was happening, is that patrons were paying for drinks on credit card, but forgetting to add a gratuity. So, this was implemented as a means of protecting the bar staff. We don’t do it upstairs in the restaurant, because diners are accustomed to adding a gratuity.  We used to have the old-fashioned tip jar on the counter, but on several occasions we caught patrons attempting to steal the money inside it – unbelievable though it may seem!  I wasn’t entirely happy with it right from the beginning, and I should have gone with my gut feeling. Until we can find a better way of communicating this we’ll be removing the sign.  Thank you for raising the issue.  Kind regards  Andrea Foulkes’.

The WhaleTales Sweet & Sour Service Awards are presented every Friday on the WhaleTales blog.  Nominations for the Sweet and Sour Service Awards can be sent to Chris von Ulmenstein at info@whalecottage.com.   Past winners of the Sweet and Sour Service Awards can be read on the Friday posts of this blog, and in the WhaleTales newsletters on the www.whalecottage.com website.