The Sweet Service Award goes to Pilbeo luggage transfer service in Portugal and Spain, and its operator Jesus Capeans Viña, for the excellent reliable service they offered in collecting and dropping off my suitcase on each of my 15 Accommodation nights in the Portuguese Coastal Camino, starting in Porto in Portugal until I completed the walk in Santiago de Compostela in Spain. When I developed a bad blister underneath my foot, I could be transported with my luggage to the next destination, at the cost of an additional ‘suitcase’. Two changes to my schedule/accommodations were efficiently handled. Continue reading →
The Sweet Service Award goes to Apricus Locanda B&B in a tiny village called Apricale in Liguria in Italy, just over the border of France, and its vivacious Dutch owner Jeanette. I was introduced and driven to the establishment by Jan restaurant Owner/Chef Jan-Hendrik van der Westhuizen with his mother, one of his favorite places to get away from his high-pressured lifestyle. On our way there, Chef Jan took us to see the Cours Saleya market in Nice, and stopped at various spots for us to see Nice, St Jean Cap Ferrat, and Monaco. B&B owner Jeanette has a great decor touch, her breakfasts over the five days were excellent, she was informative, her rates are reasonable, she is located in a very quiet area overlooking green hills, and even asked her husband to drive me to the nearest train station in Ventimiglia without accepting payment for it! Continue reading →
* German competition authorities have reacted strongly against Booking.com, which prohibits accommodation establishments from offering better rates to clients booking with them directly relative to the rate they charge via Booking.com. Action is also being taken against a similar booking site Expedia.com
* The contribution of Tourism to the economy nationally has remained at 2,9% in both 2012 and 2013, reaching a total of R104 billion. Just more than half of the spend was Continue reading →
* After having focused on Cape Town earlier this week, Huffington Post has included Hermanus in an article entitled ‘5 Lesser-known African wonders you have to see’. Whale-watching is recommended, from July – November, with twenty to thirty whales being seen in Hermanus on average per day in that period, announced by the whale crier on his kelp horn. The other wonders are the lunar rainbow in Zambia, the South Carmine Bee-eater migration in Zambia, wildebeest calving in Tanzania, and the Fruit-bat migration in Zambia.
* South Africa’s premium wines over £10 a bottle were praised at a blind tasting held in London on Tuesday, offering quality and value for money. The tasting was organised by the drinks business and the Premium Independent Wineries of South Africa, a collective of 15 local wine producers, promoting premium wines costing £10 or more. Only 4% of wines are bought at that price-point, warned Tesco’s South African wine buyer, but he praised the quality of our wines, saying that they are ‘fantastic‘. He said that our country’s premium wines need to promote their credentials. Local wines tasted were Ken Forrester Chenin Blanc 2000, Beaumont Hope Marguerite 2009, Journey’s End Destination Chardonnay 2012, Mulderbosch Barrel Fermented Chardonnay 2010, Radford Dale ‘Nudity’ Syrah 2013, Mullineux Syrah 2012, Mvemve Raats de Compostella 2012, Jordan Cobblers Hill, South Africa 2011, Newton Johnson Family Vineyards Pinot Noir 2012, The Drift ‘There are still mysteries’ Pinot Noir 2012, and Paul Cluver Pinot Noir 2012.
* Italian anti-trust and competition authorities are investigating TripAdvisor for its Continue reading →
* South Africa, and the Cape specifically, has two The World’s 50 Best Restaurants on the top 100 list: The Test Kitchen at 48th position, and The Tasting Room at 72nd position.
* A Schengen-type visa may be introduced for the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) countries, to make travelling easier for tourists. This suggestion is on the agenda of the WTTC Global Summit, and it is planned to increase the tourism market share of the continent to a double-digit one by 2020, from the current 4%. Our country is pushing for such a visa, but only a handful of the other SADC countries Angola, Botswana, Congo, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Seychelles, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zambia, and Zimbabwe is expected to sign the visa agreement initially.
* Surprising is to read that Distell ad agency The Bester Burke Slingers Group is closing its doors in July, the partners saying that they have had enough of the advertising industry, and that they are no longer able to guide clients in their marketing.
TripAdvisor is increasingly coming under pressure from KwikChex, a reputation management company representing major hotels in the United Kingdom and the USA. Not only has the company threatened to take TripAdvisor to court over its unauthenticated ‘customer reviews’, taken TripAdvisor to the Advertising Standards Authority in the United Kingdom and successfully been able to get its overstated advertising claims removed, but now it has introduced a system whereby hospitality establishment rating systems are rated on customer feedback authenticity, giving Trip Advisor a paltry 2 stars, reports Tnooz!
On TripAdvisor ‘reviewers’ rate restaurants and accommodation establishments on a five point scale. The KwikChex rating evaluates the customer authenticity, a rating system earning 5 stars if the customer’s real name (and not an anonymous name as on TripAdvisor) is revealed, and verifying that a booking was made at the establishment. A one star rating reflects that the system has no means of checking the authenticity of the content, one of the biggest complaints against TripAdvisor, given that reviews can be written by owners and their friends and family, or at the opposite end, by competitors, ex-suppliers, and ex-staff. A rating of 2 out of 5 for TripAdvisor by KwikChex therefore is the second worst rating that the rating website could achieve, sharing the rating with Yelp. Booking.com achieved a 5 star rating from KwikChex.
KwikChex has also made a submission to the USA Securities and Exchange Commission about its concerns about TripAdvisor’s ability, or lack of, to authenticate reviews on its site, and it has made a submission to the European Court of Human Rights, in that ‘individuals are unable to defend themselves against defamation and harassment online’, when personal attacks against named individual staff members are made in TripAdvisor reviews.
Even though no South African hotels are unlikely to subscribe to KwikChex, the accommodation and restaurant industry worldwide should be grateful for the dogged determination of this company to make TripAdvisor a much more credible source of travel information.
Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter:@WhaleCottage