Tag Archives: Fifa World Cup

Leeu Collection grows its international accommodation portfolio with a new London property!

Yesterday Leeu Collection announced that it has acquired a new property, its first in London. The current office block 55 Newman Street is to be turned into an 100-bedroom luxury hotel, planned to open its doors in 2019.  Continue reading →

Leeu Estates Makes Condé Nast 2017 HOT LIST, the only SA property to do so!

Less than a year after opening in Franschhoek, Leeu Estates has been featured on the 21st edition of the Condé Nast 2017 HOT LIST, the only South African accommodation property to make the list of 75 accommodation properties, and one of only seven properties in Africa. The accolade complements the five star boutique hotel making the  2017 Travel + Leisure It List.  Continue reading →

WhaleTales Tourism, Food, and Wine news headlines: 31 October

WhaleTalesTourism, Food, and Wine news headlines

*  SAA would consider a partner to assist it in running its loss-making operation, the Minister of Public Enterprises Lynne Brown said earlier this week.  The airline’s application for more funding was recently rejected.

*   Wines of South Africa (WOSA) has opened a Hong Kong office to market our country’s wines to all of Asia, and will be managed by Michaela Stander, who has managed the region from South Africa for the past six years.  South African wine sales into China grew by 5% and to Japan by 12% in the past year.   The marketing program includes consumer education, a sommelier competition, dinners, and offering wines by the glass.  It will be visible at the HKTDC fair in Hong Kong next week, and at ProWein China from 12 – 14 November.

*   The 40th annual Volvo Ocean Race of 39000 nautical miles, will welcome the first yachts into Cape Town on Sunday, Continue reading →

WhaleTales Tourism, Food, and Wine news headlines: 7/8 June

WhaleTalesTourism, Food, and Wine news headlines

*   Franschhoek Wine Valley has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Barossa Valley, having similar wine tourism goals and characteristics.  Both wine regions have excellent wines, top restaurants, and good accommodation.  Tourism and wine industry expertise will be shared between the regions, and programs planned include exchanges for chefs, winemakers, sommeliers, and cellar assistants.  Experience of festivals, customer service benchmarking, sustainable wine-making, and wine tourism practices will be shared. (received via media release from Smart Communications & Events)

*   A hard-hitting video from USA asks ‘How much has really changed on South Africa’s wine farms?‘ since the protests in De Doorns two years ago, critical not only of some farm owners but also of the government.

*   The FIFA World Cup, which kicks off next week, will generate $4 billion for the soccer federation, 66% up from the revenue it earned from the World Cup in South Africa in 2010.

*   Noble Hill wine estate on the outskirts of Franschhoek has brought the Japanese Hitachino Nest beer range to our country, Continue reading →

Cape Town makes music for FIFA 2014 World Cup, and Faul & Wad Ad’s ‘Changes’!

Coca Cola Anthem Middle EastOn Kfm yesterday morning presenter Ian Bredenkamp spoke about Cape Town’s role as film location, specifically referring to two music videos which have been produced in our beautiful city.

Coca Cola’s anthem for the Middle East for the 2014 soccer World Cup is really odd, entitled The World is Ours’.   The music video tells the story of three friends from Algeria, Egypt, and Tunisia meeting up at the airport in Brazil, for the World Cup soccer, and having a good time getting to enjoy the vibe of the country.  However, the video was shot in its entirety in Cape Town and surrounds, representing the ‘vibrant and colourful Brazilian landscape‘, according to the production company.  The video starts off with a park with palms, and features the view from Signal Hill looking down onto Sea Point, Cape Town International, Bo-Kaap, dancing on the rooftop of a building in the city centre with Lion’s HeadCoca Cola Anthem Middle East Rooftop Whale Cottage Portfolio as a backdrop, street food stalls, and having fun on a beach (most likely to be Camps Bay).  The production was by Silver Lining Pictures (in conjunction with Fortune Promoseven Cairo), and the post production was done by Searle Street Post, both from Cape Town.   The anthem interpretation is vibey, and its tune catchy, much nicer than the FIFA official anthem by Pitbull.  The Coca Cola Middle East music video achieved close to 2 million views on YouTube within 48 hours of being Continue reading →

Western Cape Tourism industry must operate at 110%, says Tourism Minister Winde!

Minister Alan Winde has encouraged the Western Cape Tourism industry to offer its clients excellent service.  ‘We cannot have any of our attractions and destinations not operating at 110%’, he told a media conference on Monday, given that Tourism generates R18 billion per year in revenue from 1,4 million tourists for the Western Cape.

Minister Winde would like to grow the Tourism numbers and revenue, saying that this is only possible if ‘we all work Better Together’. Addressing the axing of SAA’s London-Cape Town Route, Minister Winde said he would welcome the reinstatement of the route (intimated by the new SAA CEO last week), and that the focus is on bringing tourists from other parts of the country and Africa directly to Cape Town.  He mentioned that Lufthansa’s new Cape Town – Munich direct flights need to be well-filled for the service to be continued. Flights from Northern Italy are also being considered.

The Tourism Act 2004 is in the process of being repealed, and the Wesgro Act is being amended. A new Western Cape Tourism Trade and Investment Bill is in draft form, and input is being sought from roleplayers in the province.

Latest Tourism arrival statistics presented by national Tourism Minister Marthinus van Schalkwyk continue to astound Western Cape operators, who are not seeing the reported 10,5% growth for the first half of this year relative to the same period in 2011, with 4,4 million arrivals, of which 1,2 million were international tourists, according to Fin24. Growth was strong from Brazil and China in particular, as well as from India.  ‘We are very encouraged to see that our carefully formulated tourism growth strategy to increase tourist arrivals to South Africa is yielding the desired results, with excellent growth achieved in the markets where we are actively marketing destination South Africa, and good returns being realised in markets that we have identified as sources of strong tourism potential for our country’, said Minister van Schalkwyk.  In a rare reference to the Tourism industry, President Jacob Zuma congratulated his Department of Tourism and the industry on the good growth performance!

A report entitled ‘South Africa Travel and Tourism Market 2016 Forecast’, prepared by ReportsnReports.com, provides the following feedback about our country’s Tourism trends:

*   South Africa is the second most visited country in Africa, after Morocco

*   Domestic Tourism has declined from 36 million trips to 24 million in the past five years.

*   The FIFA World Cup 2010 led to an oversupply of accommodation, causing occupancy to plummet, a problem prevalent in Cape Town.

The industry has been critical of the national Tourism Minister’s information, not reflecting the experience of tourism operators, but the Minister stands by his statistics.  One must then ask the provincial Minister why so few of these international tourists are making it down to the Cape, and what he and Wesgro are doing about the lack of seats on SAA to Cape Town from Johannesburg on Fridays, given his goal to grow tourism to our province.

Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter: @WhaleCottage

Cape Town Tourism and Cape Town Routes Unlimited in PR war, signal divided tourism city in crisis!

If it weren’t about such a serious topic, one would be amused by Cape Town Tourism and Cape Town Routes Unlimited, two bodies ludicrously tasked with the marketing of Cape Town, fighting a PR war, with media releases coming from them in rapid succession, even on weekend evenings!

Historically Cape Town Routes Unlimited was given the mandate to market Cape Town and the Western Cape as a tourism and business destination, but the marketing funds for Cape Town were withdrawn by the City of Cape Town by its then Tourism Councillor Simon Grindrod, due to the unsatisfactory marketing performance by Cape Town Routes Unlimited.  The City’s R15 million was then allocated to Cape Town Tourism, which body originally only had the mandate to run Visitor Information Services in Cape Town and in Somerset West.   Cape Town Routes Unlimited did not stop marketing Cape Town, and now we see both bodies market Cape Town, and appearing to compete against each other for column centimetres in the local newspapers.  Strangely, Cape Town Tourism did not issue a media release about the volcano ash cloud disrupting air traffic on Saturday, as Cape Town Routes Unlimited, with the provincial Tourism Minister Alan Winde, had sent a media release that same evening, unheard of for a public body to be so proactive in providing news.  However, The Finalist status of Cape Town for World Design Capital 2014 has not been acknowledged by Cape Town Routes Unlimited, as Cape Town Tourism was involved in the bid preparation, and announced the news via its media releases and member newsflash on Tuesday.

Cape Town Tourism had not reacted to the tourism industry’s perilous current state.  While it did write that the city’s tourism industry would only pick up by 2014, it focused more on brand Cape Town, and how it needs to be re-positioned, Cape Town Tourism having been responsible for its current (unknown) positioning in the first place, having led the marketing of the city for three years already.   Last week we criticised Cape Town Tourism’s  lack of reaction to the tourism crisis in our city, to which no response was received from its CEO Mariette du Toit-Helmbold.  Yesterday the Cape Times  screamed in its headline: “City’s tourism sector in crisis”, having picked up Cape Town Tourism’s 2014 recovery release, and linking it to the Bureau of Economic Research findings of the worst ever accommodation confidence level of 25%, which we referred to as well, which the journalist mistakenly called ‘occupancy levels’ (occupancy of 25 % would have been most welcome now!).  Incidentally, the article also stated that the City of Cape Town was meeting yesterday to decide whether a grant of an astounding R40 million will go to Cape Town Tourism to market the city.  No outcome of this meeting decision has been made public. We have been vocal about our dissatisfaction with the apparent lack of visible marketing of Cape Town, other than the CEO and PR Manager’s Twitter presence.

Cape Town Tourism reacted to the Cape Times  with a media release today, trying to downplay the severity of the situation and denying the ‘crisis’ in the tourism industry, and incorrectly deducing that it is seasonality that is to blame.  It refers to the good publicity that Cape Town has received recently (which has not brought any enquiries at all), and that the FIFA World Cup was never meant to be a quick fix for the marketing of the city.  It blames ‘out-of-date’ marketing of the city, for which Cape Town Tourism is to blame!  The media release demonstrates how out of touch the organisation is, in that it is the forward bookings that are not coming in at all, for many accommodation establishments, up to 50 % of their bookings having come from the UK in the past, and this enquiry level will not be repeated this summer.  Interestingly, the release uses the ‘silo’ terminology of Marthinus van Schalkwyk, Minister of Tourism, which he used in a speech at FEDHASA Cape last week, but in a different context!  Here is a section of the Cape Town Tourism Media release:

“Cape Town Tourism cautions against alarmist statements about a tourism crisis. “We are in the middle of winter, traditionally a very tough time for the tourism sector in Cape Town.  This is reflected in the low occupancy levels currently experienced by the majority of the industry. The increased supply, decreased demand and lingering recession add to the challenges the tourism sector faces,” says Cape Town Tourism CEO, Mariëtte du-Toit Helmbold. There are signs of recovery, albeit at a slow rate of 3-4%, which will mean that recovery could take significantly longer than initially anticipated unless we change tactics.”

“We cannot ignore the real danger the tourism sector faces by reverting to tried, tested and out-dated marketing methods and continuously operating in silo’s as tourism, business, investment and government. Neither should we stop investing in our traditional markets, which we depend on for the lion’s share of our visitors and revenue, to focus all our attention on growing domestic and business tourism. Tourism remains one of the biggest business sectors and employers for our region. It needs continued investment and a more balanced approach that will see tourism working together with business, investment and other sectors under the powerful and consolidated brand positioning of inspiration and within a single minded economic strategy for our region.  The World Cup taught us much about communicating better with visitors, alternative source markets and about focusing on the customer when developing our brand and marketing messages. Cape Town has a long way to go before the majority of our citizens can call it a great place to live, but the World Cup was a good launch pad for the future. We are a better, brighter, more world-friendly city than before and we have to credit the World Cup with this legacy. Let us build upon this platform created.”

Cape Town Routes Unlimited jumped the gun on Cape Town Tourism last week, in its media release which urged hoteliers to slash their rates, but also demonstrated that the organisation’s CEO, Calvyn Gilfillan, is also not in touch with the industry, in knowing that most accommodation establishments reduce their winter rates by up to 50 %!

We would urge Cape Town Tourism, Cape Town Routes Unlimited, Alan Winde, the provincial Minister of Tourism, and Grant Pascoe, the City of Cape Town’s new Councillor responsible for Tourism, to meet, to find a solution out of the tourism crisis, and to sing off the same song-sheet!

POSTSCRIPT 23/6: The Cape Argus  today reports that Cape Town Tourism’s grant of R40 million was approved yesterday, and that Cape Town Tourism will use the monies to stage off-peak season events as well as a ‘technological campaign to target potential tourists’.   The sad reality is that the Marketing Plan was written before Cape Town Tourism realised that the tourism industry is in crisis – one hopes that they have the flexibility to adapt their plan to cater for the poor summer season lying ahead!  “Cape Town Tourism is committed to playing a leadership role in ensuring that our tourism industry embraces technology.  We will continue to invest significantly in this area, building upon the solid foundation laid in the run-up to the World Cup, and keeping up with global trends, with the focus on mobile and smart phone travel applications for Cape Town”, Cape Town Tourism’s CEO is quoted as saying.  This is hardly the solution to the crisis in the tourism industry in Cape Town!

Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com  Twitter:@WhaleCottage

Telegraph Top 10 SA wines

In preparation for the FIFA World Cup, the Telegraph newspaper in the UK has selected its choice of top 10 South African wines.  South Africa is the world’s 9th largest producer, according to the report, and has more than 600 wineries and 6 000 wines.   It has a 12 % market share in the UK, closely following France and Italy.

The largest volume of sales of South African wines is of Arniston Bay and Kumala.  But high-end wines such as Hamilton Russell, Vergelegen, Boekenhoutskloof, Meerlust, Thelema, Toakara, Kanonkop and Rustenberg are also imported into the UK.

The top 10 list of South African wines for wine writer Jonathan Ray, are the following, with his rationale and food-pairing suggestions: 

“1 2009 Ken Forrester Cape Breeze Chenin Blanc, 13%vol, South Africa (£4.98; Asda)

Ken Forrester knows his chenin blanc inside out, and his so-called FMC (Forrester Meinert Chenin) is a much-loved classic (and highest-ever scoring South African white in Wine Spectator). This entry-level version might sound like a shampoo or a Duluxpaint, but it’s a great value introduction to the grape, with crisp, sweet-edged fruit and a dry finish. An ideal crowd-pleaser for parties.

2 2009 Flagstone Noon Gun Dry White, 13.5%vol, South Africa (£4.99 reduced from £6.99 until Dec 1; Tesco)

Bruce Jack, one of the nicest and quirkiest of all SA winemakers, shocked many by signing up with the world’s largest wine producer, Constellation. Flagstone, housed in a former dynamite factory, is his baby, though, and he vows he’ll be left to his own devices. This chenin blanc/viognier/sauvignonblend is a typical Jack charmer, being light, aromatic and fruity. Delicious with grilled sea bass.

3 2008 Beyerskloof Pinotage, 14%vol, South Africa (£5.99 if you buy 3, otherwise £8.99; Wine Rack)

Pinotage, a cross between cinsault and pinot noir, is South Africa’s USP, loved for its fruit by some, dismissed as tired and redolent of burnt rubber by others. In the hands of Beyerskloof’s Beyers Truter, one of the grape’s most vociferous supporters, it works a dream. Here, his entry-level version is ripe, juicy and full of spicy plum fruit, withno hint of rubber. Enjoy with slow roast belly of pork.

4 2009 Stellar Organics Syrah Rosé, 13.5%vol, South Africa (£6.05; Asda, Budgens, Londis, Spar)

South Africa is strong on Fairtrade and Stellar was the first organic winery in the world to be so accredited. The winery gets its fruit from farms along the northern boundary of Olifant’s River and processes around 4,500 tons of organic grapes a year. This pink syrah is hardly complex, just delightfully fruity and off-dry in the mouth, with a dryish, peppery finish. Serve it well-chilled at parties, or with stuffed red peppers or roasted root vegetables.

5 2007 Bellingham Bernard Series Old Vine Chenin Blanc, 14.5%vol, South Africa (£8.99; Majestic)

Chenin blanc does better in South Africa than anywhere else outside the Loire Valley, and this from Bellingham’s Bernard Series (formerly the Maverick range) is a first-rate example of real style. Made from 40-year-old, high-altitude bush vines, it has wonderfully concentrated rich, ripe fruit withhints of peach, apricot and cream. A touch full-flavoured for an aperitif, it works really well with fish pie or creamy mushroom pasta.

6 2007 Paul Cluver Weisser Riesling Noble Late Harvest, 12%vol, South Africa (£11.49 per 37.5cl; selected Waitrose stores and www.waitrosewine.com)

Andries Burger of Paul Cluver Estate makes smashing wines and I’ve long been a fan of the estate’s pinot noir and their classy gewürztraminer. This is a corker too: a late-picked, botrytised, cool-climate riesling, packed with concentrated honeyed apple/peach flavours and a zingy acidity. It’s great with desserts such as tarte tatin, but even better with gooey blue cheese.

7 2005 Iona The Gunnar, 14%vol, South Africa (£11.95 – £14.95; Really Fine Wine Co 0131 669 7716, Swig Wines 08000 272272, Hic Wines 01977 550047)

Iona is celebrated for its chardonnays and sauvignons and does a fine syrah, too (and a brand new Noble Late Harvest sauvignon, which is gorgeous). This blended red, from cabernet, merlot and petit verdot, is a belter as well. Inimitably SA of course, it also has a touch of Left Bank Bordeaux style and is smoothand rounded with luscious ripe fruit. Enjoy with roast loin of venison.

8 Graham Beck Brut NV, 13%vol, South Africa (£12.99; Waitrose, Wholefoods 020 7368 4500, DJ Foodfare 020 8748 5974)

I’ve always enjoyed Graham Beck’s sparklers, made in the champagne method under the supervision of the legendary Pieter “Bubbles” Ferreira. This 50-50 blend of chardonnay and pinot noir from the Robertson region is about as good as it gets for a non-champagne fizz, being crisp and clean, but toasty and brioche-like too. A cracking aperitif.

9 2001 Morgenhof Cape Late Bottled Vintage, 17.5%vol, South Africa (£16.99; Cellar Door Wines 01727 854488, Wright Wine Co 01756 700886)

This is scrumptious stuff, the Cape’s answer to the Douro Valley. Made from 100 per cent tinta barroca, one of port’s major grapes, and aged for four years in French oak, it has raisins, liquorice and ripe damsons on the palate and a rich, succulent finish. Enjoy as you would any LBV port, with cheese, chocolate puddings or a hearty Cuban cigar.

10 2007 Hamilton Russell Pinot Noir, 13%vol, South Africa (£24.99; Wine Society, Harvey Nichols)

The Hemel-en-Aarde Valley, near Hermanus, is home to some fascinating wines. Although nobody agrees on exactly where the prime valley starts and ends, it’s fair to say that Hamilton Russell put the region on the map with its pinots and chardonnays. Known as the most “Burgundian” of SA’s pinots, this is as elegant and silky as they come, with a touch of vegetalspice and dark berry fruit. Perfect with chicken and truffle risotto”

Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com

Response to complaint about Cape Town festive season restaurant prices and service

A recent letter to the Cape Argus by reader Merle Kaplan about rising prises and decreasing levels of service in Cape Town over the Festive season was food for thought.   Our response to her letter, sent to the Cape Argus, was as follows:


“While not a restaurant owner, but a frequent restaurant user, I cannot agree with Ms Kaplan about price increases.  I want to commend our restaurants for holding their prices in these difficult times – they probably have no choice anyway.  I must immediately exclude the mad prices charged for New Year’s Eve dinners and entertainment, with up to R 2 000 per head charged for 3 or 4 courses, 2 free glasses of  bubbly, and some entertainment.  


A sensitive point raised is that of staff.  If Ms Kaplan had any idea about how difficult it is to run a hospitality business, then she would be more sympathetic to the staffing problems our industry experiences.   Realities are no-shows of staff – something else comes up or they want to go out with their friends, who are all on holiday.   Staff move from one job to another on the basis of a few Rands, without giving the required notice period, as per their contracts and the Department of Labour’s Sectoral Determination for the Hospitality Industry.   Students are a fantastic source of help, but they need to be trained.  Students do not appear to be as “hungry” as they used to be, and they too would prefer to spend the Christmas and New Year’s days with their family and friends and forego the income.   Unfortunately not arriving at work is not a “dismissible offence”, as Ms Kaplan claims – one can issue 3 letters of warning and then hold a disciplinary hearing before one can even contemplate firing an employee.  Then the restaurant owner is still guaranteed to be called to the CCMA, or the Department of Labour. 


But hardest of all, is the extreme short-term nature of customers’ decision-making.  Last minute bookings, or arrivals without a booking, must be a restaurateurs’ worst nightmare, as they cannot predict how many customers they will have each day – this affects planning for stocks and staffing.   Restaurants experience good and bad days, and there is no pattern to predict when they will be busy and when not.


I also think that after a quiet year due to the credit crunch, during which everything went at a slower pace, it is hard for restaurants and their staff to pick up the pace and deal with full restaurants again.   All our businesses have become leaner, due to the credit crunch.  Cape Town’s hospitality industry must get out of the credit crunch mode, and must gear up to face the busiest June and July ever during the World Cup.”  


Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com