Last week I invited my friends Clint and Llewellyn Lambert (GM of the Franschhoek Boutique Hotel, and influential blogger at Hospitality Hedonist) to join me for dinner at Le Petit Manoir in Franschhoek, which opened in July. Having had more than enough time to settle in, it was a severely (and costly) experience, of a completely dysfunctional restaurant. I apologise for the longer than average Review, summarizing my experiences with Chef Kevin Grobler’s cooking since 2015. Continue reading →
Grant Dodd, Australia-based partner and CEO of Haskell Vineyards in Stellenbosch, hosted a #DombeyaDay on Thursday, a vertical tasting of five vintages each of their Dombeya Chardonnay and Shiraz, proving that their inexpensive wines can be cellared.
Haskell Vineyards belongs to Preston Haskell, who bought Dombeya, which makes wines under the Dombeya and Haskell labels, its winemaker being the highly regarded Rainie Strydom, who celebrates her tenth year with the wine farm this year. The farm was named after the Dombeya pear tree which grows on the farm, and originally produced angora wool.
Dodd related the conversation between Haskell and himself ten years ago, when Haskell bought the farm, about the Dombeya brand name. Dodd suggested its Continue reading →
* The International Air Transport Association (IATA) is encouraging its members to use IT to improve the customer experience, saying that airlines ‘fly people and cargo, not planes‘. Consistency of customer experience is not yet satisfactory for airlines, with little differentiation. Customers would like to use IT to check in online, tag luggage themselves, board themselves, and collect bags themselves, an IATA survey found last year. IATA’s goal is that 80% of passengers have a ‘self-service suite based on industry standards‘ available to them by 2020.
* PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) is not known as a Tourism consultancy, so its prediction about our country’s tourism future is a surprise. Its report presents growth of 4% in international tourists 2013, far lower than the 10% growth in 2012. Growth is said to be solid and good, but ‘not fantastic growth‘. Almost three quarters of international visitors to our country are from Africa, the report confirms. Nigeria would become the leading source market for our country, the PwC study predicts. The Guest House category is the fastest growing in respect of room availability. South Africa’s strength is that it attracts leisure as well as business travelers.
* France must be feeling the tourism pinch, having announced plans to become more welcoming to tourists, English speaking ones in particular. The country hopes to increase tourist numbers to 100 million, Continue reading →
Malcolm Gooding’s name has been synonymous with radio since the ‘Seventies, and he has a most beautiful face for radio! At the Franschhoek Literary Festival, Gooding performed his autobiographical play ‘Going Gooding: A Play on Radio‘ last night, which was also the name of his show on the English programme of the SABC. In one hour the audience was transported back to an era of radio personalities and cigarette advertising. It is a shame that there were so few attendees.
Gooding opened a guest house outside Franschhoek recently, but appears to spend most of his time in Johannesburg, still doing voice-overs and documentaries. The play tells the story of Gooding’s career in radio, which started close to fifty years ago. A chance invitation by a friend to attend an audition as radio presenter opened the door which remains open for Gooding. He described himself as a ‘voice prostitute’, having been called the ‘Golden Voice‘ of radio. He demonstrated his diversity as a voice artist, doing at least 24 voices in his one-hour play. He started off with an advertorial skit, of which he does many now, for ‘Blomail’, a play on words for Glomail, which uses Gooding for such infomercials! He reminisced about his colleagues on radio, who have passed away, including Robin Alexander, Nigel Kane, Bill Flynn, Paddy O’Byrne, Bea Reed, and many more. He did a hilarious piece on Patricia Kerr doing ‘Forces Favourites’, reading a letter in her very poor Afrikaans.
It was an era of radio dramas on Springbok Radio, the best known being ‘Squad Cars’, which exceeded 800 episodes. Gooding did an episode for us, in which he played every voice, including the narrator, an Indian and an Afrikaans policeman, a Dutch crime victim, and an Irish crime perpetrator. Gooding described the very popular program as ‘SA police propaganda’. Other popular radio dramas included ‘Taxi’, and ‘Consider your Verdict‘. Radio advertisements for Chevrolet (‘Sunny skies and Chevrolet‘), Continue reading →
It was the interview with a Cape Argus reporter on Friday that made me reflect on how far not only our country, but also I personally and my business have come in the 20 years since we voted on 27 April 1994. The Argus interview was focused on the progress over the past 20 years I have seen personally, business-wise, and politically.
My very first feedback to reporter Dylan was that 1994 was the first and only time that I was allowed to vote, having a German passport. I do not recall how it was possible for all foreigners (by passport) to be allowed to vote, when it has never been allowed before nor since then. I loved standing in a queue somewhere in Sea Point, being part of the exciting day that would change our country forever, and how much goodwill there was amongst South Africans whilst waiting patiently in the queues. Little did we know that the rest of the world waited anxiously for the outcome of the election, fully expecting a revolution to take place, unbeknown to us residents, with thanks to the SABC in ‘protecting’ us from this world scenario.
I moved to Cape Town in 1990, and transferred my marketing research consultancy Relationship Marketing from Johannesburg, changing its emphasis to Public Relations for food clients such as Baker Street Snacks, Bonnita (now Parmalat), Aylesbury, and more. The late John Harrison was a favourite client when he was GM of the Table Mountain Aerial Cableway. Even Mark Shuttleworth was a client, before he became famous for selling his Continue reading →
I couldn’t have wished for a better birthday yesterday, having been invited to join a media sail from the Royal Cape Yacht Club, to generate publicity for the Cape2Rio 2014 Yacht Race, which starts in Cape Town on 4 January. The 14th 3000 mile Cape2Rio Yacht Race is the ‘PR opportunity of the Year’ for Cape Town, and links to the 2014 Soccer World Cup taking place in Brazil, each of the 36 yachts taking a soccer ball.
Despite my uncertainty as to whether my guest house duties would allow me to participate, my staff gave me off, and the day could not have been more perfect for a sail, with no wind, and the temperature around 30°C. I had been invited by Wesgro’s Chief Marketing Officer Judy Lain, and she was waiting for me with a bunch of flowers! I thanked her for choosing such a perfect day and date for the sail! A number of media representatives were invited, and we gathered in the ‘galley‘ at the yacht club to hear more details about the race and its participants from the Race Marketer Toni Mainprize. The pioneering spirit and human struggle in making a yacht crossing was saluted, and it was said that Cape Town seems to have turned its back on the sea, despite it surrounding us. I personally had not sailed in years, having been a regular weekend sailor twenty years ago. We were encouraged to come to the Yacht Club on a Wednesday afternoon, and volunteer to crew on the yachts going out to sea. Teams from Angola, the UK, Australia, Italy, and Germany have entered the Race.
A number of representatives of the participating boats were present, and the idea was that we interview them on the water, the owners of Isla having made their catamaran available for the media outing. The response had been so great that Judy and other PR executives stayed on land, as the Hendersons, owners of Isla, were very strict about the total number of persons allowed on the yacht.
The 14,8 m catamaran Isla was built by its owner Ian Henderson, and sleeps eight. He will be putting his business interests on hold for the next year, taking his wife Elskeand their two daughters of 4 and 7 years with them on the race, and they plan to travel along the east coast of South and North America thereafter. Elske told me that they rarely get seasick now, regularly doing outings along the coast, and sleeping on the boat when they do trips away. Elske said she volunteers to helm, as it makes her less likely to become sea sick. She laughed, saying she is quick to delegate the food preparation when she feels queasy. She has found homeopathic medication to counter the sea Continue reading →
The Sweet Service Award goes to Pick ‘n Pay for its super Gift Card service, which offers a 2,5% discount for purchases of Gift Cards to the value of R20000, a service most Pick ‘n Pay clients do not know about. It does not replace the Smart Shopper card, which will be swiped for grocery purchases too. Intended as a corporate product for companies to use in rewarding their staff, it can also be bought by anyone else spending large sums of money at the retailer, as we do to pay our municipal accounts and guest house groceries, monies we would have to spend anyway but had paid by cheque via Easy Pay in the past. The process is simple: one requests an invoice from Pick ‘n Pay’s head office, pays the R20000 into their bank account, and then four cards are loaded with R5000 each, and the R500 discount Continue reading →
Shannon Smuts from Cape Town was the first MasterChef SA Season 2 Finalist to have been eliminated in a complicated warthog Pressure Test, and the bouncy and bubbly contestant was missed for her quirky interviews in between the cooking action. Feeling that she had to prove herself, she was motivated to make a dream come true, which was to open her own restaurant Pure Good, which is a mere two weeks old. True to its name, it is health-orientated, its signage promising ‘healthy food/happy people’.
Shannon is very health conscious, and her first challenge after the MasterChef SA elimination, which was a knock due to the suddenness of it and the ‘demoralising’ immediate departure from the MasterChef SA kitchen without the opportunity to say goodbye to her fellow contestants, was to participate in a half Ironman in East London. She was working for Associated Magazines at the time, as a graphic designer for Good Housekeeping, and heard that the owner of Carlucci’s was looking to sell all three his local restaurant/delis, one of them being on the ground floor of her employer’s building. She took over their lease, and bought their equipment, painted the interior white to give it a fresh look after its dreary grey interior, and chose a lime zest colour to reflect that her restaurant is all about freshness and health. The colour is reflected in the counter, in the table legs and chairs, the waiters’ aprons, and the menu. A shelf reflects her green theme, in displaying baskets, and gardening boots and tools. Elsewhere some boots served as ‘vases’ for flowers. A glass vase near the counter had an unusual display of lilies with lemons. A fridge displays salads, fruit salad, and other take-away food items, as well as colddrinks and mineral water. Continue reading →
It’s the low key openings, without fanfare, that are often the most exciting. Luvey ‘n Rose on Rose Street in Bo Kaap opened earlier this week as a coffee shop, art gallery, antique shop, adding wines once the liquor licence has been approved, and soon to be a permanent artist’s residence too.
Owned by Ignatius Claassen, an erstwhile actuary who decided to go it alone and start a completely different business, the business is located in a historic pink painted three storey building on Rose Street. Ignatius cannot find the date of the completion of the building, but it is sturdily built, and he does know that there was a workshop downstairs, a button factory in the middle, and that it had an apartment on the top floor. In the early days, when Cape Town’s cobble stone streets were tarred, the building was owned by a shoe and trouser tar-protection clog manufacturer.
Ignatius grew up in Despatch in the Eastern Cape, and took art as a school subject until Std 7, and says that he can draw and paint. In the army (he was part of the last intake) he made money from his army friends by drawing them, which portraits they sent to their girlfriends and parents, as they could not send photographs in those days. When some starting receiving what he called ‘Dear Johnny’ relationship-ending letters, they felt that the drawings were jinxed, and so a promising art career came to an end. However, Ignatius’ interest in art never waned, and he bought works at auctions, from art galleries, and from artist friends directly in Stellenbosch, Cape Town, and in Johannesburg where he lived for part of his career. A short-lived guest house career followed, until he sold two properties, moved to Cape Town, found the property, and put his money into art and antiques. It was meeting up with his school friend Paul Noppe Adams that was a sign to change direction, and his children living in the Cape that made him settle in Cape Town. He and Noppe live in the building, and Ignatius’ neat bedroom (reflecting his army training, he laughs) is open to view, as is the bathroom, as they contain art works that are for sale too.
Ignatius is quite philosophical about art, saying that one buys a work because of an emotional bond that it creates with the purchaser. He buys works that appeal to him personally, that he would want to hang in his own home. He will sometimes buy a piece for the concept, and not for its beauty, he said.
The first two floors are filled with art works from artists such as JH Pierneef, Walter Battiss (left), Shaney van den Bergh (photograph right, unusual in being painted on woven paper strips), Penny Siopis, Peter Clarke, Paul Emsley (once an art lecturer at the University of Stellenbosch and now lives in the UK, whose recent portrait of Kate, Duchess of Cambridge, was controversial), Wayne Barker, Stanley Pinker, and Alexandra Ross. A table is dedicated ‘as a shrine’ to the late David Botha, with prints and drawings available for sale. The third floor will be dedicated to the use of a studio apartment for a promising artist, and the first resident will be Johannes Phokela, a Soweto-born Masters in Painting graduate from the Royal College of Art and one of the artists chosen to represent our country at the International Venice Biennale later this year. The view from his apartment is onto Table Bay harbour, and onto the colourful Bo Kaap, a stimulating inspiration for the artist.
The two floors are filled with an array of furniture, none matching, but forming clusters of seating, firstly available to buy, but also to invite one to sit down, to meet with friends or with clients and colleagues, over a good cup of Deluxe coffee (made in a mean-looking Sevruga coffee machine) and a Cuban cigar, with Buena Vista Social Club or Cesaria Evoria as background music. The windows are big and let in light, uplifting in the winter months to come. The latest newspapers are available, as are art books for one to peruse.
They are not offering a restaurant service, but have partnered with Jason’s on Bree Street, in carrying his menu. At a R15 surcharge paid by the customer, the order is collected from them by scooter and delivered back, it taking 16 minutes from placing the order to the BAB (Bacon, Avo, and Brie) sandwich (R55) being delivered. On the coffee table where we sat was a book called ‘No, It Is’, in which William Kentridge sketches have been printed inside over the book copy.
Luvey ‘n Rose is sure to become cult. It is laid back, friendly, and a most unusual environment in which to meet others, or just to have a quiet moment away from others!
Luvey ‘n Rose, 21 Rose Street. Bo Kaap, Cape Town. Cell 0835577156 Facebook page. Monday – Sunday 7h00 – 18h00 (opening times variable, to be adjusted once the liquor licence has been received). Wifi to come.
Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www,whalecottage.com Twitter: @WhaleCottage
The False Bay coastal region is set to receive a massive injection of marketing energy and funding to restore some neglected tourism areas to their former glory, and to develop new areas, to make the False Bay coastline attractive to tourists. The development plans may create a tourism conflict with existing tourism areas in the Western Cape.
Announced by Western Province Minister of Finance, Economic Development, and Tourism Minister Alan Winde earlier this week, the proposed False Bay Coastal Route is a masterplan his department has proposed, requiring a partnership agreement between the Department, the City of Cape Town, and the national Department of Tourism.
The Route is to stretch from Cape Point to Gordon’s Bay, and the Masterplan includes upgrading Muizenberg, Kalk Bay, and Fish Hoek, all once tourism meccas, which have become neglected over the past few years. What is interesting, if not odd, is that the plan also includes the development of areas many would say are dangerous, including Mitchell’s Plain, Khayelitsha, Retreat, Strandfontein, Ocean View, Vrygrond, and Macassar, associated with unemployment and poverty, reports the Cape Argus, and therefore the residents of these areas would benefit from the development plans in creating employment. The beach resort Monwabisi is already being upgraded. A feasibility study is underway, to evaluate the potential of the following tourism products:
* South Peninsula wine route (Cape Point Vineyards is the only known wine producer in this region)
* Shark watching
* Whale watching
* Scuba diving
* Pleasure cruises between Gordon’s Bay and Simon’s Town
* Shops, restaurants, nightclubs and taverns
* Guided cultural tours
Concerns have been expressed about the environmental affect of the development plans. Environmental impact assessments are said to be considerate of the sensitive dune system in this region. The employment benefit of the developments should not be ‘oversold‘, said Philip Bam of the Steenberg Retreat Civic Association. From a guest house perspective we would caution guests from travelling east of Muizenberg on Baden Powell Drive, especially at night, and one questions how Minister Winde can see notorious suburbs such as Mitchell’s Plain and Khayelitsha having tourism potential, or perceive tourists to feel safe swimming at Monwabisi. The Route to Gordon’s Bay cannot run along the coastline all the way, connecting to the N2 between the Stellenbosch and Strand turn-offs, making the ‘Coastal Route‘ name a misnomer.
“I am particularly excited about this project as it will bring in communities that were previously not given the opportunity to have a say in what becomes of their surroundings. The False Bay, Gordon’s Bay and Cape Point coastlines are among many other locations that we have earmarked for development. Similar projects are under way in the West Coast, Cape Aghulas, Lamberts Bay Bird Island and False Bay Ecology Park,” said the Minister.
From a provincial perspective it appears that the Minister’s plans for False Bay may impact on the whale watching industry in Hermanus and the shark industry in Gansbaai, and one must question how viable this is in these very tough tourism times. One would hope that the Minister’s feasibility study will include an evaluation of the demand for tourists using the proposed developments east of Muizenberg – they may become another white elephant and a further burden for the Cape Town ratepayers, already lumbered with the unprofitable Cape Town Stadium.
While one understands the Minister’s concern for employment, the proposed False Bay Coastal Route falls within the Cape Town municipal boundaries, and therefore it is a surprise that the Minister is getting involved in what is a city issue, and not of benefit to his whole province. The overall tourism benefit seems questionable. Focusing attention on the stimulation of tourism in the province in general, especially during the dreadful winter months, would be far more beneficial in creating employment for all in the Western Cape!
POSTSCRIPT 24/7: It was a shock to read in the Sunday Argus that Lynne Brown, ANC leader in the Western Cape legislature, and former Minister of Tourism before she became Premier, when the ANC ran the province, has accused Minister Winde of ‘stealing’ her plan of four years ago! She also accuses the Minister of plagiarising ‘almost word-for-word’ from her ‘Tourism 5-year Strategy’ document. She said: ‘This is an ANC plan stolen from the ANC. Of course there is no acknowledgement at all and this is what makes it painful. I would personally like to see the DA carrying forward the ANC’s economic policy plan for the province because I believe that it was a good plan‘. Ms Brown criticised Minister Winde for ‘nothing original‘ having been done for tourism by him, and for closing down Cape Town Routes Unlimited.
Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter: @WhaleCottage