Entries tagged with “hotel”.


It was disappointing to experience yet another restaurant pushing bottled water, when I requested a glass of tap water at Willoughby’s last night, it not being the only restaurant in Cape Town  at which I have experienced this practice.  (more…)

imageLast night Western Cape Minister of Economic Opportunities Alan Winde officially opened the new Century City Conference Centre & Hotel, a R1 billion investment by the Rabie Project Group. The opening ceremony coincided with ‘Valentine under the STARS‘, the (more…)

imageIn a survey conducted about the cost of accommodation in 30 South African suburbs, towns and villages, Camps Bay was found to offer the most expensive accommodation for the peak summer season. Surprising is that smaller towns also feature on the most (more…)

imageTourism, Food, and Wine news headlines

*   NATIVE Media has launched a full-channel media service, that goes beyond the traditional ad agency media channels, to start with digital channels and building traditional channels on top of that. The media planning and buying service will be headed up by Gordon Muller and Trish Guildford.

*  The growth in Airbnb could lead to a reduction in hotel rates, as its (more…)

Shimmy logo Whale CottageLast week a group of writers was invited to try the new Winter Menu at Shimmy Beach Club, on a beautiful sunny day. The impact of GM Clayton Howard is visible, compared to my last visit to Shimmy about a year ago, when it was in a sad state, Clayton giving the Club new energy, a chic character, and introducing aShimmy Clayton Howard Whale Cottage vastly improved menu.

We were told that the owners of Shimmy Beach Club also own other properties, including Bloemendal in Durbanville, and we were served their Waterlily wines for the lunch. A small hotel is being established on the wine estate, and Shimmy Chef Adrian Cook also spends one day a week at Bloemendal, and its restaurant Bon Amis. Clayton told me that new staff is being sourced from the hotel sector, given the growing (more…)

WhaleTalesTourism, Food, and Wine news headlines

*   Is it the right thing for Tourism Minister Derek Hanekom to feature in an ‘advertorial’ for Uber, (boringly) showing him booking his ride via phone in his Parliamentary office, and then being driven to the Cape Town International Convention Centre, where he addressed the eTourism Africa Summit as keynote speaker?

*   Graham Beck Blanc de Blancs 2009 has won World Champion Cap Classique, Best in its Class, as well as Gold in the 2014 Champagne and Sparkling Wine World Championships in London, with 650 wines from 16 countries evaluated.  Klein Constantia MCC Brut 2011 won Gold too, while Simonsig Cap Classique Kaapse Vonkel 2010 won Silver.  A total of 185 wines won a Gold or Silver medal.

*   Yuppiechef.com has been named the Best eCommerce Store in South Africa for the fifth year running, winning ahead of (more…)

Camps Bay beachA survey conducted amongst 20000 travel agents by Benchmark Hospitality International in the USA has culminated in the ‘Top Ten Travel Trends for 2014′.  Good news is that travel bookings are on the up, and that beach holidays are on an upward trend too!

The results were as follows:

1.   80% of the travel agents were optimistic about travel growth, half of these expecting it to be ‘very strong’.

2.   Most growth will come from leisure travel, and half of this from the luxury segment.  However, leisure and business travel often is combined.

3.   An increasing number of clients are booking directly, understandably of concern to travel agents.

4.   Beach-related travel is showing the strongest growth, responsible for about half of all travel. The balance of (more…)

WhaleTalesTourism, Food, and Wine news headlines

*  South African consumer confidence is at its lowest level in ten years, records the Bureau of Economic Research, and expects it to become worse next year!

*   To celebrate World Tourism Day (27 September), Western Cape Tourism Minister braaied at Oudekraal, cycled through Chapman’s Peak, and stopped at pavement cafés en route on Heritage Day. (via media release from Minister Winde’s office)

*  More than 15000 UK restaurants and pubs are participating in a Tax Parity Day, protesting the 20% VAT on hotel, restaurant, pub, and catering costs.  The aim is to prove that sales will increase if the VAT is reduced.

*   A four course Winemakers’ Dinner will be held at the Franschhoek Kitchen at Holden Manz on 26 September, with wines from Arra, Maison, Noble (more…)

WhaleTalesTourism, Food, and Wine news headlines

*   Hotel prices are increasing, and are close to 2006 levels, just prior to the global economic prices, a sign of a recovery of the world economy.

*   The Cape Winemakers Guild will accept real time online bidding at the auction of its wines at Spier on 5 October. The biggest selection of 59 wines in the 29 year history of the Auction will go under the hammer.  A Final Pre-Auction Tasting for prospective auction buyers will be held at Spier the day prior. (via media release from GC Communications)

*  American travelers are expected to travel more but spend less next year, traveling in their own country in the main, an international survey has found.

*   Is sugar as addictive as cigarette smoking or drugs was a questions asked at the Sugar Association of South Africa conference.

*   Frankfurt airport saw 5,8 million passengers pass through its doors in August, an increase of 3,6 %. and the highest passenger number ever.

*   As the world focuses on South America for the FIFA World Cup 2014 and (more…)

Having had the misfortune to connect with The South African Butler Academy, and its Recruitment Head Adriaan Coetzer last week in respect of their graduate Hettie Novacovic, we have done more homework on this dishonourable and unprofessional butler training and recruitment body based in Cape Town.

A phone call to Coetzer, to chat to him about Mrs Novacovic’s short-lived employment with us, was professional and honest, Coetzer agreeing that Mrs Novacovic had acted unprofessionally by not arriving for work without giving notice, was late for work twice in four days, did not follow instructions about the breakfast serving time or any other instructions for that matter, did not own up to damages she caused to our property which cost us a call-out fee for the pool company, did not want to interact with our guests over breakfast (one couple asked her to leave the table, something we have not experienced in our 17 years of operation!), she refused to shake hands to welcome our new guests, was unable to manage the housekeepers, left to go home midway during guest check-in training, prepared a dreadfully kitsch table for our wedding anniversary guests we wanted to spoil (contrary to my request of how I wanted it to be made special for them), was closed off to any communication with guests and ourselves, documented (unbeknown to us at the time) everything she had seen and learnt with us in the four days on her iPad, and generously took a coffee and a breakfast break herself while the rest of the staff were focused on getting the rooms ready for the new arriving guests.  Coetzer agreed that appointing her was a liability for most potential employers, as she has a husband on pension, who has to be ’employed’ too, but may not earn any income so as to not lose his pension!   He accepted that Mrs Novacovic’s poor work ethic was a very negative reflection on the SA Academy of Butlers and its training standards!  She was dishonest about the rate she quoted for her daily fee, quoting the most qualified butler fee of R800 per 12 hour day, and therefore we reduced her hours to 8h00 – 14h00.  While Mrs Novacovic was not appointed via Guild Recruitment, the placement arm of the SA Butlers’ Academy, Coetzer welcomed the feedback telephonically.

Coetzer promised to have a chat with the butler graduate, having a meeting with her later in the day.  The e-mail response was one of a changed person, making wild unproven allegations, and disputing any weaknesses of Mrs Novacovic, to which he had agreed earlier in the day, which earned him a Sour Service Award! Mrs Novacovic had replied to our Gumtree advertisement for a half day assistant for Whale Cottage Camps Bay, sharing that she was annoyed by Guild Recruitment taking so much of her fee for their placement fee of 20% on the advertised butler rates.  She was therefore applying for jobs directly, and not via the SA Butler Academy recruitment service, an important part of the Academy’s misleading marketing to attract students.

The SA Butler Academy website (and its Facebook page) is riddled with typing errors, and is over-written with extravagant exaggerated claims:

*  It is a ‘non-profit’ training establishment – yet they charge R19500 for local students, and €5000 for international students inclusive of accommodation!

*   It is aimed at ‘hospitality candidates‘, who have a ‘desire to step into a lavish world of Wealth and Fortune‘ – yet Mrs Novacovic has no clue of the hospitality industry!

*   Its Principal is ‘world renowned’ Newton Cross, but a Google search only provides links to his Academy’s website!  Cross has trained as a butler in the UK, worked on some cruise liners, at Fancourt in George, and at Clarendon House in ‘Fresnay’ (sic)! It is claimed that he has worked for Nelson Mandela, Thabo Mbeki, Michael Schumacher, Tiger Woods, Bill Clinton, and ‘George Senior Bush (sic)’.

*   Butler student applicants should be fluent in English, but neither the Academy’s website, its Facebook page, nor Mrs Novacovic’s writing reflects this fluency!

*   The ‘Academy is the finest in the world’, and ‘the finest Private Sector training institute in the world and most certainly in South Africa’, but these claims are not substantiated on the website!

*   The Academy is World renowned for our modern approach to Butler Service in private households, resorts, exclusive yachts and passenger liners‘.  Again, no substantiation is offered.

*   The Mission Statement is the ultimate in exaggeration by the Academy, no substantiation reflected in its website or via Google: “The Academy is tantamount with professional Butler training which prides itself on the highest form of dedicated Butler Training. At The South African Butler Academy you will be taught how to run an effective modern private estate or household with grace and professionalism not just and estate but also a Yacht, Hotel Butler department and Boutique Resorts. The Academy course is 8 weeks of intense Butler training governed by experienced celebrity Butlers who are qualified as professional Butlers. The Academy will provide you with all the skills and certification to perform Butler duties. Our Training standards are exceptionally high and admired by International press and media. We are the world’s number one leading Butler Academy and the apex of all estates and households. Become part of SABA and celebrate service”  (our underlining).

*   The logo (provided cheekily by the Academy yesterday) reflects five stars – however the Academy is not graded by the Tourism Grading Council, and its use of the stars is therefore unlawful, SA Tourism having decreed that the star quality denotion is exclusive to the Tourism Grading Council!

It is the claim We are proud to have a legacy in the market as our clients are kept confidential and above all “disclosure” is our highest priority” (our underlining).  Clearly they may have meant ‘discretion’ or ‘non-disclosure’, which ironically is the most dishonest of all the SA Butler Academy claims, with it publishing the slanderous feedback of Mrs Novacovic on its website, reflecting the unprofessional nature of the Academy and its graduates. Any potential employer of a SA Butler Academy graduate should fear that ‘discretion’ is not guaranteed by The SA Butler Academy or its graduates, and in particular by Mrs Novacovic.

Discretion is the most direct association one would have with a butler, and it is reflected in the Florida-based Institute of Modern Butlers’ Professional Butler Code of Ethics, which highlights Integrity, Confidentiality, Service, Lawful Behaviour, Dedication, Personal Development, Respect, Professional Relationship, and Promotion.  The SA Butler Academy and its graduate Mrs Novacovic have breached this international Code of Conduct in a number of respects.  Interesting is that the SA Butler Academy does not have a Code of Conduct!

At a cost of R19500 for an 8 week course, it would appear that The SA Butler Academy students themselves are being taken for a ride, as this time period is not long enough to teach any student the full theoretical spectrum of hospitality, customer service, staff management, table service, silver service, etiquette and protocol, security, home automation, interpersonal management skills, culinary training, household management, and executive housekeeping, all elements of The SA Butler Academy curriculum, and certainly not at a practical level!

Mrs Novacovic made no effort to learn my job, which she was meant to take over, lurking in the kitchen and washing the dishes most of the time, the most expensive dishwasher we have ever employed!  Our staff are served breakfast during the course of our very busy mornings, prepared by our chef, a different egg type daily, which Mrs Novacovic enjoyed too, and they are provided with lunch too.   I love writing this blog, and do so mainly at night, as there is no way that I could do it justice in writing it while sitting in a busy Reception dealing with the guests that we accommodate daily, e-mail enquiries and correspondence having priority during the day.  We deny Mrs Novacovic’s false and libellous allegations, deplore her attempts to discredit ourselves, our staff, and our guests, and reserve our rights to take action against Mrs Novacovic and the SA Academy of Butlers for defamation.

Needless to say, we would warn any potential butler student, and any potential employer of a butler via The SA Butler Academy’s Guild Recruitment, against any dealings with The SA Butler Academy!

POSTSCRIPT 27/2: We have received feedback from a number of our blog readers and past guests that their comments in support of ourselves have not been allowed on the SA Butler Academy blog, another proof of its unprofessionalism and one-sided presentation of information!

POSTSCRIPT 4/3: The SA Butler Academy has taken note of our comments about its exaggerated claims and spelling errors, having removed all the quotes we featured in the above blogpost.  Profiles of the owner Newton Cross and his partner Adriaan Coetzee have been removed.  An attempt has been made to remove the illegal use of the five stars in its logo!

POSTSCRIPT 4/7/17:  We were summonsed early this year by the SA Butler Academy with an intermediate interdict, demanding the removal of this Blogpost, four years after I wrote it. This came after a written request by the Butler Academy that I remove the Blogpost, which I was not prepared to do. Last week the judge hearing the case rejected the Butler Academy demand. I am extremely grateful to my superb advocate, for this outcome. The Butler Academy is threatening a further legal case, to claim compensation for alleged defamation, a case which is likely to be heard in 2018. 

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