Entries tagged with “James Bond”.


About three weeks ago I visited Franschhoek for the day, and saw an amazing collection of brand new SA gin brands at Siegies on Huguenot, all being striking in being unknown to me, and each having very distinctive packaging. Autograph Gin was one of these, and it was one of the brands which I photographed and posted on Instagram and Facebook. On Monday I ‘met’ the brand and its Master Distiller Matt Beech, at the Autograph Distillery in Stellenbosch, a goosebump experience, the second of my day!  (more…)

It fascinates me how the local Gin market is growing by leaps and bounds, and that new Gin producers see new gaps to launch their brands. On Monday I attended the launch of Cape Town’s newest Gin brand Geometric Gin and associated with it unique Symmetry Botanical Tonics.  (more…)

WhaleTalesTourism, Food, and Wine news headlines

*   The Bureau of Economic Research Survey for the 4th quarter of this year shows that the expected growth rate in the volume of Accommodation business decreased to 5%, from 9% in the 3rd quarter. On average 11% growth is expected for the first quarter of next year. Disconcerting however is the drop in Business Confidence for the 4th quarter, down from 70 in the 3rd quarter, to 49 for this quarter, in a period which is usually buoyant.  Another concern is the first anticipated decline in growth in business in the Western Cape, of -3%, for the first quarter of 2015, the drop from the 3rd quarter growth rate of 20% crashing down to +3% in the 4th quarter!  (received from the Bureau of Economic Research)

*   Nando’s has set up a wholly-owned subsidiary in India, and plans to open 20  company stores in addition to those to be opened by its franchisees.   This is the chicken fast-food company’s second stab at the Indian market.

*   Chef Massimo Botturo, owner of the 3rd Best Restaurant in the world (Osteria Francescana in Modena), has denied speculations (more…)

Graham Beck’s Méthode Cap Classique (MCC) has made headline news in the past ten days, when it appeared on the menu of a lunch hosted by Bono for American First Lady Michelle Obama, as well as on the menu of the wedding celebration dinner of Princess Madeleine and her husband Chris O’Neill, putting Graham Beck’s MCCs on a par with French champagnes in celebrating celebrity occasions! (more…)

Every year around this time, the TripAdvisor Travelers’ Choice Awards are announced, resulting in a flurry of media releases to praise achievements in various categories.  TripAdvisor sceptics know how easy it is to generate both positive and negative false reviews on the world’s largest travel customer feedback site, and therefore take the results with a pinch of salt.

This year the Cape Grace hotel made it to the number two rank on the TripAdvisor Travelers’ Choice Awards 2013 Top 25 Hotels in the World category, and is ranked top hotel in Africa.  The Africa list included the Twelve Apostles Hotel at 14th position, the Mount Nelson Hotel at 18th place, The Oyster Box at 19th place, the One&Only Cape Town at 21st place, Kapama River Lodge at number 22, and the Table Bay Hotel at 23rd position.

Ironic for the Cape Grace hotel is that in the same week as the TripAdvisor award ranking was announced, yet another scandal hit the hotel, this time a hotel guest from the UK allegedly having been drugged by having her drink spiked, filmed in a comprising position in her hotel bedroom with her tour guide, and subsequently robbed of all her money, computer equipment, and jewellery over the festive season, reported the Sunday Times.   The hotel shot to ‘fame’ for all the wrong reasons when it was the honeymoon home of Shrien Dewani, who allegedly organised the murder of his bride Anni from the hotel two years ago.  The hotel’s most famous guests to date have been ex-USA President Bill Clinton and his wife Hilary, and James Bond, in the latest ‘Carte Blanche’ 007 novel by Jeffery Deaver.

Out of her depth in the wording she used in a media statement, Cape Town Tourism CEO Mariette du Toit-Helmbold is quoted as saying: ‘The Cape Grace has always been an exemplary hotel and a benchmark for the best in Cape Town hospitality. We are so pleased  that it has been recognised in such an authoritative way‘ (our underlining), immediately offending many other top Cape Town hotels!

The TripAdvisor Travelers’ Choice Awards do not reflect the results of the highly regarded Conde Nast Travelers’ Awards, in which the Steenberg Hotel was voted as the best hotel in Africa in 2011, and was ranked 9th on the continent last year.

It is fortunate that TripAdvisor does not do a similar Restaurants Awards list, as a week doesn’t go by that a restaurateur in Cape Town and Franschhoek does not refer to colleagues posting false positive TripAdvisor reviews about their own establishments, or posting false reviews about restaurants near the top of the list in their city or village, to topple them from the top position.  ‘Reviews’ by aggrieved ex-employees are another source of negative reviews, as are customers who are angry when they do not receive refunds when they contravene agreed cancellation policies.

Anyone that reads and believes TripAdvisor reviews deserves to get what they receive when they make their accommodation and restaurant choices based on this website! TripAdvisor is a particularly important reference guide for tourists from the UK, and it is shame that they allow themselves to be deceived by so much false information.  TripAdvisor would enhance its credibility vastly if it had a review verification system, and demanded a response from the owner or manager of the establishment, before posting any review, to allow both sides of the story to be presented jointly and fairly.

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

2011: what a year it’s been for the world, South Africa, and Whale Cottage – unpredictable, up and down, and a year in which one had to rethink every way in which one has run one’s business and life.  Most would say that it’s been one of the worst years ever!  But despite the tough times, there has been a lot to be grateful for as well.  I have summarised some of the high and low lights of the year:

1.  The knock which tourism took, especially from May – August, in being one of the worst winters ever experienced, had an effect on all sectors of the economy.  Restaurants frantically offered specials to gain cashflow, guest houses went back to dropping rates as they do in winter, and few took rate increases in summer, unlike their hotel colleagues, who suffered poor occupancy too.  More hotels and restaurants closed down than ever seen before. The recession in the UK hit South African tourism and wine sales badly, previously our major source market. From 50 % of our business in the summer months in Camps Bay, the UK business will be no more than 5 % this summer.  High airfares and the crippling UK airport taxes have not helped. The tourism situation was so bad that we wrote an Open Letter to national Minister of Tourism Marthinus van Schalkwyk, as Cape Town Tourism and Cape Town Routes Unlimited were not aware of how bad things were in the Cape, and therefore did nothing to market the region and to help the tourism industry. Cape Town Tourism spent all its energy on Twitter, not yet the medium of communication of our average tourist, and on wasteful promotions, and therefore we did not renew our 20 year membership. The welcome increase in German tourists has not made up this shortfall, but we have been delighted to welcome many more South African guests.   The World Cup has become a swearword, the reality of its lack of a tourism benefit becoming clear. A blessing from Santa has been a much improved festive season, with no snow-bound tourists or strong south-easter wind, as happened last year.

2.  Events are hugely beneficial for business, and the Argus Cycle Tour, J&B Met, and Cape Town International Jazz Festival attracted out of town guests. The U2 and Coldplay concerts helped fill beds and delighted Cape Town audiences.  A fantastic outcome of Coldplay’s performance is that the music video for ‘Paradise’ was filmed in our city, the Boland and the Karoo – no better part of the world could have been chosen for this song!

3.  Cape Town has had an exceptional year, the darling of the world, winning the World Design Capital 2014 bid, Table Mountain being named one of New7Wonders of Nature (amid some controversy and as yet subject to verification), named top destination in TripAdvisor Travellers’ Choice Destination (for what it was worth!), and featuring strongly in the new James Bond book ‘Carte Blanche’.  Our city hotels, especially the Cape Grace and Steenberg Hotel, featured on international top hotel lists. Good news was the sale of the V&A Waterfront to a local company, which is investing in the upgrade of and addition to the country’s most popular tourist destination.

4.   Despite the doom and gloom, there were more restaurant openings, and chef and restaurant staff changes this year than in many years: The Pot Luck Club, Hemelhuijs, Dash, Casparus, Dear Me Foodworld, The Franschhoek Kitchen, Il Cappero, Café Benedict, The Kitchen at Maison, Sotano by Caveau, Knife, De Oude Bank Bakkerij, Ryan’s Kitchen, Caffe Milano, Mozzarella Bar, Cassis Salon de Thé, Power & the Glory, Haas Coffee, Johan’s @ Longridge, Skinny Legs & All, KOS Coffee & Cuisine, Café Dijon @ Zorgvliet, Le Coq, Act and Play Bar at the Baxter, Sunbird Bistro, Societi Brasserie, Jason’s, Bird Café with new owners, Maria’s after a long renovation closure, Toro Wine & Aperitif Bar, Valora, Café Le Chocolatier, Haute Cabriere Cellar Restaurant after a renovation and chef change, Art’s Café, Spice Route, Mitico, Knead on Kloof, Chez Chez, La Bella, 5 Rooms, Terbodore Coffee Bar, Wale Rose Lifestyle, The Black Pearl, Bistro on Rose, Slainte, Babel Tea House, Rhapsody’s, Café Extrablatt, Harvest, McDonalds in the V&A,  The Mussel Bar, The Franschhoek Food Emporium, Makaron, F.east, Bean There Fair Trade, Sabrina’s, Harbour House in the V&A, MCC Franschhoek, Clarke Bar & Dining Room, Roberto’s, French Toast, Saboroso, Mezepoli, Rocca in the Cape Quarter, and Roca in Franschhoek opening their doors, and new suppliers Frankie Fenner Meat Merchants and The Creamery opening too.

5.  Sadly, the recession was noticeable as it hit restaurants, and it was some of the newer restaurants that were badly hit, including What’s On Eatery, The Olive Shack, Bella Lucia, Blonde, Jardine, Caveau at the Mill, Nando’s in Camps Bay, The Sandbar, The Bistro, Restaurant Christophe, Doppio Zero in Green Point and Clarement, shu, Oiishi Delicious Caffe, Hermanos, The Kitchen Bar, Wildwoods, The Green Dolphin, De Huguenot restaurant, Wildflour, Depasco, Kuzina, and 221 Waterfront.

6.  The eating highlight of the year was the tribute dinner to the closing of El Bulli, one of the world’s best restaurants, by Tokara, Chef Richard Carstens excelling in serving a 13-course meal to a packed restaurant on 30 July, earning him and his team a standing ovation.  This meal alone should have made Chef Richard South Africa’s top chef in the Eat Out Top 10 Restaurant Awards, but sole judge Abigail Donnelly proved that she was incapable of handling this new role and responsibility, not only in excluding Chef Richard from her Top 10 list, but also in awarding the new Boschendal Style Award to her client Makaron.

7.   Franschhoek evolved as THE wine region, Boekenhoutskloof being recognised as South Africa’s top winery by the Platter Guide, and La Motte the top wine estate in South Africa by the Great Wine Capitals Global Network.  In the latter competition, Tokara was selected as top wine estate restaurant in the country. The sale of the Franschhoek Graham Beck farm was announced, and the operation closes mid-year in 2012. The winemaking will take place at Steenberg and at Graham Beck in Robertson, while a Graham Beck tasting bar Gorgeous will open at Steenberg in February.

8.   Hermanus was in the tourism marketing spotlight, when miraculously both the committee of the Hermanus Tourism Bureau resigned, and the Cape Whale Coast Destination Marketing Organisation was disbanded by the Overstrand Mayor.  We had written about the self-interest which had been served by the previous leaders of these two bodies in ‘Lermanus’!  A welcome product for Hermanus is the recently created Hermanus Wine Route, marketing of which will be in the capable hands of Carolyn Martin of Creation.

9.   The Consumer Protection Act was introduced in April, and has shown benefits in product deficiencies and returns.  Little effect has been seen for the tourism industry.  The Tourism Grading Council of South Africa tried to change its accommodation assessment standards, which caused a huge outcry.  Despite changing back to what they had before, many accommodation establishments lost faith in the organisation, and have not renewed their accreditation.

10.  The wedding of Prince Albert II and Princess Charlène in July put South Africa in the world spotlight, not only due to the televised broadcast of the wedding, but also as they celebrated their wedding with a second reception, at The Oyster Box in Umhlanga, now the country’s best known hotel.

11.  This year proved that the ‘social’ in Social Media is a misnomer in many respects, but it is the marketing platform which cannot be excluded.  We celebrated the 10th anniversary of our WhaleTales newsletter, the 3rd year of blogging, and our 1000 th blogpost this year.  We are grateful to our Facebook friends and likers, Twitter followers, and blog and newsletter readers for their support.

It is hard to predict 2012, and we will go with the flow.  2011 has made us tougher and even more thick-skinned, we have learnt to change with changed tourism times.  We look forward to a stable world economy, politics, as well as weather in 2012!

POSTSCRIPT 2/1: The most read posts on our blog in 2011 were the restaurant winter specials, the Festive Season packages, the marriage of Prince Albert and Princess Charléne, the review of Casparus, the restaurant summer specials, the review of Gaaitjie in Paternoster, the death in Cape Town of the President of Ferrero Rocher,  the listing of restaurant openings and closures, the Consumer Protection Act, and Table Mountain making the New7Wonders of Nature.

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

Two major film productions are to be filmed in Cape Town soon, not only benefiting the local film industry, but the tourism industry too.  This will help to establish the film industry in Cape Town as ‘one of the world’s most respected filming and TV destinations’, said the Cape Town Film Commission CEO Denis Lillie, reports the Cape Times.

‘The History of Great Britain’ will be filmed by an American company, and Cape Town has been chosen for the filming as ‘the city’s geography was similar to that of Britain‘.   ‘Labyrinth’ will be shot in the city later this month by internationally acclaimed director Scott Ridley.  In addition, a coup is the filming of a 22-series TV series ‘Law and Order’ from March next year, a revenue boost for the city of R66 million.

Lillie said that the local film industry employs 12500 staff, and contributes R5,5 billion to the Cape economy.  Lillie expects the value of the industry to grow in the next year. The Cape Film Commission is also working in distributing films of local filmmakers through trade agreements with other ‘film capital cities’ such as Hong Kong, London, Chicago, Los Angeles, and Mumbai.  The support received from the Cape Town Film Permit Office, the City of Cape Town and the Western Cape provincial government has ‘enabled Cape Town to become a world-class film-friendly city’, Lillie said.

There is a possibility that the filming of the completion of the latest James Bond movie may move from India to Cape Town, it was reported last week.  It is hoped that ‘Carte Blanche’, the latest James Bond book, will become a movie too, and will be filmed in Cape Town.

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

Good news is that ‘Carte Blanche’, the movie of the latest James Bond book by Jeffery Deaver, will be shot in Cape Town and the Winelands, in addition to Serbia and Dubai, wrote The Budapest Report yesterday.

The report states that filming locations will include the Atlantic Oceanfront (a lot of the action in Deaver’s book takes place on the slopes of the Twelve Apostles), in a township, in the ‘luxury vineyards in Stellenbosch and Franschhoek’, ‘while a climatic scene will be shot on the top of Table Mountain’.  

The news of a ‘Carte Blanche’ movie is excellent for the city, given the revenue that it will bring to the film industry, and also in terms of marketing Cape Town, which is sorely needed in these tough times.  It has been predicted that the new James Bond book will attract about 175 000 visitors to the Cape, and ‘thousands more’ after the launch of the movie.  “…the novel and the film are sure to boost a renewed interest in South Africa following the 2010 FIFA Football World Cup spectacle.  The film is also expected to capture the attention of at least half the world’s population (about 4,5-bil people), organizers said, adding that it will be a great showcase for South African life as it will weave in the sights, sounds and cultural spectacles of life in South Africa”.

When ‘Carte Blanche’ was launched last month, it was speculated that a movie could be made about the book, given that Bond film director Sam Mendes and producer Barbara Broccoli were seen on a flight to South Africa, scouting for locations for an as yet unannounced Bond movie.   No timing of the shoot has been announced.

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

While it was evident that the recent TripAdvisor 2011 Travellers’ Choice Destination Awards for Cape Town was not bringing enquiries to Cape Town accommodation establishments immediately after its announcement in May, an e-mail from TripAdvisor, sent to all its accommodation establishment ‘members’ on Thursday, listed the ten “most searched-for destinations on TripAdvisor this month”. Disappointingly, Cape Town does not feature on this list!

The Top 10 most-searched for destinations on TripAdvisor were the following: Singapore, Rome, Hong Kong, Bangkok, New York City, Barcelona, Albufeira in Portugal, Kuala Lumpur, Paris, and London.  The list was headlined “Trending on TripAdvisor”.  Only six of these destinations were on the Top 10 Travellers Choice Destination Awards: Rome, Hong Kong, New York City, Barcelona, Paris and London.  Cape Town, Sydney, Machu Picchu, and Rio de Janeiro did not make the most-searched destination cities – what they have in common is that they are all Southern Hemisphere cities, and long-haul destinations for the American and UK markets, probably making up the largest percentage of TripAdvisor users.

One hopes that other recent exposure for Cape Town, in the Telegraph Ultratravel 100 best holiday destinations, and the location for most of the action in the new James Bond book ‘Carte Blanche’, will attract much-needed tourists to Cape Town and the Western Cape.

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

Former James Bond actor Pierce Brosnan has boldly appealed to President Obama to help put an end to illegal whaling, reports CBS.  Brosnan paid for and appears in an “Save the Whales Now” advertisement, in which he reminds the President of his promise, whilst a candidate for the White House, that he was going to stop illegal whaling.

The “Save the Whales Now” campaign is a joint effort by the following organisations: Humane Society of the United States, The International Fund for Animal Welfare, The Natural Resources Defense Council, and the Ocean Alliance.   It encourages viewers to call the President personally, by providing a telephone number.  The Brosnan ad can be viewed here.

Halle Berry, Oscar-winning actress, and Oliver Martinez are currently in Cape Town, to shoot “Dark Tide” in Simonstown.  Berry plays the role of a diving instructor who comes face-to-face with sharks on a deserted island in the movie, reports the Sunday Times.   Local marine professionals have been retained by the producers, to provide support, whilst a local team of stunt co-ordinators has also been hired.   Filming has taken place in Simonstown harbour and at Seal Island.   The production company has set up its base at Seaforth Beach in Simonstown.

Commenting on the making of the movie, shark conservationist Alison Kock of Save Our Seas Foundation told the Sunday Times that they decided to not get involved and assist the producers, after they had seen the script, and it appeared to be a “shark attack” movie, a thriller in which the actors fight off a shark attack.  Her society’s mandate is to present the positive side of sharks, especially given shark attacks in False Bay generally, and specifically in Fish Hoek at the beginning of the year, when Lloyd Skinner died from being attacked by a Great White Shark.

A fascinating project is that of an Australian movie “Whale Like Me”,which film-maker Malcolm Wright is making.  Wright does not support the catching of whales by the Japanese, and came up with the idea of a documentary, in which the Japanese and the conservationists opposed to whaling swop roles, a “walk a mile in my shoes” type of movie, reports The Australian.  Wright will be living with a whaling family and join a whale hunt off the coast of Japan, while whalers will live with him in the Cook Islands and will swim with humpback whales in the area.

Wright says of his novel documentary: “The key to the film is reconciliation and the way we see reconciliation is walking a mile in each other’s shoes.  My standpoint is we have to now shift from a moratorium on sustainability grounds to a moratorium on ethical grounds, and at least have an international exchange of ideas and come to a conclusion of some sort”.   Hideki Fuji, a Japanese film-maker working on the project challenges the anti-whaling sentiment, asking how whaling and eating whales is different to “the harvesting of other animals for human consumption”.   Wright worked with Lord of the Rings director Peter Jackson, and hopes to get his movie released in cinemas.  Filming is planned to start this month.

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