Entries tagged with “New Year”.


imageI have rarely written about personal matters on my Blog. I am also long past formulating New Year’s resolutions at the beginning of a year. Never in my wildest dreams could I imagine that the universe would present me with a year of years in 2016, to top any I have ever experienced!  (more…)

New Year glassesThe Sweet Service Award goes to all the restaurant chefs, kitchen staff, bar staff, and waitrons in Cape Town and the Winelands, who gave up their own New Year’s Eve celebrations to ensure that their patrons had a sparkling start to the New Year.

 

 

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Festive Season 12 ApostlesChristmas Eve

*   La Mouette, Cape Town: 6-course dinner R445.  Tel (021) 433-0856

*   Savour, African Pride 15 on Orange, Cape Town: 5-courses R450. Tel (021) 469-8000

*   The Conservatory at Cellars Hohenhort, Cape Town:  6-course dinner R 750 p.p.  Tel (021) 794-5535

*   Twelve Apostles Hotel & Spa, Cape Town:  4-course R955 plus eggnog. Tel (021) 437-9000

*   Makaron at Majeka House, Stellenbosch: 4-course dinner R 55o p.p.  Tel (021) 880-1550

*   Bosman’s at Grande Roche, Paarl:   5-course dinner with pianist R1395 p.p. Tel (021) 863-5100 (more…)

Green Point Track Whale Cottage PortfolioOn Saturday Cape Town Mayor Patricia de Lille officially opened the Green Point Track, a new sporting facility which is hidden on the cul de sac road that leads away from the Cape Town Stadium, across the road from McDonalds.  Given that the launch has been very low key, with barely any information to be found via Google, we requested Artvark, the creators of ten urban art sculptures made for the Green Point Track, to let us have more information about the project.  It was interesting to read the motivation for the sculptures created, linking Cape Town’s sporting and recreation past and present.

On the cards since 2009, the urban art project was deemed to be an important part of the upgrading of the Track, to commemorate its history specifically, and the sporting and cultural history of Cape Town generally.  Landscape artist Darryl Pryce-Lewis conceptualised the idea of negative and positive panels made from metal, all to be positioned in a straight line, creating a ‘visual effect to be able to look through a negative space of an individual sculpture towards the positive, the symbolism of this already touch upon the diverseness and challenges faced in our country‘, explains Artvark. (more…)

The free magazine ‘Hello Festive Season 2012/2013‘, dropped into our post box, attracted my attention for the endless pages sponsored by the City of Cape Town, in what is intended as a publication to help one decide where to celebrate Christmas and New Year, and where to spend time during the summer holidays in Cape Town, bearing the subtitle ‘the ultimate lifestyle guide‘! It is the worst possible boring representation of Cape Town, the sponsor pages having been compiled by the City of Cape Town’s new Marketing department, and is not a ‘lifestyle guide’ at all!.

Rory Viljoen, Director of the City of Cape Town Place Marketing, as he likes to call his department, comes from Distell and Coca Cola, so it is hard to imagine that he could be responsible for such nonsense information to be presented in a publication that is unlikely to reach every Cape Town ratepayer or services payer, only 16500 copies having been printed, I was told by Hello Cape Town Magazine Marketing Consultant Jessica Nosworthy.  She also told me that it is the third year that the City of Cape Town has advertised in the publication.

The first of the twenty eight City of Cape Town pages in the seventy page magazine covers ‘Investing in Cape Town’, with a sub-heading of ‘Investment Opportunities‘ and markets Wesgro, but the content does not list any investment opportunities, being solely focused on listing the services that Wesgro can offer investors, hardly of interest to Capetonians. This is followed under the same heading by a feature on Cape Town Activa, described as a ‘world-class ecosystem for entrepreneurs and job-seekers that will transform Cape Town into a city that is open for business and attractive to outside investors‘, but it does not explain what exactly it does, other than it being a lobby platform for small business owners.   It clearly was extracted from a media statement, referring to ‘yesterday’ in announcing the launch of Cape Town Activa, but not edited for the publication!  Descriptions are provided for the CIty’s plans to develop Cape Town until 2040;  to redevelop the Athlone power station; to upgrade the Company Gardens, The Durbanville Rose Garden, the Westridge Gardens in Mitchell’s Plain, and Maynardville in Wynberg; the completion of the Green Point Athletic Stadium; Cape Town’s appointment as World Design Capital 2014; a newly introduced Travel SMART program to encourage local residents to share driving to work, to cycle, to walk, to use the MyCiti Bus, and find any other way to save fuel, and thereby keep vehicles off the roads; a new Smart Living handbook, which is available for residents to reduce their impact on the environment through their usage of electricity and water, handling of their garbage, by planting indigenous gardens, reducing the size or removing their lawns, by installing solar water  heating, etc; and the Solid Waste Management Department encourages residents to reduce their waste, to recycle or re-use their waste.  Most of these descriptions are technical and not written in a citizen-friendly style.  Conspicuous by its absence is the City’s R38 million annual funding of tourism via Cape Town Tourism.

At an official cost of R18000 per full page full colour advertisement, the sponsorship could have cost the City of Cape Town, and thus its ratepayers, more than R 500000, a complete waste of marketing money.

I had requested more information about the distribution areas for the magazine from Jessica, as she was the only person in the company answering her phone, and she promised to send more details. Five minutes later her boss Ari Spinner called back, demanding a meeting to hand over the details, sounding paranoid about the information falling into the hands of a ‘nasty competitor’, should I be interested in advertising in the magazine.  He refused to e-mail any details, and rudely told me that my English was not understandable when I had to repeat my postal address a number of times for him to post copies of his publication, when his heavy Greek accent makes it hard to understand him.

If this is the calibre of Viljoen’s marketing skills for Cape Town, the tourism industry should be severely concerned about the City of Cape Town having taken the role of Destination Marketing from Cape Town Tourism, and having set itself up to do the marketing for our beautiful city! Instead of communicating with its public as intended, the City of Cape Town has demonstrated its lack of marketing skills, and its ability to waste R½ million of ratepayers’ monies! The publisher has misled his readers, as there is barely any ‘lifestyle‘ information in the ‘guide’, other than a listing of clubs and bars!

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

The Sweet Service Award goes to Independent Newspapers, for its educational supplement ‘Your Cape Holiday Guide’, which was inserted into the Cape Times, Cape Argus and Weekend Argus over the December holidays. The 34-page supplement contained good editorial with suggestions for tourists and locals to discover the Cape, including Cape Town (Robben Island, Atlantic Seaboard, Table Mountain, New Year entertainment,  Cape Point, Kirstenbosch, Chapman’s Peak, Simonstown, Hout Bay), Hermanus, the Winelands, Tulbagh, the Klein Karoo, the Swartland, and the Elgin valley.

The Sour Service Award goes to Illyria in the Eikestad Mall, previously a favourite Stellenbosch coffee shop for its stylish decor and good Illy coffee.  I popped in quickly recently, asking for a cappuccino to be made, as I was heading for a concert, saying that I was dashing into Woolworths next door while it was being made.  No coffee had been made when I returned, the waitress Simone saying that I had not paid for the coffee upfront, and that she would have had to pay for the coffee if I had not returned!  She did not ask for payment when I placed the order.  She was very defensive, became rude, and refused to give her name and the contact details for the owners.  Her manager rushed in out of breath, having been called by the waitress, shouting abuse at me for my ‘website’ and what I have written about them (all has been positive so far), and refused to give me her name and the number of the owners. I left to attend the concert at the Conservatorium and put my phone on silent.  A barrage of 11 calls came from one cell number in one hour, which I could not take during the concert, and I was concerned that something terrible had happened.  I called the number immediately after the concert had finished, and listened to two messages that had been left by Ramon, the owner of Manouche restaurant and the co-owner with his sister of Illyria.  Both messages were abusive and threatening.

The WhaleTales Sweet & Sour Service Awards are presented every Friday on the WhaleTales blog.  Nominations for the Sweet and Sour Service Awards can be sent to Chris von Ulmenstein at info@whalecottage.com.   Past winners of the Sweet and Sour Service Awards can be read on the Friday posts of this blog, and in the WhaleTales newsletters on the www.whalecottage.com website

The Festive Season offers for Christmas and New Year follow below, and will be updated continuously as we receive new information:

Christmas Eve

*   Five Flies, Cape Town: 4-course dinner with ‘champagne and crackers’ R395. Tel (021) 424-4442

*   Rick’s Café, Cape Town: 3-course dinner R195.  Tel (021) 424-1100

*   Azure Restaurant, Twelve Apostles Hotel, Camps Bay: 4-course dinner R720. Tel (021) 437-9000

*   Franschhoek Kitchen, Holden Manz, Franschhoek: Dinner R300. Tel (021) 876-2738

*   Catharina’s, Steenberg: 4-course dinner R695.  Tel (021) 713-2222

*   The Kitchen, Woodstock: 3-courses R300, main course plus dessert R245, starter plus main course R268. Tel (021) 462-2201

*   Planet Restaurant, Mount Nelson Hotel: 5-course dinner R890. Tel (021) 483-1000

*   96 Winery Road, Stellenbosch: 3-course dinner R420.  Tel (021) 842-2020

*   Makaron Restaurant, Majeka House: 4-course dinner plus drink R 495 . Tel (021) 880-1549

Christmas Day

*   Haiku:  Set menu from R195.  Tel (021) 424-7000

*   Bukhara: Set menu from R195 per person.  Tel (021/ 4240000/(021) 882-9133/(021) 535-4444

*   1800, Cape Royale Luxury Hotel:  Lunch Buffet with welcome drink, R280 per adult and R120 for children under 12 years.  Tel (021) 430-0506

*   Delaire Graff, Stellenbosch:  4-course lunch R755.  Tel (021) 885-8160

*  Haute Cabriere Cellar Restaurant, Franschhoek: 3-course lunch  R400.  Tel (021) 876-3961

*   Monneaux, Franschhoek: 5-course lunch R 395.  Tel (021) 876-3380

*   Backsberg, Klapmuts: Buffet lunch and glass of John Martin Sauvignon Blanc R415. Tel (021) 875-5141

*   La Mouette, Sea Point: 5-course lunch R350. Tel (021) 433-0856

*   Allée Bleue, Franschhoek:  3-course lunch in Bistro and Wine Tasting Courtyard R250. Christmas Lunch Buffet in Main House Courtyard R250.  Tel (021) 874-1021. FULLY BOOKED

*   Chapman’s Peak Hotel, Hout Bay:  3-course lunch R395 + 10 % service charge.  Tel (021) 790-1036

*   Azure Restaurant, Twelve Apostles Hotel, Camps Bay: Lunch buffet, eggnog, a gift, party hats, and crackers. R945.  Tel (021) 437-9000

*   Asara, Stellenbosch: Buffet Lunch R275; Christmas Lunch R450.  Tel (021) 888-8000

*   L’ermitage, Franschhoek: Lunch R350.  Tel (021) 876-9200

*   Rivendell Estate & Bistro, near Kleinmond: Sangria welcome drink plus Buffet, R300. Tel (028) 284-9185

*   Rickety Bridge, Franschhoek: 4-course dinner R325. Tel (021) 876-2120.

*   Charl’s, Blue Gum Country Estate, Stanford: 5-course lunch R395.  Tel (028) 341 0107

*   Rhapsody’s, Green Point: 4-course lunch R 245.  Tel (021) 434-3004

*   Bistro Sixteen82, Steenberg: 4-course lunch, R 425.  Tel (021) 713-2222

*   The Kitchen, Maison, Franschhoek: 6-course lunch R 650.  Tel (021) 876-2116

*   La Belle Café & Bakery, The Alphen Hotel, Constantia: 4-course lunch R 350.  Tel (021) 795-6300

*   Ben’s on the Beach, Strand: 3-course lunch R 195,  11h00 and 13h30 sittings. Tel (021) 855-7977

*   La Colombe, Constantia: 4-course lunch R1100 + 12% tip.  Tel (021) 794-2390

*   Sofia’s @ Morgenster, Somerset West:  3-course lunch R400.  Tel (021) 847-1993

*   Two Oceans Restaurant, Cape Point: 3-courses R185.  Tel (021) 780-9200

*   96 Winery Road, Stellenbosch: 3-course lunch R420.  Tel (021) 842-2020

*   The Country Kitchen, Mont Rochelle, Franschhoek: 3-course lunch R320.  Tel (021) 876-2770

*   Mange Tout, Mont Rochelle Hotel, Franschhoek: 5-course lunch R 470. Tel (021) 876-876-2770

*   Cape Town Fish Market, V&A Waterfront, Tokai, GrandWest, Somerset West, Stellenbosch, Tyger Valley, Canal Walk:  4-course Christmas lunch R125. Tel (21) 418-5977

*   Dash, Queen Victoria Hotel, V&A Waterfront: 5-course Christmas lunch R495. Tel (021) 418-1466

*   Ryan’s Kitchen in Franschhoek will be closed on 25 and 26 December.

New Year’s Eve

*   The Restaurant @ Clos Malverne, Stellenbosch:  Food & Wine Experience – eight latest vintages, each paired with a course.  R395.  Tel (021) 865-2022

*   Chic Café, Gardens: 5 course dinner R450.  Tel (021) 465-7218

*   Delaire Graff, Stellenbosch: 6-course dinner. R1200. Tel (021) 885-8160

*   Pepper Club on the Beach: 3-course dinner R850. Tel (021) 438-3174

*   Cocos, Hermanus: 3-course dinner R500.  Tel (028) 313-1178

*   Five Flies, Cape Town: 4-course dinner plus glass of Pierre Jourdan and music R795.  Tel (021) 424-4442

*   Rick’s Café, Cape Town:  Jazz, appetizer plate and glass of Pongracz R125.  Tel (021) 424-1100

*   La Mouette, Sea Point: 4-course dinner with welcome drink and L’Avenir Brut Rosé 2009.  Tel (021) 433-0856.

*   Chapman’s Peak Hotel, Hout Bay: 3-course dinner R395 + 10 % service charge.  Tel (021) 790-1036

*   Azure Restaurant, Twelve Apostles Hotel, Camps Bay: 5-course dinner plus glass of champagne R1650.  Tel (021) 437-9000

*   Asara, Stellenbosch:   Dinner Buffet R345; Dinner at Raphael’s R950.  Tel (021) 888-8000

*   Franschhoek Kitchen, Holden Manz, Franschhoek: Dinner R300.  Tel (021) 876-2738

*   Bertha’s, Simonstown: 3-course dinner, welcome glass of bubbly and jazz band R 350.  Tel (021) 786-2138

*   Black Marlin, Simonstown: 4-course crayfish platter, dinner and dance R 500.  Tel (021) 786-1621

*   Café Chic, Gardens, 5-course dinner R450.  Tel (021) 465-7218

*   The Conservatory, Cellars-Hohenhort Hotel, Constantia: 3-course dinner R1200.  Tel (021) 794-2137

*   Hildebrand, V&A Waterfront: 5-course meal, champagne on arrival, band R 1300.  Tel (021) 425-3385

*   Moyo, Bloubergstrand: African feats and music by CODA R595.  Tel (021) 554-9671

*   Oasis Restaurant, Mount Nelson Hotel: Buffet R650.  Tel (021) 483-1948

*   The Pepper Club on the Beach, Camps Bay:  3-course dinner and music R850.  Tel (021) 438-9551

*   Taste Restaurant, Somerset West: Dinner R385.  Tel (021) 855-3686

*   Ben’s on the Beach, Strand: 3-course dinner R245.  Tel (021) 853-7977

*   Bodega Restaurant, Dornier, Stellenbosch: 3-course meal, glass of Sterhuis Blanc de Blanc 2008 R380. Tel (021) 880-0557

*   Makaron Restaurant, Majeka House, Stellenbosch: 4-course dinner, pre-dinner drink, live music, glass of champagne R625.  Tel (021) 880-1549

*   Moyo, Spier, Stellenbosch: cocktail, snack, face paint, African feast, entertainment R495. Tel (021) 809-1138

*   Restaurant Mangiare, Capelands, Somerset West: 2-courses R190, 3-courses R240, 4-courses R 290.  Tel (021) 858-1477

*   Proviant Kaapse Tafel, Paarl: Spit braai, live music and bubbly R 195.  Tel (021) 863-0949

*   Pure, Hout Bay Manor: 6-course dinner R850. Tel (021) 791-9393

*   Lookout Deck, Hout Bay:  4-course dinner and live band R300.  Tel (021) 790-0900

*   Freedom Hill Restaurant, R301, Franschhoek:  Spit braai and music R 350. Tel (021) 867-0963

*   Rocca, Cape Quarter: 3-course dinner R 400.  Tel (021) 418-8000

*   Pepenero, Mouille Point: 3-course dinner, glass of ‘champagne’ on arrival R 700.  Tel 082 800 8542

*   Zenzero, Camps Bay: 3-course dinner R 950.  Tel 082 800 8542

*   The Kove, Camps Bay: 3-course dinner R 950 with glass of ‘champagne’ on arrival.  Tel 082 800 8542

*   Paranga, Camps Bay: 3-course dinner with glass of ‘champagne’ R 1200. Tel 082 800 8542

*   Rhapsody’s, Green Point: 4-course dinner with complimentary glass of MCC R 435.  Tel (021) 434-3004

*   French Toast, Bree Street: 3-course tapas dinner R 250.  Tel (021) 422-3839

*   5 Rooms, Alphen Hotel: 4-courses R850.  Tel (021) 795-6300

*    Dash, Queen Victoria Hotel, V&A Waterfront: 5-course dinner R750. Tel (021) 418-1466

*    Myoga, Vineyard Hotel, Newlands: 7-course dinner R750.  Tel (021) 657-4545.

*   Le Franschhoek Hotel: 7-course dinner R1150.  Tel (021) 876-8900

*   6 Spin Street, Spin Street, Cape Town: 5-course dinner buffet and dance with welcome drink R450;  cheese and dessert buffet R250.  Tel (021) 461-0666

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

Contrary to the optimistic picture which Cape Town Tourism CEO Mariette du Toit-Helmbold tried to paint for Cape Town’s tourism performance over the festive season, and which we have contested, Cape Town Routes Unlimited has stated that ‘tourism in greater Cape Town had slumped over the Christmas holidays’, after the success of the World Cup last year, according to its CEO Calvyn Gilfellan, as reported in the Sunday Argus.

Gilfellan blamed the unusually strong and extended gale-force south-easter in Cape Town between Christmas and New Year, and the heavy snowfalls in Europe for the tourism “damper”, but said that business had boomed on the Garden Route.   The heavy winds kept visitors from most Cape’s beaches and from Table Mountain, Gilfellan said.   He quoted arrival statistics, having dropped by more than 3000 international arrivals, on last year’s 77 000 arrivals between December and January, and a decrease by an astounding 16312 domestic arrivals at Cape Town International airport. 

The Robben Island ferry operation was not affected by the wind, and its 41000 visitors in December was up on last December’s figures, but the ferry did not operate for a week a year ago.  Cape Point saw a decrease in visitor numbers of 9 % and Boulder’s Beach of 14 %.   The Table Mountain Cableway had its lowest visitor numbers in ten years in December.  FEDHASA Cape Restaurant sector chairman Rey Franco reported “a drop in overall revenue in December”.  The impending closure of Jardine at the end of February is blamed on economic factors in the Argus report, in an interview it did with co-owner Wilhelm Kuhn: “Jardine … had not been impervious to the recession, and the World Cup had not brought as big a business boom as expected.”

Cape Town Tourism, by contrast, reported that Cape Town’s tourist season over the festive period had been “better than average”, the “average” undefined, and had experienced an “unexpected increase” in hotel occupancies, contradicting the information supplied by Cape Town Routes Unlimited.   In a media release dated 22 December, the Cape Town tourism marketing body stated that the city would not experience a “bumper season”.  Mrs Helmbold was quoted ten days later as saying that the festive season was “better than average”, at a time when the festive period had not yet ended, and this appeared to be a thumb-suck not validated by any tourism statistics, given that Mrs Helmbold herself was on holiday over the festive period!  She did however concur with Gilfellan in stating in the release that the effect of the World Cup was not yet visible in an upsurge in tourism.

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

I am always astounded about how our local tourism authorities make comments to the media without foundation. 

Cape Town Tourism’s latest statement refers to a nonsensical “better than average” tourist season which the Cape has just experienced over the festive season, according to the tourism body.  The CEO Of Cape Town Tourism, Mariette du Toit-Helmbold, has been at her holiday home in Pringle Bay over the festive season, according to her Tweets on Twitter, and no formal survey has been conducted amongst its accommodation, restaurant and product owner members to come to such a conclusion. 

In a report in the Cape Times, the festive season was described by Mrs Helmbold as “We have had a better than average holiday season with many accommodation establishments recording ‘higher than expected’ occupancy rates”.   It is unclear exactly how good or bad this is meant to be,  the newspaper interpreting her comments in its headline as “Cape Town had good ‘first summer season’, an exaggeration.   She described the Cape’s summer season as consisting of two parts:

*   “a domestic high point during December (and the school holidays)” – Mrs Helmbold has no clue of the reality of the tourism pattern in this quote, in that the festive season period is made up of a mix of international (German and UK in the main) and domestic visitors, who only arrive in the Cape in any large numbers from 26 December onwards, and who largely left the Cape to return home this past weekend, making it a very short festive season of two weeks.   South African visitors to the Cape were more likely to be staying with friends and family than in accommodation establishments.

*   “an international season that peaks between mid-January and the end of February” – once again, Mrs Helmbold is out of touch, in that a tourism vacuum started yesterday, and lasts for two weeks before things pick up again, and then the season will run through until Easter.    February looks well-booked ahead already, mainly by British visitors, and those attending weddings.

The Times  crows today “Hospitality industry coins it”, overexaggerating as it likes to do, but refers extensively to Durban.  The article also quotes one-month holidaying CEO of Cape Town Routes Unlimited, Calvyn Gilfellan, in stating that tourism to Cape Town increased by 3 % over an unspecified period, and that occupancy increased to 65%.  No research source for Gilfellan’s statistics is mentioned.  Gilfellan expresses his satisfaction with the occupancy rate he quotes, but the industry would not be, given that this is the prime period in which it makes its money to survive the bleak winter months.

The exceptionally strong Rand, and the increase to 20 % in the VAT rate in the UK, have been prime deterrents to the UK tourists visiting the Cape, and are the region’s largest source of international tourism.   Its decline has been extremely noticeable this summer season.   However, the extremely severe winter weather experienced in the UK and in Europe has encouraged many tourists to come to the Cape in search of warmth and sun, which they would have had to the extreme last week, when Cape temperatures rose up to 42°C in Franschhoek, for example, Cape Town not being much cooler.   The extreme heat has caused the Franschhoek water supply to be severely depleted, and citizens of the village and its visitors have been encouraged to reduce their water usage by 50 %, ironic in that the village has the largest dam in the Western Cape on its outskirts.

A blow at the start of the festive season was the snow-stuck UK visitors, who could not fly out for three or four days, costing hospitality establishments lost bookings.   Seaside towns such as Plettenberg Bay and Hermanus experienced far lower visitor numbers than in previous years, Johannesburg visitors noticeably absent in the Garden Route town for the second year running.  Last year the Johannesburgers were staying home to save money to renovate their homes for the World Cup, a dream which came true for a small minority only.  Inland towns such as Franschhoek had lots of day visitors, but reduced numbers of guests staying over in accommodation.

It has been a different type of visitor coming to the Cape this festive season, and the domestic visitors in particular appeared to be more demanding, and in some instances dishonourable in cancelling bookings in the last minute, after the rooms have been held for them for many months, without adhering to the cancellation policy, more so than in previous years.   In part this was due to the endless days of a gale-force southeaster blowing over 100 km/hr in Camps Bay, for example, followed by two days of rain over New Year, which led to some guests departing early.  

POSTSCRIPT 20/1: Following our feedback to Cape Town Tourism in this blogpost, Mrs Helmbold has adjusted her definition of the second summer peak to “our international peak tourism season is from end-January until the end of March ” (Ms Helmbold had it as running from mid-January – end February in her December media release), in the newsletter which was sent to members today.  We are delighted that we could be of service to Cape Town Tourism, whose CEO seems severely out of touch with the reality of tourism in the city she is meant to handle the marketing of!

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