Last week I ate lunch at the new Origins Restaurant at The Marine, the second poor experience I have had at the hotel, despite the hotel having new co-owners, and a new GM and Chef. Given its five star status (they have lost their Relais & Chateux status), the dining experience was unacceptable. Continue reading →
In one of the top coups in the wine industry, Benguela Cove Lagoon Wine Estate has announced the appointment of award-winning Johann Fourie as its head winemaker. Johann left the KWV last week, where he and his team reaped numerous industry awards.
I have been to The Plettenberg hotel a number of times to eat at its former Sand and now renamed Seafood restaurant. Given that the hotel is five-star graded, a Relais & Chateux property, and under the supervision (long distance) of Eat Out Top 10 Chef Peter Tempelhoff, my expectations are high of the restaurant in being the best in Plett, yet sadly are Continue reading →
We have had a very soft spot for Southern Right Sauvignon Blanc and Pinotage at our Whale Cottages, the Hamilton Russell second brand suiting our guest house perfectly. It was one of the first wines we added to our wine list (joined by Creation’s Whale Pod more recently) when we opened our first Whale Cottage in Hermanus 19 years ago.
The Southern Right Sauvignon Blanc 2015 has just been launched, its 21st vintage. The wine has won ‘Best Value’ five times in Wine Spectator. It has complexity, depth, dry minerality, and ‘age-worthiness we are proud of’, explains the media release received from Hamilton Russell.
The Southern Right Sauvignon Blanc is unique in that : Continue reading →
‘Hayden Quinn: South Africa’ focused on the Overberg last night, visiting Hermanus and Stanford, as well as Elgin, but this was not mentioned, being described as being just outside Hermanus! It was a whale of an episode highlighting the Southern Right whale visitors, the sustainable apple and pear farming in Elgin, and Marianna’s sustainable restaurant in Stanford. No mention was made however of Hermanus’ produce nor its world-renowned wines in the Hemel en Aarde Valley!
Hayden raved about the Southern Right whales, which visit Hermanus’ Walker Bay from July, he said incorrectly (they arrive from the Antarctic from May onwards) until early December. On the Facebook page of ‘Hayden Quinn: South Africa‘ it is incorrectly claimed that Hermanus is the ‘Whale Watching Capital of the World‘, copywriting nonsense. Hermanus is however known as the offering the best land-based whale watching in the world, which is something different, and Hayden did say words to this effect in the episode!
To add some real adventure to his visit to Hermanus, Forest Adventures’ Clinton Lerm (infamous for wanting to change the name of the village to ‘Lermanus‘ when his family tried to take over the tourism management of the town, to their own Continue reading →
Monika Elias of World Focus Media has done a great job over the past ten years in documenting the contribution of the wine routes, and the wine estates on them, to Wine Tourism South Africa, in helping to inform and educate locals as well as tourists about wine in general, and to boost wine sales. Her 2014 edition of ‘Wine Tourism South Africa’ handbook has just been published , bearing the slogan of ‘sip, stay and play‘!
In her ‘Publisher’s Letter‘, Monika defines Wine Tourism as ‘…in the glass, on the plate, in the bed, around the vines, and for the planet’. She writes about ‘winery atmospherics’, such as architecture, lighting, sound, temperature, and kinetics, playing an important role in creating a point of difference for wine estates in an increasingly competitive world. Wine is becoming an increasingly important part of the Tourism experience, and most visitors to Cape Town and the Western Cape will be very likely to visit a wine farm to taste their wines, to eat at a Winelands restaurant, or visit an event linked to wines.
The Handbook evaluates top restaurants on wine estates, using chefs hats (three maximum) to denote how good or not they are; and evaluates the winelists of the restaurants on the wine estates, by means of wine glasses (three maximum). A price range indication is also provided for the Winelands restaurants. The Handbook starts with tourist information and advice about car rental, taxis, trains, parking attendants, banking hours, VAT, the weather, tipping, and more. It lists the winners of the fifteen categories in the 2013 KLINK Wine Tourism Awards, which received votes from 15000 consumers last year. Continue reading →
* Chapman’s Peak has re-opened, while the Franschhoek Pass remains closed, reports Kfm News. (update: The Franschhoek Pass was re-opened today)
* Signal Hill in Cape Town may have a controlled access system between 22h00 and 5h00, to control crime during the evening.
* The 2013 Sustainable Tourism Marketing Guide is about to be published, co-sponsored by Cape Town Tourism.
* Travelers in the UK, USA, and Australia use a mix of e-mails (for reminders), mobile apps, and online (to make bookings) before, during, and after their holiday. Surprising is that 70% switch off whilst on holiday, especially the UK tourists. Most of those sharing their holiday information and photographs do so when they return from their holiday.
After seeing a Tweet by The Collection by Liz McGrath Executive Chef Peter Tempelhoff about the new interior of SeaFood at The Marine earlier this week, I decided to lunch there yesterday, being in Hermanus for the day. It was a most disappointing experience, given the five star and Relais & Chateaux status of the hotel.
The Marine hotel has a long heritage and was bought by Mrs McGrath a number of years ago. and sat on its own on the cliffs overlooking Walker Bay, technically a magnificent location, but little is made of the beautiful view. A recent flurry of development across the road from the hotel has given it a lift. Mrs McGrath appears to be like Le Quartier Français owner Susan Huxter who renovates her establishment annually. Mrs McGrath did the latest interior design of SeaFood at The Marine, her staff told me. The colour scheme now is grey, with grey chairs, grey tables, and grey Continue reading →
This weekend the Two Oceans Hermanus Whale Festival celebrates its 21st anniversary of saluting the Southern Right whales, who seem to particularly love coming to this seaside village to mate, to calf, and to generally have a whale of a time in Walker Bay. Hermanus offers the best land-based whale watching in the world, from May until early December.
Last year the Whale Festival attracted a record of 137000 attendees, and this year could see that record exceeded, given that favourable weather has been forecast and that the school holidays have started.
This year the Whale Festival celebrates the natural environment of Hermanus, the Marine Endangered Species Expo focusing on the birds, fish, and mammals in the area, including an exhibit of a life size replica of a baby whale and a Great White shark, and a 3D movie experience as if one is swimming with whales, dolphins, and sharks. Other events include showcasing the cuisine of the local restaurants; a number of theatrical and musical shows; a Cliff Path night run; mountain bike challenges in the Hemel en Aarde Valley; a half marathon; a fun run; distance swims in the Old Harbour; a beauty pageant; a vintage car show; a marine-themed fancy dress competition; and a dog walk. A host of musical acts will perform, including Elvis Blue, Steve Hofmeyr, and Nianell. The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, known for its dedication in fighting whaling by Japan, will be present, and presentations will be done by Abagold, Save our Seas, Marine Coastal Management, the South African Shark Conservancy, and Dyer Island Conservation Trust.
Calling itself an ‘Enviro Arts Festival’, the Hermanus Whale Festival is sponsored by Distell’s Two Oceans brand, with a clever pay-off line ‘Where the Whales Meet’.
The truck driver strike has had a surprise effect on the Hermanus Whale Festival, in that most ATM’s have run out of cash in the town, and no new notes can be delivered this weekend due to the strike, leading the organisers of the Hermanus Whale Festival to urge attendees via its media partner Kfm to bring their credit cards and cash from home.
Two Oceans Hermanus Whale Festival, 28 September – 1 October. www.whalefestival.co.za
Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter: @WhaleCottage
For the 20th year the Two Oceans Hermanus Whale Festival will be paying tribute to the Southern Right whales, who visit Walker Bay in Hermanus from May – December to mate and give birth, giving Hermanus the enviable reputation of offering the best land-based whale watching in the world. Food and wine pairing forms a strong foundation of the Festival this year, sponsored by Two Oceans for the first time, the brand also supporting the SASSI (Southern African Sustainable Seafood Initiative) responsible eating of fish.
Billed as an ‘enviro-arts’ festival, the Two Oceans Whale Festival starts tomorrow and runs until Tuesday 4 October. On the environmental side, the focus will be educational, incorporating whales, sharks, dolphins, penguins and seals, the ‘Big 5′ for the Cape Whale Coast. A strong focus is on education for children. Saving the endangered rhinos has been incorporated into the Festival too.
On the arts side, the Festival is mainly music-focused, with concerts by well-known performers such as Chris Chameleon, Dr Victor and the Rasta Rebels, Steve Hofmeyer, and Prime Circle spread over six music venues. Many concerts are free of charge. A Classical concert by the Odeion Quartet takes place at Bouchard Finlayson in the Hemel en Aarde Valley on Friday evening, while the Fidelio Trio will perform in the Municipal Auditorium on Saturday evening. A Quilters’ exhibition can be viewed at the Dutch Reformed Church, and there is a craft marquee too. In addition, a vintage car show, a Mardi Gras, as well as a number of sport activities such as a mountain bike race, a half marathon, and a Harbour to Harbour swim will take place. The sport events run from 4 – 9 October. Kfm will be broadcasting live from Hermanus.
It is the food and wine pairing that is of particular interest, and has far more focus than in past years. At the Two Oceans Food Court at Market Square, a number of food vendors will focus on seafood, and other marine-themed and speciality dishes. In addition, local produce, artisanal cheeses, bakery items, charcuterie, as well as chocolates will be available to taste and buy. Two Oceans’ wines will be sold at R45 a bottle. Giggling Gourmet Jenny Morris, entertainer and Checkers cheese spokesperson Nataniel, and actresses Shaleen Surtie-Richards and Brumilda van Rensburg will be doing cooking demonstrations, and allowing visitors to taste their food as well as wine for free at the Checkers’ Living Table, at different time slots. A new Mountie Fisherman’s Market will be held in Mount Pleasant, offering fresh fish, snoek, fishcakes, and Cape Malay delicacies for sale. Throughout September twenty members of the Hermanus Restaurant Owners’ Forum, under the chairmanship of restaurateur Fabio Lenci, have been offering a special on Two Ocean’s wines, at R55 per bottle and R15 per glass, and this will continue throughout the Festival. Each of the participants will offer a combination food item with a bottle of Two Oceans’ wine at a special price.
Festival visitors are advised to leave home early, and to expect a traffic build-up coming into Hermanus. Last year 133000 whale lovers visited Hermanus, and this year 150000 are expected to attend the Whale Festival. Tomorrow Tourism Month will be officially concluded with the opening of the Two Oceans Hermanus Whale Festival by Minister of Tourism Marthinus van Schalkwyk, with Western Cape Minister of Tourism Alan Winde also attending. The Whale Festival, and the Southern Right whales with it, have received fantastic coverage, on the front page of the Sunday Times last week, and daily on Kfm this week. SABC2 is broadcasting about Hermanus and the Whale Festival from 6h00 – 8h00 tomorrow morning, and its camera crews have been in Hermanus, filming the beautiful assets of the region, including whales and the Hermanus Wine Route, for most of September.
Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter: @WhaleCottage