JUNE 2010

 
May proved to be a challenge for the hospitality industry, with lowest occupancy ever – when one hears of 5 star hotels having had no more than 6 % occupancy for the month one can understand that the bookings vacuum prior to the World Cup hit across the board. Restaurants too are feeling the pinch, and some more big name ones have closed down recently, yet others are bravely opening, probably to capitalise on the World Cup. Fortunately for food lovers, many restaurants are pulling out the stops to offer excellent value winter specials. See our Restaurant story below.
   
Whale Cottage is offering winter accommodation specials until the end of August (the World Cup period in Camps Bay excluded).
  
Traffic to our Whale Cottage website reached a record high of 51680 unique readers in May, the Winter Restaurant Specials list and the Rossouw's Restaurants blog posts attracting the highest interest.

  
The World Cup is around the corner, and excitement is building up. While a lot can be criticised about FIFA, they can be guaranteed to put on a professional show, which is why I am proud to have been chosen to be a World Cup Volunteer, offering Language Support. Let the games begin!
  
More detail about any of our stories in this newsletter can be read on our Whale Cottage Blog.
   

Chris von Ulmenstein
Owner, Whale Cottage Portfolio
 


IN THIS MONTH'S NEWSLETTER

Volunteers will be the face of FIFA 2010 World Cup

La Colombe best ever South African restaurant on world Top 50 Restaurant list
"Volcation tourism" could be running out of steam
New Food & Wine Bloggers' Club pairs food and wine blogging

Sweet & Sour Service Awards

 
 
 

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Article1
 

VOLUNTEERS WILL BE THE FACE OF FIFA 2010 WORLD CUP

 

  

About 18300 volunteers, out of close to 68000 applicants, have been appointed in key strategic areas, to assist in running the 2010 FIFA World Cup at the ten stadiums around the country. About 70 % of the volunteers are South Africans, while the rest come from the other 31 qualifying nations. The training of the 2500 volunteers selected for Cape Town took place in April, and ran smoothly, given the size of the group. Volunteers were told that they are the face of South Africa for the event, and will act as important tourism ambassadors. Functional areas in which the selected volunteers will provide support are accreditation, administration, IT and telecommunications, environmental services, language support, logistic services, marketing, media, protocol services, transportation, volunteer management, welcome and information services, rights protection programme, spectator services, ticketing, and hospitality services. Most Cape Town volunteers will be based at the Volunteer Centre at the Cape Town Stadium.
   
Volunteers learnt that South Africa has eight UNESCO World Heritage sites, and that Cape Town has five of the six most visited tourism attractions: Robben Island, Table Mountain, the Winelands, Cape Point and the V & A Waterfront. They were also introduced to the Cape Town Stadium, which is a 68000 seater stadium for the World Cup, and then will be reduced to 55000 seats.

  

The stadium was built in three years by 2500 workers, the roof weighs 4700 tons, the stadium has 500 toilets, 16 lifts, and 115 entry turnstiles. The Cape Town Stadium has been praised by FIFA Secretary-General Jerome Valcke as being the best World Cup stadium of all. The legacy for Cape Town was explained, with a R4,5 million stadium and green park area surrounding it, the Athlone and Philippi stadium upgrades, the Cape Town station upgrade, the Grand Parade upgrade, the Cape Town International airport upgrade, the Hospital Bend traffic upgrade, and the R3,2 billion Bus Rapid Transport system.

The boom projection of 483000 foreign soccer fans has been revised to a still-optimistic 373000 by Grant Thornton, the tourism consultancy that created the original projection about 3 years ago, a drop of 23 %, reports SA Tourism Update. The Grant Thornton estimate contradicts the FIFA estimate, that the number of international soccer fans attending matches has dropped by almost half, from 500000 to 220000, reports The Times.
   
Based on the original optimistic international soccer fan attendance, the hospitality industry saw $-signs, and actively renovated their establishments, and put excessive price tags onto their properties. Private home owners did quick renovations of their properties in the major cities, and planned to travel overseas during the World Cup period, spending their rental income, only to find the rental market being almost non-existent, given the over-supply of accommodation. MATCH, the accommodation and ticketing agency for FIFA, greedily added a 30 % surcharge onto the accommodation it contracted, and will have added similar commission rates to transport, flight and ticket prices, giving South Africa a dreadful image of “rip-off” pricing. It is the fear of the excessive costs as well as of the perceived crime risk that has kept soccer fans away in the main, report the international media.
    
Grant Thornton only revised its international attendance projections in April, when it became clear that MATCH could not sell all its contracted rooms, and gave them back to establishments, and that more than two-thirds of the tickets sold to date are to South Africans. Even World Cup sponsors and football associations have not been able to sell all their tickets, and have returned them to MATCH. One wonders why it took Grant Thornton such a long time to revise the estimates, as its first estimate set the expectations for the hospitality industry. The tourism consultancy now blames the credit crunch (which has been around for 2 years) and the distance of our country from the qualifying nations as the main reasons for the poor international bookings. It also says that accredited Tour Operators did poorly in selling packages. Such Tour Operators had to pay MATCH $30000 for a licence fee per country in which they were looking to sell packages, reports The Daily Maverick. MATCH cancelled 1,3 million room nights out of the 1,9 million it had originally contracted, reports SA Tourism Update. Many of the rooms released were in Zimbabwe, Mauritius, and in smaller local country towns (e.g. Plettenberg Bay, Hermanus). The Protea Hotel Group has had 60 % of its rooms returned, in Cape Town, Durban and smaller towns, having originally been forced to allocate 80 % of its rooms to MATCH. The Kruger National Park had 25000 room nights returned. Grant Thornton is trying to put a positive spin on the tourism benefit of the World Cup, by claiming that the average length of stay per soccer fan now is 18 days, as opposed to 14 days, as estimated originally, and that the average spend per trip would be R30200 as opposed to the originally estimated R22000. On average, international soccer fans will watch 5 World Cup matches, as opposed to the 3 previously estimated.
   
Grant Thornton in 2007 estimated the impact of the World Cup on the economy of R21,3 billion, with 159000 new jobs created. International consultants Morgan Stanley published an estimate two months ago, of 350000 international fans attending and the local economy benefit being R15 billion. The government has spent R33 billion on the tournament, for the building of stadiums and upgrading its infrastructure around the country to date, reports The Times. Grant Thornton now says that no new jobs appear to have been created due to the World Cup, but that it has prevented job losses, reports Business Report. An estimated 2,5% – 3,5 % growth in the GDP of South Africa has been drastically reduced to 0,54 %. Many fans have chosen to book via the internet, and are booking at B&B’s and guest houses, rather than hotels, and therefore are not booking via the “official MATCH-hosted channels”, says Business Report.
    
After sitting through a 2-hour Service Excellence workshop to quickly turn South Africans into service ambassadors for South Africa during the World Cup, run by the Disney Institute of Orlando at the Cape Town International Convention Centre (CTICC), delegates were disappointed relative to the high expectations the invitation to attend the workshop had created. First, an invitation to attend a Disney-run service excellence workshop is not to be sneezed at. The target audience was frontline staff of the South African Police, Department of Transport, Department of Home Affairs, Tourism Business Council, South African Revenue Services, the Retail Association of South Africa, the Banking Association of South Africa, airlines, hotels (we are sure that they meant guest houses and other forms of accommodation too!), and restaurants. The Auditorium of the CTICC holds an audience of 1000 - no more than 100 front-line staff attended the Friday afternoon session in Cape Town - the morning session had been attended by about 700 persons, the organisers estimated. Gordon Ramsay was the star attraction at a food show, also hosted in the CTICC, and clearly was of greater interest (but see the Sour Award for Ramsay below).

The Disney Institute is regarded as the ‘University of Service Excellence’. All the more the disappointment of the lightweight presentation by two Disney “cast members” - all staffers are on show, and therefore they have this designation. It was the cleverest way in which Disney could have marketed its Walt Disney World (and related parks in California, Paris, Hong Kong, Tokyo, and soon to open Shanghai), and be paid for the pleasure of it! A gi-normous Disneyworld park (biggest employer in USA with 60000 employees in Orlando alone), could in no way compare to our little tourism and hospitality businesses in South Africa, excitedly facing the event of a lifetime, the World Cup. The presentation focused on top-management issues of Vision, Common Purpose and target market, not issues front-line staff deal with.

For World Cup South Africa the Vision was defined as follows: “Deliver a pleasant and unforgettable service experience for the world visitors during the 2010 Soccer World Cup in South Africa and beyond”. The ‘Common Purpose’ was defined as : “Just now to WOW all customers“. This mantra was repeated over and over again. The “just now” introduction was a “South Africanisation”, supposedly reflecting how we speak (I’ll do it ‘just now’), badly reflecting service excellence, in that one would do something for the customer “immediately”, and not “just now”! “Guestology” is a Disney term for getting to know one’s customers in terms of where they come from, who they are, how large their party is, the length of their stay, and what their needs, wants and expectations are. The profile of the typical World Cup soccer fan is travelling in groups of eight persons, predominantly males, 25 - 45 years old, wanting to experience things in-between the matches.
  
The bottom line: a most disappointing presentation, given the calibre of the Disney Institute. It lacked the WOW it was meant to instill in us as front-line staff meeting soccer fans in 25 days from now. It did not teach one anything new in how to deal with guests. It was a monumental fail, given that the Department of Tourism is said to have spent R9,5 million on putting an estimated 250000 (the number is questioned, given the poor response in Cape Town, perhaps only 10 % of this number) attendees through 75 workshops in all the Host Cities and related areas. The Department of Tourism’s evaluation questionnaire was poorly typed, in that the rating scale was not aligned to match the written descriptions of the scale in numerous places. The structured questions were not all suited to the answer options provided, an irony as the service excellence Disney had been preaching was not reflected in this poorly drafted questionnaire, which was meant to evaluate the Disney performance!
    
In what is an unprecedented attack, Marthinus van Schalkwyk, the South African Minister of Tourism, blasted FIFA over the low number of international visitors coming to attend the World Cup, reports the Cape Times. Van Schalkwyk told Parliament that only a quarter of the 44000 tickets which had been allocated for Africa (excluding South Africa) had in fact been sold, and he blamed this on the lack of internet access for bookings to be made by soccer fans in African countries, and the exorbitant prices of the tickets. “This is what I will tell Fifa to improve on when they next host the cup in developing countries: ‘Look at the way you sold tickets in Africa’. ’Africans do not buy tickets on the internet”, he is said to have added. Van Schalkwyk’s outburst is interesting in that S A Tourism, the country’s national marketing tourism marketing agency, did little to make South Africa attractive to international soccer fans - other than some ads on CNN and SKYNews, there was little visibility of advertising for this country. Many soccer fans are not English-speaking, or from the UK and USA, and would not have seen the advertising. The pay-off line for South Africa “It’s Possible” is hardly inspiring, exciting or informative about what South Africa stands for as a tourism destination. Van Schalkwyk also criticised MATCH about its strategy to book accommodation at small accommodation establishments, and then cancel the majority of these bookings as late as two months before the start of the World Cup. “I think the escape clause in the contracts for accommodation is unfair to small operators. We raised this issue with Fifa from the start”, he said.
   
The future of the Cape Town Stadium after its use for the World Cup is uncertain. SAIL Stadefrance, the operators of the Stadium on behalf of the City of Cape Town, plans to host 18 events in the Stadium in 2011, but the nature of the events has not been declared, reports the People’s Post. SAIL Stadefrance entered into an agreement with the City of Cape Town, to manage Cape Town Stadium, paying a nominal rent of R1 per annum, for a 30-year lease period. The company must pass on 30 % of its revenue to the City; must pay R45000 in parking fees per event, for 3000 temporary parking bays around the Stadium; must invest R10 million in capital improvements; must pay for maintenance, cleaning, security, municipal rates and taxes, maintenance of the pitch; fit out 134 suites; and be responsible for security and cleansing of the Green Point Park. The Cape Town Stadium would be likely to be a “multipurpose venue” for events and concerts, and “…a few international sporting events” are also hoped for.

Article2

 

LA COLOMBE BEST EVER SOUTH AFRICAN RESTAURANT ON WORLD TOP 50 RESTAURANT LIST

 

  

La Colombe in Constantia, Cape Town, has been selected as the 12th best restaurant in the world, in the 2010 S.Pellegrino World’s 50 Best Restaurant Awards. This is the best performance by a South African restaurant ever in the 8 year history of the Awards, in achieving the highest ranking. La Colombe improved its performance relative to 2009 by an astounding 26 positions, having been a new entrant to the list last year. La Colombe is also the Top restaurant in the Eat Out Top 10 Restaurants list in South Africa. Le Quartier Francais in Franschhoek, which has previously performed best in South Africa on this restaurant list, was ranked in 31st position, an improvement of 6 places. Rust en Vrede outside Stellenbosch was ranked in 74th position. The top 50 restaurants in the S. Pellegrino World’s 50 Best Restaurants can be viewed here.

The recession is taking its toll on restaurants. The biggest surprise is the closure of Bouillabaisse in Franschhoek, which has just closed, shortly after Camil and Ingrid Haas celebrated their 10 year anniversary of operating in South Africa. Camil and Ingrid first operated from their guest house Klein Oliphantshoek, and then expanded into Bouillabaisse, running both businesses. When this became too much, they sold the guest house. In a surprise move they opened a second Bouillabaisse in Green Point, and also opened Crepe Suzette in the same building. The Rockwell Centre was an unfortunate location, and the Haas’ moved out of there in November, killing the Bouillabaisse brand in Cape Town, and reinventing themselves as Camil’s in the Cape Royale Luxury Hotel in Green Point. One can only speculate that the pressure of running a business in both Franschhoek and in Cape Town became too much for them. Camil and Ingrid Haas have also just withdrawn from their involvement in Camil's. Café Gainsbourg on Kloof Street and Anytime on Long Street have also closed down. Bungalow in Camps Bay has changed its name to Zenzero, and has a new Italian style menu.
  
Bravely, a number of new restaurants have opened recently. La Mouette has opened in the previous Europa and The Cavery location on Regent Road in Sea Point, with a refreshing décor, menu and the most delightful owners, Mari Vermaak and Chef Henry Vigar (who has worked at a number of Michelin-starred restaurants in London, Leeds and France). Prices are reasonable and Vigar’s creativity is particularly evident in his desserts. A most unusual location for a new restaurant is the lobby of the IDASA building on Spin Street, opposite Church Square. The owner of Rozenhof in Kloof Street has opened 6 Spin Street restaurant, and offers a limited but excellent menu. A visit to the restaurant to see ‘The Arch’, a masterpiece in engineering cantilevering by artist Ed Young is worth a visit to the restaurant alone. Capetonians old enough to remember Zerban’s in the Garden’s Centre and in Sea Point will be delighted to know that Gerd Zerban, the original owner, is involved in the opening of Marcelino: The Bakery in Loop Street, with the most amazing European style breads, rolls and cakes. We also reviewed Sloppy Sam in Green Point, and discovered that it is the most friendly restaurant and not sloppy at all! Bertus Basson, chef at and owner of Overture on the Hidden Valley wine estate outside Stellenbosch, needs no introduction at all, and deserves a better ranking in the 2011 Eat Out Top 10 Restaurant Awards. Gaaitjie is one of the best restaurants on the West Coast, and it as well as some other fine restaurants in Paternoster are receiving an increasing interest from food lovers.
  
Brio has just opened on Adderley Street, a new jazz restaurant, having taken over half of the ex-Riboville restaurant. The other half, with an entrance on St George’s Mall, is Liquorice and Lime. The Grillroom has opened in Franschhoek, as the first steakhouse in the gourmet village. Van Hunks has opened on Upper Union Street, off Kloof Street, in Gardens. Madame Zingara opened earlier this week, and is now located at Century City. Prices are R300 or R400 for a 4-course meal and the show. Ryan’s Kitchen opens at Rusthof this month.
  
Blonde is the newest restaurant of the Caviar Group, having opened in Hatfield Street. It is …blond as far as its food quality (or lack of) and prices goes, employing …blond waitresses (but brunette waiters) and offering only … blond pepper! Two new restaurants that need a helping hand are La Table de France on Main Road in Sea Point, a most amateurish attempt, and Dutch East in Franschhoek, which has a confused unfocused menu, and has a long way to go in food quality, ingredient composition and service standard.

Rossouw’s Restaurants has admitted that not all reviews are written by editor JP Rossouw, in response to a particularly negative review he wrote recently. He did not indicate in the review that he had not been to the restaurant himself. It unleashed a fury of comments. It has seriously dented the credibility of Rossouw and his guide, and has raised important issues about the ethics and standards of restaurant reviewing.

The tough times experienced by restaurants has led to close to 80 Cape Town and Winelands offering excellent value for money winter specials, some up to September. Whale Cottage has compiled the list of specials, which include La Colombe, Myoga, Jardine, The Roundhouse, Bukhara, Cape Colony at the Mount Nelson and the Food Barn in Cape Town. Overture, Grand Provence, Reubens, Terroir. Warwick, Waterkloof, Jordan, and Allee Bleue are some of the Winelands restaurants offering winter specials.

Nook Eatery in Van Reyneveld Street in Stellenbosch, which has only been open for a few months, was chosen by the producers of the new M-Net series “League of Glory” as the eatery in which they filmed a number of scenes. St Elmo’s Pizzas is showing its environmental responsibility and has gone green in ensuring that it and its suppliers reduce their carbon footprint. FOOD Inc. is a fascinating if not disturbing documentary (an Oscar nominee), which details how the American food industry is dominated by a handful of conglomerates who use production techniques which are harmful to humans.

Article3

 

"VOLCATION TOURISM" COULD BE RUNNING OUT OF STEAM

 
  

Latest reports from volcanologists indicates that the Eyjafjallajoekull volcano has stopped erupting, and that it may be something of the past, to the relief of air travellers, especially those wishing to get to South Africa for the World Cup. What was a disaster for many thousands of air passengers around the world, created an unexpected boom or bust for the tourism industry, as well as for exporters and importers around the world. Stranded passengers were named “Volcation” tourists, a new and unique tourist category! In South Africa the fresh fish industry (hake exporters in the main) lost R1 million and the fresh flower market (mainly proteas, fynbos and chrysanthemums) lost R2,5 million in sales, reports the Cape Argus.

  

Many local authors and book publishers could not get to the London Book Fair, at which they had been booked, which fell into the volcano no-fly period. Many accommodation establishments gained from the “Volcation” tourists, in that these had to stay in Cape Town for up to 10 days, being disadvantaged by the airlines in having to wait for cancellations to be able to fly back on their booked airline. We are grateful to the Shepley family, Lucy and Graham Cannell, and to Jean and Andrew Lovett for having booked at our Whale Cottages in Camps Bay and Hermanus for their “Volcation”.

The fourth Franschhoek Literary Festival, which has built up such a loyal following that it virtually booked out the accommodation and restaurants in Franschhoek, was a most welcome boost for the hospitality industry, given the quietest May ever experienced. A part of the proceeds of the Franschhoek Literary Festival goes to the Library Fund, and R 415000 has been raised to date, allowing the organisers and attendees to achieve the objective of “the people shall read”, by buying books for libraries. Antje Krog and rebel Rian Malan got into a well-publicised debate about the future of South Africa.
  
A movie called “Ein Sommer in Kapstadt” (A Summer in Cape Town), flighted by one of the largest German TV stations ZDF, was the most wonderful PR exercise for Cape Town, the city having been presented from its most beautiful side. The movie contained magnificent filming: an opening shot from Bakoven in Camps Bay, onto the Twelve Apostles mountain range, some cute penguins running from the beach into the ocean, two lunches from a Blouberg restaurant right alongside the sea with the waves crashing while they eat, lots of driving along Victoria Road between Camps Bay and Hout Bay in an exotic blue sports car, Bo-Kaap, Signal Hill, lunch at the V&A Waterfront, Long Street, the winelands, and the top of Table Mountain.

Ex Miss South Africa, Jo-Ann Strauss, sat on the couch of “Wetten Dasz” showmaster Thomas Gottschalk a week ago, the highest honour for a South African in Europe’s largest talk show.
  
Strauss and Gottschalk will be co-presenters for ZDF at the pre-World Cup concert in Johannesburg on 10 July, and Strauss will be a tourism ambassador for South Africa on ZDF, showcasing our country in near-perfect German. 

One of the first posts on this blog, in October 2008, related to the unprofessional behaviour and politicking by members of the board of FEDHASA Cape, an association representing the interests of hoteliers predominantly. At that time this writer had highlighted the political games played by Past Chairman Nils Heckscher and newly elected Chairman Phillip Couvaras, now ex-GM of the Table Bay Hotel, who had only been in the country for four months at the time that he was elected. As quietly as Couvaras arrived on the hotel scene and was elected as Chairman of FEDHASA Cape, as quickly did he disappear and leave Cape Town at the end of March. It is stated that differences of opinion between himself and his bosses at Sun International in terms of room rates to be charged, combined with a reducing value of his package in foreign currency, given personal international financial commitments, led him to accept a new position in Hong Kong. Recently it was time for political games at the FEDHASA Cape AGM again, in the election of the new Board (FEDHASA Cape has the most odd system of calling for an election of each Board member every year). Board members are nominated in categories, even for the position of Chairman. Rey Franco, the Chairman of the Restaurant category, was nominated for the same position again, as well as for the position of Chairman, having been Acting Chairman from the time that Couvaras left the country. Pitted against him was Dirk Elzinga, the current Managing Director of the Cape Town International Convention Centre, a member in the ‘Allied’ category. Elzinga is however leaving the employ of the RAI Group, the Dutch convention centre management company, so he will not represent a FEDHASA Cape member company from then onwards, it is said. It is alleged that Past Chairman Heckscher had lobbied those present in voting for Elzinga, and he was duly elected as the new Chairman, the first non-hotel Chairman ever of FEDHASA Cape! When this writer stood for the same position two years ago, Couvaras was brought in, with similar lobbying by Heckscher, to prevent a Guest House owner (and female!) from being elected in this position! Franco retained his position as Chairman of the Restaurant category in the election, whilst another upset saw Susanne Faussner, who had been pitted against this writer in the “Small Accommodation” category two years ago, even though she owns a hotel and a restaurant, got some of her own political medicine back when the Acting Chairman Franco had to make the casting vote in the election result in this category, and voted for Carole Armstrong-Hooper, owner of Highlands Country House, and a better qualified representative of the Smaller Accommodation category. Other Board members elected without controversy were Roy Davies from the Vineyard Hotel, heading the Hotel category, and Michele de Wit in the Allied category. Those watching the politics within FEDHASA Cape will be delighted that Heckscher’s two-year term as past-Chairman on the Board is finally over. His political games have been described as “poison” by some of his fellow Board members.
   
From the time that MATCH launched its accommodation bookings for the World Cup four years ago, FEDHASA nationally but also the Cape branch supported and pushed contracting with MATCH as “the right thing to do”. Nationally FEDHASA even took on a MATCH director onto its Board! Hotels had loyally signed up 80 % of their room stock with MATCH. Whilst a Director on the Board of FEDHASA Cape, this writer protested about the stringent legal terms and conditions, as well as the pricing directive, that the small accommodation establishments were subjected to in the MATCH contract, given the German experience of large-scale MATCH cancellations without refunds close to the start of the 2006 World Cup. The other Board directors condoned the MATCH actions! MATCH has become a “swearword” countrywide, and in the hospitality industry specifically. Heckscher was a particularly strong MATCH advocate, probably because of the benefit it would have for the Winchester Hotel he manages. Ironically, his hotel received most of its room nights back from MATCH when the FIFA accommodation and ticketing agency cancelled the majority of room nights it had originally booked!
  
Brett Dungan, the national CEO of FEDHASA, who has been heavily criticised in this blog for his role in pushing a private accommodation booking portal (Rooms4U) he set up for the World Cup, is said to be leaving FEDHASA National, possibly as a result of his alleged abuse of his position at FEDHASA to further his personal interests. Elzinga will take over his position as CEO of FEDHASA National, but based in Cape Town, it is said - more politics, some would say, and supported by a headline in a report by Cape Business News : “CTICC Managing Director Finds a new Job”! Being Chairman of FEDHASA is an honorary position that is not rewarded with compensation.

Article4
 

NEW FOOD & WINE BLOGGERS' CLUB PAIRS FOOD AND WINE BLOGGING

 
  

The first Food & Wine Bloggers' Club meeting, held at the Chef’s Warehouse and Cookery School in Cape Town last month, was sold out, and a great success, judging by the positive feedback received from the aspirant as well as regular food and wine bloggers that attended. The Food & Wine Bloggers’ Club “pairs” a wine blogger and a food blogger per Club meeting, which are held monthly, and each speaker outlines his/her blog and provides blogging tips and guidelines. The Wine Blogger brings some wine for the bloggers to taste, while Chef Liam Tomlin prepares snacks to showcase his Cookery School, and reputation as a star chef in Sydney, prior to coming to Cape Town and setting up his Chef’s Warehouse and Cookery School.

     
Anel Grobler from SpitorSwallow Blog was the first speaker, and impressed with her statistics relating to trends about blogging. She quoted a recent survey in PRWeek, which found that 20 % of bloggers do so to earn money out of it, and that 52 % of bloggers see themselves as “journalists” (surprisingly the Public Relations industry has not yet discovered the power of bloggers in promoting their clients’ brands!). Anel and her partner Jan Laubscher are on Twitter continuously, saying it is an “easy way to get the word out”. On Twitter @SpitorSwallow has over 4000 followers and on Facebook they have 1900 fans, a phenomenal achievement. She indicated that from a total of 6 South African wine estates being on Twitter in 2009, there are now 209! Anel has played an important role in encouraging wine estates to embrace social media marketing. Almost 700 “wineflies” have evaluated the close to 600 wine estates they have listed on their site. Anel recommended that companies blog and twitter themselves, and not leave this to a PR company, as the client is passionate about his/her brand. Michael Olivier is an icon in both food and wine circles, and many of the Bloggers’ Club attendees came to meet him, having his recipe or wine books (’Michael Olivier - a Restaurateur Remembers’, ‘Crush! 100 Wines to drink now’, and ‘The People’s Guide - navigate the winelands in a shopping trolley’, the latter with Neil Pendock). His all-round experience in receiving his training at the Cordon Bleue Cookery School in London, working at the Lanzerac Hotel and Boschendal, having owned three restaurants, having consulted on the wine side to Pick ‘n Pay, and presenting wine programmes on Classic FM and Fine Music Radio in Cape Town makes him very well-connected and extremely knowledgeable. This week Olivier is launching ‘Crush’, South Africa’s first digital online food and wine magazine, he announced at the meeting.

Future Food & Wine Bloggers’ Club meeting dates and speakers are as follows:

Thursday 1 July:

Pete Goffe-Wood of Wild Woods and Kitchen Cowboys Blog, and Pieter Ferreira of Graham Beck and Bubbles on Wine Blog.
   

Wednesday 28 July:
The Foodie of The Foodie Blog, and Mike Ratcliffe of Warwick and Vilafonte Wines Blog.
  
Wednesday 18 August: Sam Wilson of Food24 Blogs, and Rob Armstrong of Haut Espoir
  
Wednesday 22 September: Dax Villanueva of Relax-with-Dax Blog, and Hein Koegelenberg of La Motte and Hein Koegelenberg Blog
  
Wednesday 20 October: Clare Mack of Spill Blog, and Simon Back of Backsberg Blog
  
Wednesday 24 November:
Jane-Anne Hobbs of Scrumptious Blog, and Emile Joubert of Wine Goggle Blog 

The cost to attend is R 150 per person, and bookings can be made by emailing info@whalecottage.com

Article5

 

SWEET & SOUR SERVICE AWARDS

 
  

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 info@whalecottage.com. Winners of the Sweet and Sour Service Awards can be read on the Friday posts of the WhaleTales blog, and in the WhaleTales newsletters on the www.whalecottage.com website.

 

The latest Sweet Service Awards winners are the following:

 

Performance Printer Solutions, for excellent service in repairing a printer for Paula Wilson Publicity … read more

Salt Deli, for spoiling journalists with their new cooked breakfast range… read more

Grandwest Arena, for assisting an elderly couple in finding their seats at the Andre Rieu show read more

Franschhoek Literary Festival organisers, for attracting so many book lovers and filling the village ... read more

Mercedes Benz Financial Services, for extending their Easter promotion after an SMS communication was not clear ... read more

FIFA Ticket Collection office, for their excellent and quick service in collecting World Cop tickets ... read more

 

The Sour Service Awards in the last two months went to the following:
 

Squirrel’s Nest in Hout Bay, for poor service to a guest staying at this accommodation ... read more

La Vierge in Hermanus, for building work at the restaurant on a Sunday, and poor service read more

Vida e Caffe in Regent Road, Sea Point, for rudeness from the staff, ice served in a chipped glass, and a manager providing a wrong number of the head office read more

Le Quartier Francais in Franschhoek, for inviting a guest to the opening of their new IS Art Gallery, and then uninviting her again on the instruction of Mrs Huxter  read more

Seeff Rentals in Sea Point, for over-promising the rental potential of home-owners around the country for the World Cup read more

Gordon Ramsay and the organisers of the Good Food and Wine Show, for the most disappointing charity dinner at Ramsay’s restaurant maze at the One&Only Hotellread more

 
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