Tag Archives: Burj al Arab

Dubai City Tour lifts the spirit after shocking Emirates service!

I had the misfortune to experience Dubai under less than perfect conditions, and with it Emirates airline, which once was the best airline in the world (now dropped to number four, as rated by Skytrax)! A City Tour by Sun Tours helped to restore my appreciation for what Dubai has to offer! Continue reading →

South Africa on top of the world on Telegraph Ultratravel 100 best holiday destination!

South Africa has made it to the top of the Telegraph Ultratravel 100, and its announcement fortunately contains a photograph of Cape Town, an unusual dramatic one of Table Mountain covered in a thick South-Easter cloud, with Vredehoek in the foreground.   Dubai made it into second place, followed by the Maldives, Australia, and Italy.   No motivation is presented for the choice, it being based on a Telegraph reader poll, and only the country’s website link to South African Tourism is provided.   This is the second tourism award that includes our city in a week, TripAdvisor having recently announced Cape Town as the number one world travel destination in the Travelers’ Choice Destination Awards.

South Africa also features in the Top Hotel in Africa list, the Cape Grace making it to the top of this list, and La Residence in Franschhoek making third place (right), the One&Only Cape Town is ranked fourth, and The Twelve Apostles is in fifth place.  Hemingway’s Resort in Mombasa is ranked second, and is the only non-South African top hotel on this list.

Other award winners were Cunard for best cruise company, Changi in Singapore for best airport, Emirates for best airline, Virgin Atlantic for best cabin staff, Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse at Heathrow for Best Airport lounge, Hôtel de Crillon in Paris best city hotel, Shangri-La’s Barr Al Jissah in Oman is the best Beach/Resort hotel, the Four Seasons is the best luxury chain, The Carlyle in New York is the best hotel in the USA, Burj al Arab in Dubai is the best in the Middle East, and Le Touessrok the best in the Indian Ocean Islands.

It is a shame that the results have been announced at this time of the year, when the UK market is least likely to book for the coming summer, it being too far into the future, given their increasing last-minute booking pattern.

POSTSCRIPT 18/5: The Telegraph  followed up its award announcement article with the following motivation for South Africa having been voted in number one position.  Unfortunately Cape Town is not mentioned at all!:

South Africa may be on the other side of the world from Britain, an 11-hour flight away at the southern tip of the African continent – and it may not be quite as enticingly cheap for Britons as it was (the pound now buys just 11 rand, and hotel prices are a good deal higher than they were before the Football World Cup). But the Rainbow Nation has still been voted by readers as their favourite destination – and for good reason. The country has landscapes of breathtaking beauty: raw, diverse and in the main unspoilt.

Along the coasts, some of the world’s largest sand dunes roll in from seas teeming with marine life (it is off KwaZulu Natal’s beaches that flocks of birds gather for their annual feast during the great sardine run, and whales migrate to give birth in sheltered coves). Mountain ranges thick with ancient trees are crisscrossed with waterfalls and rivers made for swimming. Game reserves as big as Wales – all baobabs, rolling grasslands and kopjies indented with rock caves decorated with ancient San art – protect the Plant Five, the Little Five and the Big Five. It’s not unknown to see lion, leopard, buffalo, elephant and rhino in one day, alongside leopard orchids, buffalo weavers, elephant grass and rhino beetles.

And the country is not just for nature-lovers, either. From the winelands in the south to the deserts bordering Namibia, there is plenty of variety to keep most holidaymakers happy: child-friendly museums, cutting-edge hotels and 17th-century Cape Dutch b&b homesteads, gourmet restaurants, game lodges housing local art, and diversions ranging from shark diving and bungee-jumping to African herbal spas. Best thing of all? It is all reassuringly familiar, despite being on a different continent. The people of South Africa not only speak the same language as we do (in addition to 10 others) and drive on the same side of the road, but, after years of isolation during the era of apartheid, relish overseas visitors. In this relatively new tourist destination, even the passport officers welcome new arrivals with a smile.

As a finalist for this award, South Africa had plenty of competition: Dubai, with its five-star hotels; the Maldives, with its idyllic island life; Australia, with its open bush, wine and fine tucker; and Italy, with its historical and cultural allure. Having won, the Rainbow Nation should dust off its vuvuzelas. In spite of its troubles, it is now among the winners of an Ultra – an achievement that really is worth trumpeting about.”  

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