The economy is signalling a small but certain improvement in the economy, and the Whale Cottage Portfolio is benefiting from its special winter and spring rates, as well as its 2009/2010 summer rate freeze, which is set at the 2007 level. The Women’s Day long weekend has been very good for business.

Whale Cottage is in party mode, and celebrated its 13th birthday of Whale Cottage Hermanus over the Women’s Day weekend. Whale Cottage Hermanus was the first Whale Cottage to open, on 9 August 1996, and is now one of four guest houses in a unique portfolio. We thank all our guests who have supported us so loyally, as well as our loyal tour operators, suppliers and staff.

Whale Cottage Franschhoek is one of a number of hotels and guest houses in Franschhoek that was selected by Edward Nathan Sonnenberg, South Africa’s largest law firm, to host 300 of its staff and their family members over the Women’s Day weekend.

In the spirit of the Women’s Day weekend, we salute all the women of South Africa, who are often the backbone of their businesses and homes, but keep in the background, and do not always receive the recognition they deserve.

Chris von Ulmenstein
Owner, Whale Cottage Portfolio

Cape Town novel marketing
Restaurant openings defy credit crunch
SA joins New World Wine Alliance
New anti-whaling music video no joke

Sweet & Sour Service Awards

Cape Town novel marketing




UK blockbuster novelist Penny Vincenzi has included Cape Town in her latest 750-page book, “The Best of Times”, which was launched in Cape Town last month. Speaking at the book launch lunch, organised by the Cape Times and Wordsworth, Vincenzi explained that no experience or information she gathers is lost to her books. Vincenzi and her husband had visited Cape Town for a previous book launch. The new novel refers to two of the characters visiting Cape Town for a medical congress, staying at “the Vineyard: a five-star wonder nestled just below Table Mountain, with rambling showpiece gardens, complete with giant tortoises and incredible flowers, and a superb spa”, going up Table Mountain, driving along Chapman’s Peak to Cape Point, visiting the townships, going out to Robben Island, and then leaving Cape Town on the Blue Train, travelling to Pretoria, from where the couple flies to the Kruger National Park. Cape Town’s popularity

as a tourist destination should increase due to the reference in the book, given the success Vincenzi has in her book sales, selling millions of copies. Her books hook the reader in, and are “utterly unputdownable”, as the cover of the book says accurately.

The City of Cape Town and the FIFA Local Organising Committee (LOC) have signed a Service Level Agreement, for Cape Town to host the FIFA Final Draw on 4 December, reports The Final Draw will determine which of the 32 teams play at which venues. The Final Draw will take place in the Cape Town International Convention Centre, and is to be attended by 2 000 guests and 800 media representatives, and is to be broadcast in 200 countries. The Final Draw will be a week-long event featuring a number of activities staged by FIFA, the Organising Committee, the City of Cape Town, the Western Cape Provincial Government and all the local Host Cities, says Danny Jordaan, the LOC CEO. “The Final Draw in Cape Town is a critical date and an important milestone for us. And we could not find a better city in which to host it. Cape Town’s a wonderful location and its Greenpoint Stadium is a landmark, one of the best in the world,” he added.

“The FIFA Confederations Cup has really shifted the mood world-wide. Where people once questioned and doubted, we’ve now reached a position where people are looking forward in anticipation and excitement to the FIFA World Cup in South Africa,” said Jordaan. FIFA’s Secretary General Jerome Valcke rated South Africa as 8/10 on its readiness to stage the 2010 World Cup from 11 June to 11 July next year, reported the Cape Times. FIFA President Sepp Blatter downsized the score to 75 % at the conclusion of the Confederations Cup. The FIFA rating was based on the country’s organisation and hosting of the Confederations Cup. “The organisation from the LOC has been really top class. What is more pleasing is the players are returning to their countries with a good opinion of South Africa, the people, fans, stadiums, hotels, and training facilities. That is the best advert we could hope for”, Valcke said. Blatter added that the Confederations Cup had been well run and that FIFA is looking forward to a “hugely successful 2010 World Cup”, reports the Cape Times. Blatter has personally visited President Barack Obama, to invite him to attend the opening or closing crèremony of the 2010 World Cup. Blatter said that he hoped to give South Africa a score of 10/10 in 2010.

FIFA has announced that South Africa’s favourite soccer noisemaker, the plastic vuvuzela “trumpet”, will not be banned for the 2010 World Cup, despite heavy criticism of the noise it makes from journalists and players. Blatter has agreed that it is a noisy instrument, but said: “But that is what African and South African football is all about - noise, excitement, dancing, shouting and enjoyment. When we go to South Africa, we go to Africa.

It is noisy. It is something else than in the rest of the world.” Spanish star Xabi Alonso said: ”That trumpet? It is not nice. I think Fifa should ban it. It’s not really distracting, but it’s not a nice sound to hear”, reports The Times. Brazilian Robinho complained about the noise, saying that he could not hear the instructions from his coach when they played the United States. A South African soccer fan was quoted by USA Today in saying that the vuvuzela is ”a part of my life”. Another said: “This is our voice. We sing through it”! Spanish Santi Cazorla said: ”It’s true that they make a lot of noise, but we’ll just have to get used to them”.

South Africa was on the world stage twice in July, with the help of Nelson Mandela. Mandela’s tribute to the late Michael Jackson was read at the start of the memorial music service in honour of Jackson in Los Angeles. Mr Mandela’s statement to the Jackson family was as follows:

"Dear Jackson family,

It is with great sadness that we learnt of the untimely death of Michael Jackson. Michael became close to use after he started visiting and performing in South Africa regularly. We became fond of him and he became a close member of our family. We had great admiration for his talent and that he was able to triumph over tragedy on some many occasion in his life. Michael was a giant and a legend in the music industry and we mourn with the millions of fans worldwide. We also mourn with his family and his friends over the loss of a dear friend. He will be missed and memories cherished of him for a long time.

Be strong,
Nelson Mandela"

Whilst the 46664 Mandela Day concert had a low key presence in South Africa, it was sold-out in New York on 18 July, and was a good marketing coup for South Africa. Stevie Wonder, Alicia Keys, Chris Chameleon,, Jesse Clegg, Gloria Gaynor, Dave Stewart, Aretha Franklin, the Soweto Gospel Choir, Cyndi Lauper, Queen Latifah, Carla Bruni-Sarkozy, Yvonne Chaka Chaka, Zucchero, Josh Groban, Freshlyground, Jesse McCartney, and Sipho “Hotstix” Mabuse, were some of the artists who performed at a sold-out Radio City Music Hall concert in aid of the fight against HIV/AIDS.

The Western Cape has been less affected by the credit crunch than Gauteng, the Eastern Cape and the Free State, reports Cape Business News. Since 2004 the Western Cape has shown the highest level of growth, and in the 12 month period ending February 2009 the economic decline in the region (- 7%) was lower than in Gauteng (-16%) and the Eastern Cape (- 15 %). Factors to the benefit of the Western Cape are that it does not have a mining industry, which has been severely affected by the credit crunch; it has fewer job losses and a broader base of business sectors; its agricultural sector is diversified; manufacturing is diversified, with little involvement in the depressed motor industry; and last, but not least, the tourism industry is larger and stronger, and is attracting visitors from Southern Africa who are not travelling overseas this year. Professor Wolfgang Thomas from the Stellenbosch Business School advises businesses “to not panic” due to the credit crunch, and sees it bottoming out soon.

A joint ‘Strategic Destination Marketing Plan’ by Cape Town Tourism and Cape Town Routes Unlimited was discussed in July, to eliminate the duplication of marketing activity between the two tourism marketing bodies, at a meeting to focus on the growth of visitors to Cape Town and the Western Cape, and to ensure that tourism withstands political changes. Cape Town Tourism’s mandate to market Cape Town has been extended by another year, Cape Town Tourism’s Mariette du Toit-Helmbold announced.

The statement released by the City and the Province included the following:

“The opportunity to find a lasting solution to manage tourism for destination Cape Town and the Western Cape has never been better. There is a need for all spheres of government to work together so that an environment can be created for business and residents to work in partnership with us. We have given the mandate to the officials to jointly develop a lasting solution for tourism marketing. It is important that the solution is able to withstand changes in political leadership and ensures no duplication. The Fifa 2010 World Cup is around the corner and we should not allow this opportunity to be missed. The City will, in the meantime, continue to use CTT to provide Destination Marketing and Visitor Services. The timeframe for developing a sustainable model will be nine months and the key focus will be on how to best increase the number of visitors to Cape Town and the Western Cape”.

British Airways has confirmed that its prediction that South Africa will be its most popular long-haul destination has been proven correct. The airline has increased its market share to the country by 4 % by increasing the number of its flights, to Johannesburg in particular, at a time when the credit crunch has reduced the airline’s capacity on other routes, says an article in Business Report. The airline’s Ashley Cowen, General Manager for Africa and Asia-Pacific for the airline, says that it has achieved “fairly good passenger loads”, utilizing special offers. The Confederations Cup and the British and Irish Lions rugby tour created good additional support for the airline.

Two celebrities, David Hasselhoff and Orlando Bloom, were spotted in Camps Bay in July, reported the Life is Savage blogsite. Orlando Bloom was spotted at Cafe Caprice, one of Camps Bay’s hottest spots, while David Hasselhoff was spotted joining a game of volleyball in a red swimsuit on Camps Bay beach. Camps Bay is one of the most desirable locations for tourists to stay in Cape Town - it has beautiful views, a selection of 25 restaurants, two hotels and a collection of top guest houses and B & B’s, and is 10 minutes to town and 15 minutes to the V&A Waterfront.

A 2010 World Cup soccer team is tipped to take over the Twelve Apostles Hotel outside Camps Bay next year, and the sportfield at Camps Bay High School will be the training ground for that team, reports People’s Post. Team representatives from Spain, Denmark, Brazil, Argentina, France and Japan have paid site visits to the school. The final announcement about the team that is to stay in Camps Bay will only be made after the final draw takes place in Cape Town in December. The school’s sportfield will be upgraded to be as close as possible to the quality at the Green Point stadium.

Table Mountain has made the top list of the “mountains and volcanoes” list in the New7Wonders of Nature, and is one of the top 77 sites selected from over 261 participants from around the globe, reports News24. Cape Town’s icon, Table Mountain, beat fellow category contenders Mount Everest, K2 and Mount Fiji in round two of the international competition that relied solely on votes from the public. It needed to be ranked in the top 11 of its category - mountains and volcanoes - to carry on in the competition. Other categories include seascapes, lakes, islands, ice formations, waterfalls and forests. The official New7Wonders of Nature list will be announced in 2011. 

Restaurant openings defy credit crunch





A number of new restaurants have opened in Cape Town in the past few months, and they have overshadowed the few recent restaurant closures, which included Nova, with Top Ten chef Richard Carstens, and Joubert in Hermanus.

New restaurants include The Eastern Food Bazaar, which has opened in the old Wellington Fruitgrower’s building, on the corner of Darling and Adderley Streets, and serves value-for-money Indian foods; Bravado, an Italian restaurant in the previous Melissa’s in Green Point; an Indian restaurant Bhandaris in Tokai; the bistro Cafe Sociale in Woodstock; a fusion restaurant Cheyne’s in the City Bowl; and Kassia and Figg, a deli and health shop in Kalk Bay.

A trendy new steakhouse to open in the city centre, in Heritage Square, is HQ, where you can eat anything you like as long as it is a salad, a sirloin steak, and chips. One does have a choice of dessert and wines however. The restaurant belongs to the owners of Caveau, in the same building. For a review, click here.

In the Helshoogte Pass between Stellenbosch and Franschhoek the chic Delaire Graff Estate restaurant has opened with chef Christian Campbell at the helm. It offers fine-dining at its best, and will be an interesting counterpoint to Tokara directly across the road, and could be a further threat to Franschhoek’s reputation as the Gourmet Capital of South Africa. See the review here.

In Franschhoek Fyndraai has opened as a truly South African restaurant on the Solms-Delta wine estate. See the review here. Well-known chef Reuben Riffel has opened a Reubens branch in Robertson, in the new The Robertson Small Hotel. It is housed in the Zandvliet building, a National Monument built in 1909, reports The hotel belongs to Tim Rands of Franschhoek, who is one of Reuben Riffel’s partners in the Reubens Franschhoek restaurant.

A restaurant set to open in October in the new Cape Quarter extension in De Waterkant is Vanilla, belonging to Nigel and Simon Newhouse of Tuscany Beach in Camps Bay. Boldly they are opening a 180-seater fine-dining restaurant in the new top one-stop design and decor centre on Somerset Road. Matthew Gordon, owner of Haute Cabriere and the French Connection and co-owner of Cotage Fromage, is the consultant chef for the new restaurant. It will sport a baby grand, and will serve musical treats as well.

Balducci’s in the V&A Waterfront has radically amended its menu, now in a small magazine size format and carrying ads for its suppliers’ products, and has a strong Italian flavour, strengthening its heritage with more pizza (27 unique combinations to choose from, ranging in price from R 59 - R 75) and pasta, retaining its antipasti starters and salads, its seafood, steak (R 130 for a fillet), and expensive desserts (R 49 - 59). A non-Italian addition is a range of burgers, from R 55 for a classic to R 75 for a luxury lamb burger and guacamole, with other burger variations including ostrich, chicken, vegetarian, swiss cheese, bacon guacamole, and gorgonzola. The new menu looks far less pretentious than before, and is more comfort food-orientated, to suit the credit crunch times.

Caviar is the third outlet to be opened by the industrious team owning Beluga and Sevruga restaurants, in De Waterkant and the V&A Waterfront respectively. Having just opened as a retail outlet in the V&A Waterfront, next to Vida e’ Caffe, Caviar does not live up to its name in terms of the image its brand name represents, nor in terms of its stock sold. The unimaginatively designed mini-deli has a number of fridges with a higgeldy-piggeldy selection of vacuum-packed steak and other meat cuts; of delicious pates; cheeses; flavoured butters, a selection of desserts; a selection of salads, all with the base ingredient of pasta and a few bits of duck or chicken; colddrinks; oh, and a few containers of caviar! The prices appear reasonable, at around R 20 a dessert portion, and R 30 for the salads. It is hard to see a focus in the outlet. Two staff members seem uncertain about how to deal with customers. There is so little space, that two staff seem one too many. As a customer one is not sure if one may look at and open the fridges oneself. No pricelist is available - the staff say it may be finalised in mid-August. It would appear that the ‘Caviar Group of restaurants’ will be the company’s collective name, a branding problem when one of the outlets carries the same name, and is not a restaurant at all, even though a few tables and chairs allow one to eat the products there and then, probably out of the plastic containers. Nothing encourages one to sit down.

Col’cacchio is collaborating with six top chefs in raising funds for the Red Cross Children’s Hospital. For every ‘designer’ pizza sold, created by a different chef each month, R 5 goes to the Hospital fund. Franschhoek chefs who are supporting this worthy cause are Reuben Riffel and Margot Janse from Le Quartier Francais. Other top chefs include Philippe Wagenfuhrer, chef patron of Top Ten restaurant Roots in Johannesburg; Mike Bassett, owner of Myogo, Ginja and Shoga restaurants in Cape Town; Citrum Khumalo (owner and chef at Asidle catering in Johannesburg); and Rudi Liebenberg (new executive chef at the Mount Nelson Hotel in Cape Town).

A number of Franschhoek restaurants are offering good value winter specials, including Cotage Fromage: 10 % off main course if have two courses for lunch; Genot: 3-course set menu at R 150; Grande Provence: 2-course lunch and dinner R 150, 3-courses R 195 and 4-courses R 240 Mondays to Saturdays; Haute Cabriere: 2-course set menu Monday - Friday lunch, and Friday and Saturday evenings, R 100 per head ; and Reubens: 2-course set menu at R 130 and 3-course set menu at R 150. For a full list of Franschhoek restaurant specials, click here.

SA joins New World Wine Alliance




An alliance of New World wines, including South Africa but excluding Australia, has been formed for wine marketing purposes, reports The Sunday Times. South Africa, Argentina, Chile, New Zealand and California will package themselves jointly at international wine trade shows, as the New World Wine Alliance, thereby combating the strong European presence at such shows. The first exposure of the new wine marketing Alliance will be at the Prowein trade fair in Germany in March next year. The trade fair attracted 35 000 delegates from 50 countries, 3 200 exhibitors and 1 000 journalists this year. Not only will the Alliance exhibit jointly, but it will also use the platform to offer seminars and talks by leading wine retailers, academics, growers and producers. Su Birch, CEO of Wines of South Africa, said: ” Although we are all competitors, we are confident of the potential to further advance the New World’s share of the global wine market by working smarter in these difficult economic times”.

The Vignerons of Franschhoek appear to not have been affected by the recession, the majority stating that their wine sales have increased relative to the same period a year ago. Dieter Sellmeyer of Lynx Wines: “Non-cellar door wine sales locally come mainly from restaurants and from mail campaigns and neither of these have suffered – in fact restaurant business is up, which may partly have to do with the evolution of the brand. We have never done a lot through retail outlets as the competition there is massive and yes, cut-throat.”

Haute Espoir, Rickety Bridge Winery, La Motte, Stony Brook Vineyards, Graham Beck Wines and Vrede & Lust also all report increased wine sales, and it would not appear that the visitors to the Franschhoek wine estates are trading down in their wine purchases, as was claimed in a recent article in the Cape Times. Dana Buys from Vrede & Lust describes how he has enhanced wine sales at his estate: “Our sales are significantly up over last year. I think it is due to our wines improving and a strong focus on direct wine sales. Direct sales are important with more customers buying to drink at home versus while eating out. Our wines are priced well relative to the quality. We have significantly upgraded our cellar door team and they have done a great job building the new wine club and getting our European eStore sales humming”

Graham Beck Wines’ Etienne Heyns attributes their sales success to his cellar door staff: “Our staff makes a point of providing our visitors with extra hospitality and superb attention during such times when relatively fewer visits occur. In addition, we reward our visitors with an array of extra special offers on our wines. We value their custom and want them to leave our estate with an indelible impression – and a boot full of superb wines.” Werner Els of La Petite Ferme attributes their sales’ success to focusing on greater distribution in South Africa’s major cities. Vrede & Lust says that there are fewer tourists around this season. “To counteract the tough economy we work on ensuring that our pricing is correct for the climate and we understand that better cash-flow is often more important than higher profit margins – i.e. we are realistic about the laws of supply and demand! Most of all, we work hard to ensure that the customers who visit the farm have a fantastic experience here” says Dana Buys. Rickety Bridge Winery says that it offers a good quality product. “We put a lot of emphasis on giving guests an experience though good service and a good quality “product” in both our restaurant and with our wines. I believe we offer something for everybody – whether they are serious connoisseurs or just looking for a relaxing day in the winelands” says Jackie Rabe. “When visitors come to the farm we sell them an experience – wine sales follow automatically and price hardly comes into it. For an in-depth article on the status of the Franschhoek wine industry, click here.

Wines of South Africa (WOSA) is planning to bring wine journalists to South Africa during the 2010 World Cup, to enjoy the soccer and wine feast the country has to offer next year, reports Cape Business News. Su Birch, CEO of WOSA, said that many wine producers are planning to bring European importers to the country for the top soccer event, and have designed incentive programs. “Our intention is to ensure visiting foreign trade and media are exposed to our producers and activities in the winelands while they are here. We’ll give them a taste of true South African hospitality for which we have become famous. They’ll experience the spontaneous African warmth and excitement surrounding the games and get to taste our wines in a new context” she said. Given the 2010 World Cup focus, WOSA will not be putting on Cape Wine in 2010, and will next host it in 2012. Birch recently received the honour of being named “Woman of the Year” by The Drinks Business, a British trade journal, “for her role in the enormous advances made by the South African wine industry on international markets over the past decade.” South African wine exports have grown three-fold in the past ten years.

South Africa is the ninth largest producer of wines, and represents 3 % of total world wine production. Currently just over 400 million liters are exported from South Africa, a growth of 17 % compared to the year before. Sales have grown by 27 % to the UK, by 12 % to Germany, and by 26 % to Sweden, the top three South African export markets. The export performance is in contrast to that of Australia, which experienced a decline in sales to the UK by 18 %, and by 23 % to the USA. In the UK South African wines are the fastest growing segment, and command a 10 % market share. In Germany South African wines are the fourth largest sellers, while in Sweden they are the largest. Strong performance is also experienced in Holland and Belgium.

New anti-whaling music video no joke



The late Heath Ledger, who won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor as The Joker in ‘The Dark Knight’, directed an anti-whaling music video, which has now been released, reports

Produced at the time that he was filming the Batman movie, Ledger directed the video in 2007. It features the song ‘King Rat’ by the Modest Mouse band from the USA, and shows a ‘cigar-chomping blue whale captain out hunting for humans in the sea”, the website says. Ledger supported the protection of whales and dolphins, and therefore wanted the video to have a shock factor, so that it could make an impact, and highlight what Japan is doing in killing whales. It shows humans being harpooned, skinned, their meat processed and fed to seal pups.

The actor passed away before the video was completed. The co-director and visual-effects company decided to complete the project in Ledger’s honour, and to donate the revenue from the iTunes video downloads to the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society in its first month. Ledger acknowledged the role the Society plays in campaigning for an end to whaling, especially by the Japanese. The music video can be seen at

Sweet & Sour Service Awards




The Sweet & Sour Service Awards are presented weekly, every Friday, on the Whale Cottage Portfolio WhaleTales blog Nominations for a Sweet Service or a Sour Service Award are welcomed from WhaleTales readers. Please send an e-mail to

The Sweet Service Award winners in the past eight weeks, reflecting exceptional service, are the following:

Huguenot Fine Chocolates in Franschhoek, for being able to fulfill an order on the same day ... read more
Clouds Villa, for offering a fellow guest house owner complimentary accommodation ... read more
Computicket in Camps Bay, for accommodating a client’s request to change the dates for booked tickets ... read more
The Stellenbosch University Music Conservatoire, for a thrilling classical music week, including Nataniel and Daniel Rowland … read more
Goozi Cucina in Hermanus, for excellent service in ordering a Crueset pot for a customer ... read more
Pick ‘n Pay in the Gardens Centre, for excellent service to organize same-day delivery, and to follow up to check service satisfaction ... read more
Queenspark in the V&A Waterfront, for excellent service, which made the customer’s day ... read more
The Knysna Tourism Bureau, for service beyond the call of duty for a visitor to Knysna  ... read more

Sour Service Awards have gone to the following recently:

The Hermanus Traffic Department, for “going-slow” before the municipal strike started ... read more
The Flower Shop in Plettenberg Bay, for lack of customer care and poor service ... read more
Sevruga, for offering poor value for money and service for the launch lunch of Penny Vicenzi’s new book ... read more
One&Only Cape Town, for a heavy-handed reservations executive who demonstrated arrogance in finalizing a guest’s reservation ... read more
The City of Cape Town’s Refuse Department, whose staff refused to remove palm branches, which had come down in a severe storm, if their palms were not greased ... read more
Edgars in the V&A Waterfront, for being unable to supply FIFA World Cup T-shirts in the sizes required ... read more
Glenwood Manufacturers, for an exorbitant charge for producing a block for a Do Not Disturb sign ... read more
DISH in Knysna, for a bartender more interested in staying hot than respecting a client’s request for a cooler restaurant ... read more





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