JUNE 2009

The Whale Cottage Portfolio is weathering the recession, and its close to 50 % reduced winter specials, combined with a third season of summer rates frozen at the 2007 level, are providing a steady flow of bookings, including for the 2010 World Cup.

We are once again grateful to the Reserve Bank for another 1 % cut in the interest rate, now down to 7,5 %, for lightening the bond repayment load, thereby making the winter specials and the summer rate freeze possible. Two further 0,5 % interest rate cuts are being forecast by economists for the next 6 months.

The blogging strategies of the Whale Cottage Portfolio were incorporated into a blog post of Hotel Marketing Strategies, reflecting how six different hotels, including Whale Cottage and five American hotels, attract readers to their blogs (www.hotelmarketingstrategies.com). The input by Whale Cottage will also be incorporated in an e-book on hotel marketing and blogging, to be published in the USA. Whale Cottage has learnt to Twitter, and posts Tweets to attract new readers to the WhaleTales blog: http://twitter.com/whalecottage.

Whale Cottage Camps Bay hosted three film producers who are filming a documentary about our country, to be aired on ARTE, a French-German TV channel.

Whale Cottage Franschhoek was the proud sponsor of Professor Elwin Jenkins, a speaker at the Franschhoek Literary Festival in May, which was a huge success, despite extremely heavy rain.The accommodation for Kobus Moolman, who read his poetry accompanied by talented pianist Christopher Duigan, was also sponsored by Whale Cottage.

Whale Cottage Franschhoek hosted the accommodation for the editor of Wine Tourism News. “Nicci raved about jumping into your stunning ball and claw bath! She said she had never seen such a welcoming


sight in her life! She raved  about  Whale  Cottage  saying that it felt like she was in a real seaside cottage! She loved it!” was the fabulous feedback we received!

Chris von Ulmenstein
Owner, Whale Cottage Portfolio

Let the games begin!
Bruce Robertson hops back onto restaurant scene!
Chicken and Champers for Zuma!
Whales arrive back early

Sweet & Sour Service Awards

Let the games begin




Sport tourism is top of mind, with the Confederations Cup, a precursor to the 2010 World Cup, and the British and Irish Lions rugby tour creating a feast for sport fans and the tourism industry.

Didi Moyle, acting CEO of SA Tourism, welcomed the players and fans attending the Confederations Cup. “Let the games begin”, she said. The Confederations Cup runs until 28 June, and will be played in Johannesburg, Rustenburg, Bloemfontein and Pretoria. “South African Tourism welcomes players and fans to South Africa. We’re excited about the tournament, not only because it offers our industry a truly incredible opportunity to showcase our destination, but also because it gives us a chance to show off our infrastructure and to have our visitors witness the effort that we have put into preparing for this world class event,” she added, as reported in Travelwires. “We are beyond ready. People now need to come and celebrate with us, this magnificent feat of being able to host these sporting events,” she added.

The opening Confederations Cup match between South Africa’s Bafana Bafana team and Iraq was broadcast by SABC 1, and more than half the commentary was in a vernacular language not understood by a large part of the local population, which could lead to a lack of interest in watching the other games in the series. The Iraqi team coach answered questions in Spanish after the match, which the interviewer also did not understand!

FIFA President Sepp Blatter visited South Africa to mark the 365 day countdown to 11 June 2010, and to open the 2009 Confederations Cup, and has given South Africa the thumbs-up. Blatter met President Zuma and Western Cape Premier Helen Zille at Green Point stadium in Cape Town, and declared: “South Africa is not only ready, South Africa is committed”, reports The Times! Blatter congratulated Zuma on his presidency, stating that he was happy that “he likes football and has realised what the World Cup can bring to his country and the continent.” Blatter added: “You have the confidence and trust of FIFA but also of the fans. Everyone wants to be here.”

Danny Jordaan, CEO of the Local Organising Committee, praised the beauty of Durban’s Moses Mabhida and Cape Town’s Green Point stadia. According to him 630 000 tickets have been sold for the 2010 World Cup to fans in 188 countries, half of these being sold to South Africans. The USA and the UK are the next biggest ticket purchasers, with roughly 70 000 and 43 000, respectively. Jordaan also said that 70 % of the 640 000 Confederations Cup tickets have been sold.

All tickets for the opening match, semi-finals and final match for the 2010 World Cup are sold out, reports the Cape Times. Team-specific tickets for England, Brazil, Argentina, Australia, Ireland and the Netherlands are also sold out, as are individual match tickets for soccer matches in Cape Town, Nelspruit and Pretoria. The second ticket selling phase has been underway since the beginning of May.

The attack by SATSA Chairman Michael Tatalias on the accommodation industry for not signing with the FIFA accommodation and ticketing agency MATCH, and accusing it of “holding back” so that “they could inflate their prices to rip off tourists” (Cape Argus, 12 May, ‘City hoteliers warned against hiking prices”) is uncalled for and shows how out of touch he is with the accommodation industry. SATSA is an association of tour operators, car rental companies, business tourism suppliers, etc, and only has a small number of accommodation members. It therefore cannot speak for the accommodation industry.

It is MATCH that has been greedy, in originally dictating to accommodation establishments that they should use the 2007 rate and add a 16 % inflation factor to this, to get to the 2010 rate. MATCH then would take a preposterous 30 % commission on this rate. However, with inflation in 2008 at around 13 %, this rate dictate was not acceptable to most establishments, and that is why the number of rooms offered to MATCH has been so low. MATCH has been viewed critically, and its unfavourable terms as far as the small accommodation industry (i.e. guest houses, B&B’s, self-catering establishments) goes, but over the past year MATCH has come to the party by becoming far more flexible in its pricing (accepting any “fair price”) and cancellation policy, mainly because they have no other choice. It is still taking a 30 % commission, now as an add-on, making accommodation appear extremely expensive, unless it is hidden in ticket/accommodation/transport packages! The cancellation of rooms at short notice during the 2006 World Cup in Germany is known to the local industry, and MATCH’s dictate to supply 80 % of one’s room stock was therefore not acceptable. Even in this regard MATCH has become flexible, and they will now accept any number of rooms one will offer.

The accommodation industry believes that it is able to sell its rooms directly to soccer fans who do not wish to be ripped off by MATCH’s rates. They are not short-sighted enough nor that dishonourable to “rip-off” any 2010 World Cup tourists. Many will use the 2009/2010 summer rate for June/July 2010, instead of discounting rates to winter levels, as is usually the case. Ultimately pricing is about supply and demand - if they cannot sell their rooms at the summer rate, accommodation establishments will have to lower them. Tourists are far too astute these days, given the credit crunch, to allow themselves to be “ripped-off”!

Cape Town Tourism organised the ceremonial kicking off of soccer balls from Table Mountain on 11 June, to mark the 365 days before the start of the World Cup. CODA performed a new song they have written for the World Cup, and vuvuzelas trumpeted. The Green Point Stadium is already about 70 % completed, and will be ready for handover on 14 December, says a special Independent Newspaper “1 year to kick off” insert. A pedestrian underpass will run underneath the traffic circle near the stadium, and the Green Point Common will be upgraded. Green building practices are being applied for the stadium construction. The Cape Town International airport upgrade will have been completed by November.

Mmastsatsi Marobe, CEO of the Tourism Business Council, has said that tourism could be one way in which the South African economy can be stimulated, as reported in Travelwires. She said that while individual accommodation establishments have seen a decline in occupancy, the IPL cricket and British and Irish Lions Rugby tours are good for the national economy, and demonstrated that South Africa is a viable destination for sport, business and leisure. She identified a number of tourism trends that can stimulate the economy:

1. Local tourism is on the up, at the expense of international tourism. In the UK 20 % of British holidaymakers will travel in their own country this year.
2. Going on holiday is a means of escapism from the doom and gloom of the effects of the credit crunch. “Tourism provides a psychological lift to the psyche of the public”.
3. Green is gold, in that tourists are becoming more discerning in expecting their accommodation to be environmentally responsible.

Marobe called for more young persons to be employed by the tourism industry, as they are the future of the tourism industry. “…we all have a role to play in stimulating the economy through tourism - keep visiting, keep hosting, and keep investing” concluded Marobe.

The IPL Championships were moved from India to South Africa in April, as the Indian elections in May were a threat to the safety of cricket players participating in the cricket tournament. The cricket championship was billed as the saving grace to prevent South Africa from sliding into a recession, due to the vast sums of money it would generate for the economy. Rugby hero Francois Pienaar was charged with the marketing of the event, and his marketing budget is said to have been R 150 million!

One wonders where the IPL billions went, as they do not appear to have benefited the small accommodation sector in Cape Town, if the guest houses in Camps Bay are anything to go by. The Cape Town matches were played late in April, and in the ten day period not one Camps Bay guest house had a booking from an IPL cricket supporter. Talk of the town was that the cricketers and their fans had received a special deal at the One&Only Cape Town. During the time of the IPL championships, few Indians were visible in Cape Town.

Bruce Robertson hops back onto restaurant scene





FEDHASA Cape, the hospitality association, appears to focus on the restaurants closing down in Cape Town, as opposed to saluting the new restaurants opening in these most difficult times.

Bruce Robertson, owner of The Showroom which closed down in Cape Town two months ago, has hopped back onto the restaurant scene with the opening of The Quarter, a tiny take-out bunny-chow restaurant located underneath the New Space Theatre at 44 Long Street, just two doors away from his The Showroom Cafe. Robertson has his roots in Durban, and made a trip to his homeground to learn more about bunny-chow from the locals. Bunny- chow is usually a street food which is cheap and easy to eat, being half a loaf of bread, hollowed out and filled with a curry food. Robertson calls it the “quintessential South African dish”. The restaurant name refers to the quarter size of bread he serves his bunny-chow in. Robertson describes The Quarter as a ”more hands-on restaurant feeding a bigger client base”. His bunny chow fillings include crayfish potjie, waterblommetjie bredie, mussel and garlic pot, ‘welsh rabbit’, oxtail, gemsbok, and the standard mutton, chicken, beef mince, venison and goat. None of these dishes cost more than R 65, and some dishes cost as little as R 20. Extra toppings, sauces and side dishes can also be ordered.

‘Rossouw’s Restaurants’ guide has published its 2009 edition, and has awarded 3-stars, the top rating, to thirteen restaurants in the country. The Cape-based 3-star restaurants, according to the Weekend Argus, are Aubergine, Bosman’s, Ile de Pain, Jardine, La Colombe, Magica Roma, Mariana’s, The Tasting Room, Rust & Vrede and Zachary’s. Other 3-star restaurants are Butcher Shop & Grill and Thomas Maxwell Bistro in Sandton, and Ritrovo in Pretoria. Interesting omissions are Overture, the scenic restaurant of Bertus Basson on the Hidden Valley Estate and close to Rust & Vrede in Stellenbosch, Terroir outside Stellenbosch, and Bizerca in Cape Town, all three restaurants being on the Top Ten Eat Out list. In his previous edition, Rossouw was demeaning to Overture about the road to the restaurant, which is a nonsense criticism, and it should not have clouded his judgement of the restaurant!

FEDHASA has publicly listed restaurants that have not closed down when they went into liquidation, over-dramatising the severity of the effect of the recession on restaurants - Summerville in Camps Bay is one such example, which is alive and well and living, despite its recent liquidation! So too Theodore Yach, a city developer, has been reported to claim that 200 restaurants have closed down in Cape Town due to the credit crunch, which is a nonsense figure! Recently, the Cape Argus incorrectly announced the closure of the Sandbar in Camps Bay, without checking with the restaurant, and has yet to publish a correction.

Despite the recession, the hospitality industry has a lot to be grateful for - bookings are still rolling in for the summer months ahead, for World Cup 2010, and for the next British and Irish Lions’ rugby match in Cape Town on 23 June.

The restaurant industry has had it good for many years, and the number of new restaurants opening up in the past few years is testimony to the fact that they have received good support from Capetonians. Those restaurants that are arrogant, that do not deliver good service, and that do not understand that value for money is key for customers, will feel the economic pinch. Cape Town has a seasonality problem, and guest houses led the way many years ago in reducing their rates by up to 50 % in the winter months. For the first time ever, restaurants are offering excellent winter specials. An e-mail doing the rounds lists 30 restaurants with winter specials. These include specials at Aubergine, Beluga, Bungalow, Cafe Caprice, Catharina’s, Five Flies, Myoga, Sinns, Pepenero, Tank, The Food Barn, The Kove, Tuscany Beach, Buitenverwachting, Constantia Uitsig, Cuvee, La Colombe, Terroir, Cape Colony and Salt.

Four Camps Bay restaurants are offering good winter specials in particular: Tuscany Beach has offered a two-for-the-price-of-one for a few years now, and benefits from a full restaurant as a result. It offers the special for all dinners throughout the week, and for lunches on weekdays. It is also offering 20 % off sushi and oysters, and offers a bottle of Seidelberg Chenin Blanc at R69 and a bottle of Merlot at R 80. Bungalow is offering half price tapas and cocktails between 17h00 - 19h00, and “live, fresh crayfish” for R 99 (weight undefined) and a most unusual “Rainy Day Special” of “half price off everything if it’s raining”! The Kove is offering 50 % off every dish between 17h00 and 18h45, offers one meal free for four ordered, a two-course meal with a glass of wine at R 100, and a 3-course meal with a glass of wine at R 130. The Bayside Café offers two-for-the-price-of-one.

At the ‘Tribute to Topsi’ function held at the Barnyard Theatre in the Willowbridge Centre last month, 500 foodie and Topsi Venter friends gathered to “honour a doyenne and living legend of South African food and a wonderful human being”, and to collect funds for a knee replacement operation for her. A jointly organised event by John Jackson of African Banquet Collections and the Chaine des Rotisseurs, in conjunction with the Franschhoek Lion’s Club, all food was prepared and donated by leading restaurants. A line-up of excellent performers entertained the appreciative crowd and dedicated their talent to Topsi. Nataniel brought the house down with his stories about his 30-year friendship with Topsi, and when he presented her with a rosary (“instead of rosemary”)! Topsi was praised by speakers for her generosity. She answered that she was as close to heaven on earth as she could be, with all the tributes spoken and sung to her whilst she is still alive. Topsi was described as the “Madiba of cooking in South Africa”.

The who’s who of chefs attended the wonderful evening, and included Bruce Robertson, Pete Goffe-Wood, Bertus Basson, Camil Haas, Peter Veldsman, Marlene van der Westhuizen, Jenny Morris, Reuben Riffel, and Garth Stroebel.

Chicken and Champers for Zuma




The unthinkable combination of Nando’s peri-peri chicken and Dom Perignon was served at President Zuma’s inauguration last month, to criticism from the wine industry for the use of an imported French champagne instead of a local Cap Classique. Despite flighting a controversial Nando’s ad campaign mocking Julius Malema, head of the ANC Youth League, just prior to the election, Nando’s was awarded the catering contract to serve 32 000 persons at the President’s inaugural lunch on the lawns of the Union Buildings in Pretoria.

Even Barack Obama celebrated his win as presidential-elect with South Africa’s Graham Beck sparkling wine, it also having been served when Nelson Mandela was elected president. The criticism by Franschhoek wine-maker Achim von Arnim, well-known Pierre Jourdan sparkling wine producer at Cabriere in Franschhoek, about the celebratory drink served, is featured on the Wine magazine website: (http://www.winemag.co.za/article/achim-von-arnim-vs-jz-2009-05-15)

Franschhoek-based Chamonix wine estate won the 2009 Santam Classic Wine Trophy, as well as two gold medals, and a GQ Choice award, in The Classic Wine Trophy Awards in May, chosen by a panel of French judges. Competition organiser, Christophe Durand, said of Chamonix’s success:” Their consistency as an estate over the years has been amazing. I’m very happy with their victory and the outcome of this year’s competition as a whole”. Simonsig won the trophy for best sparkling wine for their Cuvee Royale; Jean Daneel won the Best White Wine Trophy for his Signature Chenin Blanc 2006; Groot Constantia won the Best Red Wine Trophy for the Gouverneurs Shiraz 2006; and Klein Constantia won the Best Sweet Wine Trophy for their Vin de Constance 2004. The judges stated that they were disappointed with the sauvignon blanc entries, Southern Right being the only gold medal winner for this variety. Another Franschhoek wine to do well at the Award was the La Motte Pierneef 2007, which won a gold medal.

Cape wines won 34 gold medals at the recent Decanter World Wine Awards, one of the largest international wine award events with over 10 000 wines submitted by more than 2 000 wineries. The Awards were presented at the London International Wine Fair in May, reports the Cape Times. South Africa improved its success at the Decanter Awards, with its 34 gold and 130 silver medals. Tokara in Stellenbosch won two gold and five silver medals; Cederberg won three gold and a silver medal; Fairview won two gold and two silver medals; Kanonkop won two gold and a silver medals; and Kaapzicht two gold medals. In addition, Kaapzicht Estate Steytler Vision 2006 Pinotage was named the best South African Red Single varietal in the over GBP 10 category. Pinotage is a unique South African cultivar, and has been criticised by the international wine media in the past.

Stellenbosch wine brand Kleine Zalze is the largest South African brand in the British hospitality trade, according to a survey conducted for ‘UK On Trade’, reports Bolander. The ‘Wine On Premise UK 2009′ evaluated 12 500 wine lists of 560 wine distributors in the UK, and selected Kleine Zalze as the most sold South African brand in hotels, restaurants, and pubs. The brand is also ranked the 14th most distributed wine in the UK. The report attributes Kleine Zalze’s success to its wine quality, packaging and PR.

Joanne Gibson was unanimously declared the winner of the inaugural Wine Writer’s Award for the Franschhoek Literary Festival, for her article in WINE magazine (SA, April 2008) on the famous/infamous GS Cabernet 1966, a wine as highly acclaimed as it turned out to be controversial. The Festival featured a line-up of top writers, including Andre Brink, Max du Preez, Shaun Johnson, Vikas Swarup (author of ‘Q & A’, which became the Oscar-winning movie ’Slumdog Millionaire’), Justin Cartwright, Christopher Hope and the biographers Pippa Green (Trevor Manual) and Jeremy Gordin (Jacob Zuma).

Nederburg will become the official wine supplier to FIFA for the 2010 World Cup, being one of the largest selling South African wines in “many international markets”, reports Just-Drinks. The limited edition range World Cup 2010 Nederburg Sauvignon Blanc, Rose and Cabernet Sauvignon will be sold for about R 100 a bottle in the UK, Ireland, Canada, Sweden, Germany, South Africa and selected other countries.

Spier is the wine estate that attracts the largest number of visitors of the 588 wine estates in the country, says Su Birch, CEO of Wines of South Africa (WOSA). The estate offers theatrical and musical productions, as well as eco-experiences in interacting with cheetahs and eagles. It has 62 000 hotel guests and 40 000 conference delegates visiting every year, in addition to the day visitors.

Wine tourism is a fast growing and possibly the largest segment of the South African tourism industry, and is worth R 6.75 billion, says Andre Morgenthal, of WOSA, reports Business Report. Wine tourists are from Europe in the main. Growth has been particularly evident since Cape Town joined the Great Wine Capitals of the World network. The bio-diversity of the winelands, the increasing number of excellent restaurants opening on wine estates, and the marketing focus on wines have created the growth in wine tourism.

The Great Wine Capitals of the World network is looking for nominations for its Best of Tourism Awards to select the best wine estates in respect of dining, accommodation, architecture, parks and gardens, arts and culture, innovative wine tourism experiences, and wine tourism services. Participants from Cape Town, Bordeaux, Bilbao-Rioja, Mendoza, Mainz, Florence, Porto and San Francisco-Napa will compete for the awards.

Whales arrive back early



The first Southern Right whales have returned to Hermanus and elsewhere along the Southern Cape Coast, an early arrival from the Antarctic Ocean, where they have spent the last six months feeding on krill.

Captain Paul Watson, head of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, an international whale protection group, has incensed South Africans in calling for a ban on South African wine sales until Mike Meyer, of Marine and Coastal Management, labelled by Watsonas the “Butcher of Kommetjie Beach”, be sacked . He was reacting to


the slaughter of 44 pilot whales, which beached on 30 May at Long Beach in Kommetjie, under the directive of Meyer. Marine and Coastal Management, the Dolphin Action Protection Group, the NSRI and SPCA, along with hundreds of volunteers, tried to help the whales back into the stormy ocean, but only 14 made it back to sea, the others rebeaching. These are the whales that Meyer had shot, a traumatic event for the volunteers and members of the public present.

Criticism of the events of the day are that the public did not assist the whale rescue operation by wanting to have a look at what was going on, and by not accepting instructions; no clear directives were given to the volunteers and public, as no one seemed to be in charge of the rescue operation; and that the volunteers were not well trained enough. Better volunteer training and a clear disaster plan should be prepared in the event of future whale beachings, say the parties involved in the whale rescue.

Nan Rice, of the Dolphin Action and Protection Group, said of the whale killing: “I feel quite sad, but it is the right thing to do”. She explained that mass strandings are stressful for whales. Beaching takes place due to ‘navigational error’, she said, according to The Sunday Independent. Other reasons for beaching may be that a lead whale may be sick or have parasites, which can affect its sense of direction, seeking out land. This may cause other whales to follow suit, due to the social bonding between whales, reports the Sunday Argus. Rip currents may also confuse the whales’ sonar. The navy has denied doing any sonar testing which may have led to the beaching of the whales.

Watson’s call for the ban has been described as a “vicious and personal attack” on Meyer, according to the Department of Environmental Affairs, which is supporting Meyer’s decision. Watson slates both Meyer and Marine Coastal Management: “Meyer simply called himself a scientist and proclaimed the animals doomed, and thus gave the order for execution. This man does not possess a single scientific degree. He is a bureaucrat, not a scientist, not a vet, and not even a former student of marine biology or any discipline involving marine species. In short he is an unqualified sadistic thug and an embarrassment to the government and the people of South Africa.” said Watson.

Watson has visited South Africa, and has been a speaker at a Whale Festival in Hermanus. His full statement can be read on http://www.seashepherd.org/news-and-media/editorial-090602-1.html. Watson is so passionate about saving whales that he takes the Japanese head on every year in the Antarctic waters off Australia.

Sweet & Sour Service Awards




The latest Sweet Service Awards winners are::

Summerville restaurant in Camps Bay, for hosting the Camps Bay Accommodation Association ... read more
Nedbank Sea Point, for excellent service and customer care ... read more
The Sunday Times, for excellent service since Wilma got involved in Cape Town ... read more
Allee Bleue, for staying open later on Mother’s Day, to allow two customers to enjoy a cup of coffee just before closing time … read more
Defy, for replacing a fan belt of a washing machine at no charge, just after the guarantee period had expired ... read more
  Webtickets, for refunding monies when a customer double-booked on its on-line booking service ... read more
PG Glass in Plettenberg Bay, for replacing a broken window within one hour of calling them…. read more ... read more

Sour Service Awards have gone to the following recently:

Carne restaurant in Keerom Street, Cape Town, for having a stubborn and inflexible owner and for telling the customer to not return ... read more
Nedbank Tygerberg Winelands, whose management do not respect a customer’s request to move her account back to the Sea Point branch, and for refusing to provide the bank CEO’s contact details ... read more
Rocketseed, for inadequate product offering and rude service when the customer questioned the e-mail branding not working perfectly in all instances ... read more
Interior Collection in Hermanus, for doing a bad job in a curtain order, from getting the brief wrong, fitting skew and sagging rails, and taking three months instead of the promised one month to complete the project ... read more
Limelight, for “allowing” the company to continue being featured on the WhaleTales blog as a previous Sour Award recipient, subject to a set of prescribed conditions ... read more
Nedbank Corporate, for a new website that is extremely slow and rarely allows one to print statements, compared to its excellent “old” website ... read more
Karibu in the Waterfront, for ripping off a group of French customers in their order of whiskys ... read more

The Sweet & Sour Service Awards are presented weekly, every Friday, on the Whale Cottage Portfolio WhaleTales blog www.whalecottage.com/blog. To make a nomination for a Sweet Service or a Sour Service Award, please send an e-mail to info@whalecottage.com.






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