A Whale of a Trail Run at De Hoop

This is trail running at its best!  

The Whale of a Trail Run at De Hoop, along the Southern Cape coast, takes place this year on Saturday 29 July 2017.

De hoop - Koppie Alleen beach (Custom)

Koppie Alleen Beach 

A mere three hour’s drive from Cape Town along the Southern Cape coast, close to Cape Agulhas, the route takes runners on a 53km journey from the Potberg mountains to Koppie Alleen in the De Hoop Nature Reserve. The first 26km winds through fynbos-covered mountains with spectacular views of the Breede River Valley and then descends to the enchanting Noetsie Bay, turning west and winding along the rocky shores of the Indian Ocean, with a mix of sandy beach and coasteering trails.

De hoop - opstal area yellow flowers (Custom)

De Hoop Opstal 

De Hoop Collection is proud to host the 2017 Merrell Whale of Trail; organised by the Mountain Runner Events, the Merrell Whale of Trail route attracts the kind of participants that enjoy the challenge of a tough trail, as well as the contemplation and solitude that a mountain trail gives; people who genuinely, simply, love being out there – the true adventurers.

Limited to just 175 athletes – the prescribed limit set by Cape Nature since they do not want to put too much pressure on the iconic De Hoop Nature Reserve coastal trail – the Merrell Whale of Trail is “a small race with a big heart”, says Mountain Runner Events organiser Graham Bird, “and one that is a a must-do for anyone who has already tackled the more conventional runs out there. Participants experience a 53km route that is a veritable smorgasbord of mountain and seaside delights – undulating rocky ridges, steep climbs, relentless sandy beaches and flowing fynbos paths and the whales, of course”. 

drone photo 1 (edit)

Drone photo 

Bang in the middle of the whale season, runners can be excused for thinking they are being chaperoned by the Whales, as scores of the annual migratory Southern Right Whales breach the water, spy hopping and waving their fins at the passers-by; every year from around June the Southern Right whales leave their icy feeding grounds in Antarctica and head for African shores, particularly favouring the De Hoop marine reserve in the Western Cape. The 71 km stretch of coastline ranks as the most important nursery area for Right whales worldwide, where they give birth, nurture their calves and engage in mating and social behavior.

Photo - whale mom (with orphan and calf) 2 edit

Whale mother with orphan and calf

Entries: whaleoftrail.co.za and for further information go to www.whaleoftrail.co.za

Book your accommodation at De Hoop now for the Whale of Trail Race Weekend from 28 July to 30 July.

Take advantage of the special winter rates valid until 27 July 2017 and be part of the De Hoop Collection’s 10th Anniversary Year celebrations – you can book a de Hoop Village for as little as R250 per person* for up to six people (*R1 500 per cottage (normal rate R4 770)!

This special is only valid for new bookings made for the period 1 May 2017 to 27 July 2017 and applies to the De Hoop Village units only.  The Village units sleep six guests and consist of 1x double room, 1x twin room, 1x room with bunk beds, a lounge, a fully equipped Kitchen and dining room, bathroom with shower and an outside barbeque/braai area; perfect for the whole family during the school holidays.

Phone 021-422 4522 or email res@dehoopcollection.co.za

 

 

5 Impressive buildings in the world

Whether buildings are designed for an amazing purpose or if the architectural skills displayed are amazing, buildings can be quite fascinating. Some are very old, which makes it even more impressive and some display new age designs; either way, some of them seem too good to be true! Travelling Mystery Guest takes a look at some of the most impressive buildings in the world.

1.Guggenheim Museum 

museum-2338253_1920
This building opened in 1997 as a cooperative venture between the Guggenheim Foundation and the Basque Regional Administration of North-Western Spain. The museum was designed by Frank O. Gehry and consists of interconnected buildings, presenting a very abstract structure. The interior space, organized around a large atrium, is mainly devoted to modern and contemporary art, particularly massive sculptures.

2.Doge’s Palace

venice-2206788_1920

The Doge’s Palace in Venice mainly consists of a marble structure and it is huge! This is absolutely a Gothic masterpiece. It is structured in a magnificent formation of constructive and ornamental elements, consisting of three large blocks that incorporate previous constructions: The wing toward the Bacino San Marco (which contains the Hall of Great Council), which is the oldest and was rebuilt in 1340; the wing towards the Piazza (former courthouse) with the Ballot Hall, which was built in its present form from 1424 and on the other side, the Renaissance wing, with the Doge’s residence and many government offices, which was rebuilt between 1483 and 1565.

3.Geisel Library – University of California

geisel-library-174106_1920

In 1995, this library was renamed Geisel Library in honour of Audrey and Theodor Geisel for the generous contributions they have made to the library and their devotion to improving literacy. You may know Theodor Geisel better as Dr. Seuss. After being renamed, the building’s design actually makes more sense. We could imagine one of Dr. Seuss’s stories coming to life in a building like this.

4. Ribbon Chapel 

Ribbon Chapel

Image credit: www.archdaily.com

This wedding chapel stands in a garden of a resort hotel, “Bella Vista Sakaigahama,” in Onomichi, Hiroshima. It took us a while to figure out how this building works. This would definitely be one of the more modern designs and we can only imagine the beautiful wedding pictures one can take here. The design is made up of two spiraling staircases that support one another and this creates a lot of free space.

5. Hotel Verde

Hotel Verde

Image Credit: www.hotelverde.com

 

Said to be South Africa’s greenest building, Hotel Verde is impressive in the way it cares for the environment. The hotel was awarded the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Platinum Green Building Certification by USGBC. When staying here, there is no need to feel guilty about your carbon footprint. This building inspires all to live more cautiously with our resources.

Written by: Alicia Redelinghuys

Early Bird catches the Worm

The initial registration period for The Business of Wine and Food Tourism Conference, taking place at Spier in Stellenbosch on 20 September, ends on Monday, 12 June.

Trainees and professionals working in the Cape’s wine, food and tourism industries are encouraged to register now to take advantage of the preferential ‘early bird’ rate of R2 950 (excl. VAT) per delegate. After 12 June, a standard fee of R3 950 (excl. VAT) per delegate will apply, up until 18 August.  Those registering after 18 August will need to pay R4 500 (excl. VAT) per head.

The annual conference, now in its second year, is convened by seasoned travel and tourism specialist, Margi Biggs. She says that this year’s edition of the forum would be presented by a selection of international and local tourism specialists, such as CEO of SA Tourism, Sisa Ntshona; Don Shindle, an expert in customer service and GM of the Westin Verasa Napa in California’s renowned wine tourism epicentre; world-renowned TV personality, Andrea Robinson, one of only 23 female master sommeliers in the world; as well as Dr. Robin Back, a South African-born, US-based academic who conducts wine tourism research in both South Africa and the US.

The overall focus of the conference would be on best practice and how to improve the customer experience to build customer loyalty. The programme will also cover topics like virtual reality, attracting new markets (even within South Africa), and PR trouble shooting.

Biggs contends that, if done right, travel and tourism can contribute even further to South Africa’s national GDP.  The World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) has calculated that last year, the direct contribution of the travel and tourism sector to the South African economy was worth R127,9bn, accounting for 3% of the country’s GDP.

For more information on the conference, or to register online, visit www.wineandfood.co.za.

Tourist Perceptions on Elephant-back Safaris

Elephants

We recently attended the launch of Camp Jabulani‘s new interactive, evolved elephant experience with a very strong conservation ethos. Adine Roode, owner and CEO of Camp Jabulani says that the decision was prompted by increasing international opposition against elephant-back safaris, because of the abusive way in which some operators train their elephants.

We would like to know your thoughts on elephant-back safaris. Are you for or against it?

Top factors influencing consumer behaviour

Most people who own an establishment already know what influences their customers’ behaviour, but handling your customers according to their specific behaviours can be tricky sometimes. Travelling Mystery Guest explores these factors to guide establishments on how to deal with consumers.  According to previous studies, there are four main factors that influence customer behaviour:

  1. Cultural Factors
    indian-1119222_1920

    Culture

    These include Culture and Societal Environments, Sub-cultures, Social Classes and Cultural Trends. A manager should be aware of his customers’ backgrounds; there will always be ways to determine this. Whether they are well-known at your establishment or whether you ask them about special requirements during the booking process, where your customers come from, determines what they expect.

    It’s a good idea for managers to do research on different types of cultures and what they prefer, what impresses and what offends them. Your entire establishment doesn’t have to evolve around one individual who is from another culture, but making them feel comfortable will make them return. In terms of social classes, this can be very easily determined. People from a higher social class will very likely show this upon arrival or through any form of communication. Show them that they are very important to you, because customers always are.

  2. Social Factors
    family-591579_1920

    Family

    These factors include Reference Groups, Family, Social Roles and Status. At a restaurant, for instance, the father or the head of the family would most likely place his children’s order or order wine for the family and he is also most likely the person who is going to pay the bill. They are already accustomed to the role of being the leader, so best treat them the same way when they are visiting your establishment.

    It’s also very different to cater for a family and people with no kids. Their needs are extremely different and the two groups can easily get irritated with one another. In a restaurant, try and keep your kids’ playing areas separate and place the families close to them. If you provide accommodation, be child friendly, but have strict rules applicable to families with children. Whether a child gets hurt at your establishment or whether there are complaints about a child, both can do a lot of damage to your brand’s reputation.

  3. Personal Factors
    children-704450_1920

    Age

    This includes Age, Purchasing Power and Revenue, Lifestyle and Personality. The easiest to focus on would be age. There are physical aspects to consider in order to make your establishment age-friendly. Elderly people require easy access to your establishment and staff to accommodate them with certain things. Other people also see how you treat different age groups and this can be very beneficial towards your establishment’s brand image. Remember to show your management’s and staff’s values.

  4. Psychological Factors
    phone-1052023_1920

    Learning

    This includes Motivation, Perception, Learning, Beliefs and Attitudes. These are often factors that you attract to your own establishment. If you advertise towards a specific target market, their motivation would be your efforts. Their perception would be the standards that you set through your marketing efforts. A customer’s level of education can also be easy to predict, for instance, if you advertise on a social media platform like LinkedIn, you assume your customer is educated with a profile on this social media platform.

    If you experience bad customer behaviour because of psychological factors, the fault is most likely due to your efforts. By not delivering what you promised or by attracting a customer type you didn’t intentionally want, a bad experience on both sides might be the consequence. Focus on your marketing to attract who you aimed for and work hard to deliver what you promised.

    In the world of customer service, there are endless problems and solutions, but by dividing the factors influencing them and already having procedures in place to handle them, life might just be a little easier.

Written by: Alicia Redelinghuys 

Discover Natural Beauty on the De Hoop Trail

Very few places in the world can boast of the breathtaking diversity and stunning natural beauty that De Hoop, the Jewel of the Cape, offers.  Nature lovers can experience this stunning, pristine environment by walking the De Hoop Trail, a stimulating and inspiring exploration of both the De Hoop Vlei and the magnificent De Hoop Coastal Reserve.De Hoop

The De Hoop Coastal Reserve has a variety of values:

  • It is a magnificent outdoor ‘classroom’, offering spectacular viewing opportunities.
  • It houses undisturbed archaeological sites of great significance and the well-preserved architectural historical homesteads at De Hoop, Melkkamer and Potberg, allows you to experience a bygone era from a cultural-historical perspective.
  • The Vlei is a 19 km long, highly productive ecosystem – it is a Ramsar site of international ecological importance, where water fowl and other organisms breed and feed undisturbed. It is here that many of the 260 bird species which occur at De Hoop can be seen.
  • Its diversity of 1 500 plant species is amongst the highest in the Cape Floristic Region. It’s an absolute privilege for discerning visitors to walk between rare fynbos vegetation and view the rare flowering plants from up close.

Guests on the trail are accommodated in the Opstal Suites or in the Opstal Manor House.  Another accommodation option is on the western bank of the De Hoop Vlei, where there is a remote area known as the Melkkamer. This was originally the centre of the farm, ‘The Hope’.  The Melkkamer Manor House was built in 1907 and has both Neo-Cape as well as Edwardian and Art Nouveau features and is the epitome of stylish elegance, with tall chimneys, spacious verandas and high ceilings. 

Melkkamer, De Hoop

Trail ‘must-knows’:

  • A maximum of 12 people, aged 12 and older, may participate (children younger than 12 will be accommodated by prior arrangement if the entire trail is booked by a single group).
  • A reasonable level of fitness is required. The walk can be long and sometimes uneven, especially on the coastal rocks, but the walking pace is leisurely and focuses on being an interpretive experience of the natural environment.
  • The Trail incorporates birding, game viewing, learning about the fascinating fynbos and incredible marine experiences along the unspoiled shores of De Hoop, learning about life in the inter-tidal zone.

The three-night trail is a fully catered luxury trail with two days spent with a private guide to accompany you on special guided activities.

The Rate:

R7 900 per person sharing. This includes accommodation, internal reserve transfers, all scheduled meals, hot/cold teas, bottled water, coffees and juices but excludes cool drinks and alcoholic beverages.  Minimum six guests.

*De Hoop Collection Terms and Booking conditions apply. The general rules and regulations of Cape Nature and De Hoop Nature Reserve will apply and indemnity documents will be completed before participating.

Phone 021-422 4522 or email res@dehoopcollection.co.za

www.dehoopcollection.com

8 Best Autumn Destinations

Autumn is a season of beautiful scenery, lovely weather (for the most part) and stunning photography. We’ve made a list of the top 8 autumn destinations across the globe, which are definitely worth a visit:

Autumn

Gruyere Cheese FactoryGruyère, Switzerland

Autumn is the ideal time for hiking in Switzerland, with all the summer crowds gone and the scenery changing hues. The Chemin du Gruyère is a 3-hour trail between a chocolate factory and the popular Gruyère cheese-making centre. Definitely something to put on your bucket list!

Wester Ross, Scotland

If you enjoy autumn for its delights of mushroom foraging, Wester Ross is the place to be! That and their smoked salmon and squat lobster will have you want to prolong your stay.

 

Paso Robles, California, USA

This is a lesser known wine region, almost the same distance from LA than from San Fransisco, with beautiful autumn views among rolling hills. You’ll find Petite Syrah around every corner – the perfect autumn experience further down the Californian Coast.

The Winelands, South AfricaAutumn Vineyards

The Cape Winelands turn into the most remarkable pallet of colours in autumn, inviting domestic and international visitors to enjoy this lovely season among thousands of hectares of vineyards. Tulbagh, Stellenbosch, Paarl and many other areas boast some of the most magnificent views – a must see for any traveller fond of fine weather and wine.

Snowdonia, Wales

Even though you might have to bring your raincoat, long, chilly walks in these mountains are something out of this world. The perks of these hikes come in the form of stunning views and post-hike pub experiences in front of open fires.

Snowdonia, Wales

 

The Cotswolds, England

Explore the picturesque Cotswold Way by foot in this lovely, yet cool and cloudy weather and treat yourself to some cream tea in some of England’s most beautiful, historic villages.

Underberg, South Africa

With its tree lined streets, Drakensberg views and oak trees leading the way to Himeville, the gateway to Sani Pass, this village is a must visit destination in South Africa.

Clarens, South Africa

Clarens is a small town in the foothills of the Maluti Mountains, nicknamed the Jewel of the Eastern Freestate. Its poplar trees and sandstone cliffs boast the most beautiful autumn imagery, combined with lovely restaurants and art galleries.