Grape Expectations for British Airways’ New Port

British Airways has added Graham’s Six Grapes, the Port favoured by Sir Winston Churchill, to its business class (Club World) drinks menu.

Mr. Churchill looking very relaxed with a glass of Graham's after lunch

Mr. Churchill looking very relaxed with a glass of Graham’s Six Grapes after lunch.

Back then it was known as Graham’s Vintage Character Port and was served to his guests at Chartwell House, his country home. The historic Port has a rich bouquet of ripe plums and cherries and will pair particularly well with the desserts and cheeses on board, in particular the Roasted White Chocolate and Hazelnut Tart and the Cheddar and Camembert with Spiced Mulled Apple Jelly.

Colin Talbot, British Airways’ head of catering, said: “Port is incredibly popular in Club World – last year alone nearly 41,000 bottles were served to our business class customers, so we are delighted to be adding Graham’s Six Grapes to the menu.  At altitude it holds its flavour well, thanks to its good structure and with the long lingering finish, it will wonderfully complement the dessert and cheese selection on flights.”

Additionally, British Airways launched a new restaurant-style premium dining service in Club World, with display trolleys allowing customers to select dishes from a choice of freshly prepared starters and desserts served on beautiful new table settings. The airline also announced a sleep partnership with The White Company and the British retailer will supply bedding and amenity kits in Club World to ensure customers get a good night’s sleep in the sky.

The new style dining and bedding is part of British Airways’ multi-million pound investment plan to benefit its customers, with a focus on excellence in the premium cabins and more choice and quality for all.

Four hundred million pounds will be spent on Club World with an emphasis on improved catering and sleep, as well as a new seat in the future. At Heathrow a First Wing check-in area with direct security and lounge access has launched and lounges around the airline’s network are to be revamped and improved. The Club Europe cabin has also been introduced on UK domestic services and all customers can look forward to the latest generation Wi-Fi across British Airways’ long-haul and short-haul fleets over the next two years.

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Spring at its best

The Hertford, as it’s colloquially called, has impressed us this past weekend with some of the best cuisine and an almost rural feel.

The Hertford Country House and Function Venue, situated just around the corner from Lanseria International Airport, has just launched their spring menu, an array of delicious dishes with choices for diners of any kind. Their fillets were tender and tasty, their halloumi starters were not only generous, but divine and they offered a dessert buffet with some local treats like malva pudding, panacotta and a zesty lemon cheesecake.

For a Sunday lunch, this is the perfect spot. It was a lovely spring day under the trees and guests came streaming in for either the new menu, some additional a la carte options or their impressive tapas and lazily sipped on locally sourced wines like Leapord’s Leap‘s Merlot. Two tame horses checked in every now and again, carefully pruning the mulberry tree that proudly offered shade to visitors with its new spring leaves and birds were chirping happily, echoing my relief for a winter that’s gone by.

Horses enjoying the new spring leaves of the mulberry trees that offer shade to the guests

Horses enjoying the new spring leaves of the mulberry trees that offer shade to the guests

Contact The Hertford for bookings and more information: 084 761 2017 / hotel@hertford.co.za

Hotel Verde

South Africa has many impressive hotels and among them is Hotel Verde. The hotel is situated in Cape Town near the airport and it is South Africa’s greenest Hotel. Hotel Verde has won many prestigious awards and is an inspiration to other South African businesses to go green. Travelling Mystery Guest did a short interview with them to share their story with the hospitality industry.

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“Verde” means green in Italian. Is this where the name, Hotel Verde, originated from? 

It is Mario Delicio, along with his wife Annamarie, who are the owners and directors of Hotel Verde. They are originally from Italy, so this is where the Italian influence comes from, particularly in our restaurant, called Nuovo. It was the Delicio’s daughter, Anika, who came up with the name, Hotel Verde, to pay homage to the family’s Italian heritage and the hotel’s sustainability concepts.

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Hotel Verde opened its doors in 2013 and you have already won a few awards. Was it difficult at the beginning to convince consumers to be more eco-friendly? 

Hotel Verde Cape Town has been designed green – we hold a double LEED platinum certification by the United States Green Building Council, which looks at both design and construction, as well as daily operation and maintenance. A guest’s carbon footprint is reduced simply by staying at our hotel, so it hasn’t been difficult to encourage guests to be Eco-friendly. In most cases the choice to stay with us is already a sustainable decision. If they wish, guests can make their stay even more sustainable by using our energy-generating gym equipment, opting to take the stairs over the elevator, or reusing their bath towels. We also have a guest incentive program that rewards guests for going the extra mile in this way. By making Eco-friendly choices during their stay, guests can earn Verdinos and each Verdino is equivalent to R5, which can be redeemed against purchases at the hotel during their stay.

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Being quite the trendsetter in South-Africa, are you planning to expand? 

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Our parent company, Verde Hotels, offers sustainable hospitality solutions with a turnkey approach. They currently operate within Africa and are developing a resort in Zanzibar, which will open in late 2017. This will be the second hotel under the Verde Hotels brand.

 

 

Was it expensive to start the hotel? Considering all the special equipment that you use?

The green budget of nearly 11% makes it possible that today, Hotel Verde Cape Town can operate the hotel at only 35% of water usage and a 35 % of power usage of a conventional hotel of the same size. It is therefore the best investment in the long term.

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Are you continuously adding new ways to preserve the earth? 

As technology progresses, new and more efficient practices are made possible. We are always on the lookout for improvements at Hotel Verde and continually strive to regularly review daily operations in an effort to go greener. An example would be our approach to the current water crisis in the Cape – we have created additional signage to encourage guests to save water and only refill conferencing water bottles on request, among other implementations. For our brand, the newest example would also be the new Hotel Verde Zanzibar, which in some areas have equipment even more efficient than what was purchased 5 years ago for Hotel Verde Cape Town.

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Who / what was the main inspiration for the start of Verde hotels? 

The Delicio family believes that we all have a responsibility to the planet and should live sustainably; it was this thinking that inspired them to conceptualize not only a hotel, but Africa’s greenest hotel. Each member of the family has had a hand in making Hotel Verde the way we know it today and our staff ensure that our values and sustainable practices work towards staying Africa’s greenest.

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Written by: Alicia Redelinghuys

A special thank you to Taryn Hickson, Marketing and Brand Manager at Hotel Verde, who agreed to the interview.

Die Kruger Nationale Park

Die Kruger Nationale Park is nog altyd ‘n baie gewilde toeriste aantreklikheid – nie net vir buitelanders nie maar ook vir Suid-Afrikaners. Een van Travelling Mystery Guest se mystery guests het onlangs by Satara gebly en ‘n staptoer in die park gedoen. Soos gewoonlik het die wildtuin, met sy verskeidenheid dier- en plantspesies, nie teleurgestel nie.

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CAPE WINELANDS SHOULD BE TARGETING DOMESTIC AFROPOLITANS FOR GREATER GROWTH, SAYS EXPERT

Cape Point

“Cosmopolitan Africans (*Afropolitans) could boost the annual South African economy by more than R2 billion and grow tourism. That is if they are given appealing reasons to travel within the country,” says Jerry Mabena, CEO of Thebe Services that owns the Thebe Tourism Group.

Mabena will be telling delegates just how this can be achieved at the upcoming Business of Wine & Food Tourism Conference, taking place at Spier Wine Estate in Stellenbosch on 20 September.

His various qualifications, including a degree in industrial psychology and economics from Rhodes University, have equipped him well in his integrated, strategic and forward-thinking approach to business. He has held senior executive positions at Telkom, Kagiso Exhibitions and Events, as well as the Thebe Investment Corporation. His career started at Unilever as a graduate trainee.  In his current capacity as CEO of Thebe Services Division, Mabena looks after Thebe Investment Corporation’s stake in organisations such as the Thebe Tourism Group that owns Club Travel, Cape Point Concession and Tour D’Afrique, as well as Kaya FM, the 2017 commercial radio station of the year, also known as the home of the Afropolitan.

Dusk in Paarl

Afropolitans are global in their outlook, straddle the divide between African and Western cultures, and have the disposable income for travel, yet they are largely ignored by the local travel and tourism industry, he contends.

“South African Afropolitans, who are part of the post-Struggle generation, are sophisticated consumers plugged into global trends.  They have the means and appetite for travel and discovery.  As with any other Millennials, they are digitally connected, value experiences over commodities, are knowledgeable about wine and fine dining and are waiting to be targeted.  Why are travel marketers ignoring these high-income earners who could also potentially serve as ambassadors for brand South Africa? Cape Winelands tourism providers should be going out there to find out how to talk to Afropolitans and give them what they want.  And when they get it right, the knock-on effect for the individual rural Winelands economies will be significant.”

The Business of Wine & Food Tourism Conference, now in its second year, is convened by seasoned travel and tourism specialist, Margi Biggs.

Margi Biggs

She says that this year’s forum will include a range of top speakers, in addition to Mabena. Other big names are CEO of SA Tourism, Sisa Ntshona; Don Shindle, an expert in customer service from Napa, California’s renowned wine tourism epicentre; Dr Robin Back, a US-based academic who conducts wine tourism research in both South Africa and the US; as well as world-renowned US lifestyle TV personality, Andrea Robinson, one of only 23 female Master Sommeliers in the world.

Robinson’s address will cover festival sponsorships and themed wine region promotions for Delta Airlines’ Sky Club.

Biggs says delegates will come away with new insights on customer experience and loyalty. The programme will also cover such topics as virtual reality, food chain sustainability, attracting new markets (even within South Africa), and PR trouble shooting.

Biggs believes that travel and tourism can potentially contribute significantly more than it currently does 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.

Trainees and professionals working in the Cape’s wine, food and tourism industries are encouraged to register to attend the conference. A fee of R3 950 (excl. VAT) per delegate will apply, up until 18 August.  Special discount is available for SAACI, SATSA, SITE and Cape Town Tourism members on request to specialt@iafrica.com.

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

* The term, “Afropolitan” was coined in 2005 by author and photographer Taiye Selasie.

 

Social media:

Twitter and Facebook: @winefoodconf

Get out, look up & be amazed

Winter evenings in South Africa can be chilly, but if you spend all your time inside, you’ll miss out on one of winter’s famous attractions – the night sky. The clear, cold winter nights of the Southern Hemisphere often offer perfect conditions for stargazing.

Shaun Pozyn, Head of Marketing for British Airways (operated by Comair) suggests the following places to do some amateur astronomy, as well as other attractions for each:

Stargazing in winter

HOGSBACK

Just over three hours’ drive from Port Elizabeth, this small town in the Amatole mountains of the Eastern Cape often has snow in winter and is frequently misty, but because of its many very clear nights and very few artificial lights, it can offer good stargazing opportunities.

Some visitors say Hogsback reminds them of The Shire in The Lord of the Rings books and movies, and the area is said to have inspired the more idyllic, pastoral parts of JRR Tolkien’s epic works. While you’re no more likely to see short people with hairy feet there than anywhere else, it does have many other attractions.

Mountain-bikers love the trails in the area. There are also hiking-trails to suit any fitness level and local restaurants offer everything from pub-grub to fine dining. See www.hogsbackinfo.co.za

SUTHERLAND

Star-gazing can be very rewarding with just the naked eye and a flask of something to keep you warm, but if you want some technology on your side, you can head to Sutherland, about four hours’ drive from Cape Town. Sutherland is world-famous for its stars and its SALT (Southern African Large Telescope), one of the biggest optical telescopes in the world.

The SAAO (Southern African Astronomical Observatory) has set up several telescopes for visitors, and the Sterland guesthouse, for example, offers telescopes for guests’ use. Day-time attractions in the area include hiking and four-by-four trails. See www.sutherlandinfo.co.za. Sutherland is often one of the coldest places in the country, but that hasn’t stopped a steady flow of visitors going there to stare into the universe and to, appropriately, give the experience 4.5/5 stars on www.tripadvisor.com

NAMIBIA

Away from its towns, Namibia has very little light pollution. The desert climate boasts very few clouds, allowing for excellent stargazing. In fact, alongside Hawaii and Chile, Namibia as among the world’s best places to do so. There are many guided tours and a number of guesthouses have telescopes for guests’ use, like Hakos Guest Farm and Tivoli Southern Sky Guest Farm.

Straddling the border between South Africa and Namibia, the ǀAi-ǀAis/Richtersveld Transfrontier Park has a starkly beautiful mountain-desert landscape and is essentially uninhabited. This means no light pollution, or pollution of any sort, creating ideal conditions for astronomy. Visitors have also found the lack of cell phone coverage liberating. (Also see our post about Digitial Detox). There are plenty of campsites, but you’ll need a four-by-four vehicle to traverse the park. The Orange River has some excellent fly-fishing too.

Travelling Mystery Guest’s Favourite Coffee Shops

Given the nature of our business, we all obviously love coffee shops and restaurants. Travelling Mystery Guest consulted our mystery guests to compile our top 5 favourite coffee shops. We encourage you to visit these lovely places to see for yourself why we love them.

  1. Exclusive Books Hyde Park Corner

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Being a book lover and an old fashioned millennial, this shop offers something special. The book section is surrounded by a coffee shop and in between the shelves there are old couches where people can sit and read. You can buy a book and go and read it whilst enjoying some coffee. It’s a gathering of bookworms and the vibe is very welcoming to anyone who, like our mystery guest, is a book fanatic.

2. Afroboer 

This coffee shop is popular due to various factors; their quality coffee, the delicious cakes and fresh pastries. Our mystery guest especially loves the décor.  The inside of this restaurant is lovely, with high ceilings and wooden floors that creates a beautiful space. Afroboers location is also quite central, making it accessible for all their customers! Be sure to visit this place for a true African-Boer experience!

3. Woolworths at Menlyn Maine  

teapot-598122_1920Though we all are quite accustomed to Woolworths stores, our mystery guest enjoys this particular branch because of their wide variety of teas and their delicious white hot chocolate. Woolworths also has very nice food. Menlyn Maine is still a relatively new shopping centre with a lot of nice shops attracting customers, thus Woolworths is located in the ideal setting.

 

 

 

 

4. Pltfrm at the Pretoria Gautrain Station

This cute little coffee shop is located in Pretoria Central Business District near the Gautrain station. The layout looks very cozy and it’s a café type coffee shop. Pltfrm’s has a lot to offer, including craft beer, wifi, outdoor seating and live entertainment. This café has a rustic look and is perfect for delicious coffee and some yummy food before jumping on the Gautrain. Our other mystery guests are surely going to visit this restuarant!

5. Aroma Coffee in Lynnwood

Aroma

Image credit: www.aromacoffee.co.za

Most students and people living in the Brooklyn and Hatfield areas will be familiar with this coffee shop. Together with its adjacent attraction, the Aroma Gelato store, a dynamic duo is created. With the small street-like café vibe, it’s really cozy and the coffee is delicious. One will definitely be craving ice cream when leaving there, so why not pop in next door and grab a sugar cone! This place is very well suited for a casual gathering of a small group of friends.

Written by: Alicia Redelinghuys