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.

 

Bottelary Hills Pop Up Lunches pay homage to heritage fare

Chef George Jardine to enthral with traditional tastes and champion wines

28 May, 27 August & 19 November

BHWL feasting LR

Bottelary Hills Feasting

Discover what makes fine country food and slow-crafted wine so special when you book a seat at this year’s trio of Pop Up Lunches featuring the Stellenbosch wine route of Bottelary Hills and celebrated, Scotland-born chef George Jardine.

The must-do winery lunch series has grown to become a feature on the calendar of food and wine-lovers who can’t miss this annual taste exploration showcasing different farms and wines of the region each year. Stepping up the attraction, a headline chef is part of the mix too.

George Jardine with knife LR

Chef George Jardine

On the heels of Bertus Basson’s participation in 2016, comes celebrated chef George Jardine whose stellar career includes a string of successful restaurants and his most recent project – the fine dining eatery in the heart of Stellenbosch, Restaurant Jardine.

For the Bottelary Hills Pop Up Lunches 2017, Jardine will present his signature foodie pizzazz at Hartenberg Wine Estate on 28 May; Kaapzicht Wine Estate on 27 August; and, Mooiplaas Wine Estate and Private Nature Reserve on 19 November. At the same time, guests will have the chance to socialise with the winemakers or owners themselves.

 

The theme of the menu and events will serve to highlight the deep historical roots of the region and farms of Bottelary Hills.

Known for producing champion wines, Bottelary Hills is one of five sub-routes in the Stellenbosch wine region and is situated to the northwest of South Africa’s famous wine capital.

Bottelary Hills is home to some of the oldest wine farms in the country and many of them have been nurtured over generations by the same families. As a result, they have an incomparable understanding of the terroir, which shows in the wines the region produces,” says Stellenbosch Wine Routes manager Elmarie Rabe.

“Then pairing these wines with the cooking of one of South Africa’s most acclaimed chefs is an opportunity no epicurean dare miss.”

BHWL food service LR

Bottelary Hills Dining

For the lunch at Hartenberg Estate on 28 May, guests will get insight to heritage stretching back to 1692. Hartenberg lies in a valley on the free-draining, north-eastern slopes of the Bottelary Hills where its vineyards were planted to take most advantage of either morning or afternoon sun. There is a difference in altitude of some 250m between the vineyards, providing sought-after diversity to its portfolio. At the hand of renowned cellar master Carl Schultz, the estate has become known especially for is outstanding Shiraz wine.

On 27 August, it’s the turn of Kaapzicht Wine Estate. The name is derived from Dutch and refers to the sweeping views of hills and Table Mountain the estate enjoys. The Steytler family has farmed the 190ha property since 1946 and specialises predominantly in red cultivars. Kaapzicht’s unirrigated vineyards thrive in ancient, weathered granite soils and are cooled by breezes from the Atlantic Ocean just 30km away – ideal conditions that produce full bodied, fruity and award-winning wines.

The final Pop Up Lunch on 19 November features Mooiplaas, which has a reputation for spectacular scenery almost equal to the elegance of its wines. Here too, is a farm built on heritage, care for the land and topographical contrast that results in diverse microclimates. Cape Granite is the foundation material of the soils on the estate, which comprises some 100ha of vineyard and 70ha reserved for its nature reserve.

Tickets to the Bottelary Hills Pop Up Lunches cost R550 per person and include a wine tasting prior to lunch and the ensuing three-course feast, served generously with glasses of estate wine paired with each course. Each guest also gets a bottle Bottelary Hills wine to enjoy at home too.

Booking for every one of the popular events is required as the tickets are limited. To make a reservation or see a map of Bottelary Hills, visit the Stellenbosch Wine Routes website. For more information phone (021) 886 8275.

Get social and share your experience with Stellenbosch Wine Routes on Twitter @StellWineRoute and Facebook.

Wine and Food Conference to show how to grow Loyalty and Revenue for Cape Tourism

 

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 R127,9 billion, accounting for 3% of the country’s GDP.

Margi Biggs

Commenting on the WTTC findings presented in its recent 2017 Economic Impact Report, Margi Biggs, convenor of the upcoming The Business of Food and Wine Tourism Conference, set to take place in Stellenbosch in the spring, said:

“The good news is that the council has projected the sector’s contribution to domestic GDP will rise by 2,7% in 2017, a very welcome increase given the subdued state of our local economy.”

A seasoned travel and tourism specialist, Biggs contends that travel and tourism can contribute still further to the national GDP, “provided we, as an industry, take note of new trends in consumer spending, behaviour and priorities to make our food and tourism offerings more compelling and more competitive, while upping the standard of our execution and service delivery.”

“If we get it right, the impact will be substantial.  It will help to build skills, create economic opportunities and reduce unemployment, generating greater prosperity for more South Africans.  We have all the right ingredients: beautiful locations, a growing reputation for world-class food and wines, and friendly and welcoming hospitality staff.  We just have to finesse what we are doing with the technology and research we now have at our disposal, while applying new thinking to marketing and problem-solving.”

 

She said the annual conference, now in its second year, would be presented by a selection of international and local tourism specialists and would focus on best practice and how to improve the customer experience. An important feature of the forum would be the various ways in which wine and food impact customer loyalty.

“There is a growing view internationally that customer experience will ultimately drive more loyalty than complicated point-based programmes and schemes. We need to take note.”

Amongst this year’s keynote speakers is CEO of SA Tourism, Sisa Ntshona. His address will explore how the food and wine experience can promote South Africa’s competitive advantage as a tourist destination. Included in the line-up of international speakers are Don Shindle, an expert in customer service and GM of the Westin Verasa Napa in California’s renowned wine tourism epicenter. World-renowned TV personality, Andrea Robinson, one of only 23 female master sommeliers in the world will also be there. Dr Robin Back, a South African-born, US-based academic who conducts wine tourism research in both South Africa and the US will be looking specifically at the impact on loyalty of cellar door visits. The programme will also cover such topics as virtual reality, attracting new markets, and PR trouble shooting.

The conference takes place at Spier on Wednesday, 20 September.

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

Early Bird registration is now open at a fee of R2 950 (excl. VAT) per delegate, and ends on 12 June. The standard cost per delegate is R3 950 (excl. VAT), and ends on 18 August.  If you register and pay after 18 August, the cost rises to R4 500 (excl. VAT) per person.

Why you need to respond to your customer’s feedback

It’s never fun reading bad reviews about your own establishment, but responding to them quickly and in the correct manner can save your establishment’s image. To react to good feedback also makes your customer feel as if you are taking personal interest in them. Whether good or bad, your customer wants to know their feedback is recognised. Travelling Mystery Guest takes a look at why this is important:

Laptop

  1. To avoid future complaints

Customers always name the specific thing that made them unhappy during their previous encounter. Take notice of this, because if this is a problem to one customer, it might be a problem to others as well. To respond to your customer and to take action on what they complained about, can eliminate similar complaints in the future. Also, when a customer is considering a place to stay or dine by looking at online reviews and they notice that complaints are being repeated, it’s clear to them that the establishment is not attentive to complaints.

  1. To build loyalty with your customers

It is really rewarding when a customer is satisfied, especially when they made the effort to write a good review. This is something that prospective customers notice, which means your loyal customers promotes your business for you. Why not thank them? It’s minimal effort and this may result in a long-term relationship with your customer. This will actually have a “seal the deal” effect: You’ve already satisfied your customer and now you are just taking the final steps to ensure that they return.

  1. To avoid bad word of mouth

Too many times have customers taken the time to complain on some sort of platform only to be ignored by the establishment.  With people on social media being quite ruthless, a bad review can snowball into a conversation that can do a lot of damage to your establishment’s image. Even if it is a fussy customer who complains about everything, Shep Hyken says: “The customer may not always be right, but they are always the customer. So, let the customer be wrong with dignity and respect.” It’s not always easy, but this is what we deal with in the hospitality industry.

  1. Essential to improve

It’s always a good idea to initiate customer feedback. If you are planning on making some changes or improvements in your establishment, why not ask your customers’ opinion? You are, in fact, implementing these changes to satisfy your customer. Post a questionnaire online and ask willing customers to give you their feedback. This will decrease the risk of wasting money on things your customers do not need, because you’re working with the feedback that your current, or even potential customers have given you.

  1. It’s a way to check up on your employees

As a manager, you might not always be present on site, due to numerous responsibilities. If you are dealing with a customer complaint, find out what the exact time of their visit was and verify the situation with your employees. Always apologise to your customer. You might not always believe that their specific problem could occur at your establishment, but try to see the complaint as an opportunity to ensure that the problem is resolved and that it doesn’t happen again.

Written by: Alicia Redelinghuys

Top 5 Reasons to attend the next World Travel Market

Travelling Mystery Guest recently attended the World Travel Market at the CTICC in Cape Town. Here are our top 5 reasons for attending the next one:

  1. Meeting up with friends from the industry. In an industry that revolves around interaction with people, meeting up with old friends from the industry is one of the biggest gifts! In addition to the blessing of having friends in the industry, they also know other friends in the industry that they can introduce you to and visa versa. That brings us to the next reason for attending:
  2. Networking. These types of events are always ideal for making new contacts, creating leads and strengthening relationships. The Tourism and Hospitality Industry is one of those industries where it is best to meet your clients face to face. We like the human-to-human interaction – that’s why we do what we do. This also makes it easier to contact potential clients afterwards.
  3. Seeing what’s out there. Whether it is new opportunities, huge, scary competition or possibilities for collaboration, you get to see what is out there and you are given the opportunity to talk to different people face to face.
  4. A pool of people to tap into. Tourism and Hospitality professionals from all over the world attend this event and this provides you with a golden opportunity to tap into this pool of professionals if you play your cards right.
  5. Never too old to learn. In an ever changing environment, we all struggle to keep track with the latest technology, trends and tactics. The World Travel Market hosts numerous talks on a variety of subjects and you can sit in and take in as much as you like. We especially enjoyed the talk on the current state of travel blogs, hosted by Keith Jenkins, from Velvet Escape Travel Blog and iAmbassador.

So, be sure to save up for the next World Travel Market – it definitely is worth your travels and your time.

Written by: Renate Engelbrecht

Anywhere is an adventure

Some people are born with wanderlust and they will explore all the places on this beautiful earth before a single grey hair appears on their head.  Other people are afraid to take the risk of experiencing the unknown abroad. Being any one of these two people is perfectly fine. Adventure can be found anywhere. Travelling Mystery Guest assists hotels, lodges, guesthouses and even restaurants to identify the type of people to attract.

Adventure is defined as an unusual and exciting or daring experience. But a customer doesn’t always have to go to the ends of the earth to awaken the joy of discovering the unknown. Something new and interesting can be found right around the corner of where they are. Taking only South Africa into consideration, the Northern Cape and the Western Cape lies right next to each other on a map but they present a traveller with two different worlds.

There is not a place on this planet not worth exploring. Every new destination they visit and everything you do for your customer can change them. People get caught up in work and routine and sometimes they forget to look up and enjoy their surroundings. Unexpected places and people can provide us with a new experience.

The cultures of the world can now be found almost everywhere. Different restaurants provide entirely unique experiences. Guests tend to create bucket lists of things they would like to do and see. Destinations must find ways to become one of the top 10 attractions customers want to experience. Identify methods through which your destination can offer customers trendy food experiences or exciting events that they would like to add to their calendars.

Set up a list of local places and visit a different one each month. Join events that are presented in your location, especially if it is something you wouldn’t normally do, like going to acoustic music concert or a book reading, to learn what your guests will be experiencing when visiting there.

There is a certain magic that happens when the earth awakens. Getting up early and watching the sun rise holds the promise of a new day. Guide your guests to put on their adventure goggles and break your routine. Encourage them to eat ice cream for lunch just because they can. Do something out of the ordinary to make yourself also realize there’s more to life than just living.

Customers  don’t need a reason to go anywhere. You need to create the need. Be the one thing they need to see before they head back to their home. Create memories that will make them want to come back.