Hello Tuesday – and yes, there is, once again, a chance of rain but we are all busy working and, guess what, tomorrow it will be 18 degrees and the sun will shine at times). Last night there were several shining faces as Cape Minstrels* welcomed suppliers, and hosted buyers from Argentina to USA via Bulgaria and China (and a few crème de la crème media folk) to ‘Journey through the Cape’, organized by indefatigable Tony Romer-Lee at The Cellars-Hohenort, in Constantia. *Every January 2nd, up to 13,000 Cape Minstrels perform at their annual Kaapse Klopse festival.
Hosted by Rélais & Châteaux, the buffet-style evening included interaction with chefs from six Rélais hotels, and their partner wineries. For foodies who want a reminder of what they ate and drank, here is the menu: Heirloom tomatoes six ways, The Cellars-Hohenort’s Peter Templehoff and Gerald van der Walt, paired with Constantia Glen, Sauvignon Blanc 2012 (also wild Mushroom and Rabbit Risotto, with Constantia Glen, Five 2008). Prawn and Paprika Sausage Ravioli, and Shaved Walker Bay Abalone Bisque, Delia Harbottle from The Marine, Hermanus, paired with Waterford Estate Chardonnay 2011 (also Sustainable Kabeljou Carpaccio, with Kevin Arnold Shiraz 2004). Seared Tuna with Nori, Oyster Custard, Veronica Canha-Hibbert, The Ellerman House, Cape Town – owned by Colin Bell’s former business partner Paul Harris - paired with High Constantia wines (also Steamed West Coast Crayfish, with High Constantia, MCC, Clos Andre 2009). Duo of Quail, Floris Smith, Red Carnation’s Bushmans Kloof in Cederberg Mountains (170 miles away), with Bouchard Finlayson Chardonnay Missionvale (also Karoo Rack of Lamb, with Bouchard Finlayson Pinot Noir Galpin Peak). Buffalo Mozzarella and Caramelised Cauliflower, Christiaan Campbell, Delaire Graff, Stellenbosch, with Delaire Graff White Blend 2010 (also Beef tartare, with Delaire Graff Shiraz 2011). Braised Lamb Cheek, Margot Janse, Le Quartier Français, Franschhoek, with Moreson Cabernet France 2010 (and Dalewood Boland cheese, Moreson Fudge 2012).…and then we all came home
Generally, excellent way of finding out about Africa travel is via ATQnews.com, a member of Travel Media Group – which says Senegal is most welcoming country in sub-Sahara. In Nigeria, says former Secretary-General of the African Airlines Association Nick Fadugba, there is an urgent need to license more private jets (apparently even some churches are ordering them). This is the sign of an emerging market, he says, although the powers that be need to check that government money or ill-gotten wealth is not being used • Interestingly, one South Africa-based hotel GM tells Gostelow Report Live that growth in business from Africa, both in numbers and spend, is far higher than from any other part of the world. Commercial business is first into any destination, but leisure is not far behind. Most noticeable are the travellers coming not only from Nigeria but also from Angola, Ghana and Mozambique. Nigerians tend to travel with suitcases of cash and like the biggest and best, say when it comes to size of suite and price of a bottle of Grand Cru. By comparison, the Angolans and Mozambique visitors are somewhat discreet. The most noticeable thing about Ghanaian travellers is that women seem to make all the travel arrangements, onsite decisions and payments.
What should visitors to Africa, with 47 countries in Sub-Sahara alone at their disposal, put on their list? Clem Sunter dismissed, for the time being at least, DRC and Mali. He said first consider a country’s leader, citing both Ghana’s John Dramani Mahama, and South Africa – without mentioning the present incumbent he spoke extremely warmly of his own good friend Cyril Ramaphosa. Is a leadership exclusive? Does it have pockets of excellence (say Kenya’s smartphone technology and Nigeria’s movie business)? What is the level of entrepreneurship? Overall, he said in his brilliant, and incredibly funny presentation – Sun City is Macau with lion – the hard times in the rest of the world will not affect the African Renaissance • Interestingly, Sunter did not include in his ‘great leaders’ list the highly admired Ian Khama. And yet, for Australians, Botswana is top of the list, says Sydney-based Roslyn Hakim, WorldTravel Professionals. They like at least two camps, one dry and one wet, and more are travelling multigenerationally (she is currently handling a party of 13). Botswana is also top for expats in the Far East, says Jose Cortes of the appropriately-named Asia to Africa Safaris, in Hong Kong • Cheli & Peacock, based at Nairobi’s Wilson Airport, are specifically interested in the French, German and UK markets – they have marketing support in each. Kenya-born safari guides Stefano Cheli and Liz Peacock started their company in 1985 and they were operating eco-tourism before the buzzword existed. Tortilis Camp in Amboseli, with its walks, bush breakfasts, sundowners and upmarket gourmet food, was personally designed and built by Stefano; a year after its 1994 opening it won the then-BA Tourism for Tomorrow Award (tourism for tomorrow awards are now run by World Travel & Tourism Council WTTC). Stefano also built Elsa’s Kopje Lodge in Meru National Park, and among its portfolio today is the deliberately-retro eight-tent Elephant Pepper Camp in Masai Mara. As he so forcefully said at yesterday’s Forum, is the safari industry becoming too sophisticated? What has happened to the bucket-showers? In Nairobi itself, by the way, Cheli & Peacock often recommend The Norfolk, managed by Fairmont, and they do suggest visiting nearby ‘wildlife’, at Nairobi National Park, the non-profit Giraffe Centre and the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, where it is possible to ‘adopt’ orphaned elephants and black rhino babies • Talking of bucket-showers, Bekezela Ndlovu Bulawayo, universally known as Beks, says that often it is little things, like bucket-showers, that stand out in retrospect. Now CEO of African Bush Camps, for Beks, luxury remains as it did when he was a hired safari guide – he needs wide, open spaces, as remote as possible. As a professional, of course, he does accept that for others the size of tent and its mod-cons makes a difference.
First-time clients for African Bush Camps, and others, come to Africa thinking it will be a once-in-a-lifetime trip, but they leave longing for their next visit (Beks says his clients’ average is four visits). Interestingly, if they visit more than one country, a considerable challenge is the unpredictable, and often long, lines at borders • Who is best safari guide? Some say Humphrey Gumpo • In Malawi and Zambia, it may well be Robin Pope that safari-enthusiasts need. He moved variously around his homeland Zambia, and neighbouring Zimbabwe, during his youth and read geography and zoology in South Africa. Back in Zambia he worked as a bush ranger, often tracking poachers: his international reputation as a guide grew and he founded Robin Pope Safaris in 1984. The company is now based in Lilongwe, and today it is co-owned with the Netherlands’ leading campsite operator, the Molecaten Group. This year’s annual Carnivore Week, part of the Zambian Carnivore Programme ZCP, starts November 18th. Participants work with ZCP project manager Dr Matt Becker on tracking endangered species, lion identification and prey surveys, plus game drives and/or walking safaris with a Robin Pope Safaris specialist • Ross Kennedy, owner and CEO of Africa Albida Tourism, is showing the Harare-based company’s new baby, Victoria Falls Safari Club. Four miles from the Falls, the 20-room Club, part of Victoria Falls Safari Lodge, includes butler service (plus breakfast, afternoon tea, cocktails and, it seems, light food any time of day).
But Africa is not only safaris. Royal Portfolio’s Simon Mandy says Birkenhead, 90 minutes’ drive from Cape Town, is an ocean theatre (a phrase coined by an annual Irish visitor). Where else in the world are you guaranteed to see, May through December, the marine Big Five, dolphins, penguins, seals, sharks and whales? The Royal Portfolio is owned by investment banker Phil Biden and his wife Liz and it is very much a family business. At divine 11-room La Residence & Villas in the Vineyard in Franschhoek, the five additional letting villas have art by their son-in-law and, as throughout the Portfolio, interior design is mostly Liz. Sir Elton John comes every year, and aficionados of this beauty, in 30 acres surrounded by vineyards, include Adrian Brody and Ivanka Trump, and for a Chinese buy-out a Mandarin translator miraculously appeared… • What do luxury Chinese travellers want? Some say access to congee and green tea, but Seoul-based TideSquare’s David Chai, who is Malay-Chinese, disagreed. They want local products, he says (and his Korean clients are currently daunted by language problems when it comes to thinking Africa).
Luxury travel must integrate with local communities, urged Colin Bell. Following a tactic of a smaller number of visitors paying more might be undemocratic but it involves local people who then understand the essential need of conservancy. Tour operators are a key to making sure that travellers only spend with suppliers who are aware of community involvement rather than those who may, possibly, be money-laundering • Interestingly, one of Uhuru Kenyatta’s first acts after declaring win in Kenya’s Presidential elections a month ago was to announce, yesterday, that the government would sell long-held stakes in Nairobi’s iconic Hilton and InterContinental hotels • Karl Ammann is well-known for his long Africa career at InterContinental Hotels. Thanks to friendship with the late George Harrison’s manager he got some of 700 beachfront acres on Mahe Island, Seychelles, that the Beatle co-owned with Peter Sellers. Amman built the stunning three-bedroom Residence on the Rocks, and the rest became Banyan Tree Seychelles • Talking of luscious lodging, Simone Scarapicchia is presenting his family’s 100-key Hideaway of Nungwi Resort & Spa, Zanzibar, opening April 30th, 2013 - the three-bedroom 3,300 sq ft Presidential Villa has its own 33x16 ft private pool: hotel GM is Vincenzo Carta.
Next year’s ILTM Africa will soon be finalised – www.iltm.net/africa. ILTM Luxury Portfolio Exhibition Director Alison Gilmore is delighted with the way 2013 is going (it would have been easily possible to double in size, both numbers of suppliers and hosted buyers). In 2014, as yet the only definite is that there will be at least one female Forum participant • Gosh, there is so much to look forward to here in Cape Town 2014. Who knows who is this year’s World Design Capital? (Answer: Oslo). And which is the 2014 World Design Capital? (Answer: CAPE TOWN). The successful pitch for this allocation was led by Ravi Naidoo, the charismatic and highly articulate MD of Cape Town-based Interactive Africa media and marketing. His many achievements also include managing the first African into space (entrepreneur Mark Shuttleworth, mentioned in Clem Sunter’s speech), managing the 2010 Football World Cup, and starting Cape Town’s significant annual Design Indaba gathering at the end of every March. Yes, South Africa is bipolar, first and third world, he says, but look how both worlds can be blended - initiation body painting has inspired Port Elizabeth designer Laduma Ngxokolo’s best-selling mohair sweaters, for instance. Cape Town is centre of South Africa’s movie industry – Zulu, starring Orlando Bloom and Forest Whitaker, will be out shortly, and Whitaker is now helping with a social housing redevelopment scheme at Hout Bay • As Western Cape Government’s Minister of Finance, Economic Development and Trade, Alan Winde, said yesterday, think also of Cape Town’s natural assets – Table Mountain alone sees 2.5 million visitors a year and Cape Town’s new cruise terminal will bring yet more visits, but oh dear, more airlift from North America is sorely needed, and South African Airways should restore direct flights to London Heathrow, and Virgin must become year-round.
Gostelow Report Live ends with a great concept of community awareness. Wimpy South Africa wanted to let blind people know their signage is now in Braille. What did owners Famous Brands Limited do? With their help of their PR company they baked hamburger buns with seeded messages on top – in Braille. This led to 800,000 online hits within a week, thus meeting Sunter’s requirements of entrepreneurship and excellence.