Welcome to the 3rd edition of the NEW Curious Curator. We hope you’re all enjoying the start of the festive season and are looking forward to a rest before the January/February peak! We hope you find the below insightful and useful.
BOOKINGS OF THE MONTH:
We saw some fabulous bookings last month, so it was a tough decision to pick one which stood out amongst the rest. So, the bookings which we are rewarding are:
Highest value booking overall goes to Dan Boniwell from Trailfinders in Exeter – an itinerary for 14 days for 4 pax, incorporating Kwandwe Ecca Lodge, The Plettenberg Hotel, Le Quartier Francais and The Cape Grace.
Highest value booking from DNATA in the last 3 months goes to Layla Macowan from the Travel 2 Simply Luxury team – an itinerary for 10 nights for 6 pax, incorporating The Blue Train.
Longest duration including 4 provinces (Western Cape, Mpumalanga, Gauteng & KZN) goes to Richard Swinburne from Trailfinders, London – an itinerary for 30 days for 2 pax, incorporating some fabulous properties including Belmond Mount Nelson, Thornybush Simbambilli Lodge, Four Seasons Westcliff, The Plettenberg Hotel and The Marine.
PHOTO COMPETITION WINNER:
We’re delighted to announce that Ian Godfrey (Team Leader at Trailfinders in Manchester) is the winner of our photo competition from Edition #1 of our Curious Curator. His winning picture (Natures Valley Beach on the Western Cape, South Africa) is on the cover of this month’s edition. Stunning!
AN INTERVIEW WITH SIMON – OUR VP SALES & MARKETING IN THE USA:
Q1.) How did you become a member of the followme2 family?
I had lived in Europe (Dublin, specifically) for 7 years and decided enough was enough and wanted to come home. My sister managed to get me an interview at followme2 (then ECCO Tours) way back in 2007. I think working in Travel and Tourism was something I was always destined to do and who better to be doing it with than followme2AFRICA.
Q2.) How did you end up in America?
After numerous Sales Trips to the USA in 2014, I was offered the opportunity to head up the North American sales office in Florida. The rest is history, but I’m always extremely grateful and I’m loving my experience in the US.
Q3.) What is your favourite thing to do in Southern Africa?
I am all about Braaiing (BBQ) and anything outdoors. South Africa and Cape Town especially is a great place to be if you are an active person. Throw in a few beers and some of the best wine in the world and I’ll be just fine.
Q4.) What would you always suggest a client includes in their itinerary?
As long as they are coming to Africa, everything will be a highlight!
Q5.) What’s the most rewarding aspect of your job?
I think hearing back from our Agents re how much their clients LOVED Africa, and we have played a significant part in that, that’s most rewarding to me.
Tony visits an old favourite restaurant in Cape Town and enjoys a superb tasting menu www.followme2africa.com/inspired/old-favourite-cape-town/
The Harbour House Hotel and Apartments – The Harbour House Hotel and Apartments, Hermanus have been split on our system into two properties. These are now Harbour House Hermanus Hotel and Apartments and Harbour Square Hermanus Apartments. Harbour Square Hermanus Apartments are located just opposite the road from Harbour House Hermanus Hotel and Apartments. The reason for the split is to ensure families travelling together do not get split across the 2 buildings, as the rooms fall under the same category. All facilities and check in details remain the same. Breakfast and lunch is served at Harbour House Hotel, as well as check in etc.
Newmark Hotels expand in Cape Town – During high season it often proves a challenge to secure rooms in Cape Town (despite our large allocation and real time availability), so we’re delighted to welcome another fantastic addition to the portfolio. The Onyx will open its doors at the end of next year and will offer 120 hotel apartments in the city’s Foreshore precinct. Promising an avant-garde, leading edge hotel within walking distance to the Cape Town International Convention Centre, you’ll also be able to enjoy the following facilities; Choice of 1 & 2 bedroom apartments / Free daily shuttles from The Onyx to the Victoria & Alfred Hotel in the V&A Waterfront / Concierge services / An entertainment deck with a unique indoor & outdoor pool, bar, gym and day spa / Uninterrupted, panoramic views of Table Mountain, the City Centre, the Foreshore district and Cape Town’s harbour.
NEW – Apartments in Mauritius – We’ve just started working with some fabulous apartments in Mauritius which are ideal for the more independent traveller and for families looking for a home away from home. And of course Mauritius makes a fabulous combination with a South African itinerary, due to the proximity. If you would like more information, please drop our product team a line firstname.lastname@example.org who will provide details and prices. You’ll shortly be able to book them online too!
Amakhala Bush Lodge – will be closed for renovations and upgrades over the period 01 June 2018- 31 July 2018 and will reopen on 01 August 2018.
WATER SHORTAGES IN THE WESTERN CAPE:
As we enter the summer season, we ask you to kindly remind all clients travelling to South Africa that Cape Town and the greater Western Cape are still battling with drought conditions.
Hotels and other properties have implemented their own water saving initiatives (they vary from property to property) to which clients will be advised upon check in, and there are also notices around the hotel advising of the water restrictions and measures of how to save water, e.g. turn off the tap when cleaning your teeth and take a shorter shower etc. For the moment, most hotels’ pools are still operational, however, certain properties that have Jacuzzis may discourage the use of them as a water saving initiative, ensuring they keep within the guidelines set by the Western Cape Government.
As long as you’re mindful that water is extremely precious in Southern Africa and you do your bit to help, you’ll be able to enjoy your holiday without being negatively affected in any way.
NAMIBIA ROAD CONDITIONS:
The road conditions in Namibia have been a bit of an issue this season. Namibia has been booming and the infrastructure has been tested on all levels. It’s fairly common that in high season (July – November) the Roads Authority does not keep tread of traffic and they suffer corrugations and sand banks which make driving conditions more difficult. This is normally focussed around certain areas, in particular Sossusvlei (more specifically Solitaire to Kuiseb Canyon) and Twyfelfontein.
There has been discussion and consideration around moving travel routes, however the main impacted areas are also highlight areas. The Namibian operators and suppliers are maintaining a brave face and trying to limit damage by driving a bit slower. This can make some days longer due to driving distances and times, but these are the usual and ordinary ones, and the roads have just lengthened the day. This is something that is being addressed, however, the roads are better than they were in August and should keep improving.
Please be advised that clients embarking on self- drives should preferably be booked a higher class vehicle such as an SUV, which will be able to withstand the road conditions in these areas.
We realise that international guests have little understanding that 80% of Namibia’s roads are gravel, and 90% of Namibia’s tourism routes are gravel. It makes it adventurous – albeit sometimes challenging. There is not much we can do to address the road conditions, except advise guests to drive carefully.
A MUST IF STAYING IN JOHANNESBURG:
Taking a private day tour to the amazing Cradle of Humankind is an absolute must if you’re in Johannesburg. The world’s richest hominin site, home to around 40% of the world’s human ancestor fossils, the Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site and region offers visitors the opportunity to learn about stones and bones, discover a range of wonderful wildlife, experience culture, and so much more. Leaving Johannesburg your first stop will be the Maropeng Visitor Centre which is an exciting, world-class exhibition, focusing on the development of humans and our ancestors over the past few million years. The Maropeng exhibition is housed in the Tumulus building a magnificent piece of architecture reflecting the four important elements in the formation of our planet – earth, fire, water and air. Embark on an underground boat ride taking you back in time and retracing the various stages of creation. After lunch, continue to the world-renowned Sterkfontein Caves one of the richest and most production palaeoanthropological sites in the world. It is also the site of discovery of the famous pre-human skull affectionately known as ‘Mrs Ples’, and an almost complete hominid skeleton called “Little Foot”. No one knows what still lies hidden in the rocks of the Sterkfontein Caves and other sites.
The World Heritage Site status the area now enjoys ensures that what is deep within its core will be protected and explored forever.
NODDY’S CHRISTMAS PARTY FOR ABAPHUMELELI HOUSE OF SAFETY:
The Noddy’s Christmas party we support annually happened on the 22nd November. It was another successful event and we were even blessed with some rain. To see the children’s faces light up when they receive their present is such a gift. Giving is the best feeling in the world, so show some love and compassion to those less fortunate this festive season.