Welcome to the NEW 4th edition of the Curious Curator. We hope that the ‘traditional’ peak booking period has been a good one for you all, we’re feeling quietly optimistic about 2018. It seems like your clients still can’t get enough of Southern Africa, and with our new South African president being recently sworn in, there is a lot to celebrate! We just hope the falling sterling doesn’t impact on sales too much, as Southern Africa is still one of the best value for money destinations. In terms of product and areas booked so far in Q1, there hasn’t been a shift away from the usual popular tourist itineraries, but we are seeing more experienced based tours being requested including the new Franschhoek Wine Tram Click here to view the tram. Clients are really looking to add ‘wow’ experiences into their itineraries, so get creative!
We have seen so many big bookings from all of you lovely lot, just keep them coming! In particular we would like to say thank you to the following people:
Lucy Dalton, Trailfinders, Bristol branch. Highest value cross border itinerary – 13 nights to Zimbabwe & Botswana. Even though it was the highest value, we chose it because the itinerary includes Hwange National Park which is not often booked when it comes to the cross-border itineraries, and we think it’s a fabulous place.
Aaron Naim, Lotus Dial-a-flight, Croydon branch. Highest value South Africa booking – 13 nights
Yvonne Knott, Africa Sky, Ireland. A big South Africa itinerary incorporating Western Cape, Eastern Cape and Gauteng.
Dan Boniwell, Trailfinders, Exeter branch. A very high value booking which includes Rovos Rail and lots of half and full day sightseeing tours.
Daniel Spragg, Lotus Dial-a-flight, Croydon branch. Another high value booking including Blue Train and One&Only Cape Town.
A special mention goes to Becky Cosford, Trailfinders, Manchester branch for booking the Volga Dream in Russia.
CAPE TOWN IS OPEN FOR BUSINESS:
We’ve mentioned this in our last edition and I’m sure you continue to see and hear in the media that Cape Town is suffering the worst drought in years. We’ve had two dry winters, but we’d like to make clear to our tour operator partners and their clients that Cape Town is open for business. Although there have been some strict limits imposed on residents, tourists aren’t affected, but are asked to do their bit to conserve water where possible. Hotels are putting contingencies in place, such as boreholes and tanks, and we’re confident the rain will come. We’ve had some rain this month, so please advise your clients not to panic or cancel!
Gisella, our product manager visits Pafuri Luxury Camp in the Northern Kruger. Read her review to find out what this camp has to offer. Pafuri Luxury Camp Review
20 YEARS ON AND STILL GOING STRONG!
Our lovely Kim O’Ryan has just celebrated 20 years at followme2AFRICA (then Ecco Tours). She started as a green young lady and is now an integral part of our senior management team, managing our groups business. She’s had her highs and lows, but we hope that there’s been more highs. Our President Steve Bailey wrote a poem about her time here. I’ve been asked not to share it, as we don’t want to embarrass our Kim (or Steve), but here’s a snippet!
“20 years, the time has passed, we’ve had lots of tears, but such a blast
How you’ve managed to put up with me, after day 1 I thought you would flee.”
He then says lots of inappropriate stuff (and some nice), but ends with –
“Kim you really are a shining star, and we thank you so much for being who you are”.
WHAT’S NEW IN SOUTH AFRICA:
Inzolo Game Lodge Eastern Cape – This lovely new lodge opened in November last year and it’s now available to book on our website. For more information click here: Inzolo Lodge.
Gin, glorious gin – For the gin lovers amongst us, enjoy a ‘gin’ inspired afternoon tea at The Taj, Cape Town. You will be served a selection of traditional sweet and savoury items while enjoying the perfect G&T from an extensive collection of craft gins. Served daily in their luxurious Lobby Lounge between 14:00 and 18:00, and priced at just R300 per person, it’s fantastic value for money.
New Cape Town Restaurants –
The first Italian Michelin star chef in South Africa debuts at Villa 47 which opened recently.
Patina Steak and Fine Wine in Newlands is truly excellent. Check out the Trip Advisor reviews Click for reviews.
RENOVATION WORK AND CLOSURES:
Le Quartier Français in Franschhoek will be closing from 15 April – 31 May 2018 inclusive. Four additional bedrooms will be added and will be available as of 1 October 2018. Work will continue on-site after the re-opening on 1 June 2018 until the new keys are ready, but there will be no disruption to in-house guests.
Romney Park in Cape Town will be closing its doors on the 30th April. Although the hotel will continue to operate per normal until it’s closure, we have decided to stop sale the property from 20 April 2018.
Protea Hotel by Marriott Breakwater Lodge in Cape Town have advised that they are currently extending their Conference centre. Once completed the Conference centre will include 6 x conference venues and 1 x Multipurpose Lecture theatre. We have been advised that the nosier work has been completed and the construction/extension of the new venue is now underway. As the work is neighbouring The Commodore Hotel we have requested that our Commodore bookings be allocated rooms away from the work where possible. The work is in no way affiliated to The Commodore Hotel. The scheduled completion is end March 2019.
Mokuti Etosha Lodge in Namibia has started renovation work to add 8 more bedrooms which will become their luxury category and to renovate 10 out of their original 106 standard rooms. The lodge will remain open during this time, and where possible, clients will be allocated rooms away from any work (subject to availability). The completion date is set for 30 April 2018.
IN OTHER NEWS:
Our sister brand followme2RUSSIA has recently opened an official office in Moscow and has taken on the lovely Valeria, who will be working alongside Vitaly; they are ready and waiting for all of your Russian enquiries to flood in. We’re also very excited that the World Cup is being held in Russia in June this year and we’re looking forward to welcoming your clients. As there are numerous events taking place in Russia, we thought it would be worth mentioning the below dates, as these will affect hotel availability and rates, and also sightseeing.
World Cup – being held throughout Russia from 14 Jun – 15 Jul 2018
Public Holidays* –
29 Apr – 2 May (actual holidays are 1st and 2nd May)
10 – 12 Jun (actual holiday is 12th Jun)
3 – 5 Nov (actual holiday is the 4th Nov)
*Sightseeing will be closed on the actual holiday dates, but everything will operate as normal if one of the dates falls over a weekend.
Bolshoi Theatre (Moscow) will be open until June inclusive. July and August it will be closed
Mariinsky Theatre (St Petersburg) will be closed from 9 June until 31 August inclusive
Michelovsky Theatre (St Petersburg) will be closed from 22 July until 31 August inclusive
Be Inspired by followme2RUSSIA:
Norma, our CEO recently wrote about her stay in Moscow. Please take a look at her Be Inspired review and why Moscow makes a great stopover destination.