Three months ago we conducted a survey of top-end hotel rates in Cape Town.  Given the tourism crisis in the Cape, I repeated the survey 10 days ago, calling the same hotels as well as two additional ones not included previously, asking them for their November rates.  The One & Only Cape Town has overtaken Ellerman House as the most expensive Cape Town hotel by far, starting at R6800 per room, and the Peninsula All Suite Hotel remains the least expensive 5-star hotel, at R1200 per room.  The survey found that the average rate of the sixteen 5-star Cape Town hotels surveyed is R 3630 per room, just over R1800 per person, an average increase by 34% relative to the August rates.   Across all 29 hotels surveyed, the average rate per room is R2908, or just over R1400 per person, 31% higher on average than in August. The most expensive Presidential Suite is at the Westin Grand, at R40000 per day.

Once again it was interesting to hear how the calls were handled, most hotel reservation departments asking careful questions, to identify if the caller was a travel agent/tour operator or a corporate caller, the questioning being very specific in this regard. Holders of a Protea Hotel Prokard would have had different rates quoted.  Few hotels called had a rate sheet from which to quote immediately, having to access their computer for the ‘best available rate’ information, costing time, one hotel putting the call on hold to piped music while they did their rate calculations.  I was shocked at the poor quality of the call handling and quoting by the hotel Reservations departments, quoting odd rates (i.e. not rounded off) very quickly, making it difficult to understand and record them accurately; interrupting while one was still speaking; surprising was the inability in many cases of the staff to understand and hear the request, asking me to repeat the dates, and the number of persons; for the first time, the question ‘group or individual’ was asked bluntly, without explanation; not all hotels quote rates with breakfast included, despite being asked for this rate (Protea Hotels quote room only, and seem surprised when asked to add the breakfast rate); and one hotel could not quote a rate as the system was down, and promised to call back … they never did!   The Protea Hotel group quotes day by day rates, and the reservations staff had to obtain permission to quote an average rate, making it tedious to obtain quotes from them, as they have to quote the average rate and then add the breakfast rate.  For hoteliers it must be frightening to hear that not one of the 29 hotels I called had a call to action, asking if I would like to book, given that Cape Town has the best hotels in Africa!

Most hotels have increased their rates since August, now quoting summer rates. However, 15 on Orange has decreased its rate by 23%, the Peninsula All Suite Hotel rate decreased by 20 %, and there was a small decrease in the Protea Hotel Breakwater Lodge rate.   Interesting is that the Cape Grace Hotel rate has not changed, probably meaning that they did not drop their rates in winter, due to good demand – in fact they increased rates by 10 % in August. The largest rate increases since August were by the Bay Hotel (119%), One&Only Cape Town (95%), Twelve Apostles Hotel (87%), Winchester Mansions Hotel (80%), Commodore Hotel (79%), the Taj (65%), Table Bay Hotel (63%), and Portswood Hotel (61%). Interesting is that the Steenberg Hotel, just voted the best hotel in Africa by Conde Nast Traveler readers, ranks 10th on price.  The Protea Hotel-operated properties generally are at the lower end of the price ranking, being more attractively priced to fill their beds.

The rates were checked for 3 – 6 November per room for 2 adults sharing and inclusive of Breakfast per day, so as to compare the rates fairly (we did not realise that this period coincides with the Volvo Ocean Race, making a number of hotels fully booked. We chose rates for the dates closest to the dates we requested).  We added breakfast to the rates where these were quoted separately.   We have ranked the hotel rates from most to least expensive, and reflect the rate change on the lowest priced room relative to our survey for August 2011 in brackets:

One&Only Cape Town, 5 star, R6800 – R15300 Tel (021) 431-5888 (95 % rate increase) – only 5 – 10 rooms qualify for the special South African rate of R3299 daily – very detailed description of each room type provided telephonically

Ellerman House, 5 star, R5200 – R16400 (The new villa has 3 rooms offered at R48600 and 5-rooms at R60500), Tel (021) 430-3200 (4%  rate increase)

Table Bay Hotel, 5 star, R 5168, Tel (021) 406-5000 (63% rate increase) – very unfriendly, very hard to understand. Fully booked on 3 November.

Cape Grace Hotel, 5 star, R 4980 – R 14 530 for the penthouse, Tel (021) 410-7100 (Zero rate change)

Twelve Apostles Hotel, 5 star, R 4105 – R 6625.  Tel (021) 437-9000 (87% rate increase)

Cape Royale Luxury Hotel, 5 star, R 4086 – R20000 for the Presidential Suite.  Tel (021) 430-0500 (14% rate increase) – fully booked 6 November

Mount Nelson Hotel, 5 star, R 3800 – R 11000. Tel (021) 483-1000 (27 % rate increase)

The Taj Hotel, 5 star, R 3550 – R 34000 for Presidential Suite. Tel (021) 819-2000 (65% rate increase)

Bay Hotel, 5 star, R 3500 (stay for 3 nights, pay for 2).  Tel (021) 438-4444 (119% rate increase)

Steenberg Hotel, 5 star, R 3435 – R 14850. Tel (021) 713-2222 (first time inclusion)

Dock House, 5 star, R 3464. Tel (021) 421-9334 (43% rate increase) – drastic price decrease in August, rates now back to May level

Queen Victoria Hotel, not graded yet but seeking 5 stars, R 2996 – R 20000, Tel (021) 418-1466 (27 % rate increase)

Commodore Hotel, 4 star, R 2860 – R 12 720.  Tel (021) 415-1000 (79% rate increase). Fully booked 3 November.

Westin Grand Cape Town Arabella Quays, 5 star, R 2730 – R 40000 for Presidential Suite. Tel (021) 412-9999 (26 % rate increase)

Winchester Mansions Hotel, 4 star, R 2640 – R4135.  Tel (021) 434-2351 (80 % rate increase)

Portswood Hotel, 4 star, R 2570 – R 3960.  Tel (021) 415-1000 (61% rate increase). Fully booked 3 November

V & A Hotel, 4 star, R 2320 – R 3124 . Tel (021) 415-1000 (41% rate increase)

15 on Orange Hotel, 5 star, R 2020 – R 2620, Tel (021) 469-8000 (23 % rate decrease)

Cullinan Hotel, 5 star, R 2095  – R 4451.  Tel (021) 415-4000 (38 % rate increase) – this hotel had a computer problem when I called, and promised to call me back, to give me a rate.  After waiting for two days, I called again!

Crystal Towers Hotel & Spa, 5 star, R 1950 – R 3050.  Tel (021) 525-3888 (15% rate increase) – very loud volume of music and voice

Protea Hotel Fire & Ice Hotel, 3 star,  R 1940 – R 2040, Tel (021) 488-2555 (31% rate increase!)

Victoria Junction Hotel, 4 star, R 1900 – R2200 Tel (021) 418-1234 (5 % rate increase)

Vineyard Hotel, 4 star, R 1850 – R 3950. Tel (021) 657-4500. First time inclusion. Friendly and efficient.

President Hotel, 4 star, R 1780 – R 2830. Tel (021) 434-8111 (22% rate increase)

Southern Sun Waterfront Hotel, 4 star, R 1605 – R 3855. Tel (021) 409-4000 (11 % rate increase). Very poor ability to hear and understand the caller’s requirements.

Cape Sun Hotel, 4 star, R 1380 – R 3810.  Tel (021) 488-5100 (6% rate increase)

Ambassador Hotel, 4 star, R 1250 – R 1950. Tel (021) 439-6176 (Zero rate change)

Peninsula All Suite Hotel, 5 star, R 1200 – R 2170.  Tel (021) 430-7777 (20% rate decrease)

Protea Hotel Breakwater Lodge, no star grading, R 1170 standard, R 1595 business rooms. Tel (021) 406-1911 (4% rate decrease). Poor ability to comprehend the caller’s requirements.

Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter:@WhaleCottage