Entries tagged with “Ambassador Hotel”.


five hundred dishIt was a recent article by Nick Lander, husband of renowned wine critic Jancis Robinson and restaurant critic in the UK, about restaurants in hotels he had visited in Dubai that made me consider once again why hotel restaurants fare so poorly in patron support and in the Eat Out Top 10 restaurant awards in our country.
Lander writes that specific rules about restaurants and liquor licences force restaurants to be linked to hotels in Dubai.  In our country no such rules apply, and as a service to guests, hotels have over the years added dining facilities, in early days being the only restaurants offering tea and cake, and lunch and dunner.  My parents drove us with overseas visitors to Franschhoek’s Swiss Farm Excelsior (now the Le Franschhoek Hotel), the benchmark of restaurants in those years.

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Tiger's Milk Main Table and lights Whale CottageEven though we are halfway through the summer season,  new restaurants continue to open, and more are planned before summer ends.  This list of restaurant openings and closings and restaurant staff movements is updated continuously, as we receive new information:

Restaurant Openings

*    Michael Townsend (who owns the Harbour House emporium, with La Parada, Lucky Fish, and Harbour House restaurants) has opened Tiger’s Milk in Muizenberg (photograph).  The Lucky Fish on Long Street will be transformed into Tiger’s Milk.

*    Kokkedoor judge and Chef Nic van Wyk and Roxy Laker have opened bistro 13 at Stellenbosch Vineyards (Welmoed)

*   Idiom Wines is said to be opening a restaurant.

*   The Butcher Shop & Grill has opened next to Sotano in Mouille Point. (more…)

Bistro 13 Interior plus serving hatch Whale CottageAn unusually high number of new restaurants has opened or will do so in the next month or two.  There have never been so many chefs leaving their employers to start their own restaurants, or to join other employers!  This list of restaurant openings and closings and restaurant staff movements is updated continuously, as we receive new information:

Restaurant Openings

*    Kokkedoor judge and Chef Nic van Wyk and Roxy Laker have opened bistro 13 at Stellenbosch Vineyards (Welmoed) (photograph)

*   Idiom Wines is said to be opening a restaurant.

*   The Butcher Shop & Grill has opened next to Sotano in Mouille Point.

*   Michael Townsend (who own the La Parada, Lucky Fish, Harbour House emporium) has opened Tiger’s Milk in Muizenberg, the venue having previously been earmarked for a steakhouse.

*   Neil Grant and his business partner Barry Engelbrecht (of Burrata) have opened new restaurant Bocca on the corner of Bree (more…)

Haiku Kitchen Whale Cottage PortfolioNot having been to Haiku in three years, and attending a concert close by in the Old Town House two weeks ago, I booked a table at what was once my favourite restaurant. While its prices have settled, service remains a problem, unforgivable after being in business for seven years already.  Food presentation was most disappointing, and the food quality has declined.

It is seven years ago that Haiku opened to hype and fanfare.  It was the bees knees of restaurants, becoming cult almost immediately, helped along by the difficulty in getting a table.   It won Eat Out Best New Restaurant six months after opening, a category never awarded since.  Those days are long past, the arrogant waitrons losing business for the restaurant, with patrons going elsewhere to get their Asian food fix.  It was easy to book the table for a Saturday night, yet when I returned from the concert the restaurant was almost full.  The loud disco-style music does not match the Asian theme of the restaurant nor makes it easy for one to communicate at the table and with the waitrons, and one wonders why they need to put up the volume.  I remember this as a past irritation, introduced more recently.  I was interested to know how the opening of the V&A Waterfront branch a few months ago had affected business in the original branch, and perhaps predictably the waitress said it had not at all.   The manager told me later that their best chefs and waitrons had been transferred to the Waterfront, so it would be worth trying this branch too. The standard of the staff was evidenced by two incidents of clanging glasses, falling on the floor and breaking, for all to hear!

I was shown my table by the hostess, booked as a table for one, only to be asked in a most irritating manner by the waiter if I was on my own.  He then wanted to clear the table of superfluous dishes, rather than bring the menu.  He is one (more…)

KOI Entrance Whale Cottage PortfolioThe opening of KOI Bantry Bay at The Ambassador Hotel has been eagerly awaited, after it was announced that Salt Restaurant would be replaced with a Gauteng-based group restaurant, KOI restaurants already operating in Sandton, Rosebank, and in Pretoria. The KOI restaurants are sister restaurants to the Wakame (with Wafu) restaurant group in Cape Town, which was founded 15 years ago, and is headed up by co-directors Stewart Bond and Rory Jossel.  There are no koi at KOI, and other than a logo on a business card, there is no representation of the decorative carp in the restaurant.  The website defines the KOI name as being Japanese for ‘Come, Love, Fish‘.

Always on the lookout for a good restaurant on the Atlantic Seaboard, a rarity, I was looking forward to seeing how the restaurant group would give the hotel restaurant space new life. Despite having the most magnificent location, ideal to see sunsets as it faces west over the Atlantic Ocean, the restaurants at The Ambassador just do not seem to have staying power, and neither do their chefs and staff for that matter!   Some decor changes have been made, wooden grids guiding one to the end of the passage, with only one entrance now, the previous entrance to the lounge KOI Interior Whale Cottage Portfolioand bar area having been closed. The lounge area now is restaurant seating too, with space for a total of about 100 patrons the Manager Chris Somhohlo said. Wood dominates the decor style (Chris couldn’t remember the name of the decorator), with wooden table tops, wooden chairs with woven seats, and the woven grid theme picked up in the visual display covering an entire wall, in the new ceiling lighting, and in the lampshades too.  The (more…)

Four & 20 Cafe via The Pretty BlogNo significant events have been planned to attract visitors to Cape Town and the Winelands this winter, and it appears to be the worst winter ever experienced by the hospitality industry in the Cape.  A surprise is the number of restaurant changes, as well as the the movement of staff  between restaurants.   Given the poor winter business, many restaurants have taken/are taking generous winter breaks. This list of restaurant openings and closings is updated continuously, as we receive new information:

Restaurant Openings

*    Four & Twenty Café and Pantry has opened in Wynberg

*   The Crypt Jazz Restaurant has opened below St George’s Cathedral.

*   Orphanage Cocktail Emporium is opening Orphanage Club upstairs, with 1920’s style music by live performers, later this year.

*   Cavalli restaurant on the stud farm on the R44 must be opening shortly, as Carl Habel has left the Mount Nelson Hotel as Restaurant Manager and Sommelier to join the restaurant.

*   Shake your Honey is to open in the original Madame Zingara building on Loop Street next year, after renovations commence later this year, according to an iolTravel report.  The ‘vibrant spirit of India’ is to be reflected in the 5-storey building, with a theatre, markets, restaurants, and shops.

*   Burger King has opened its (second) Tygervalley branch. Branches at Cavendish and at Grandwest are to open soon. (more…)

Anthonij Rupert entrance Whale Cottage PortfolioYesterday we visited the Anthonij Rupert Tasting Room, one of two tasting rooms at Anthonij Rupert Wines, which previously belonged to Graham Beck Wines, and was bought by Johan Rupert from L’Ormarins next door, to enhance his access to water.  Anthonij Rupert Wines has five wine brands, and 25 sub-brands, the largest range in Franschhoek, to our knowledge.   Our invitation via PR consultancy Smart Communications & Events was to see the new tasting room and to try their new High Tea.

It was a grey wintry day, and the lit fire in the lounge was welcome and made the room cosy.  Hospitality Manager Gidi Caetano, whom we know from her days as Manager of Salt Restaurant at the Ambassador Hotel, and then as GM of  the previous French Toast Wine & Tapas Bar, explained the tasting room and company structure to us while we enjoyed the treats from the three tier High Tea stand, Anthonij Rupert High Tea close up Whale Cottage Portfoliowhich consisted of scones, cream and jam, chocolate cupcakes, and candied orange and gooseberry tarts, prepared by Chef HW Pieterse  and his team, beautifully decorated with rose buds, lavender, and pansies. We were served The Wellness Group teas,  with its tea leaves in muslin bags.  A range of flavours is available.   One can book the High Tea with 24 hour notice, and organise a tea party to celebrate a special birthday, anniversary, stork tea, or just a special spoiling. Anthonij Rupert Cutlery Whale Cottage Portfolio The High Tea will usually include smoked salmon blinis, and cucumber, dill and horseradish sandwiches too.  The treats offered change regularly, and could also include orange infused koeksisters, mini chocolate and hazelnut mousse pots, chocolate salami, and red berry tarts.  Gidi told us about the herb garden growing alongside the manor house, with 32 medicinal (for educational use) and cooking herbs, the latter used in the food preparation on the estate.  It was started from scratch a year ago.

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WhaleTalesTourism, Food, and Wine news headlines

*   It’s Bastille Festival in Franschhoek this weekend, one of the largest and oldest wine shows, celebrating its 20th anniversary.   A full programme of wine and food tastings has been planned.

*  Van Ryn’s Brandy Distillery near Stellenbosch is saluting women with a special tour and tasting offer presented by a woman for women, on Thursdays in August, in honour of Women’s Day on 9 August. Distillery Manager and wine biotechnologist, Marlene Bester, will accompany guests on the 11h30 tour, showing them the antique copper potstills still used today, the maturation cellar, a demonstration of a cooper assembling a French oak barrel, and do tastings of Van Ryn’s Collection Reserve range of brandies paired either with handcrafted chocolates (made by Richard von Gesau) or with Florentine biscuits.  The 12 Year Old brandy is partnered with a Cappuccino chocolate, the 15 Year Old with Cinnamon & Orange chocolate, and the 20 Year Old with a French 70% cocoa chocolate. (more…)

Christmas Eve

*   Il Cappero, Camps Bay: 6-course dinner and glass of Prosecco R350. Tel (021) 438-7074

*   Planet Restaurant, Mount Nelson Hotel : 5-course menu R910.  Tel (021) 483-1000

*   Oasis Bistro, Mount Nelson Hotel: Buffet R650.  Tel (021) 483-1000

*   Tobago’s, Raddison Blu:  3-course R450.  Tel (021) 441-3000

*   The Franschhoek Kitchen, Holden Manz, Franschhoek: 3 courses R375.  Tel (021) 876-2729

Christmas Day lunch

*   The Square Restaurant, Vineyard Hotel: 3-course lunch R 415. Tel (021) 657-4500

*   Azure Restaurant, Twelve Apostles Hotel: Buffet lunch, party hats, gift, crackers R945.  Tel (021) 437-9052 (sold out)

*   The Pavilion at The Marine, Marine Hotel, Hermanus: welcome drink, canapés, Christmas lunch, petit fours R 595.  Tel (028) 313-1000

* Il Cappero, Camps Bay: 6-course lunch with glass of Prosecco R350  Tel (021) 438-7074

*   Planet Restaurant, Mount Nelson hotel: 5-course lunch R 950. Tel (021) 483-1000

*   Ballroom, Mount Nelson hotel: Buffet R700.  Tel (021) 483-1000

*   1800° Restaurant, Cape Royale Luxury Hotel, Green Point: Christmas Lunch Buffet R320. Tel (021) 430-0506.

*   Tobago’s, Radisson Blu: Buffet R595.  Tel (021) 441-3000

*   Le Franschhoek hotel, Franschhoek:  Buffet R 395.  Tel (021) 876-8900

*   Le Coq Restaurant & Sushi Bar, Franschhoek: 3 courses R240. Tel (021) 876-4404

*  The Franschhoek Kitchen, Holden Manz, Franschhoek:   3 courses R375.  Tel ()21) 876-2729

New Year’s Eve

* Café Chic: 6-course dinner R485.  Tel (021) 465-7218

*   Il Cappero, Camps Bay: 8-course dinner and glass of Prosecco R 450.  Tel (021) 438-7074

*   Blues, Camps Bay: 4-course dinner, DJ, and unlimited bubbly R1700   Tel (021) 438-2040

*   Zenzero, Camps Bay:  3-course dinner and welcome drink R 1000.  Tel (021) 438-0007

*   Hussar Grill, Camps Bay: 4-courses R475.  Tel (021) 438-0151

*   Azure at Twelve Apostles Hotel, Camps Bay: Buffet and live music R 1895.  Tel ()21) 437-9000

*   The Conservatory at The Cellars-Hohenhort, R750.  Tel (021) 794-2137

*   Constantia Uitsig: 5-course dinner R 850.  Tel (021) 794-4480

*   Five Flies: 4-course menu, masked ball, and sparkling wine R600.  Tel (021) 424-4442

*   The Greenhouse, Cellars-Hohenhort, Constantia: 9-course dinner R950, or R1250 with wine.  Tel (021) 794-2137

*   La Colombe, Constantia: 5-course dinner, DJ, sparkling wine at midnight R1600.  Tel (021) 794-2390

*   La Mouette, Sea Point: 5-course meal and glass of sparkling wine R795. Tel (021) 433-0856

* 1800° Restaurant, Green Point: 6-course dinner, and entrance to the VIP Sky Bar R1200.  Tel (021) 430-0506

*   Myoga, Vineyard Hotel, Newlands: 7-course meal at R850.  Tel (021) 657-4545

*   Nobu, One&Only Cape Town, V&A Waterfront: 8-course dinner and band R2250. Tel (021) 431-5222

*   Orinoco: 3-course dinner, ‘Sixties’ theme, DJ, welcome cocktail, canapés, glass of sparkling wine R600.  Tel (021) 418-4544

*   Reuben’s at One&Only Cape Town: 5-course dinner and band R1750.  Tel (021) 431-5222

*   The Roundhouse, Camps Bay: 3-course dinner, live music and DJ, sparkling wine R1650.  Tel (021) 438-4347

*   Salt Restaurant, Ambassador Hotel: 8-course tasting menu, glass of sparkling wine, band R995.  Tel (021) 439-7258

*   Savoy Cabbage: Canapés, Christmas cocktail, gala dinner R995.  Tel (021) 424-2626

*   Signal, Cape Grace hotel, V&A Waterfront:  4-course dinnerR1950.  Tel (021) 410-7100

*   The Table Bay Hotel, V&A Waterfront: cocktail reception, Buffet dinner, sparkling wine R2100.  Tel (021) 406-5000

*   Tjing Tjing Bar, Dear Me: entrance fee, food, and party R300.  Tel (021) 422-4920

*   The Boat House, Scarborough: 5-course dinner and sparkling wine R980.  Transfer R500 pp.  Tel 083 305 8533

*   Massimo’s, Hout Bay: Welcome drink, 4 course dinner R425.  Tel (021) 790-5645

*   GOLD: Cocktail on arrival, drumming, live music, ‘African Feast’, bubbly R1100.  Tel (021) 421-4653

*   Makaron, Majeka House, Stellenbosch: 4-course dinner R625.  Tel (021) 880-1549

*   Moyo, Spier, Stellenbosch: Welcome drink, 3-course meal, R495.  Tel (021) 809-1133

*   Restaurant at Clos Malverne, Stellenbosch: 8-course food and wine pairing R468.  Tel (021) 865-2022

*   Tokara, Stellenbosch: 8-course dinner R950.  Tel (021) 885-2550

*   Eat @ Simonsig, Paarl:   Live band, 3-courses, bubbly at midnight R275.  Tel (021) 863-3845.

*   The Restaurant at Grande Provence, Franschhoek: Welcome drink and midnight glass of sparkling wine as well as dancing, 7-course dinner R790.  Tel (021) 876-8600

*   The Kitchen, Maison, Franschhoek: 8 courses, each paired with a Maison Estate wine, R950.  Tel (021) 876-2116.

*   Reuben’s, Franschhoek: 6-course dinner R1200. Tel (021) 876-3772

*   Le Coq Restaurant & Sushi Bar, Franschhoek: 3 courses and a glass of sparkling wine R280. Tel (021) 876-4404

*   The Restaurant at Waterkloof, Somerset West: 6-course meal R650, or R825 with wine.  Tel (021) 858-1292

*   The Pavilion at The Marine, Marine Hotel, Hermanus:  Canapés, welcome drink, 6-course menu, R1150.  Tel (028) 313-1000

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

A year ago we first conducted a survey of top-end hotel rates in Cape Town.  We repeated the survey in August 2011, and in November 2011, to track hotel pricing trends. Ellerman House has re-established itself as the most expensive Cape Town hotel, starting at R 4590 per room, and the Peninsula All Suite Hotel remains the least expensive 5-star hotel, at R1200 per room, the same rate as November 2011 and lower than a year ago.  The hotels in Cape Town appear more confident about the coming winter season, judging by their pricing policy, only half of them having decreased their rates relative to the past summer.

The survey found that the average rate of the sixteen 5-star Cape Town hotels surveyed is R 2780 per room, just under R1400 per person, an average decrease by 23% relative to the November 2011 rates.   Across all 29 hotels surveyed, the average rate per room is R 2297, or just over R 1100 per person, 21% lower on average than in November. The most expensive Presidential Suite is at the One & Only Cape Town, at R58541 per day, a rate which has not changed since November.  Interesting is that larger top-end suites seem to have seen rate increases, while the standard rooms are more likely to be discounted.

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.  The poor quality of the call handling and quoting by the hotel Reservations departments must be a concern for their bosses, 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; inability to understand and hear the request, having to repeat the dates, and the number of persons;  the question ‘group or individual’ is 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); The Protea Hotel group quotes day by day rates, and the reservations staff struggle 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. The Portswood/Commodore Hotels, Bay Hotel/Village & Life, and Newmark Hotels group have the same switchboard for different hotels, and even if one dials the specific hotel selected, one is asked which hotel one wants to book at!  For hoteliers it must be frightening to hear that not one of the 29 hotels called had a call to action, in encouraging one to make a booking, given that Cape Town has the best hotels in Africa.

Half the hotels have decreased their rates since November 2011, now quoting winter rates.  However, Steenberg Hotel increased its rate from November 2011, by 4%.  Interesting is the 36 % rate increase in the past five months for the African Pride Hotels 15 on Orange and Crystal Towers Hotel & Spa.  The Ambassador Hotel has increased its rate by 27 % since November 2011.  The Protea Hotel Breakwater Lodge has been known for its competitive rates, but has increased them by 24 % for winter, and is no longer the cheapest hotel of those surveyed.      The largest rate decreases since November 2011 were by the V&A Hotel (45%),  Dock House (37%), and the Cape Royale Luxury Hotel (35%).  The rate of the Protea Hotel Fire & Ice increased by a dramatic 107% relative to last winter!  The Commodore Hotel (61%) and Portswood Hotel (45%) also increased their winter rates strongly. Interesting is that the Steenberg Hotel, voted the best hotel in Africa by Conde Nast Traveler readers, ranks 4th on price now,  having ranked at 10th position a mere five months ago.  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 telephonically yesterday for today, for the next three days, i.e. 3 – 6 May per room for 2 adults sharing and inclusive of Breakfast per day, so as to compare the rates fairly . 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 May 2011 in brackets:

Ellerman House, 5 star, R4590 – R14680. (The 3-room villa was offered at R45441 and the 5-room villa at R68000). Tel (021) 430-3200 (8% rate decrease)

Cape Grace Hotel, 5 star, R4555.10 – R15388 for the penthouse, Tel (021) 410-7100 (1% increase)

Mount Nelson Hotel, 5 star, R3730 – R11290. Tel (021) 483-1000 (24% rate increase)

Steenberg Hotel, 5 star, R3580– R14580. Tel (021) 713-2222 (Not included in May 2011)

One & Only Cape Town, 5 star, R3490 – R58541 for the Presidential Suite.  The non-South African resident rate starts at R4856 Tel (021) 431-5888 (10% rate decrease)

15 on Orange Hotel, 5 star, R2750 – R5370 for the one-bedroom penthouse, Tel (021) 469-8000 (1 % rate decrease)

Crystal Towers Hotel & Spa, 5 star, R2650 – R3750.  Tel (021) 525-3888 (25% rate increase)

Commodore Hotel, 4 star, R2580 – R8040.  Tel (021) 415-1000 (61% rate increase)

The Westin Cape Town, 5 star, R2410 – R40000 for Presidential Suite. Tel (021) 412-9999 (19 % rate decrease)

Dock House, 5 star, R 2396 – R3115. Tel (021) 421-9334 (37% rate decrease)

Table Bay Hotel, 5 star, R2360 – R4760 for South African residents, R2840 – R6050 for non-South Africans. Tel (021) 406-5000 (25% rate decrease)

Twelve Apostles Hotel, 5 star, R2325 – R4565 for Bed & Breakfast, 3-course dinner, movie and popcorn, only for South African residents.  Non-South Africans pay R4165 – R8845 per room and breakfast.  Tel (021) 437-9000 (19% rate decrease)

Portswood Hotel, 4 star, R 2320 – R 3960.  Tel (021) 415-1000 (45% rate increase)

Cape Royale Luxury Hotel, 5 star, R2300 – R10000 for the Presidential Suite.  Tel (021) 430-0500 (35% rate decrease)

The Taj Hotel, 5 star, R2300 – R40000 for Presidential Suite. Tel (021) 819-2000 (5% rate increase)

Queen Victoria Hotel, not graded yet but seeking 5 stars, R2028 – R15000, Tel (021) 418-1466 (8% rate increase)

Bay Hotel, 5 star, R2000- R2800.  Tel (021) 438-4444 (25% rate increase)

Protea Fire & Ice Hotel, 3 star,  R1860 – R2110, Tel (021) 488-2555 (107% rate increase!)

Cullinan Hotel, 5 star, R1850  – R5159.  Tel (021) 415-4000 (14% rate decrease)

Victoria Junction Hotel, 4 star, R 1850 – R 2150 Tel (021) 418-1234 (10% rate increase)

V & A Hotel, 4 star, R1720 – R2170 . Tel (021) 415-1000 (45% rate decrease)

Ambassador Hotel, 4 star, R1590 – R2020. Tel (021) 439-6176 (17% rate decrease)

Winchester Mansions Hotel, 4 star, R1550 – R3550.  Tel (021) 434-2351 (5 % rate increase)

Southern Sun Waterfront Hotel, 4 star, R1550 – R3220. Tel (021) 409-4000 (11 % rate decrease).

Protea Hotel Breakwater Lodge, no star grading, R1445 standard room, R1690 business suite. Tel (021) 406-1911 (12% rate increase).

President Hotel, 4 star, R1306 – R1723. Tel (021) 434-8111 (11% rate decrease)

Peninsula All Suite Hotel, 5 star, R1200 – R3490.  Tel (021) 430-7777 (24% rate decrease)

Vineyard Hotel, 4 star, R1165 – R4270. Tel (021) 657-4500. (Not included in May 2011)

Cape Sun Hotel, 4 star, R1160 – R5920 for Presidential Suite.  Tel (021) 488-5100 (23% rate decrease).

POSTSCRIPT 4/5: Two Cape Town hotels, the Alphen Boutique Hotel (not yet included in this survey) and the Queen Victoria Hotel, are the only two South African hotels on the Conde Nast Traveler Hot List of Best New Hotels 2012.  Frommers.com has selected Steenberg Hotel in its Top 12 ‘Best Vineyards Inns & Hotels around the World’, the only South African hotel on the list.

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