Entries tagged with “beauty”.


After writing about the disastrous error-filled and outdated Conde Nast Traveller  Guide to Cape Town earlier this week, it was refreshing to see a link on Twitter about the Telegraph Travel’s  ’Cape Town City Break Guide’, written by local travel writer and ‘destination expert’ Pippa de Bruyn (author of a ‘Frommer’s Guide’ to South Africa and to India, and of  ‘A Hedonist’s Guide to Cape Town’), resulting in a far more accurate guide for the tourist visiting Cape Town.

The Guide kicks off with the Beauty positioning for Cape Town (the one that Cape Town Tourism has just thrown away by using Inspirational’, as the new positioning for Cape Town, even though it is not unique for Cape Town and has been used by others, including Pick ‘n Pay!), in stating that “Cape Town is one of the most beautiful cities in the world”.  It is accompanied by a beautiful shot of Clifton, with the Twelve Apostles as backdrop.  The reasons for travelling to Cape Town are motivated as its ‘in-your-face beauty’; the pristine white beaches; the proximity of nature; spotting zebra and wildebeest on the slopes of Table Mountain; watching whales breaching in False Bay; being ‘halted by cavorting baboons near Cape Point’; being a contender for World Design Capital 2014 with its art galleries, ‘hip bars’, opera, and design-savvy shops; the unique marriage of Dutch-origin vegetable gardening, winemaking introduced by the French (this fact must be challenged, as it was the Dutch who established the first wine farms), Malay slaves’ spices, and English ‘Georgian mansions and Victorian terraced homes’;  its contrasts of pleasure and poverty, of ‘pounding seas and vine-carpeted valleys’, and its award-winning wines and produce offer ‘some of the best (and most affordable) fine dining in the world’.

The ‘Cape Town City Break Guide’ includes the following recommendations:

*   travel time is suggested as ‘pretty much any time of the year’, and a warning of wet Julys and Augusts now is inaccurate, given the wonderful non-winter weather experienced in Cape Town during both these months this year!

*   misleading is the claim that Cape Town offers the best land-based whale watching in the world – this positioning belongs to Hermanus, and is corrected a few pages further into the guide.   Also misleading is the claim that the best ‘summer deals’ are available in October and November - most accommodation establishments have the same rate for the whole summer, and do not drop rates at the start of summer.

*   it is up-to-date in that use of the MyCiti Bus is recommended to travel between the airport and the Civic Centre, as well as to the Waterfront.  Train travel between Cape Town and Simonstown is not recommended, due to dirty windows and lack of safety, one of the few negatives contained in the Guide.  The red City Sightseeing bus is recommended, as are bus tours, taxis, Rikkis, and car hire.

*  The ‘Local laws and etiquette’ section does not address either of these two points.  Instead, it warns against crime when walking or driving, and recommends that tourists should not ‘flash their wealth’.  Potential card-skimming in the Waterfront and at the airport is also a potential danger, travellers to Cape Town are told, not accurate, and unfair to these two Cape Town locations.

*   Tourist attractions recommended are Cape Point, driving via the Atlantic Seaboard and Chapman’s Peak; wine-tasting in Constantia; the Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens; exploring the city centre on foot, walking from the city centre to Green Point; taking a water taxi from the Convention Centre to the Waterfront; the Footsteps to Freedom Tour; the Company Gardens; the National Gallery; summer concerts at Kirstenbosch; tanning at Clifton beaches; shopping for wines or going on a wine tour; High Tea at the Mount Nelson hotel; going on tours which allow one to meet the ‘other half’  locals;  walking through the Waterfront or taking a sunset cruise; the Two Oceans Aquarium; eating fish and chips in Kalk Bay; going up Table Mountain by foot or cable car; day trips to Cape Point, the West Coast National Park to see the spring flowers, and the Winelands (referring to Franschhoek as the now out-of-date ‘Gourmet Capital of the Cape’, by stating that ‘it is the only place where you have award-winning restaurants within walking distance of each other’, not correct either).

*   in the ‘Cape Town Hotels’ section, it states disturbingly (and information out of date) that ‘Cape Town isn’t cheap’, and therefore suggests that clients stay in Oranjezicht, Tamboerskloof, Higgovale, and Bo-Kaap  (but none of these suburbs have restaurants, something guests would like to walk to by foot from their accommodation), as well as De Waterkant, the V&A Waterfront (probably one of the most expensive accommodation areas!), and ‘Greenpoint’ (sic).  Self-catering and ‘B&b’ (sic) accommodation is recommended.  Hotels previously reviewed by The Telegraph are listed: the Mount Nelson, Ellerman House, the Cape Grace, Cascades on the Promenade, Four Rosmead, An African Villa, Rouge on Rose, Fritz Hotel, and The Backpack hostel, an interesting mix of hotels, and not all highly-rated in its reviews. No newer ‘World Cup hotels’ are recommended. 

*   For nightlife, Camps Bay’s Victoria Road, Long Street and Cape Quarter are recommended.  Vaudeville is strongly recommended, but has lost a lot of its appeal.  Other specific recommendations are Asoka on Kloof Street, Fiction DJ Bar & Lounge, Crew Bar in De Waterkant, Julep off Long Street, and the Bascule bar at the Cape Grace.  The list seems out of date, with more trendy night-time spots being popular amongst locals.

*   The Restaurant section is most disappointing, given the great accolade given to the Cape Town fine-dining scene early in the guide. Four restaurants only are recommended, and many would disagree that these are Cape Town’s best, or those that tourists should visit: The Roundhouse in Camps Bay, Willoughby & Co in the Waterfront, 95 Keerom Street, and ‘Colcaccio (sic) Camps Bay’!  A special note advises ‘gourmet diners’ to check Eat Out and Rossouw’s Restaurants  for restaurants close to one’s accommodation.  Stellenbosch restaurants Overture, Rust en Vrede and Terroir are recommended, as are Le Quartier and Ryan’s Kitchen in Franschhoek, and La Colombe in Constantia.

*   Shopping suggestions include the city centre, Green Point, Woodstock, De Waterkant, and Kloof Street, the latter street not having any particularly special shops.  The Neighbourgoods Market in the Old Biscuit Mill is recommended as the ‘best food market in the country’ (locals may disagree, with the squash of undecided shoppers, and increasingly more expensive), and may recommend the City Bowl Market instead).  Art galleries are also recommended.

While the Telegraph Travel  ‘Cape Town City Break Guide’ is a massive improvement on the Condé Nast Traveller  Cape Town guide, even this guide contains unforgivable errors, which a local writer should not be making.  One would hope that Cape Town Tourism will get the errors fixed.  We also suggest that they recommend the addition of Cape Town’s many special city centre eateries, and that the accommodation list be updated.  The exclusion of Robben Island on the attraction list is a deficiency.   The delineation between recommendations for things to do in Cape Town is blurred in some instances with recommendations in towns and villages outside Cape Town, which may confuse tourists to the Mother City.  Overall, the Guide appears superficial and touristy, and does not reveal all the special gems that Cape Town has to offer.

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

Cape Town Tourism has been conducting a series of ‘Brand Cape Town’ workshops since late last year, to share with its members as well as bloggers and other stakeholders what the outcome has been of a brainstorming session to find a positioning for Cape Town and what it can/should be, and to focus its marketing activities, not only from a Tourism perspective, but also from a general Business approach. 

Scanning the external environment, it identified threats such as the economic crisis, global urbanisation, and a greater consciousness about the impact of flying on the environment and climate change.  It also faced the reality that the seasonality in Cape Town’s tourism industry, unique to our city compared to others in the country, reflects that Cape Town does not have enough business tourism, being the result perhaps of too large a focus on Leisure Tourism in the past, and too little on attracting businesspersons to have their meetings, events and conferences in Cape Town.  Comparing the positioning of major world cities, e.g. Paris is Romance, New York is Energy, London is Tradition, it has historically been Beauty for Cape Town. Through its analysis, it was identified that the positioning of Inspiration is an overarching one that can position Cape Town beyond its more narrow tourism focus, to a broader one, reflecting the strengths of the City in respect of beauty, freedom, innovation, hope, creativity, diversity, dreams, ideas, and solutions to problems.

We have been critical about what we have seen in print about the Brand Cape Town workshops, but a completely different picture emerged in the presentation, which I was invited to attend last week, the last in the process of sharing the outcome of the brainstorm, and in obtaining input to the content of the branding and marketing debate.  To justify the positioning of Inspiration, Cape Town Tourism CEO Mariette du Toit-Helmbold took the attendees through the various ways in which Cape Town inspires its citizens, its local visitors, and its international tourists.  It was an inspiring presentation, and afterwards I felt proudly Capetonian in having learnt a lot more about the achievements of our city and its people.  The following were some of the Inspiration highlights identified for Cape Town in the presentation:

*   Nelson Mandela took his first steps of freedom in Cape Town, and Cape Town should own this historic moment

*   quality education facilities, with four top class universities in Cape Town and Stellenbosch.  Stanford has set up a satellite campus in the city, and Harvard is said to follow suit.   UCT had been voted top university in Africa, and best value for Money MBA in world in a Financial Times survey

*   safe CBD

*   excellent and modern infrastructure, including the airport, the IRT bus system, the station, highways, and the Cape Town Stadium

*   ‘cosmopolitan entry point into South Africa and Africa’

*   Focus on Biodiversity, with the smallest but most bountiful floral kingdom.  Kirstenbosch has won gold or silver for the past 33 years at the Chelsea Flower Show in London

*   Excellent healthcare facilities, with pioneering medical leadership, including Dr Christiaan Barnard’s heart transplant world first

*   One of best value guest house and B&B cities, offering not only 5-star accommodation

*   An historic port city

*   The V&A is South Africa’s leading tourist destination, and has further development plans

*   The Green Point Urban Park

*   A living heritage in the Castle, the oldest building in South Africa

*   A historic showcase of creativity at the Iziko museums and galleries

*   Living contemporary culture with African and European roots, which is not gumboot dancing!

*   Rich music tradition, in goema and Cape Minstrel music, but also current, with Goldfish, Jack Parow, Freshly Ground, Kyle Shepherd, Locnville, Die Antwoord, and Abdullah Ibrahim.  The Cape Town International Jazz Festival has become a world event.

*   Sporting tradition, in hosting the world’s largest timed Argus Cycle race, and the Volvo Ocean Race includes Cape Town, and sportspersons such as Para-Olympic star Natalie du Toit, and the development of the paddleyak

*   A theatre tradition, with Athol Fugard receiving a Lifetime Achievement award at the Tony’s for his plays

*   Africa’s first billionaire and space traveller Mark Shuttleworth, and his Shuttleworth Foundation, supporting IT development.  Development of Silicon Cape.

*   Sustainability Institute of the University of Stellenbosch

*   The Cape Town International Convention Centre is the leading convention centre in Africa

*   The leading builder of twin-hull catamarans

*  The favourite film and photography location, because of the beauty of and good light in the city, and the potential of a James Bond movie being shot in the city

*  Nobel Peace Prize winners such as Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Past President FW de Klerk

*   Table Mountain, which is a finalist for the New7Wonders of the World

*   Visits by magnificent Southern Right whales, home to penguins

*   Environmentally-friendly Green Cabs, and the opening up of cycle and pedestrian routes in the city 

*   Leading environmental and sustainable city, with all new low-cost housing built with solar geyser panels, and wind-farming in Darling.  ‘Smart Living Handbook’ for sustainability written by City of Cape Town 

*   Three wine routes within Cape Town and 16 on the city’s doorstep, with many boutique wine farms

*   Beer tourism is a new segment, with 40 micro breweries within a 2-hour drive of Cape Town.  Inspiring new BOS ice-tea 

*   Fresh produce markets, with organic foods, outstanding restaurants such as The Test Kitchen and Mzoli’s Meat define Cape Town, and the plan is to develop a Master Chefs Cape Town series.   Having Justin Bonello showcase South African food is a boost for the city.  Charly’s Bakery is a passionate, all-women team, who baked a cake representing Cape Town for the Design Indaba.

*   Cape Town is one of three finalists for World Design Capital 2014, with Bilbao and Dublin, spearheaded by the Cape Town Partnership.  The judges will be in Cape Town from 24 – 27 July, and the winning city will be announced on 26 October. The Design Indaba is a design highlight for the country, with its annual conference and exhibition.  At the last exhibition, attendees were asked to write in support of the city’s bid – this comment summarised what Cape Town stands for: “Cape Town’s people are her most beautiful landscape”.

*    Cape Town has a vibrant fashion scene, designer Dion Chang saying that “The tip of Africa is the tipping point”.

*   Cape Town is at the center of the magazine publishing industry.

*   The city has excellent furniture designers

*   The Joule electric car is being built in Cape Town, the first in Africa.

*   Cape Town has more Social Media users than any other part of the country 

 During her presentation, Mrs Helmbold made a number of statements about our city:

*   Economy based on tourism, finance, infrastructure, food and wine, logistics, and creative industries.

*   Cape Town is at the tipping point, either sinking into oblivion, or living up to the accolades it is reaping

*   Cape Town has been in a brand vacuum since the World Cup – not spending money on marketing the city will lead us to the example of Sydney, which is seeing a steady decline in visitors as it decided to not market the city after the 2000 Olympics

*   A destination is not just a slogan or a logo

*   Cape Town is a city of contrasts, of haves and have-nots

*   Brand Cape Town’s strength is Tourism (Visit), it is neutral on its education and residential facilities (Live and Learn), and weak on its potential as a centre of employment and investment (Work and Invest).

*   Cape Town underperforms in domestic tourism, mainly relative to Durban

*   Conversion of holidaymakers into business tourists is needed for Cape Town, and business visitors must be encouraged to return as holidaymakers, as Cape Town is weak as a Business Brand

*   Cape Town is a ‘challenger brand’ which does not have a long-established history, and stands for freedom, freshness and transformation, attractive to a world that has got tired of visiting boring places. “Challenger brands harness the power of authenticity, locals first, emotional pull, storytelling (Word of Mouse)”.

*   The pillars of Cape Town are Robben Island; its cultural diversity; the food and wine industry; Biodiversity; Table Mountain; Cape of Good Hope; hubs of innovation, creativity, enterprise and government; higher education and skills training; Sports and MICE; and Colour and Light.  

Cape Town Tourism is to assist business-related bodies in the city to market the city with a ‘brand box’.   It has worked with Accelerate, Cape Town Routes Unlimited, Wesgro, Cape Town Partnership, and the City of Cape Town in developing the new positioning for Cape Town, to establish it as ‘one of the top world cities to live, work, invest, learn and visit, in order to drive inclusive economic growth and social transformation in Cape Town’.  The presentation we attended was the last, and the implementation phase will now commence, Mrs Helmbold said.  In question time, FEDHASA Cape chairman Dirk Elzinga stated that great things are happening in Cape Town, but ‘we are not telling the world’, he said.

Mel Miller, former ad agency owner and creative director, and ex Cape Town Tourism Board member, is very critical of Cape Town’s new ‘Inspirational’ positioning, saying that it has been used by Edinburgh (‘Inspiring Capital’) already.  Miller points out that a previous tourism strategy consultant to Cape Town Tourism comes from Edinburgh! 

Mrs Helmbold showed a video presentation by Silver Bullet meant to represent Cape Town.  It was certainly not one of a beautiful Cape Town, but one of a very cloudy looking Cape Town, with a lot of focus on clouds billowing over Table Mountain and the Twelve Apostles, and what appeared as a fast-speed race through Cape Town.  I was NOT inspired by it, and it did not represent any of the Inspiration that Mrs Helmbold had presented to the audience.

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

Cape Town is bidding to be selected as World Design Capital 2014, reports the Cape Argus.  The Cape Town Partnership is driving the bid, and its bid focuses on making Cape Town a better place to live.  It is a pity, however, that the logo designed for the bid is so boring, and does not reflect the design wealth and creativity of Cape Town, nor its beauty.

The Cape Town bid for World Design Capital 2014 has the slogan ”Live design, transform life”, and will benefit Capetonians if Cape Town wins, in attracting interest in and visitors to our beautiful city.

The World Design Capital project promotes the value of design in ‘managing and reshaping cities’.   It is a project of the International Council for Societies of Industrial Design.   It aims to show how design can tackle the problems of urbanisation in making ‘cities more attractive, more livable, and more efficient’.  It encourages organised urbanisation through planning, design and management of cities.  

A winning design city is selected every two years, and in that year the city commits to using design to address its urbanisation challenges, and showcases design achievements of that city through a program of design events and activities.   Two cities are short-listed every two years, and have to expand on their design proposal, to be selected as a winner.  The selection for 2014 takes place in two years’ time.   Likely competitors for Cape Town include Bilbao and a number of Chinese cities.  

The Cape Town World Design Capital bid focuses on the natural beauty of Cape Town, set between two World Heritage sites, being Table Mountain and Robben Island, its cultural diversity, cuisine, music, dance, unique language, and its urban design and designers.  In the city centre there are more than 1000 creativity-related companies alone, including ad agencies, architecture and urban design practices, IT companies, and fashion and jewellery design companies.  

The annual Design Indaba has already established Cape Town’s credentials as the leader in international design, attracting the world’s top designers as speakers as well as delegates (putting Martha Stewart on the programme earlier this year was the first Design Indaba flop).   In addition, a number of Cape Town-based urban designers and architects have won international design awards.

The Green Goal programme, which was designed to offset the carbon footprint of the World Cup, forms part of the city’s bid, and has achieved international recognition.   Over the past few years the city has attracted residents back to living in the city, in beautifully designed warehouses and lofts.  Salt River and Woodstock have been regenerated, with furniture and lighting design companies opening there, as have art galleries, eateries and one of the city’s largest markets at the Old Biscuit Mill.   The benefits of urban living in using the new modern and world-class Integrated Rapid Transport system to get around the city forms part of the bid.   The film and television industry also forms part of the bid, having been an important means of attracting international productions to the Mother City in the past.

Cape Town’s bid for World Design Capital 2014 is being managed by the Cape Town Partnership’s Lorelle Bell, and she is requesting Capetonians to alert her to all the design-related assets of Cape Town, to be included in the Cape Town Bid Book.  Contact her: lorelle@capetownpartnership.co.za and see more details about Cape Town’s bid for World Design Capital 2014 at www.capetown2014.co.za

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

Santé means health in French.  While it may be built in the Tuscan style, Santé is anything but healthy, and has a long way to go to reach the level it once had when it opened six or so years ago.   It is badly maintained and managed, and should not have opened so early, a mere two months ago, before achieving its 5-star grading it once had.

Let me start at the beginning.  Santé was the dream of Eduard du Plessis and his then partner in a design agency KSDP Pentagraph.  They sold their agency to the largest London-based design agency, and it was the money they made that led to the development of the “160 hectare working wine estate”, consisting of a 10-bedroom Manor House, 39 Spa Suites (different buildings with suites in each), and privately-owned homes, which were to be rented out to give the owners rental income.  Southern Sun was awarded the contract to run the hotel at that time, and it was professionally run, and its Walter Battiss collection, the private property of Du Plessis, lent it class and modernity.  It had an outstanding Spa, which Conde Nast voted as one of the Top 3 in the world in 2006.

Du Plessis and his partners sold Santé to Fidentia, whose Arthur Brown is facing fraud charges.  When he was arrested, the Hotel was closed down, as there was no money for its upkeep.  In the past two years numerous rumours circulated as to hotel groups buying the property, said to be valued at around R300 – R400 million.   I had stayed at Santé in both the Southern Sun and the Fidentia eras, the former a good, the latter a bad, experience.

In May this year, after a two year silence, the first media reports announced the re-opening of the Hotel and Spa on 1 June, it having been leased by Carlos Vilela from the liquidators for a 10 year period, with the option to buy it during this period, according to a media report.  It was a Cape Timesfeature on Santé, as well as a glowing review in the August edition of The Franschhoek Month, that made me pick up the phone and make a booking.   I wanted to stay after the Women’s Day long weekend, thinking the hotel would be full over the weekend, but the reverse was true.  A large contingent of police persons was to take over the hotel for a conference this week, and therefore I chose to spoil myself for the weekend. (After my stay, a staff member confirmed that the police party had cancelled).

I did the reservation with Ilse Bock, who quoted R 1500 per room, but R1000 for single occupancy.  She nagged me to book, but I received nothing from her.  In frustration I spoke to Janet Samuel, the Deputy GM, who had an attitude which should have served as a warning.   She told me that the server was down, which was not allowing e-mails to go through. They resorted to faxing the reservation details and credit card authorisation form (plus a string of most off-putting terms and conditions), barely legible because the type size was so small.   Lo and behold, a second warning I should have heeded, was that the rate was confirmed as R 1500, but Ilse quickly changed it, saying she had quoted me an incorrect rate but that she would honour it.

I asked Ilse what star grading the hotel has, and Ilse could not answer initially, but then said 5-stars.   She sounded so hesitant about this, that I asked her to ask the General Manager to call me.  Despite the GM Kristien De Kinder being off-duty, she did call, and confirmed that they are not 5-star graded yet.  She told me that she would not accept a lesser grading, and that they are working on achieving the 5-star requirements.  In the same breath, without asking her, she shared with me how difficult it is to manage staff, and told me that she had “fired” (her words) 20 staff in the previous week.  This should have been the strongest warning of all, but I was optimistic that the staff remaining would be efficient in running the Hotel and Spa.

I was chased by Spa Manager Anja Liebenberg to make the Spa bookings, as she said they book up very quickly, especially over weekends.  I understood later why she was pressurising me to book, as she was off for the first two days of my stay, and wanted to make the bookings personally, on request of her GM.  Second, I discovered that they have many treament rooms but only six therapists, which means that they cannot take many clients.  I checked with Anja whether I would be eligible for the 25 % Spa treatment discount, which Ilse had sent with all the documentation (8 pages of Spa prices alone) – she was shocked, saying it was only 10 % off, but if I had been sent this offer (an opening special for June), she would honour it!

The dreadful dirt-road to the hotel, off the R45 from Klapmuts to Franschhoek, is still as bad as ever, and no grader has been sent there recently to scrape the road.   When I came to what I thought were the gates of the estate, there was no branding for the Hotel – just a brown tourism sign and the name of a farm on the walls.  It took the security person five minutes to get up to move the cones, without checking who I was from the board he had in his hand – a worrying introduction to the hotel security!  I was greeted by name by receptionist Michelle, and I asked her how she knew who I was – it transpired that I was the only guest staying in the hotel on the first night.   I was assisted with my luggage, had a room with a view onto the Paarl mountains and a dam, and on the surface nothing had changed, the original furniture still being in place.  Towels are new.   Michelle sweetly helped me get the internet going, always a concern, and it worked perfectly.  I asked her which TV channels they have, and she told me 11!   She could not tell me which they were, and they were not in the room book (they are SABC 1,2, 3, e-tv, M-Net, two SuperSport channels, Movie Magic1 and CNN).  After dinner I discovered that SABC3, which had the only decent movie, had no volume, and it took 45 minutes for the staff on duty to fix this.

Much later that evening I discovered that there were no drinks in the room bar fridge, the bath towels were not bath sheets, which one would expect for a 5 star-to-be hotel.  There were no spare rolls of toilet paper.  The glass shelf in the shower tilts, so the products tend to slide off it when it gets wet.  I froze that evening, discovering that there was only a thin artificial duvet on the bed, and no blankets in the cupboards – I was told that the CEO does not want to allow down duvet inners (a cost issue?) .   I could not get the underfloor heating to work, even though the setting was at 30 C.  In the end I had to switch on the airconditioner, to be able to sleep.  I had to call Reception to check how to switch off all the room lights, in a central control panel hidden behind the bedside table, but too far from the bed to switch them off!

The next morning I rushed to breakfast to meet the 11h00 deadline (not how I like to spend my precious time off). I stepped into the Breakfast Room, only to find the tables laid but no buffet table laid out at all!  I was told by the waitress that they don’t do it when they have so few guests.   The Restaurant Manager Sofia reiterated this, and I told her that I did not find this acceptable, and she laid out a tiny set of bowls with cereals, fruit and yoghurt, on the corner of the buffet table furthest away from me.   There was miscommunication between the waitress and Sofia, as I had ordered two slices of toast with my eggs, and the waitress only brought one slice.  I was told that I had only ordered one slice, and therefore I did not receive another!  I had to beg for a second slice.   I had to ask Sofia to not serve me any further food, as she smelt so strongly of smoking when she brought the eggs.  Kristien the GM came to chat and asked if all was in order, but when I told her of my experiences since my arrival, she looked at me as if it was completely normal that I should have experienced all these problems.  She seemed particularly sensitive about my reaction to their restaurant winelist (see my review tomorrow of Sommelier Restaurant), which she had received from her staff.   I must commend her presence at the hotel on each weekend day – a first for a GM in any hotel I have ever visited!

The Housekeeping Manager Anja had come to chat at dinner on the first night, even though she had nothing to do with the restaurant, and gave me some valuable background.  She herself runs a guest house in Wellington, while the GM Kristien runs her 5-bedroom guest house Perle-du-Cap in Paarl alongside her GM job at Sante.  It transpired that the new CEO Carlos Vilela runs a restaurant called Asia in Paarl, and closed down another two weeks ago, called Perola Restaurant (could be first signs of cashflow problems, in conjunction with the staff firing, especially as some of the more forthcoming staff told me that the fired staff  – with one exception who is working out a month - left with immediate effect, due to cost cutting).  Anja met Carlos at the latter restaurant, and this led to her appointment, and seemed the route of the GM’s appointment too – these two managers were not mentioned in media reports covering the opening function on 1 June (at which Western Cape MEC for Finance, Economic Development and Tourism Alan Winde spoke and over-optimistically praised the hotel for helping to boost the economy of the Western Cape, creating “150 employment opportunities”).   Most staff working in the Hotel come from Paarl, not known as being the centre of service excellence.  Both Anja and Kristien are Belgian and friends.  Anja was willing to please, and she organised extra blankets (very thin summer throws) but brought to the room by equally heavy smoking-smelling housekeeping staff, and got electric blankets from the Spa when I asked her if this was possible.   The bar fridge was stocked the following day, but was not switched on, so no drinks were cold.    After this I was ready to settle in and enjoy myself, after the bad start, or so I thought.  An enjoyable facial by a most friendly and obliging Charlene confirmed that all was on track, except that an error had been made for a massage booking for the following day, but was quickly fixed.   I was surprised that the GM and her Managers wear “civvies”, a most unusual dress code for a 5-star-to-be hotel.

In a paid-for advertorial in a Wellness supplement in the Cape Times of 30 July the hotel writes: “We are not here to re-invent the wheel, but to bring Santé back to life and provide our guests with the ultimate in service excellence and bestow upon them the luxury spa experience that one would expect from an establishment as ours”.  It goes on to state:  “All staff was hand-chosen and appointed for their distinctive customer-service ethics (sic) and their outstanding achievements in their professional fields.  Our mission is to offer you a place where you forget all your worries and trust us as professionals of beauty, rejuvenation, wellness, relaxation, tranquillity and peace to bring you back to life”.   It concludes with Vilela being quoted: “We are aiming high to exceed previous standards and guest expectations.  Every member of my team has the same vision and is committed to making this a reality”!  Promises I discovered that they are nowhere near achieving.

I was woken by the “Niagra Falls” outside my room on the second (rainy) day of my stay - the hotel building does not appear to have gutters, and all the rainwater came down in one section outside my room.   I saw some buckets in the passage to the Breakfast room too, to catch water from the leaks inside the hotel. The occupancy of the hotel had improved to full house in the Manor House, and so a Breakfast Buffet was set up in the Restaurant, and not in the breakfast room.  I was not told this, so once again I saw the bare buffet table, and sat waiting for service, but there was none!  When I went looking for staff, I was told that the breakfast was served in the restaurant.   Most dishes were three-quarter empty, and there was no fresh fruit at all.  There was no one to ask for some for about 15 minutes.  When I saw Sofia and asked her about the fruit, she said that they were busy cutting it, and stated that she had been checking the mini-bars in the rooms, explaining aggressively that she cannot be expected to be in the restaurant all the time, and that breakfast finishes at 11h00.  She had a list she was ticking off in terms of hotel guests who had come for breakfast, and she would have seen that three further rooms’ guests had not yet come for breakfast, arriving even later than I did.   Kristien the GM came to greet and chat to guests at a table close by, and ignored me completely, not a good sign.

I went to the Spa, to enjoy the facilities, or so I had hoped.  The first step was to sign an indemnity, requested by Anja the Spa Manager.   I went upstairs, and was shocked to see that most of the lovely innovative original features of the Spa were not working – the Experiential showers were in near-darkness, riddled with wet used towels lying on the floor, and the lovely fragrances of the showers of days gone by – e.g. rainforest, mint - have gone, and the water was ice cold, not attractive on a cold and wet winter’s day.   The Laconium door was open, and its light on, but it was not working – there was no sign on the door to tell one that it was out of order!   An open door intrigued me, but I soon discovered that it was the geyser room, and not a treatment room, so I retreated out of that quickly!   All that was left to enjoy then was the pool, but it had two babies and very loud foreigners dominating it, whom the Spa Manager was unable to get to leave, as children under 16 are not allowed in the Spa section of the property at all.  Some downlighters in the pool area do not work.   I wanted to shower after being in the pool, but all the showers in the Ladies cloakroom had no hot water.  I was now close to having had enough.  The Spa Manager Anja apologised, saying that it was a day in which everything was going wrong (it was only lunchtime then).   There was no notification on the cloakroom to warn one of the lack of hot water.

I saw Kristien the GM in Reception, and reported the Spa cold water problem to her – once again, she had the “I know all about it, and we are working on it” air about her, and then lashed out at me, in close distance of hotel guests who heard her, about how I had done nothing but complain since I had arrived.  I reminded her of all the problems I had experienced, and she did the “my staff are perfect” routine, adding insult to injury by asking why I had not left if I was not happy.  I told her it was because the hotel had taken a 50 % deposit, and would be taking the balance on my departure.  The way she said it, it sounded as if she would absolve me from the second 50 % payment, and this made me decide to leave, given everything that I had experienced.  When I went to the Reception, the Duty Manager Mannie asked me to sit down to pay – the second 50 % of the accommodation cost being on the bill, even though I was leaving one day early, at the “invitation” of the GM.  I “invited” Mannie to ask Mr Vilela, the hotel CEO, who once worked at Sun City, the only background that I could find about him on Google, to call me to discuss the bill.  I am still waiting for him to call, and to react to my review, which I sent to him for comment, offering to post his reply with it.

The Santé website is full of exaggerations and dishonesty: it describes the 10 Manor House rooms as “gorgeous suites”.  They have a massive bed (although 5 of them have two double beds, which cannot be made up as king beds, as they are stand-alone, annoying Larry and Heather Katz, one of the couples staying there).  It quotes UK Elle as it being “One of the Top 16 Spa’s on Earth” – yes, about 4 years ago, with working, state-of-the-art facilities at that time!  It provides the menu for Cadeaux, a restaurant meant to be in the Spa section, but the restaurant has not been in operation since the hotel opened!  The Sommelier restaurant is mentioned, but there is no menu for it!  Chef Neil Rogers is mentioned as being in charge of “both” restaurants, but he was one of the 20 staff to be fired!  (I heard that a chef from Grootbos is starting in September).  The food photographs on the website are nothing like the food that was served at Sommelier.  The “Terms and Conditions” state that children are welcomed in the Spa Suites only, but two children were in the Manor House, and were not kept quiet by their parents or the hotel staff.  The hotel brochures are more than two years old, reflecting the paintings on the walls at that time, and not what has replaced them now, and also refer to its “5-stars”, an absolute no-no!  The room folder had the “Happy Anniversary” card to Mr & Mrs Nothnagel still in it!

What can I praise? The location and its view, but far more attractive in summer – my room was in shade all day, making it cold and dark.  The “captiveness” of it, as the gravel road is so bad that one is not encouraged to leave the property to take a drive to Paarl, Franschhoek or Stellenbosch.   The Sunday Times and Weekend Argus being available.   The wonderful therapist Charlene, who did the facial.   The use of the innovative grape-based TheraVine product range in the Spa (but not carried through into the hotel rooms, where the Rooibos range is stocked).

I was most relieved to leave the Santé “zoo” after enduring two days of stress whilst staying there, the exact opposite to what I had come for!   The Hotel’s marketing is dishonest and its website misleading and out of date.  Santé is still a “sleeping beauty” and has not yet woken up to the real world of accommodation hospitality and Spa excellence it so proudly boasts about!

POSTSCRIPT 10/5: I was informed today that Santé has a new CEO, being Hans Heuer, who took over from 1 April. This has been confirmed in an article in the Indaba newsletter, which states that “Santé Hotel, Resort and Spa is under new management and ownership”.  I will look for more information on Mr Heuer’s background.  Carlos Vilela and his wife Sharon have left.  The receptionist told me that Kristien, and both Anjas left some time ago, and that all the managers working there in August last year have left.   The new Resident Manager is Leanne Myburgh, the Resident Manager is Basil Trompeter, and the new Spa Manager is Friena Beukes. 

POSTSCRIPT 10/8:  Hans Heuer, the new Santé CEO, read and left a comment with his cell number on this blogpost.  I called him and we agreed to meet for coffee.  I was keen to meet at Santé, to see how things have changed since my stay exactly a year ago.  We made an appointment to meet yesterday at 2 pm, on my way back from Franschhoek to Cape Town.  When I arrived at the security gate to Santé, and I told the ‘lady’ called Smit that I was seeing Mr Heuer, she let me past her traffic cones.  Two staff members stood outside in the sun when I walked to the reception, and both greeted me, but none asked how they could assist.  Mannie stood in Reception, and recognised me from my last visit, but called me ‘Mrs Ulmenstein’, getting both my surname and marital status wrong.  He seemed surprised when I told him about my appointment with Mr Heuer, saying that he was in Cape Town.  He called Mr Heuer, who said that something had come up!  Mr Heuer sent me an sms to apologise for standing me up fifteen minutes later, meaning that he had my cell number, and could therefore have called to cancel our appointment.  I did not respond to the sms, but Tweeted about being stood up.  This led to a number of less than complimentary Tweets about Santé, one of the Tweeters being a tour operator who had stayed at Santé the week before.  When we left the property, the security ‘lady’ did not remove the traffic cones, which meant that we had to stop at the gate and hoot for her to do so.  I asked whether she had not seen us driving the 200 meters to the gate.  She glared at me, and then burst forth in an uncalled-for attack, saying ‘You people with money think that you can be rude to us’!  What a send-off!  This morning Mr Heuer called, with quite an aggressive tone, saying that I should know that things come up in the last minute in the hospitality industry (no, I don’t know this!), and saying that he had sms’d me – I reminded that it was half an hour after our appointment time!  He then became personal, saying that he had done research on me, and that I am just out to write negative things.  Yet Mr Heuer had admitted in a previous conversation that things at Santé had been disastrous under the previous management, and that is why he had taken over the running of the hotel and spa!  I could not help but think that Santé is a stand-up comedy, and will never make it back to its original glory!

Santé Winelands Hotel & Wellness Centre, on R45, between Klapmuts and Franschhoek.  tel (021) 875-8100  www.santewellness.co.za

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

The best compliment that FIFA could pay South Africa is the declaration by Jerome Valcke, FIFA Secretary-General, two weeks ago that “South Africa will always be a Plan B for any World Cup”, reports AFP, and an amazing compliment to the Local Organising Committee (LOC), as well as to South Africans across the board, in organising the best “party” in the world and showing the “gees” of our nation to our visitors and to our fellow countrymen.

FIFA praised the country for what it believes will have been a ”perfect” World Cup.  “If on July 11, we are on the same level as we are today (3 weeks ago), I would say it’s a perfect World Cup”, he said.  Initial transport problems led to empty seats at the Opening Match in Johannesburg on 11 June, but these problems were quickly ironed out.

The World Cup has made South Africa and the continent of Africa “sexy”.  At the TIME and CNN Global Forum, which was held in Cape Town two weeks ago, and was attended by a large number of the world’s global business leaders, South Africa’s smooth hosting of the World Cup had changed perceptions about the country and the continent, speakers said, reports The Sunday IndependentTIME editor Michael Elliot said that the country is riding an “extraordinary wave of energy and optimism”, and stated that South Africa is “on the verge of tremendous opportunity”.

So how has South Africa benefited from the World Cup?    The benefits have been financial and emotional:

1.   A legacy of infrastructure – I disliked the word “legacy” initially, when I heard politicians justify the billions of Rands to be spent, but now that legacy is concrete, with ten new or upgraded stadiums around the country, fantastic roadworks leading into Host Cities, and around the stadiums, airports of an international standard (almost all, given the embarrassing fiasco at King Shaka airport in Durban), a Gautrain in Johannesburg and a modernised train station in Cape Town, new modern buses, upgraded city pavements, city greening and new city artwork to beautify the Fan Walks.

2.  The “gees” Ke Nako that was the theme of the World Cup grew throughout the World Cup into an unheard of spirit of national pride, surpassing that of the Rugby World Cup in 1995. The nation-building power of sport, first through the rugby match between the Stormers and the Blue Bulls in the Orlando Stadium, and the powerful bonding of South Africans in supporting the Bafana Bafana team, as well as them demonstrating the pride in their country via mirror socks, flags on the cars, and flags on their homes and businesses, has been one of the most wonderful benefits of the World Cup, and is likely to last well beyond the end of the World Cup. For the first time the country became proud citizens of their continent too, in supporting “BaGhana BaGhana”, when they were the final African team to play in the tournament.   Many South Africans doubted their nation’s ability to host an event of this magnitude across nine different locations around the large country, but she has done her country proud.  Locals are already calling for a regular way of displaying unity, by putting up flags, wearing the Bafana Bafana colours, or those of our country’s flag. 

3.  The improvement in South Africa’s image world-wide is the best legacy of all, and perhaps we needed to hear bluntly at the start of the World Cup how dimly we were viewed by the world.   Whilst we hated her broadcasts, Emma Hurd of SkyNews was the wet blanket that reminded us day in and day out about how dreadful life can be for many of our citizens, but even then the TV station changed its tune, its broadcasts became more and more positive, and Ms Hurd’s focus moved more to the soccer and less on the social imbalances.   Maybe it was a blessing that England fell out of the tournament so early on, which led to less interest in the World Cup reporting by the station.   Reporter after reporter has written about how they feared coming to the country, having heard about its reputation of crime, AIDS, poverty, and even apartheid, but all wrote about how pleasantly surprised they were about the spirited and united nation they saw, and about the first class facilities they encountered.   Not only South Africa but Africa benefited in image, as written above already.   Africa has been the step-child of the world, and it was the “social responsibility ” of the world, and FIFA in particular, that saw South Africa awarded the rights to hosting the 2010 World Cup – a tremendous leap in faith for the body at the time, but a dividend that has paid off richly for FIFA President Sepp Blatter and his team, not just in terms of their revenue earned, but also in their image for having the faith and in sticking behind South Africa, denying that they ever had a Plan B and a Plan C.

4.   The control over crime was a surprise even for South Africans.  The cancellation of the contract between the FIFA Local Organising Committee and Stallion Security at the Cape Town and Durban stadiums was no security loss at all, and the police did an outstanding job in handling the security of the stadiums, as well as of the Host Cities in general, with high police visibility, and a marked reduction in crime in general.  Western Cape Premier Helen Zille told the Cape Town Press Club that a BBC interviewer had expressed his surprise to her about not seeing the “expected crime wave”, reports the Weekend Argus.  Never before had such visible policing been seen, not only in and around the stadiums, but generally in city streets and in shopping malls.  One wondered where they had been hidden all these years, and hopes they will remain.  South Africa was not prepared to compromise safety, its biggest vulnerability, and I experienced what I first thought was a crazy safety procedure to have my car security-checked at the Green Point Traffic Department, with a car search, a sniffer dog search,  a search underneath the car, and a personal security check, then a blue light escort into the stadium.   Special World Cup law courts also acted immediately on World Cup-related crimes, and meted out harsh fines and penalties for theft and other crimes, and the incident of the British fan entering the England team changing room, and the subsequent admission of guilt payment by the Sunday Mirror reporter related to this matter, attracted varying reaction to the harshness of the fines. 

5.   Whilst South Africa was shunned as a “rip-off” country for its cost of flights, accommodation, transport  and World Cup packages prior to the World Cup, due to the 30 % commission add-on by FIFA hospitality and ticketing agency MATCH to already high prices of flights, accommodation and transport, the prices of all of these aspects of the World Cup quickly dropped when MATCH cancelled the bulk of its booked rooms, and SAA cancelled the seats MATCH had booked.   It was unheard of that accommodation rates dropped during a world event, but pricing is about supply and demand, and the lower than expected demand necessitated the decrease in rates, which did increase last-minute bookings to some extent.  It was gratifying to see soccer fans book their own accommodation, preferring to book more reasonably priced guest houses.  It is hoped that the world will forget its initial image of our country in this regard.

6.   The biggest surprise for locals was the power and fun of the Fan Walk in Cape Town.  It appeared that this may have been the only city in South Africa to have one.  Despite one’s scepticism of the concept initially, given Cape Town’s winter weather, not even rain could deter ticket holders and even towards the end, on a sunny afternoon, Capetonians without tickets from walking the Walk.    The flags put up everywhere became a trademark, and made Cape Town look festive, and one hopes they will stay, and give a nostalgic memory of the biggest party Cape Town has ever experienced.

7.   South Africa has new tourism icons, the very beautifully designed stadiums becoming tourism assets in their own rights.   The Soccer City, Durban, Cape Town and Nelspruit stadiums in particular are beautifully designed.  Cape Town had a Big Six it marketed – now it has the Big Seven, the Cape Town Stadium added, which became the backdrop to most broadcasts from the city.

8.   If it has not been said above, the interpersonal tolerance between South Africans seems to have improved, and small courtesies towards other pedestrians, motorists and shoppers are manifestations of the wonderful spirit of “South Africanism”.

9.   “White” South Africans have caught the soccer spirit, and the majority never were interested in this sport.   One never thought that locals would rush off in such large numbers to buy their match tickets online, and to queue for tickets at FIFA outlets in Host Cities, even camping outside the doors the night before.  More than 3 million tickets were sold, and about two-thirds went to South Africans.  We all became enraptured with the game, and all learnt new terminology about soccer (although most of us still do not know if it is ‘soccer’ or ‘football’ that we have been watching!).  We got to know the names of new soccer heroes – Diego Forlan, Thomas Mueller, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Miroslav Klose, and many more, for their performance on the pitches.

10.  School children but also adults learnt about geography in terms of the participating nations, so that Serbia, Slovenia, Slovakia, and the South American countries of Uruguay and Paraguay could be placed.  Nestle ran a “Children of the World” promotion, with information about different participating countries on their Smarties boxes.   Hopefully South Africa featured on the atlas of children and residents of the world community whilst they watched the many matches in the past month, and saw their countries’ TV stations present documentaries about our country.   We got to know the flags of participating nations. 

11.  Musically, life will never be the same, the vuvuzela being synonymous with the 2010 World Cup, and will no doubt be the “spirit maker” at future sporting events around the world.   Loved and hated, the “toot toot” during broadcasts and live matches were part of this sporting event.  FIFA President Blatter refused to have it banned, when called upon to do so by the world media and by players, who said that they could not hear their coaches and the referees.  The world’s largest vuvuzela was erected on Cape Town’s unfinished highway for World Cup sponsor Hyundai.   Two songs will go down in World Cup history – “Waka Waka” by Shakira, much scorned when it first received airplay on radio, but now synonymous with the event, South Africa, and even Africa – as well as K’Naan’s “Waving Flags”.

12.   It is the future tourism legacy that will hopefully benefit the country, in that it will attract tourists to our country in future.  Due to the improvement in South Africa’s image and the wonderful documentaries about South Africa (for example German TV station ZDF dedicated hours of coverage of South Africa, using our ex-Miss South Africa Jo-Ann Strauss, speaking her best possible German – she is engaged to a German), one can hope for an influx of tourists for years to come, but one must be realistic about the depressed economy internationally, and even locally, said our Governor of the Reserve Bank Gill Marcus last week.

13.  If there is one name we will never forget in the context of the World Cup, it is the by now well-known Paul the Octopus from Oberhausen in Germany, who correctly predicted 5 wins and 2 losses for Germany, as well as the win for Spain against the Netherlands in the Final. He even has a Twitter page @PPsychicOctopus, which surpassed 500 Followers in just four days.

14.   The media coverage for South Africa has been phenominal, many countries sending media representatives not only reporting about the soccer but also doing documentaries about the cities in which they were based.  The BBC had a special Studio built on top of the Somerset Hospital, giving it a fantastic view of a beautiful Table Mountain on the one side, and of the beautiful Cape Town Stadium on the other side.   An hour after the Final last night, ZDF was still broadcasting about South Africa and the World Cup, recapping the highlights of the sport event and of the country.  Even normally cynical Oliver Kahn, who was a co-presenter, praised the organisation, hospitality, friendliness and lack of hooliganism of our host country.  ZDF probably was the TV station that gave our country the most, and most positive, TV coverage.   The Final is expected to have been seen by 700 million TV viewers around the world last night.

15.   The power of the endorsement in terms of VIP attendance at the matches is unmeasurable, and those celebrities that are on Twitter, Paris Hilton and Shakira for example, who expressed their delight, spread the word even further.  Nelson Mandela and his wife Graca Machel, Queen Sofia of Spain, her son Crown Prince Felipe and his wife Letizia, Holland’s Crown Prince Willem Alexander and his wife Maxima, Prince Carl Philip of Sweden, Prince Albert of Monaco and Charlene Wittstock, German President Christian Wulff, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Luia da Silva, Charlize Theron, Morgan Freeman, Mick Jagger, Kimora Lee Simons, Leonardo DiCaprio, Andrea Bocelli, Franz Beckenbauer, injured ex-German captain Michael Ballack, Bill Clinton, David Beckham, will.i.am and the Black Eyed Peas, Naomi Campbell, Princes William and Harry, London Mayor Boris Johnson and many more attended the matches over the past month.

16.  Despite the winter timing of the tournament, Cape Town and Port Elizabeth’s weather generally played ball.  Cape Town had three rain days during matches, and challenged the perception of Johannesburgers that it rains all the time.  

17.   The smooth logistical running of the World Cup has opened up the country to bid for other events, and the 2020 Olympics is the next event the country has been invited to bid for.   IOC President Jacques Rogge has been in the country for more than a week, and has been warmly recommended the country by his friend FIFA President Sepp Blatter.

18.  Social media marketing received a tremendous boost during the World Cup, and peaked on 11 June, the start of the World Cup.   Only one event challenged interest in the early part of the event, being the engagement of South African Charlene Wittstock to Prince Albert of Monaco.  As soon as the USA and England teams were eliminated, web traffic fell dramatically, partly though due to the problems with the SEACOM cable for those websites that are hosted overseas by their servers.   Yet action on Twitter never let off, and whenever a goal was scored, Twitter crashed. Twitter users followed soccer stars they had not previously heard of, and even Sepp Blatter opened a Twitter page (@SeppBlatter). 

19.   The initial high airline ticket prices encouraged many locals as well as tourists to drive between Cape Town and Port Elizabeth, and also to other parts of the country, to save on costs, thus supporting tourism in smaller towns and cities that were not Host Cities.  One hopes that this will lead to a rediscovery of the Garden Route, an area that has suffered badly as far as tourism goes in the past three years.

20.   One can be grateful from a business perspective that the World Cup did take place in winter, a normally quiet period, therefore not influencing productivity, or lack of, badly on match days, and on Bafana Bafana match days specifically, which saw shops and businesses close early.   This is compared to many companies that close for their Christmas/New Year break, when Cape Town is at its busiest.

21.   The surprise benefits of coming to the country for the international soccer fans was the beauty of the country, and in Cape Town the fans were surprised about what special beauty the city offers – the mountains, the sea, the wildlife at Cape Point, and the winelands.

22.   Soccer fans that arrived without tickets and locals enjoyed the “gees” at the Host Cities’ Fan Parks, many offering top notch musical entertainment every day, and broadcasting all matches.  In early days the Fan Park on the Grand Parade had to be closed, due to over-capacity.  Other fans went pub-hopping, Long Street being popular for this, with numerous bars and restaurants with televisions.  The V&A Waterfront was another popular destination, and every restaurant agreed to install TV sets for the duration of the World Cup.   Paulaner Brauhaus and other hospitality marquees set up at the Clocktower side of the V&A did extremely well, and I personally queued at the Paulaner Brauhaus for as long as 2 hours for the semi-final between Germany and Spain.   The law of supply and demand forced greedy hospitality marquee owners to radically reduce their entrance fees, where these were charged, from over R 100 per person, to about R 20.

23.  FIFA must be congratulated on their determination in making this an excellent World Cup, and were based in Johannesburg for a number of years, to guide the management of the event.  It gave us great confidence that the event would be a success, even though so many locals were sceptical.  FIFA executives were also ruthless in their deadlines for the completion of the stadiums, and the infrastructure, which was excellent in making everything come together, even if it felt that some work was very much last minute.   FIFA insisted on the police presence and the instant law courts, and they have dramatically reduced crime in the past four weeks.

The World Cup has not been super-perfect, and had some blemishes:

1.  I have written copiously about MATCH, FIFA’s hospitality and ticketing agency, and its ruthless attempt at exploitation of the accommodation industry, which unfortunately backfired badly for the agency, for the accommodation industry and for the image of the country as far as affordability, or lack of, goes.

2.   Many empty seats were visible, especially in the early matches, and were attributed to transport problems in Johannesburg at the first match, and to sponsors not allocating all their tickets.

3.   The inability and thereafter late landing of four aircraft at King Shaka airport in Durban on the day that Germany played Spain was the biggest logistical blunder of the tournament, and left many German fans angry about the costs they had incurred to see the match.   ACSA is offering a reported compensation of R400 per head!

4.    Restaurant business dropped dramatically, and fine dining establishments that refused to succumb to TV sets lost business badly, especially on match days in their cities.  Theatre and general entertainment also suffered, and the popular Jonny Cooper Orchestra closed down a show in Camps Bay two weeks ahead of schedule.   Retail outlets did not gain from the World Cup, and the opposite probably is true.   Sales of the Cape Times and Cape Argus have been said by its management to have been the worst ever in the past four weeks.

5.   The negative media reporting focused on only one theme – the great divide that still remains in South Africa, between haves and have-nots, and the irony of the monies spent on the stadiums relative to the lack of proper housing for all of its population will have to be addressed.   One hopes that the future impact on tourism, and resultant employment, will address this problem.  But it will also mean a new attitude by employees to value their jobs and terms of employment.

6.   The early exit of England in particular was damaging to tourism, as multitudes of fans were standing by to fly to South Africa to support their team.  The England fans were the best for accommodation business, but their bookings were linked to their team’s playing schedule.

7.  The biggest loser of the World Cup probably is FIFA itself, in terms of its image, Sepp Blatter having been booed at the Final and also on another occasion.    FIFA also came under fire about its card-happy referees, the British referee Howard Webb setting the record for the highest number of cards, with 14 yellow cards and one red card during the wild Final match.  The lack of technology to check on the admissibility of goals was also severely criticised.

8.  FIFA’s technology also failed when demand for tickets became so great, that its system crashed on numerous occasions, a dent to its image of perfection and organisation.

9.   The more than 25 000 volunteers that were appointed by FIFA and its LOC, were poorly utilised in terms of their skills and day-job capabilities and were extremely poorly managed.   They were “employed” outside of the South African labour legislation, and had to sign for this in their contracts.   They had tax deducted from their meal allowances when these were paid into their bank accounts.  In Cape Town they were served disgustingly bad food for three days, and were not compensated for it in terms of their meal allowances.   They did not all receive the designated volunteer clothing, even though it was ordered about 6 months ago when the volunteers were appointed.  Volunteers attended three days of training in April plus a morning in May, and were not compensated.   Huge dissatisfaction existed about the forced McDonald’s diet of R 60 per day, which the LOC would not alter at all, the most unhealthy food they could have been fed.  The Green Point branch next to the stadium made a fortune out of this arrangement, yet their service and food quality was shocking – the Volunteer Co-ordinator had to call the branch regularly with complaints.   Volunteers were forced to drink Coke, when many preferred water, Bonaqua being a Coca Cola brand too.   Quotas were set for the amount of water and Coke that each volunteer had to receive.   The Volunteer Farewell Function last week started two hours late, was badly organised, and lunch was served at 15h30, 1600 volunteers having to queue – many left at this stage.  More than a month after starting to work as volunteers, they have not yet been paid, despite a promise that they would be (now they are due to be paid at the end of July!).   Sadly, international volunteers left the country with an image of the poorest organisation of a World Cup relative to their experience of the 2002 and 2006 World Cups, a shame given that one third of the volunteers were from other countries around the world, and they will take this message back home with them.  I kept hearing them say that this must be “an African way” of doing things, a perception I tried to correct whenever I heard it.

10.   The FIFA sponsors Budweiser, McDonald’s and Coca Cola were not all positively received.  Budweiser was only served inside the stadiums, and comments via Twitter were only negative about the beer. McDonald’s became a swearword amongst the volunteers, and even the police and media working close to the Stadium must have disliked receiving the poor quality and service for more than a month.   Coca Cola became the butt of jokes about Paris Hilton getting the brand wrong when she was wrongfully arrested for smoking marijuana.   The food sold by concessionaires inside the Stadium was poor.

10.  FIFA also lost face when it fanatically reacted to ambush marketing, and the Kulula.com airline provoked FIFA in its newspaper ads.  Bavaria beer is the best known brand in South Africa, due to FIFA’s reaction to the Dutch brewery’s ambush marketing inside the stadium in Durban.

11.  Corruption in terms of Government departments and municipalities buying huge allocations of tickets has been hinted at, and no doubt further such claims will be written about in the media.

11.  Whilst the occupancy of accommodation establishments in Host Cities close to Stadiums was reasonable in the past 30 days (Whale Cottage Camps Bay at 71 %), the areas in smaller towns barely picked up any benefit in this period.   Sadly, business in May was at its worst ever, and what income was made in June, was offset by the “vacuum-effect” of the World Cup in May.     

12.  Last, but not least, is the anti-climax of the month-long party having come to an end.  The lives of many changed in the past month, with different habits, glued to television sets, children on holiday for 5 weeks, daily beer drinking habits having been developed, and the mundane side of life was set aside for the period.  Reality strikes today!  

POSTSCRIPT 18/7: FIFA gave South Africa a score of 9/10 for the hosting of the 2010 World Cup, reports The Times, up from the 7,5 rating for the hosting of the Confederations Cup last year.   FIFA President Blatter likened the score to a cum laude at university level.  “The greatest memory is the willingness and commitment of South Africans to show the world their ability to host this World Cup with discipline and honour” Blatter said.

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

A movie called “Ein Sommer in Kapstadt” (A Summer in Cape Town), flighted by one of the largest German TV stations ZDF on Sunday, has been the most wonderful PR exercise for Cape Town, the city having been presented from its most beautiful side.

The movie tells the story of a scorned wife, whose husband comes to Cape Town on a business trip.  She follows her husband to Cape Town when she finds him having an affair with a young Capetonian.  While the drama evolves, the main character drives across Cape Town, and the city’s magnificent beauty is captured through the magnificent filming: an opening shot from Bakoven in Camps Bay, onto the Twelve Apostles mountain range, some cute penguins running from the beach into the ocean, two lunches from a Blouberg restaurant right alongside the sea with the waves crashing while they eat, lots of driving along Victoria Road between Camps Bay and Hout Bay in an exotic blue sports car, Bo-Kaap, Signal Hill, lunch at the V&A Waterfront, Long Street, the winelands, and the top of Table Mountain.   The movie ends when the husband and wife reunite in a ”happy ever after” ending.

One hopes that the movie will encourage German TV viewers to book their next holiday in Cape Town, given the beautiful impression of the city it must have made upon them.

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