Entries tagged with “branding”.


Cape Town StadiumA week ago we picked up an article in the Cape Argus that intimated tender irregularities in the City of Cape Town’s Tourism, Events and Marketing Directorate, headed up by Executive Director Anton Groenewald, reporting to Grant Pascoe, Mayoral Committee member for Tourism, Events, and Marketing.  Now action appears to have been taken, with a follow up report about a forensic investigationGrant Pascoe and the removal of laptops used by staff in the Directorate, including Councillor Pascoe’s computer!

The original article was difficult to follow, and we have re-read it, to summarise the report as follows:  A three year multi-million Rand contract for branding for Cape Town (no logo has been created for brand Cape Town byAnton Groenewald Whale Cottage Portfolio Groenewald’s Directorate yet, as far as we know, and certainly has not been revealed for comment to date) was at risk of being cancelled, just as it was to be awarded.  The proposed cancellation was denied by the City of Cape Town, even though the Cape Argus has documentation confirming the proposed cancellation.  The branding was to be used at events, the City of Cape Town’s Finance department spokesperson Priya Reddy said.  She also denied that cancelling the tender would be contrary to the host city agreement for the Chan soccer tournament in January, which includes a R6 million marketing commitment.  The cancellation of the tender would be contrary to the City of Cape Town’s supply chain management policy.

Central to the branding drama appears to be Carol Avenant, and here the (more…)

Let me admit at the outset that I was sceptical as we set off to our dinner on Saturday evening at the new Reuben’s at the One&Only Cape Town, which opened last Wednesday.  I need not have been.  I was overwhelmed by how outstanding the food and service was, with fair prices for the food, but with generally more expensive dishes than those at Reuben’s in Franschhoek, and with very high prices for mostly exceptional wines.  Reuben’s at the One&Only Cape Town is a ‘grown-up’ and sophisticated Reuben’s, the best Reuben’s by far!

I have never written a review about Reuben’s Restaurant, despite it having been my favourite ever since I stumbled upon it in June 2004, when it first opened in Franschhoek.  Immediately I felt it was a restaurant for me, and it became my favourite, and we recommended it passionately to our Whale Cottage Franschhoek guests.  The initial service levels, which made Reuben’s the top of the Eat Out Top 10 Restaurants as well as Reuben Riffel the Top Chef six months after opening, could not be maintained, and gradually the service levels dropped, starting with the telephonic bookings, down to rude service from the then-sommelier/manager.

A review of the new Reuben’s needs to trace back the history of its opening at the One&Only Cape Town.  It is well-known that Gordon Ramsay’s maze opened at the hotel in April 2009, and that the contract with the restaurant was abruptly cancelled by the hotel at the end of July.  Reuben Riffel was tipped to open in Ramsay’s place, but Reuben denied this to us and to the media.   Clare McKeon-McLoughlin of Spill Blog confidently predicted Reuben’s appointment, even though Reuben had not yet made a final decision nor signed the contract.  We were told that her disclosure caused mayhem in the hotel, as staff at the hotel did not know about the appointment, and that the then Hotel PRO Etienne de Villiers’ supposed “endorsement” of the apppointment in the Spill blog post was untruthful, and may have led to his recent departure from the hotel.   It would appear that an Irish maze staff member, who has since returned to London, was the mole, spilling the beans to Spill.   In less than a month after the announcement of Reuben’s appointment, the restaurant has opened its doors at the One&Only Cape Town, and is confidently trading.   In terms of this controversy, Reuben says he prefers to stay out of it and remain in the kitchen!

When I made the booking on the morning of our dinner, the restaurant answered as “Restaurant at One&Only”, the interim name that the restaurant had before Reuben’s opened.   We were allowed to park in the basement of the hotel, and there is no charge.  When we walked into the restaurant, we could not help but feel that we were in maze.  I was looking for the Brasserie that Reuben had been quoted to be opening at the One&Only Cape Town, but we could not see it.  The same horrid carpet and massive orange lampshades are still there.   The furniture has not changed, although the table tops have been varnished and the Reuben’s name engraved into them.  Other than branding on the chic black and burgundy staff aprons, on the lift list, and on the menu, there is no Reuben’s branding outside or inside the restaurant.  Surprisingly, the orange/brown colouring of the maze interior matches Reuben’s rust brown colour scheme almost perfectly.   We were critical of the maze interior when we went there soon after its opening last year.  Reuben says that the interior will be amended in three stages, with the tables completed, and bistro boards with specials going up shortly.   The interior decorator that Reuben’s has used in Franschhoek and Robertson will be coming this week to see how she can soften the harsh hotel interior.

The maze and Reuben’s marriage will take some time to gel to the benefit of the new restaurant.   From maze the restaurant has inherited the decor, all the waitrons (there was no shortage of staff on the floor), managers and also kitchen staff, the outstanding sommelier Andre Bekker and his Diamond award-wining Diner’s Club Restaurant Winelist, a wine library of over 700 wines, the choice of three breads baked by the kitchen, and the waitron service standards that have been set in the past, being much higher than those of Reuben’s in Franschhoek.   From Reuben’s comes the menu, the little coarse salt pots on the tables, a far more informal style of dress (the ties of the managers have come off), a more relaxed interaction with customers, something that was not encouraged at maze, as well as new serving dishes and some cutlery.  The One&Only staff were trained by Reuben’s wife Maryke about their service standard, the menu and the food.  The staff have tasted the dishes, and are still doing so as Reuben fine-tunes the menu for the official 1 October start.   The winelist and the menu are miles apart, and need to find each other, the former being very expensive and also out of character with the Brasserie feel which Reuben’s wants to create, and with the winelists in Franschhoek and in Robertson.

The exact relationship between Reuben Riffel and the One&Only Cape Town is unclear, but the hotel employs and pays the Reuben’s kitchen and waitron staff.   The brief was for Reuben to get the best kitchen staff possible.  This reduces the risk for Reuben, and means that he is compensated for his brand name and for his time through a share of the turnover.   Having a room at the hotel is a fringe benefit the Reuben’s Franschhoek staff are enjoying when they come through to town.  The arrangement with the hotel has allowed Reuben to appoint Camil Haas, previous owner of Bouillabaisse in Franschhoek and Green Point and of Camil’s in Green Point, to substitute for him at the One&Only Cape Town and in Franschhoek from October, giving each of these two Reuben’s a heavyweight chef every day.   In addition, Maritz Jacobs, previously of Le Quartier Français and 15 on Orange hotel, is the new Head Chef at the One&Only Cape Town, meeting Reuben’s requirement for a young and energetic chef.  The Pastry Chef is René Smit.  Reuben is called the Concept Chef on the menu, as he is on the Reuben’s menus in Franschhoek and in Robertson.  Samantha Housden from Tank will be joining as the Restaurant Manager on 1 October.  Reuben recently bought out his Boekenhoutskloof partners Tim Rands and Marc Kent, who helped him set up the business six years ago.  He says this gives him new flexibility to make decisions more quickly, and to steer his business where he wants it to go.

The menu is A3 in size, and has the same format as that in Franschhoek and Robertson.  It is neatly divided into a Starters, Main Courses and Desserts section, as well as a mini Vegetarian menu of Starters and Main Courses, a Fish and Seafood section, as well as Side Orders.   In future it will also carry the names of the special suppliers of fine organic produce that Reuben’s will be sourcing.   The menu content in terms of dishes offered is vastly different at the new Reuben’s, compared to the Franschhoek branch.  The menu is being fine-tuned in the next 10 days before the official opening, and has already seen changes in the first four days of its operation.

A small bowl of olives was brought to the table, as was three types of bread: a baguette, tomato bread and black olive bread.   Butter was on the table, as was a bottle of Willowcreek olive oil.  I ordered Asparagus with a hollandaise and orange reduction (R60) as a starter from the Vegetarian section, which was topped with the most wonderful micro-herbs, being miniature coriander, basil and rocket, and adding the most wonderful taste to this dish, beautifully presented on a glass dish.   Other starters are oysters at R25 each, pickled veal tongue (R60), chilli salted baby squid and shredded duck salad at R70 each, salmon tartar and cured venison at R75 each, mussels (R80), and a white asparagus and langoustine salad (R110).

My main course was the most wonderful kingklip (R140) - a good portion of firm fish, served with the unusual combination of avocado, on a bed of mash (I chose it to be plain, but the menu specified it to be tumeric mash), and with crunchy Chinese cabbage, a mint salsa and coconut cream.   The same micro-herbs served as garnish for the dish, and again added a unique taste to round off the dish, the best kingklip I have ever eaten.  My only criticism was that a serrated knife instead of a fish knife was served.  My colleague had Karoo lamb curry (R135), served in a bowl, with sambals (yoghurt and pineapple, and chopped tomato and cucumber) and basmati rice in a tiny iron pot, presented on a separate dish.    She loved the genuine Cape Malay taste of it, and picked up garlic and ginger notes, as well as jeera, cardamom and barishap spices in her lamb stew, with dhania leaves on top.  She called it “hemelse kos”, it tasted so good!   Other Main Course options are lamb rack (R175); ostrich fillet, 180 g beef fillet and a 450 g rib-eye steak at R 170 each; quail saltimbocca (R130); 240g sirloin and pork belly at R125 each; veal tripe (R120); and Reuben’s faithful wonderful calf’s liver at R115.  Other Fish options were yellowtail (R110) and Tandoori spiced prawns (R170).   Side orders cost R 35, but all main courses come with a starch and a vegetable.

For dessert my colleague had Muskadel crème with poached hanepoot grapes, ginger crumble and raspberry ice cream, in a glass bowl and served on a slate plate.  Slate is used extensively at Jordan’s Restaurant with George Jardine, and to a lesser extent at Jardine’s.  My dessert was a fascinating Lemon and olive oil custard, to which was added cocoa crumble, a half-round thin slice of chocolate as well as Swiss chocolate mousse, finished off with edible gold paper which I thought the kitchen had forgotten to take off!   Desserts cost R65, expensive I felt, but the portions were generous.  Other desserts are a seasonal fruit compote, Amarula scented malva pudding, Tequila sundae, and a bitter chocolate fondant, the latter costing R80.  I felt, on the basis of two desserts, that the desserts needed more work.  My cappuccino did not arrive at the same time as the dessert, as requested, and was not very foamy.  It was immediately replaced with one in a bigger cup size, and was very foamy.  Petit fours were brought to the table after the dessert plates were cleared, also on a slate plate.

The sommelier Andre has been at the hotel almost since it opened, and he says that the winelist has not changed much from its impressive start.   They have added wines bought at the Nederburg and CWG auctions, as well as garagiste and boutique winery brands.   Some international wine prices have been reduced over time, and some local wine prices have increased.   The 37-page winelist will be changed, the lengthy introduction to the South African wine industry to be removed.  I disliked the division of the wines by region, and then by varietal on the maze winelist, but this will not change.  It means that if one likes drinking a Shiraz, for example, one has to check through every region’s Shirazes to check which one to order.  It could take one  a whole evening to wade through the many wines on offer, including 50 wines-by-the-glass, 32 champagnes, and 18 MCC sparkling wines, as well as wines imported from France, Spain, Italy, Portugal, Argentina, Chile, New Zealand, the USA, and Australia.   I did not like the file/folder look of the winelist, and do not remember it looking like this at maze.   Its practicality in updating vintages and prices is an obvious advantage.  The yellowish cover of the wine list does not match the Reuben’s colour scheme.   Wines-by-the-glass can be served in 50ml, 150ml and 250 ml quantities, making the expensive wines a little more affordable by reducing the quantity one drinks!  Wine flights in three’s are also available, by region or by varietal.   I chose a glass of 2006 Glen Carlou Shiraz, which cost R 72 for a 150ml glassful – 50ml cost R24, and 250ml R120.   The 2005 Luddite Shiraz prices were R37/R112/R187 per glass.  The 2007 Brampton cost R9/R28/R47.  Migliarina Shiraz 2006 cost R17/R52/R87.  A glass of 150ml of bubbly cost R260 for Ayala ‘Rose’ Majeur, R200 for Billecart Salmon Brut, R98 for Graham Beck Rosé, R49 for Graham Beck Brut, and R44 for Villiera.   It is clear that the wine prices are exceptionally high.  Andre spoilt me with a complimentary glass of dessert wine.

We felt privileged that Reuben came out of the kitchen to sit and chat with us.  He intends to come out of the kitchen a lot more in future, and having chefs working for him will allow him to do this.  Starters will be prepared behind the counters inside the restaurant in future, to allow diners to connect with the food preparation and the kitchen staff too.   Reuben is working on creating synergy in the menus for his three Reuben’s, yet having unique items on each menu that reflect what customers like in each area.  At the One&Only Cape Town the calf’s liver is extremely popular, he says, as is his Veal tripe (‘Pens en Pootjies’).   We were struck by Reuben’s humility and quiet confidence that he has made the right decision by opening his latest Reuben’s at the One&Only Cape Town.  He recognises that service levels can improve in Franschhoek, and he sees a benefit of exchanging his staff between the two locations, so that the One&Only Cape Town service standards can become those of the Franschhoek staff too.    There will be no launch function, Reuben preferring to quietly open and delivering on the expectations of a more demanding Cape Town as well as international clientele.   Reuben’s staff also prepare the hotel breakfasts.

We will recommend Reuben’s at the One&Only to our Whale Cottage Camps Bay guests with confidence, and we will return.

Reuben’s at the One&Only Cape Town, One&Only Cape Town, V&A Waterfront.  Tel (021) 431-5888. www.reubens.co.za (The new restaurant is not yet listed on the Reuben’s website, nor on the One&Only Cape Town website).  Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, Monday – Sunday.

POSTSCRIPT 20/9: Samantha Housden’s restaurant experience includes launching London’s Level 7 Café at the Tate Modern Gallery and managing the Eyre Brother’s restaurant owned by the godfather of gastro-pub cuisine David Eyre.  She started Cilantro in Hout Bay, having been its chef too.  She has left Tank to join Reuben’s at the One&Only Cape Town.

POSTSCRIPT 25/9: We returned for dinner a week later, and met the new Restaurant Manager Samantha Housden for the first time.   She came to check on our table regularly, as did Marcus, an interim manager.  Due to a strong attempt to upsell us by a waiter, we asked for waiter Victor, who had served us the previous week, and his service was as good as ever.   The recognition by the staff from our visit a week ago was impressive – from the hostess as we arrived (I had used my son’s name for the booking this time), to the sommelier Andre and the waiter Victor remembering specific requests and likes from a week ago – in line with Reuben’s Franschhoek.   Disappointingly the food was not as good as it was a week ago – the kingklip was undercooked and did not have the lovely microherbs (but a generous portion was brought to the table when I asked about them) and the sirloin had lots of sinews.   Reuben was in the kitchen, and spontaneously came to say hello.  I was delighted to hear that sommelier Andre has heeded our feedback, and will revise the winelist, to arrange it by varietals, and to mention the regions, which will make wine selection much easier in future. 

POSTSCRIPT 14/1:   I arrived in good spirits, and was shocked at the disappointing food quality and service.   Although the telephonist tried to put through my call three times, so that I could check if I could still get a table at 22h00, no one in the restaurant answered the phone.  I decided to arrive anyway.   I was warmly received by the hostess, and discovered immediately that Manager Samantha Housden is no longer at Reuben’s.  The evening shifts were getting to her, I was told.  Kagiso Mmebe is the new Manager, and started three weeks ago, having been a lecturer in Restaurant Practice at the University of Johannesburg.  A sweet waitress Unite took my order efficiently, and that is where her service support ended.  She brought butter and olives, but never came with the bread.  I had to ask a manager for it.  It was explained to me that Unite is a runner, being trained up to be a waitress, but she wears the same colour shirt as do the waiters, so one cannot identify her lesser skills.  She is meant to work under the guidance of a waiter, but this did not happen.   I ordered the baby chicken main course (R135), which was not cooked properly, even after sending it back once.   My choice of carrots with vanilla and honey as the side-dish was an excellent one.   The wild mushroom sauce tasted strongly of an Oxo stock cube, with not a piece of mushroom to be seen.  The sauce was taken away, and mushrooms added.  I had to ask for a finger bowl.  The wine steward Tinashe Nyamudoka was wonderful, just taking my wine order and pouring the Glen Carlou Shiraz 2004 at the table, as requested.   The frozen espresso cake with a berry coulis and an odd-looking meringue was excellent (R65).   Assistant Manager Marcus Isaacs kindly took the chicken off the bill.  It was disconcerting to hear from the staff that Reuben Riffel has barely been seen at the restaurant in the past two weeks, although Marcus disagreed.   Camil Haas is not at Reuben’s One&Only at all anymore.  There is no sign of any further decor changes, after the curtains were opened.  The new summer menu, launched last week, has very understated Reuben’s branding, and does not look like a Reuben’s menu anymore, and there is no listing of the names of the chefs on it anymore – not even Reuben’s name is mentioned!  Chef Aviv Liebenberg from Reuben’s Franschhoek (and previously Robertson) has been moved to Cape Town, working with Chef Maritz.   I could not help but be concerned as to where Reuben’s in the One&Only Cape Town is heading – it certainly is no longer a-maze-ing!

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

On Friday I received the second edition of Crush!, “South Africa’s finest digital food & wine magazine”, says the e-mail providing the link.  To make sure one knows how good it is, it promises “yet more brilliance for you in this issue” – that is if you thought that the first issue was brilliant!   I did not think it was, and wrote a blog post about Crush1, which respected food and wine guru and Crush! editor Michael Olivier was not happy about, but I am happy to see that he has taken note of some of the feedback (we did invite Michael to comment, but he declined).   Crush!2 is much improved, but it is not there yet.  Let me tell you why:

1.   The cover design of Crush!2 is much better, with barely any distracting design features on it – it reflects the best story of the issue, a wonderful chocolate spread, with the most beautiful photography.

2.   On the “editorial page” Michael’s face is covered by the play button of the video again.  The video was shot in Sophie Lindop’s kitchen while she was preparing the Chocolate article, he says in the video, and one can hear the ‘kitchen clanging’ in the background.   I could only get the video to run halfway, and then it broke off abruptly.  I re-tried it numerous times.

3.  Michael has addressed the feedback about providing details of his editorial team (the button for it being very subtle), and a block can be opened to read this detail - Petaldesign is the design company, with Matthew Ibbotson the Art Director, and Graham van de Ruit responsible for Flash animation.   The Crush! team is thin, it being mainly Michael and his wife on the editorial side, with guest input from JP Rossouw, David Cope and Andy Fenner.   The block is so small that one struggles to read all the names.

4.   A “How to Use this digital magazine” block is welcome, but contains numerous symbols that one must remember to be able to read the digital magazine more effectively.

5.   The magazine has grown to 36 pages, and the multi-page Lindt Chocolate feature is wonderful, proving that the content does not have to be crammed onto one page, which happens on the “Michael Says” page.  On this page, there are 3 book reviews, a focus on a Vineyard dog, “Michael’s Wine Finds”, a focus on Lynne and John Ford of Main Ingredient, and a “Wine Myth”, despite there being numerous other wine pages on which the wine stories could have been featured.

6.   Advertiser support by Old Mutual, Pick ‘n Pay, Pongracz, Arabella Wines, and the Paranga/Zenzero/Kove/Pepenero group has been retained, with new ads for Welgemoed, Arumdale and an advertorial for Spier.  Michael has assured me that Pick ‘n Pay is not the owner of the magazine.

7.   On the “Essentials” page one cannot read the labels on the Dalla Cia Grappa, NoMu and Morgenster Extra Virgin Olive Oil packs, making pack recognition difficult.   If you click onto the packs, they are a little bigger.  A green i-sign provides more information.  When one has clicked on a section to blow up the size, it does not guide one as to how to reduce the size again, so one has to click to a previous page to get back on the page one was on, making this repeat process tedious over time.

8.   The Spier double-page advertorial is weak, in being an illustration of the Spier estate.  One assumes that if one clicks onto each of the “noticeboards”, that one can obtain information.  If, however, one has opened one such information block, and not closed it, one cannot open the next block.    The worst problem about this page is the dominant Uwe Koetter competition announcement, which clashes with the Spier promotion.

9.   The brand names of the wines presented with the recipe for Vegetable Cauliflower Cream Soup are unreadable, with the exception of Glen Carlou.  When one clicks onto the “Rollover” flash, it enlarges the packs a little, but does not make the labels more readable.   Once again, when one has enlarged the labels to such an extent that one can read them, one cannot get back to the full page, and has to go ‘backwards’ to get back to where one was.  A different recipe is matched to each brand of wine when one moves the mouse over it.  However, the Glen Carlou recipe rollover provides no details about serving numbers, difficulty of preparation, and prep and cook times.

10.   The “JamieWho?” page is really odd, in that Michael is clearly trying to add a younger and more hip touch to Crush!.  Blogger Andy Fenner, who recently “outed” himself as being “JamieWho?”, when he relaunched his blogsite, has almost two pages to himself, with his branding in the centre.  As an ueber-brand and marketing conscious person, I am sure he must be shocked at the presentation of his page, with the funny petal-shaped buttons, inviting readers to read his La Mouette review, his muesli recipe, his visits to L’Avenir and Delaire Graff (very disappointing short one-paragraph summaries), and a lovely feature on Roxanne Floquet, the “Queen of Cakes”.  I am not sure if the thousands of readers Michael claims his magazines go to will know who “JamieWho?”/Andy Fenner is, and will be impressed by his involvement.

11.  The “High Five” wine page has the same problem with label readability, as described above.

12.  The “Eating Out” page is interesting in that it is prominently branded with JP Rossouw’s name over two pages, but has a flash in the top right corner saying “The Foodie Fast Eats”, which is a short write-up by “The Foodie” (see below) of the Sunrise Chip ‘n Ranch (I did not pick up that there were mini write-ups about Jardine’s Bakery and Cookshop too, until alerted to these).  However, “The Foodie” has his own pages in the magazine elsewhere.   A review of Johannesburg-based DW Eleven-13 by Rossouw is of no interest to Cape Town readers, probably making up a large proportion of the magazine subscribers.   A competition block blocks the readability of the restaurant review.   At the bottom of the page it mentions four restaurants under the heading “Crush also liked”, listing Blue Water Cafe, Wild Woods, Casa Labia and Foodbarn (the name of this restaurant is barely visible), with only a telephone number and address, but no review, or summary about what these restaurants stand for.  One is not sure if they are recommended by JP or by Michael.

13.  The “Quaff Now” and “Cellar for Later” wine pages have the same problems with pack recognition and branding, but a neat label at each bottle helps one to identify each brand name.  One wonders why this approach is not used throughout the magazine to assist one in reading the pack names, rather than using so many different design styles.  An Old Mutual information block seems out of place on this page, other than to communicate that Old Mutual encourages one to drink a lot, with an inevitable outcome, requiring insurance cover!

14.   The “Quick & Delicious” page has recipes for a week ahead, nicely presented as ‘recipe cards’.   But the content is blocked in part by a block asking if one has subscribed.

15.   As stated above, the “4 Ways with Chocolate” feature is fantastic, with mouth-watering photography by Russel Wasserfall.  One wonders why Russel does not do all the photography for Crush!

16.  By contrast to the “JamieWho?” pages, “The Foodie”‘s pages are a disappointment – “The Foodie” does not receive the same branding and identity treatment compared to that of his friend Andy Fenner, and his pages look more messy and unfocused.  What is a huge surprise is that “The Foodie” is outed as being David Cope, an identity which David has been at great pains to protect.  David’s blog “The Foodie” does not even identify his surname!   David works at a PR agency, and writes for such clients as the Chef’s Warehouse and Cookery School.   He, like Andy Fenner, likes to hang out at &Union, and one wonders if Michael’s readers have heard of ”The Foodie”.   He writes about a Houseboat stay at Langebaan and has a recipe for making “Perfect Guacomole”.  I wonder why Michael has chosen two “man’s men” bloggers to contribute to Crush! when there are many talented (lady) food bloggers who may have far greater credibility and be of greater interest to the readers of Crush!

17.  Crush!2 was sent out early on Friday, a bad day of the week for distributing newsletters, and getting them read.   This is evident by the few comments made about it on Twitter (many Twitter users read their Tweets on their phones, and Blackberry and iPhone do not support Adobe Flash required to open the magazine on their phones).  Also, Crush! does not appear to have editorial deadlines - Crush!1 was a month late in being launched, and this edition was published 7 weeks thereafter, not at the beginning of a month, if it is meant to be monthly or bi-monthly.

My overall impression: the “style over substance” approach to this digital magazine will not win it loyal readers – if only the style were good - and that has huge potential to improve.  Its “journalism” is light-weight,  and as someone said to me: ”this is not an online magazine  – it is a picturebook”!  Harsh words, but perhaps he is right.  Crush!2 says it is “Food & Wine with Passion” – the passion is there, but the execution is not yet!

Once again, I invite Michael to comment, which I am more than happy to post.  Read Crush!2

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

&Union Beer Salon and Charcuterie is a very trendy pub that is one of the favourite haunts of bloggers Dax of Relax-with-Dax, The Foodie and JamieWho, and they give its beer brands regular coverage via Twitter,  so much so that I had to try it out – the first time about a month ago – and then I went back for the Brazil versus Portugal match last week. 

To review &Union one needs to know that the owners were the founder owners of Vida e Caffe (Brad Armitage and Rui Esteves), who broke away to create &Union.  &Union does not give one a Vida franchise feel at all – exactly the opposite is true, and it is commendable that the owners could start and maintain a business so radically different to what they did before.  Also, untypically for Vida e Caffe, &Union has no visible exterior branding on Bree Street, but those that love the brand and share the passion, know where it is!

&Union is not a traditional pub – one sits outside on wooden tables and benches in summer, and for the World Cup a Moroccan style tent has been erected to cover all Cape Town winter weather options, with heaters if it gets cold.  The tent has three strips of material on it, which are linked to a painting near the entrance, all related to the Puma Africa Unity Kit.   It would be lost to most present, unless they had been invited to the launch of the new Puma beer a few days before.

We arrived just before the match starting time, and there was only a little bench available to sit on, a little removed from all the other benches, and without a table.  I was impressed with Simon Wibberley, the Operations Manager, who seemed to know everyone coming into &Union, hugging and kissing (the ladies at least), and the guys all seemed to be friends.   Simon stood near the entrance, and kept an eye on things continuously – no sitting back and having a beer and watch the soccer for him.   It became so full that he eventually locked the gate, yet it did not feel crowded.  The only problem was a lack of seating for everyone.

The beer list is an unusual brown A3 recycled sheet which shows its seven beers and tells the &Union story.  The owners wanted to develop beer brands that are authentic, truthful and honest, and that stand for quality, heritage, tradition and taste.  This led them to find “some of Europe’s oldest family-run breweries in search of artisan-produced beers that we are not only proud to produce for our customers but love to drink ourselves.  We don’t believe we can single-handedly change the world of beer as it exists but with a little raw passion, blind optimism and reckless resolve, we can perhaps make a difference”, the beer list says.

This mission for &Union has led to the development of “luxury beers, handcrafted by our artisans from the finest natural ingredients.  Our pils and amber ale are brewed using only 100% barley malt, yeast, hops, and water”.  The beer is brewed for up to 8 weeks.  The Pils and Amber are unpasteurised, the beer list says, to allow a “fuller, richer taste”.   The passion comes from “Eating. Drinking. Living. That’s what we love. Pairing real beer with real food…”.  This passion is lived in a small selection of food options, the seven beer choices, and, surprisingly, wines.

The beer list has a prominent packshot of each beer sold, and as an infrequent beer drinker and having been ignorant about the brand, the seven beer names meant nothing to me at all.  The beer list is there to help, with better-than-wine descriptions of each:

*   Unity Lager was developed for Puma’s “African Unity Kit” football campaign.  It is “medium-bodied”, “silky smooth”, “malty”, “hints of apple and honey”, and has a ”bittersweet floral finish”.  It costs R40 for 500ml

*   Brewers &Union Unfiltered Lager is “unfiltered, unpasteurized”, “bursting with flavour”.  Cost is R 40 for 500ml

*   Steph Weiss is a wheat beer, “delicate, smooth and creamy”, “aromas of vanilla and clove”. Cost is R 40 for 500ml

*   Berne Unfiltered Amber is German-style, “buttery”, “toasty, bready malts”, “hints of caramel and toffee”.  It costs R 40 for 500ml

*   Brewers &Union Dark Lager is “beautifully hopped”, “dark roasted malt flavor” (sic). Cost is R 40 for 500 ml

*   Touro Tripel Blond has a “creamy palate”, “fruity spicy malt flavour” It costs R 125 for 750ml

*   Touro Tripel Amber has a “honeyed-amber malt aroma”, “hints of vanilla and caramel”.  Cost is R 125 for 750ml

The menu is short and sweet: eight food options- a biltong bowl (tasted a bit vinegary) at R25; pate – made from charcuterie off-cuts and a bit too coarse for my taste – at R35;  grilled weisswurst with mustard was excellent – at R60;  Prego rolls cost R 60, available in beef and pork; the Charcuterie Board costs R65, and consists of coppa, parma ham and felino sausage; the “grilled juicy saucisson” board  – a North African sausage made with 16 spices – costs R60;   a 3-cheese board costs R65; and the salmon carpaccio board R75.  Three ”sweets” are offered, almond croissants (R15), Italian chocolate liqueur (made by Massimo from Hout Bay Pizza Club) at R20, and an espresso chocolate at R25.  &Union also serves organic coffee.  One can also have an early breakfast at &Union.

Two white and two red wines are served by the glass: Haut Espoir Sauvignon Blanc (R35) and Tamboerskloof Viognier (R40), and Landskroon and Boer & Brit ‘The General’ red blends, both costing R 40.  Ten wines by the bottle start at R 130 for the Haut Espoir, and The Hedonist is the most expensive at R 210.  I loved the name of the sparkling wine brand – Suikerbossie ‘Ek wil jou he’, made in Kimberley, a surprise wine region.

&Union is a refreshingly (pardon the pun) different ‘beer salon”.  It cares about beer, food and its clients.   It knows how to build relationships with its customers.   It is not pushy nor hard-sell, maybe a little too laid back on the service, but regulars go inside and order what they want, not waiting to be served.  The soccer did not have much “gees”, despite there being so many soccer fans.   It is trendy, and no doubt will grow into an eatery and beer salon that will set new standards in responsible eating and drinking in Cape Town.   The only dissonance for me is that wines are served (with some unfortunate typos in the wine list), given its name and beer focus.   The challenge for the owners will be to keep it small and personal, the opposite to what they achieved with Vida e Caffe.

&Union Beer Salon and Chacuterie, 110 Bree Street. Tel 021 422-2770. www.brewersandunion.com. Twitter @andUnion. Blog: www.andunion.blogspot.com  Free wireless internet.  

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

The power FIFA will have over South Africa and its citizens in the next few months has been documented in an article by the Weekend Argus, with the headline “FIFA RULES”!    The by-laws that host cities have had to pass and implement are draconian, and will affect every South African, and soccer fans too.

The article is introduced with the views of constitutional law expert Pierre de Vos, who described FIFA as follows: “When South African won the right to host the 2010 Fifa World Cup many danced in the streets (in a manner of speaking).   We did not realise that Fifa was a rather shadowy body with authoritarian tendencies.   We did not realise then that Fifa fat-cat executives cared little about South Africa and its people and very much about making obscene profits while placing impossible demands on the host country”.   Hard-hitting words, but a warning received from a credible source.

South Africans will be subject to almost draconian rules and regulations, and businesses and even the government will have to dance to the world football body’s tune.   The biggest soccer event may be happening in Africa, but it is Fifa’s show.    The regulations include the following:

1.   Prohibition amongst others of begging, smoking, swearing, swimming, washing pets, drinking alcoholic beverages in glass containers, advertising, parking a motor vehicle, and selling one’s wares without a permit in ‘controlled-access sites’ and public open spaces.

2.   Only World Cup sponsor Budweiser’s beer may be sold inside the World Cup stadiums, but S A Breweries’ beer may be sold at fan parks (in unbranded cans, it has been reported elsewhere).

3.   Any broadcast of the World Cup soccer matches, with the exception of in a private home, is regarded as a “public viewing event”, and would be subject to a R 50 000 special liquor licence fee plus a 2 % turnover “donation” to the National Liquor Authority for programmes against alcohol abuse, and a further 2 % turnover “donation” to the provincial Liquor Board to implement such a programme.   The regulation in this regard seems contradictory, in that it was originally reported that only if one accepts an entrance fee for public viewing does an establishment require the licence, in addition to a standard liquor licence.

4.   Ambush marketing is not allowed, and FIFA’s attorneys will be seeking to protect the rights of their sponsors, and prevent any non-sponsors from associating their brands with the World Cup, as kulula.com has just discovered, having had a recent ad campaign banned.   The new Col’Cacchio Pizzeria Celebrity Chef Autumn campaign may also be seen to be ambush marketing, in linking itself to the event by linking a chef and a designer pizza to a soccer country.

5.  The World Cup logo and branding, as well as that of previous World Cups, and words that relate to the World Cup, 2010, and South Africa, stand alone and in any combination, are all trade mark registered by FIFA, and cannot be used for commercial use.

6.   Clothing may not contain visuals or logos linked to the World Cup, nor allude to it visually.

Penalties and fines are stiff, and the kulula.com case study is a first example of FIFA’s power.  The clever amendment of the advertising campaign to counter FIFA was a headline: “Not next year, not last year, but somewhere in between”.  In a cheeky move, the airline has registered the word ‘sky’, taking a leaf out of the FIFA book!

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

The Sweet Service Award goes to Mohammed and to Wilma of the Sunday Times, for helping a customer to subscribe to the paper, after 6 months of frustration in trying to do so via the call centre.   A chance connection to Mohammed in the Human Resources department of Avusa, the company owning the Sunday Times, helped the customer to find Wilma, the person responsible for subscriptions in Cape Town.  Wilma can be contacted at tel 021 488 1823.   The delivery of the Sunday Times has been perfect since contact was made with her.

The Sour Service Award goes to Rocketseed, a company which sells branded signatures to the tourism industry.   The signature has to be designed by a separate company, and then Rocketseed sets it up with telephonic support.  It soon became evident to the user that the design has a weakness in that the “footer” does not follow the e-mail content when an enquiry from a prospective guest is replied to.   For  more than a month the customer tried to get Rocketseed to fix this design error, but received the poorest service from the support staff at Rocketseed.  It appeared that they did not know how to fix the problem, and kept the customer tied up on the phone for hours on end, in trying to load a revised version of the signature.   When the customer requested that a more senior staff member assist with problem, Henry Jonker, a director of Rocketseed, called.   He was extremely arrogant.   His response was to threaten the cancellation of the customer’s annual subscription of the branding service, which had to be paid in full prior to the customer being able to test the signature application.  

The WhaleTales Sweet & Sour Service Awards are presented every Friday on the WhaleTales blog.  Nominations for the Sweet and Sour Service Awards can be sent to Chris von Ulmenstein at info@whalecottage.com.   Past winners of the Sweet and Sour Service Awards can be read on the Friday posts of this blog, and in the WhaleTales newsletters on the www.whalecottage.com website.