Travelbites – Edition 23

The Winchester Hotel… a Cape classic reinvented

 Cape Town – The iconic Winchester Hotel located along the Sea Point beach front in Cape Town, has opened its doors again after major refurbishment and a classic facelift. Nearly a century after it was first built, The Winchester Hotel reopened to the public in November after a comprehensive R90-million renovation that has transformed this much-loved seafront hotel overlooking Cape Town’s scenic Sea Point promenade. Be sure to visit this grand hotel for the best in hospitality and ambiance just meters away from the Atlantic waters of Table Bay. Situated along the scenic Sea Point Promenade with the majestic backdrop of Table Mountain, The Winchester Hotel has a rich heritage, and its iconic Cape Dutch architecture tells a story of luxury and sophistication of a romantic bygone era making it popular among local and international guests. Its recent full renovation, saw “the hotel being reinvented with a more contemporary look and feel, while still paying respect to the proud history of the building,” explains Neil Markovitz, CEO of Newmark Hotels, Reserves, Lodges and Residences. During this refurbishment, the historic details and features of the interior architecture of The Winchester Hotel were maintained, and in some places even reinstated, whilst also bringing in furnishings, colour palettes and styling that add a modern appeal.

Source: Newmark Hotels Media Release


Save 448% on accommodation on your next Kruger National Park stay

Skukuza – With the world opening up again and vacation bookings being on the rise, the travel experts at Bounce analysed the prices of Airbnb and hotel listings in 80 top travel destinations, across the US and the world, revealing the most budget-friendly way to stay. And topping the list of most affordable places to stay, saving money by staying in an Airbnb rather than a hotel, was none other than South Africa’s iconic Kruger National Park. Tourists can save a staggering 448% by staying in an Airbnb over a hotel in Kruger National Park, the research found. The Kruger competed with other globally popular destinations like French Polynesia, Maldives, Victoria Falls, China and more. The city of Cape Town also came in at number 10, where the savings can be as much as 69%. So next time you are hunting for affordable accommodation at your favourite destinations in South Africa, give these Airbnb options a definite try.

Source: Francesca Reynoldson, Digital PR Intern,


Groot Constantia Honour and Celebrate France

Cape Town – The Groot Constantia wine Estate recently celebrated France’s spectacular culinary heritage over the course of two days as part of the international Goût de France/Good France 2021 Festival. The Good France Festival is a celebration of the best of French food and the culture and people that move it forward – the farmers, market gardeners, winegrowers, fishermen, harvesters, and importantly, the chefs. The focus of this year’s event (now in its 6th year) was on more eco-friendly, “greener” gastronomy – which is committed to preserving the earth and its resources – and the expertise and convictions of the chefs who are shaping this gastronomy of the future. 2021’s event was particularly momentous in that it coincided with the bicentenary year of Napoléon’s death and gave France the opportunity to commemorate this prominent figure who passed 200 years ago. Fascinatingly, Napoléon’s final years bear a special link with South Africa, and particularly with Groot Constantia’s iconic wine, Grand Constance. After an illustrious career in the army and position as First Consul of France, Napoléon Bonaparte crowned himself Emperor of the French in December 1804. From 1815, until his death in 1821, Napoléon was banished to St Helena, an island located in the middle of the South Atlantic Ocean. Every month, 30 bottles of Constantia wine were shipped to St Helena for Napoléon’s consumption. Joseph Luson, the agent of the English East India Company based in Cape Town at the time, was tasked by the British authorities to provision the regiments stationed on St Helena. Luson purchased the wine directly from the Cloete family, who owned Groot Constantia at the time. Interestingly, Luson’s business relations with the family changed significantly on 24 May 1817 when he married the daughter of the wine merchant of Groot Constantia. Today the Cloete Cellar on the Groot Constantia Wine Estate is a museum that represents the cornerstone of South Africa’s wine producing heritage.

Source: Carmen Lerm, FusionDesign


South African passport allows entry to 103 countries visa-free

Pretoria – It’s common knowledge that, since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, international travel and tourism have been restricted. Fortunately, now that increasing numbers of countries are vaccinating their citizens, the outlook for taking trips abroad is looking up. At the time of writing, destinations ranging from Germany to Mexico allow South Africans to visit. That’s good news if you’re thinking about your next holiday. It’s worthwhile reading up on the visa requirements and any coronavirus restrictions for where you’re next planning to go. According to the Henley Passport Index released recently, South Africa’s passport allows people to visit 103 countries visa-free. Of these the 20 standouts include: Argentina, Bahamas, Barbados, Brazil, Hong Kong, Ireland, Indonesia, Israel, Jamaica, Kenya, Mauritius, Nigeria, Peru, Philippines, Russia, Seychelles, Singapore, South Korea, Sri Lanka and Thailand. You can find the full list on Henley’s My Passport page. Just select your passport (South Africa) from the drop-down list for the full range of countries you’re visa-exempt for.

Source: Mail & Guardian / Andrew Price

SA tourism braces for a surge in visitors

Cape Town – The travel industry is expecting a bonanza after the news that South Africa has been taken off the United Kingdom’s travel red list. A few hours after the announcement, tourism providers said they’d been inundated with enquiries and bookings from people wanting to travel from the UK to South Africa, and also outbound. The tourism industry, which was hard hit by the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020, also reeled from the  decision by the UK to put South Africa on its travel red list. Cape Town Tourism said UK-based tourists, including South African expats, were expected to visit the Western Cape from the end of October through to December.

Table Mountain is a major tourist attraction. “Cape Town Tourism is definitely delighted at the news that South Africa has been taken off the UK’s restrictive red list, after months of lobbying. In South Africa, travel and tourism account for 8.6% of the economy’s output and 9.2% of the jobs, so this decision is a big one as it is the first step in restoring the tourism industry and subsequently those who work within it and their livelihoods,” said the organisation’s chief executive, Enver Duminy. Chief executive and founder of Rhino Africa, David Ryan, said that shortly after the news, the company received 177 new enquiries from the UK and 74 from Germany.

“We expect to see momentum continue to build through October. We are back at pre-Covid-19 enquiry levels by attribution channel, which is wonderful to see, and our surest sign that travel interest in South Africa has not declined. Guests are looking forward to getting back for summer,” said Ryan. Since October 7, the company had confirmed more than R11 million in new sales, with 60% of them for the November-to-December travel period. The UK is a key market for tourism, trade and investment for the Western Cape, accounting for almost 15% of foreign tourists visiting the province. Finance and Economic Opportunities MEC David Maynier said in a statement that the tourism sector generated R15,5 billion in gross value add, and supported 174 982 jobs in 2019 in the Western Cape. The tourism sector was estimated to have lost about 75 477 jobs in the province in 2020, Maynier added. Chief executive of New Frontiers Tours, Craig Smith, said the number of quotes requested for travel to South Africa was the highest in 19 months, with those from the UK up 150% and confirmed bookings up 100%, compared to last month. Smith said 25% of the quotes were for travel for the remainder of the year, and a number of previously cancelled bookings for November were reinstated. Cape Town is well known for its tourist landmarks, including the harbour, Table Mountain and Cape Point and its natural setting. Duminy said Cape Town Tourism was now launching an international campaign to attract tourists back to the city and urged Capetonians to vaccinate. Air ticket sales from South Africa to London had also increased since the October 7 red list announcement, according to flight operators. The Flight Centre Travel Group said its revenue for October shot up by 89% across its leisure brands, with the UK overtaking Mauritius and Dubai as the most booked international destination for South Africans. Virgin Atlantic announced this week that it was expanding its portfolio of flights to South Africa. From December 17, Virgin Atlantic will fly three times weekly to the Mother City.

Source: IOL / Weekend Argus / Bulelwa Payi


Virgin Atlantic will reinstate London to Cape Town route in December

Cape Town – Virgin Atlantic will resume its direct flight service from Heathrow, London, to Cape Town’s International Airport much earlier than anticipated, following an uptick in demand for the service. The British airline’s first flight back to Cape Town will depart from 17 December, at the peak of the December holiday season sets in, with three flights planned per week. The airline had only planned to relaunch its Cape Town service in January but following the rem oval of South Africa from the UK’s red list, customer demand for the direct route has seen a significant spike, pushing it to return it sooner. Flights from Cape Town will go on sale from 16 October. Virgin Atlantic will offer unlimited free date and flight changes for new bookings, giving customers flexibility and supporting future travel plans. “The rebooking horizon has also been extended for all customers until 30 April 2023, giving a broader window of time to reschedule plans if needed,” the company said. Liezl Gericke, Head of Africa, Middle East, and India, said there has been pent-up customer demand for travel to the UK and vice versa since South Africa was removed from the red list. “The reintroduction of the Cape Town route will make it even easier for our customers to travel for business and leisure between South Africa and the United Kingdom,” Gericke said. People in Britain were scrambling to book flights to South Africa soon after the UK officially dropped South Africa from the red list. Virgin Atlantic halted passenger flights to and from South Africa last December after the discovery of the Covid-19 Beta variant, which was first detected in the Eastern Cape. It was largely behind the rapid increase in new infections, or South Africa’s second wave. Virgin Atlantic was not the only airline to ban South African travellers; others, such as British Airways, imposed similar prohibitions for South African travellers. The ramp up in flights was welcomed by the Western Cape’s minister for finance and economic opportunities, David Maynier.

Source: Ntando Thukwana , Business Insider SA


Airlines increase flights between SA and Mauritius

Johannesburg – Air Mauritius will increase its flight frequency to Johannesburg amid a surge of interest from South African travellers following the island nation’s long-awaited reopening. Mauritius reopened to fully vaccinated South African visitors in October after multiple setbacks for holiday-hungry travellers. Although the island began its phased reopening in September, when vaccinated tourists were confined to resorts and private beaches, South Africans, regardless of their vaccination status, were still prohibited from visiting Mauritius. This changed in October. The second phase of Mauritius’ reopening, which includes travellers from South Africa, allows fully vaccinated tourists, who provide a negative Covid-19 PCR test result, to explore the island. Unvaccinated visitors need to quarantine in a state-managed hotel room for 14 days. Air Mauritius has since resumed its Johannesburg service, operating four weekly flights from Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam International Airport. But the demand from South Africans looking for an island getaway following almost 20 months of travel restrictions has outstripped the national carrier’s current capacity, according to the Mauritius Tourism Promotion Authority (MTPA). But Air Mauritius isn’t the only airline to increase the frequency of flights between Johannesburg’s OR Tambo and Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam International Airport. South African Airways (SAA) recently announced that it would be returning to Mauritius with two weekly flights starting from 21 November. The national carrier, which has returned as a much smaller airline with only eight destinations, including Mauritius, offers competitive fares. South Africa’s popular low-cost airline, FlySafair, will make its inaugural flight to Mauritius on 11 December, capitalising on the holiday season rush. FlySafair’s discounted tickets to Mauritius, on announcing the new route and most of its festive season flights, are already sold out or nearing capacity. British Airways – operated by Comair – also resumes its service to Mauritius at the end of November. Air Mauritius will use its Airbus A350-900 and A330-900neo aircraft to service Johannesburg, with its increased frequency starting from 7 November. Travellers to Mauritius will need to have Covid-19 insurance and present a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours before departure. All visitors will also need to complete a travel form, which requires a proof of vaccination.

Source: Luke Daniel, Business Insider

South Africa’s first skywalk will be a doozy

The Mpumalanga Tourism and Parks Agency recently unveiled the God’s Window Skywalk project in the Blyde River Canyon Nature Reserve in South Africa. Once complete in 2023, the project will allow visitors to experience one of South Africa’s most iconic vistas in an entirely new way. Located along Mpumalanga’s Panorama Route, God’s Window offers visitors incredible views that can stretch all the way to Mozambique on a clear day. The new skywalk will be a cantilevered glass walkway suspended off the edge of the cliff to give visitors a 360-degree panoramic view. The walkway will protrude about 40 feet from the cliff and will be about 16 feet wide. The Skywalk is designed to be a global, iconic attraction with a number of activities on-site: the skywalk, sky bridge, sky swing, zero-gravity room and a conference and meetings facility. The plan is for a significant part of the activities to be run by local youths.

Source: Dorine Reinstein, Travel Weekly


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Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are those as they have been quoted in various articles in various media and not necessarily those of Mzanzitravel magazine.