Dear Partners in Travel,
Best wishes for 2019!

We look forward in sharing a year of an abundance of tourists to our shores. Without your support that would not be possible.

The year 2018 could only be described as challenging. Luckily 2019 looks a lot more positive and the unintended fallout of the PR-disaster of “Day Zero” around the water situation in Cape Town is now mostly forgotten. South Africa has a new president that understands the principles of business and sound economic policies after the years of corruption, plunder and misuse of state resources in the Zuma era. The arrogant minister that implemented ignorant and erroneous immigration policies with regards to children travelling to South Africa has finally been removed from his post and these policies repealed.

The outlook is thus positive but it will take some time for tourist to flock in the same numbers to our shores as in the boom years of 2016 and 2017.

We have however already seen a pick-up, especially in our more last-minute source markets. We battled with availability during the bumper years for our short lead time markets. The addition of more room stock (mostly in Cape Town) and a more sobering and realistic approach from some of the European markets assisted in this with regards to an availability perspective for the first half of 2019. There has been releases from operators in certain parts of Europe who have released some of their over-optimistic allocations (we all know how for example the German market and operators book rooms years in advance and hold on to those rooms – in our opinion unnecessarily in some cases). Not that the hotels are standing empty – but the situation is definitely more manageable.

We therefore welcome all last minute requests from our partners around the world – we always try our best to “make it happen” and will hopefully be more successful in this regard than the previous few years.

Last year we celebrated the milestone of our 20th year in business. We look forward to building on this for the next 20 years and continue to serve our partners around the world.

Reaching such a milestone inadvertently leads to a bit of “soul searching”. The brand “Royal African Discoveries” is well-established and known after such a long time – but we also wanted to know what people associate with the brand.

What you personally believe and what the market perceives can sometimes be very different. Luckily we were on the “same page” with aspects such as being an innovative company, known for our level of service and with an established and trustworthy reputation. Some values you live, breathe and are part of your DNA – and you don’t necessarily “sell” those values. You however also don’t always realize how much partners value, appreciate and embrace certain aspects as they’re intangible – but they instinctively associate the brand with it.

Our honesty was such a value that came to the fore – in every aspect in the way we do business and also in the way we deal with all our partners – be it suppliers, clients or any associates. You might not always like the answer or feedback that you get – but you know it is the honest & trustworthy one.

It is indeed heartwarming to hear what an important characteristic this is to be associated with Royal African Discoveries. The trust and confidence it instills in the brand is priceless and can’t be replicated or copied – it comes with years of doing business in a certain way. It is in our DNA and will always remain part of the brand.

We’ll be crisscrossing the globe again this year in visiting our partners to discuss business and updates on developments in the industry. India will be the first stop as we head to the sub-continent for the annual South African Tourism roadshow in February. We look forward to meeting with our partners again. We’ll keep you updated as we head to other parts of the world for sales visits or attending tradeshows/roadshows.

I wish all our partners a year of success, smooth travels, and satisfied clients as well as the joy and fulfilment of travel that we all crave – and keeps us in the industry.

Best wishes for 2019!

Tourism Greetings,
Johan

Sight Inspection Report

Mabula Game Lodge has over the years established itself as value for money safari experience for groups and FIT travelers looking for a safari experience that is not too far from Johannesburg. Located about a 2 ½ hour road transfer away from Johannesburg it remains a popular choice for many tourists not venturing further for their safari lodge stay in South Africa.

Mabula has recently added a brand new lodge to their portfolio in the form SAFARI PLAINS BY MABULA and we were invited to the launch of the lodge at the end of 2018.

Located in a separate concession to Mabula itself, Safari Plains is a superb new product for FIT, Families and Group travel as they offer 20 luxuriously appointed safari tents. There are a number of Family Tents that consists of 2 bedrooms perfect for families!

Safari Plains is an upmarket lodge option selling at a premium to the 4-star Mabula Game Lodge and offers superb lodge facilities (including a safari spa) and cuisine. Game drives are conducted on their own concession as well as on the greater Mabula Game Reserve offering a big 5 safari experience.

This is an exciting addition to the Mabula portfolio and provides us with a more sophisticated option for clients looking for a safari experience in the region.

Product News & Updatess

FEATHERBED NATURE RESERVE has re-opened their Eco Tour on the Featherbed Reserve in Knysna on the 1st of December. Please contact us if you are interested in images of the new restaurant.

LIONS HEAD TRAIL MAINTENANCE: South African National Parks (SANParks) wishes to inform all Table Mountain National Parks (TMNP) visitors of the pending trail maintenance that will take place on Lions Head until 15 February 2019. Successful completion of this much needed intervention on the popular spiral trail up to the summit requires full closure of the trail during the maintenance period.

SUN INTERNATIONAL has released dates for RESORT MAINTENANCE AT SUN CITY RESORT FOR 2019:

  • The Palace of the Lost City: 02 June – 01 July 2019 Inclusive
  • Sun City Cascades: 07 July – 07 August 2019 Inclusive
  • Valley of the Waves: 08 July – 05 August 2019 Inclusive (Note that the Chimp & Zee Rope Adventure will also be closed while Valley of the Waves is closed.)
  • Soho Hotel: 03 – 17 June 2019 Inclusive
  • Sun City Cabanas: 13 May – 03 June 2019 Inclusive
  • The Gary Player Golf Course Hollow tining Dates: 11 – 15 March 2019, 12 – 16 August 2019
  • The Lost City Golf Course Hollow tining Dates: 1 – 5 April 2019, 16 – 20 September 2019

THE ROYAL PORTFOLIO will be opening The Farmstead at Royal Malewane on 1 May 2019.

SHAMWARI PRIVATE GAME RESERVE

  • LONG LEE MANOR RENOVATIONS: The first phase of major renovations have started at Long Lee Manor. This historical lodge is to be totally recreated to offer guests a whole new level of lodge, architectural and sheer design luxury over the next 13 months.
  • TRAVELLING WITH KIDS? Are you wanting to plan a holiday to South Africa with your family? The newly re-opened Riverdene Family Lodge is designed for families & has a Kids Adventure Centre that is second to none.

&BEYOND product updates:

  • &Beyond Phinda Vlei Lodge refurbished: prime views from guest suites
    a design theme of old world plantation-style luxury defines the elegant refurbishments of guest rooms and common areas completed earlier this year. This secluded, romantic lodge, overlooking a unique environment of wetland and ancient Sand Forest, offers a feast of specialist safari options.
  • &Beyond Phinda Homestead opens: an ideal sole-use safari villa. Expansive interiors and exteriors blend with spectacular bush surrounds in this lodge, situated within the private game reserve of Phinda, renowned for its impactful conservation initiatives.
  • &Beyond Tengile River Lodge welcomed its first guests December 2018: accommodation and wildlife delights. Positioned on a bend of the Sand River, within the world-renowned Sabi Sand Game Reserve, this brand new, idyllic lodge has been built with a feather-light footprint.
  • &Beyond Phinda Mountain Lodge upgrade: the promise of panoramic views & distinctive luxury. The lodge will be closed from mid-January to the end of June 2019 for a complete upgrade of guest rooms and amenities. Singular excursions include participative conservation experiences for guests.

VICTORIA FALLS/LIVINGSTONE: The Lookout Café was recently damaged in a fire and is therefore closed until further notice.

SHEARWATER: Pioneers of all activities in Victoria Falls SHEARWATER re-enters the Jet Age with the eagerly anticipated return of the adventure JETBOAT. Generations have experienced the sheer thrill of grade 5 rapids travelling downstream. Few have experienced the exhilaration
of jet powered turbulence travelling UP the rapids. ADVENTURE JETBOAT returns December 2018.

Special Offers

Please note that all special offers are subject to specific terms and conditions which are available on request.

MONT ROCHELLE in Franschhoek. Stay for 3 nights in one of their suites and only pay for 2 nights. Stay in a Pinotage or Cap Classique suite until the 31st March 2019 and book for a minimum of three nights or more and the final night will be complimentary.

THE LAST WORD RETREATS is offering a Stay 3 Pay 2 deal which is running from 1 March 2019 to 20 December 2019. This can be combined across The Last Word Intimate Hotels and multiplied up as well. The offer is inclusive of breakfast and all beverages whilst staying with us.

CAPE VIEW CLIFTON in Cape Town is offering a stay 4 nights, only pay for 3. Valid for travel between 1 May 2019 and 31 October 2019.

THE OLD RECTORY in Plettenberg Bay is offering a stay 3 nights, only pay for 2. Valid for travel between 10 January 2019 and 13 December 2019.

SINGITA: Book four nights and only pay for three. Choose between bold and contemporary Singita Lebombo Lodgeperched on a rocky hillside with views over the N’wanetsi River below, or intimate Singita Sweni Lodge a hidden jewel nestled into the banks of the Sweni River. Valid: 16 Jan – 31 May 2019 and 1 Sep – 19 Dec 2019. A minimum of four nights is required

ULUSABA: Experience the ultimate Sabi Sand safari and take advantage of our 4 for 3 free night offer.  Stay from the 1 January – 30th June 2019 for four nights or more and the final night is on us.

THE OUTPOST LODGE, PEL’S POST, TSHWENE LODGE and EKUTHULENI LODGE are all offering a stay 4 nights, only pay for 3 Special. This offer is valid for travel between 1 March 2019 and 13 December 2019.

GARONGA SAFARI CAMP & LITTLE GARONGA in the Makalali Private Game Reserve in the Limpopo Province has extended their stay offer – Pay 4 | Stay 5. Book a stay of a minimum of 5 nights and get one night complimentary accommodation with complimentary road transfers from Hoedspruit and/or Phalaborwa and a 30 minute massage each also included in the offer. Valid all of 2019, subject to availability.

EXTRAORDINARY has an opening special at the new Luxury Safari Lodge, Safari Plains. The Pay 2 stay 3 FIT special is valid until the 31 March 2019.

TSWALU KALAHARI is offering 3 specials and a value add:

  • Stay 4 nights and pay 50% on last night
  • Stay 5, Pay 4.
  • Book 4 nights at Ellerman House and 3 nights at Tswalu Kalahari and receive a 4th night at Tswalu AND a one way between Cape Town and Tswalu free.
  • Value Add: all bookings receive a private and dedicated vehicle, guide and tracker throughout the stay.

MORE HOTELS Specials for 2019:

STAYMORE: Stay for four nights and only pay for three.

  • Marataba Safari Lodge / Marataba Trails Lodge: Valid to 17 Dec 2018; 4 Jan – 17 Dec 2019 & 4 Jan – 30 Apr 2020
  • Madikwe Safari Lodge: 1 May – 31 Aug 2019
  • More Quarters Hotel: 1 May – 31 Aug 2019
  • Stanley & Livingstone Boutique Hotel: 4 Jan – 17 Dec 2019 & 4 Jan – 30 Apr 2020

FLYMORE: Book three nights at Madikwe Safari Lodge and three nights at Marataba South Africa (Safari or Trails Lodge) and receive all three flights on Mara-Dikwe Air Taxi free. Validity: Valid 4 Jan – 17 Dec 2019.

JOURNEYMORE: Book three nights at any Lion Sands Game Reserve Lodge and three nights at Stanley & Livingstone Boutique Hotel and receive three nights free at More Quarters. Validity: Valid 4 Jan – 17 Dec 2019

STANLEY & LIVINGSTONE BOUTIQUE HOTEL has an opening special of Pay 2 Stay 3, valid until 31 March 2019.

VICTORIA FALLS RIVER LODGE in Victoria falls is offering a Stay 4 Pay 3 special for all stays until 31 March 2019. Valid for new bookings of a minimum of 4 consecutive nights.

VICTORIA FALLS RIVER LODGE & ISLAND TREEHOUSE SUITES: Stay 4, Pay 3: Valid until 31 Mar 2019.

Value Add: Stay 2 nights or more and receive a free 30-minute spa treatment. Valid until 30 Apr 2019.

SANTORINI MOZAMBIQUE: All guests staying for 3 or more nights (regardless of any other promotions) will receive a complimentary excursion to Magaruque Island with snorkeling and a beach picnic. They are also offering the following Specials:

  • Stay 5, Pay 4: Valid 01Jul – 31 Aug.
  • Stay 4, Pay 3: Valid until 30 Jun & 01 Sep – 19 Dec.

As always please contact us should you have any questions or if you need more information.