Dear Partners in Tourism,

Best wishes for 2020! We wish all our partners around the world a successful and prosperous year and decade.

The year started ‘full steam’ immediately with the annual South African Tourism India Roadshow already taking place in early January. Pieter and Carl attended and also had the opportunity to talk to our partners face to face. Things sound positive and if the South African government sticks to their commitment and promise to roll out an e-visa process by April for Indian passport holders an increase in numbers from this source market can hopefully be realised. India is an important source market for the company and we remain committed and invested in the market.

The year 2019 was an exciting year for us in our South East Asian markets. We conducted a very successful Mega Familiarization trip for over 50 agents from the region. We are thankful for our supplier partners (hotels, safari lodges, transport companies, sightseeing vendors and restaurants) who supported us in this. As a private sector only initiative we were able to showcase the best and most suitable experiences to our key trade partners from the region – who has returned to the various source markets excited, invigorated and committed to sell the destination successfully. This year we’ll be back in South East Asia with our annual Royal African Discoveries Roadshow, bringing our supplier partners from Southern Africa to meet, educate and motivate the trade on the destination. We will communicate the proposed dates for the 2020 roadshow in the near future – but it will take place during the early part of the second half of 2020. We look forward to this!

Our European business continue to grow and remains integral to our total business. We’ve never focused on the traditional European source markets (UK, Germany, France and Netherlands) that has been in decline for the destination in recent years. The focus on emerging and newer markets in Europe has proven to be the correct one and we continue to assist our partners in exposing and delighting their clients on the value and worth of visiting Southern Africa. I look forward to seeing our partners in the Nordics, Italy, Central and Eastern Europe during the year on my annual sales trips – or when they’ll be visiting for the We Are Africa, ILTM, WTM or Indaba shows. We will once again be present at the We are Africa tradeshow.

We continue to strategically invest in new emerging markets. During 2019 we were more active and focused in this regard. We always take a long term view in our endeavours and remain committed to nurture and grow these investments while we have seen unexpectedly quick returns and progress in some of these markets.

A project that has taken a lot longer than expected is a new Royal Africa Discoveries website. It is finally completed (Ok, we are still tinkering a bit with it) and now live. We invite you to go have a look – I think you’ll find it worth the wait. We’ve included the functionality to search for and view a huge array of product available in South and Southern Africa. There is currently more than 350 accommodation options listed on the site. In due course we’ll also add some activities and other options.

You are able to search for the product from a geographical angle but also from a travel theme perspective. We’ve included the obvious themes such as Romance, Family travel, Nature and Wildlife, but also a few emerging trends such as Active holidays and themes linked to this.

I know our partners will find this extremely handy and helpful in choosing the most suitable and appropriate product for each client.

The site has been live since early January and we think we’ve ironed out all of the glitches – but as with any site that is so extensive and dynamic we expect a few gremlins hiding somewhere in the woodwork (or coding in this case). If you pick up any such glitch while exploring the website, please let us know.

We look forward to your comments and feedback with regards to the new website. We see the website as a “work in progress” and intend adding and evolving over time with additional functionality as travel morphs further and trends evolve. You will notice some additions, changes and enhancements in the coming months – keep an eye out for those! The website will also allow us to communicate and update on a more regular basis with our trade partners.

You will find details on some of the latest and newest openings in terms of product on the website but we also include our usual Product Updates section in the newsletter.

I also had the opportunity for a quick visit to Shamwari Game Reserve in December. The Reserve has been accepted as a Virtuoso partner, done extensive refurbishments to their lodges in the last couple of months and opened a brand new tented flagship camp in December. I include some feedback and insights in our Site Inspection section.

The year ahead looks promising and I suspect might have a few interesting surprises in stall for all of us. We look forward to sharing an exciting year with you.

Best wishes for 2020!

Yours in Tourism,

Johan Groenewald

Sight Inspection Report

Shamwari Game Reserve

Shamwari Long Lee Manor:

The lodge wasn’t just refurbished but actually closer to totally rebuilt. The rooms/suites are actually all brand new (rebuild from ground). The classical ambience has been retained but in a contemporary style. The colour palate has modern grey undertones but sparkled with greens, coppers and warm earthy browns. Natural fabrics, leather, stone, wood, coppers and metal contribute to the warm and welcoming feel you experience at the lodge. Traditional “lodge/safari/South African” food has been re-interpreted in innovative and modern ways including tapas styled plates and health focused options. The lodge is now also more child (teenager) friendly and accommodating – although Shamwari Riverdene remains the ideal lodge for families with younger children.

My verdict: Classically stunning with a bit of contemporary spice.

Eagles Crag:

Until the opening of Sindile Tented Lodge, Eagles Crag was the modern flagship at the Reserve. Eagles Crag also had a do-over and emerged as a stylish and evolved adult. Deep dark greys, chocolates and stormy dark blues contribute to a sexy, sultry and powerful product. A “Romance de force” that caters for couples and ideal for any anniversary or special occasion trip. Eagles Crag can easily be twinned with the new Sindile for combination stays at Shamwari.

Riverdene Lodge:

Many safari lodges claim to be child friendly. Riverdene is child-focused, child-obsessed even and undoubtedly set the standard for any safari lodge wanting to compete in this segment.

Although stylishly designed, it is uncluttered, practical and functional. Any parent will immediately sigh of relief that they can let kids ‘run wild’ without the immediate sounds of things breaking (well mostly coming from me as a non-parent).

The icing on the cake is however the “Kids on Safari Adventure Centre” on site that specifically caters to take care of the children while at the lodge. It contains THE “jungle gym” that would spoil any backyard, park or school equivalent for any child – and would probably make most of the parents wish they could be children. The expansive structure is age appropriately sectioned to allow for safe and enjoyable experiences for different age groups. Specially trained and dedicated staff look after the children (while parents can relax at the pool, on safari or just have some child-free time). An indoor section will entertain kids less adventurous or wanting a bit of a less active playtime. A word of warning: The kids might never want to leave again!

Sindile Tented Camp

Views to die for greets you as you enter the lodge reception. The expansive views across the savanna plain in front of the lodge is ever present – in your room, bathroom, private plunge pool, the bar and restaurant. Everywhere! The immaculately designed lodge pays homage to East African style tented lodges which automatically ads a touch of romance to the ambience. Glass and light sand coloured timber, twinned with a colour palate of ochre, rusted orange, deep mustards intermingled with flashes of blues and wine reds puts the lodge firmly back in the Eastern Cape semi-arid environment.

An unexpected tented delight for the region! I also had a look at the Sarili, Bayete and Lobengula lodge while at Shamwari. Should you need updates on these, please contact me or one of the team for updates.

Product News & Updatess

  • Unabridged Birth Certificate update: It was announced last year that the Unabridged Birth Certificate requirements for international minors will be scrapped. This means that all IATA registered airlines, have now been informed of the updated requirements, which will make travelling to and from South Africa easier for international families. If you need a document about this, please ask our office for a copy.
  • THE ROYAL MADIKWE has a new Three Bedroom House. Please contact us for more information.
  • SHAMWARI GAME RESERVE has been accepted into Virtuoso®’s exclusive portfolio of luxury travel partners, comprised of more than 1,800 preferred suppliers in 100 countries.
  • KINGS CAMP IN THE TIMBAVATI. Enjoy top quality gourmet Kosher cuisine, prepared fresh on site, in accordance with Kashrut and Jewish Laws.  Whether it’s a bush breakfast near a busy watering hole, a boma dinner under the stars or an elegant dinner enjoyed in the dining room, all catering is supervised by a Mashgiach appointed by the Beth Din Kashrut Supervisor in the fully-equipped, Beth-Din Council certified Kings Camp Kosher kitchen.
  • MORUKURU FAMILY has confirmed refurbishments at Morukuru Owner’s House and River House in Madikwe: The work on both properties will begin soon and Owner’s House will re-open on 15 May 2020, River House will re-open on 30 May 2020. Their sister property Morukuru Farm House will remain open as usual and will not be affected by any of the work going on.
  • SANBONA has advised the following dates for 2020 LODGE MAINTENANCE CLOSURE DATES.
  • DWYKA TENTED LODGE: 6 to 12 July 2020 – opening again on the 13th of July 2020
  • TILNEY MANOR: 15 – 21 June 2020 – opening again on the 22nd of June 2020
  • GONDWANA FAMILY LODGE: 1 to 30 September 2020 – opening again on the 1st of October 2020
  • ELLERMAN HOUSE has introduced AFRICA’S FIRST SLEEP ROOMS. Reinventing the definition of room service, Ellerman House Hotel is launching the continent’s first Sleep Rooms. Available for booking in 2020, the Sleep Rooms have been designed by internationally-renowned Elite Wellness Consultant, Harry Jameson, to promote rest and relaxation. For more information please ask your consultant.
  • ONE & ONLY has a new flagship restaurant. One&Only Cape Town announced Ochre as their new restaurant – offering a contemporary interpretation of age-old South African recipes.
  • DELAIRE GRAFF ESTATE: The guest areas of the main lodge (including Indochine and the Spa) as well as the Presidential, Luxury and Deluxe lodge categories, will be closed for renovation from 16 April to 31 August 2020.
  • BAPTISTE ROOFTOP BAR at The Marly Hotel, Camps Bay is now open. For those wanting to experience Camps Bay to the fullest, a visit to Baptiste Rooftop Bar at The Marly Boutique Hotel & Spa offers 360° views of the Atlantic Ocean and the iconic Twelve Apostles mountain range. This exclusive location is open to both guests of The Marly as well as outside visitors & offers a curated poolside, champagne & cocktail menu and a view to rival no other.
  • BOSCHENDAL VINEYARD ADVENTURE: Soak up the surrounding mountain landscapes and endless views as you journey through the farm sipping on a selection of our most celebrated wines, accompanied by our award-winning farm produce. Tastings include a selection of only our finest wines, starting with our top of the range MCC and working through our best whites & reds. Available daily until April 2020 @ 9:00. The adventure will last approximately 3 hours depending on the group size. 8 Guests maximum per adventure.
  • FANCOURT updates:
  • THE MANOR HOUSE will be closed from 08 June – 08 July 2020. The Manor House is scheduled to close during this time for soft refurbishments to the suites. Rest assured that we will send out reminders leading up to this and keep you updated on the changes.
  • HENRY WHITE’S will be closed from 08 June – 08 July 2020. Henry White’s restaurant at The Manor House will also undergo its annual closure during the same time period. Please bear with us while we improve our facilities and service to you.
  • SA AIRLINK to OPERATE UNDER OWN FLIGHT CODE: Airlink, will operate under its own “4Z” flight code on services operated with effect from 11 June 2020. This decision represents an important milestone in extending the commercial reach of the airline in its own right and ending its agreement with South African Airways.

Special Offers

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

  • FANCOURT FAMILY SPECIAL: Kids under 16 years old stay free – Valid from 01 May until 31 October 2020 / Kids under 12 years old stay free – Valid from 01 November until 15 December 2020
  • FANCOURT PAY STAY SPECIALS: Pay for two nights and stay for three – Valid from 01 June until 31 August 2020. Pay for three nights and stay for four – Valid from 01 April 2020 until 31 May 2020 and 01 until 30 September 2020
  • LION ROARS COLLECTION properties are offering a Stay 3 Pay 2 offer at Bukela Game Lodge Hlosi game Lodge, Singa Lodge and Ibhayi Lodge (valid from 1 May to 31 July 2020).
  • CAPE GRACE is offering a family package. With a minimum stay of 3 consecutive nights, guests can kick back and enjoy a family night in with popcorn and DVDs, ring down for in-room dining, or make use of the child-minding activities. With gingerbread decorating, Africa-themed story-time, bath-time toys and special kiddies’ menus, the VIKs are kept happily entertained – ensuring a stress-free time for mom and dad too.
  • ELLERMAN HOUSE AND TSWALU: From the 1st April to 30th November 2020, Ellerman House and Tswalu are offering guests the opportunity to enjoy 3 memorable nights at each property and only pay for 4. Book 3 nights at Ellerman House (Deluxe room category or higher) and only pay for 2. Book 3 Nights at Tswalu Kalahari (The Motse) and only pay for 2.
  • ROCKFIG SAFARI LODGE is offering a Stay 4 and only Pay for 3: Valid 01 January until 31 December 2020.
  • LA CLES DES MONTAGNES in Franschhoek has a HONEYMOON in FRANSCHHOEK Honeymooners stay 3 nights & only pay for 2. THE DETAILS: Enjoy a romantic room turndown, Complimentary bottle of bubbly. Valid 1 April until 19 Dec 2020. Offer applies within 1 year of marriage. Proof of marriage may be requested.
  • Stay 5 Pay 3 Special: Stay three nights at The Last Word Kitaraand get two nights free at either The Last Word Constantia or The Last Word Long Beach. Valid from 6 January 2020 – 19 December 2020.
  • Stay 3 Pay 2 Kitara Special: Book two nights at The Last Word Kitara and get your third night free. Valid from 9 January 2020 – 31 March 2020.
  • Stay 3 Pay 2 Cape Town: Stay two nights and get your third night free at The Last Word Constantia, The Last Word Franschhoek or The Last Word Long Beach. This special can be combined between all three properties and multiplied to give you a Stay 6 Pay 4 special. This means you could stay four nights at The Last Word Constantia and spend your two free nights at The Last Word Long Beach. The Last Word Constantia is valid from now until 19 December 2020. The Last Word Franschhoek and The Last Word Long Beach is valid from 1 March – 19 December 2020.
  • MANTIS COLLECTION – Founders Lodge and Mantis Umfolozi Lodges. Stay 3 Pay 2. Valid: May to September 2020.
  • LION SANDS IVORY LODGE. Pay 2 Stay 3 at Lion Sands Ivory Lodge. Travel in February and March 2020
  • SINGITA – Reminder: Stay for 5 nights, only pay for 4. Book 5 nights between Singita Ebony and Sweni Lodge and receive one night free. + A complimentary Federal Airlines flight between Sabi Sand and the Kruger National Park. A minimum of two nights is required at both Singita Ebony and Sweni Lodge. Valid: Until 14 December 2020
  • ULUSABA: Stay at Ulusaba, in the Sabi Sand for four nights or more until 30th June and from 1st November to 21st December 2020 and your final night will be complimentary.
  • MONT ROCHELLE: Stay at Mont Rochelle in Franschhoek, for three nights or more until 20th December 2020 and your final night will be complimentary.

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