Just picked up new Conde Nast Traveler (11/2002)...

Nov 24th, 2002, 06:29 PM
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Just picked up new Conde Nast Traveler (11/2002)...

and for the second year in a row, Singita Private Game Reserve is ranked the #1 place in the world. This year, it had to share the honors with the Boyer Les Crayeres Hotel in Reims, France.
I was pleased to see that tied for #4 in the world was the Table Bay Hotel in Cape Town. I tried dilligently to stay at the Cape Grace earlier this year but had to "settle" for the Table Bay Hotel! Well, Cape Grace has slipped all the way down to #24, one spot ahead of the Bellagio in Las Vegas.
So, I had the good fortune of staying at two of the top four places in the world earlier this year, as well as the #3 hotel in Africa and the Middle East, the Mount Nelson Hotel (behind Table Bay and Cape Grace only).
Don't know if I will splurge like this on my next trip to South Africa but I am very grateful for being able to experience it first class this year.
FYI, Londolozi checked in at #12 in the world, the only other place in Africa to make the top 100.
The top 15 "African Resorts" ranked as follows with overall score in parentheses:
1. Singita Private Game Reserve, South Africa (96.0)
2. Londolozi Private Game Reserve, South Africa (93.5)
3. Mala Mala Game Reserve, South Africa (86.9)
4. Tortills Camp, Kenya (86.3)
5. Little Governors Camp, Kenya (85.8)
6. Ngorongoro Serena Safari Lodge, Tanzania (83.7)
6. Phinda Forest Lodge, South Africa (83.7)
8. Mount Kenya Safari Club, Kenya (83.4)
9. Chobe Chilwero, Botswana (81.6)
9. Mombo Camp, Botswana (81.6)
11. Palace of the Lost City, Sun City, South Africa (80.8)
12. Okavango Camp, Botswana (80.5)
13. Sabi Sabi Game Lodges, South Africa (80.3)
14. Governors Camp, Kenya (79.6)
15. Mara Serena Safari Lodge, Kenya (78.7)
1. Table Bay Hotel, Cape Town (95.5)
2. Cape Grace, Cape Town (92.4)
3. Mount Nelson Hotel, Cape Town (87.7)
4. La Mamounia, Marrakech (87.4)
5. The Michelangelo, Johannesburg (86.9)
6. Grace in Rosebank, Johannesburg (84.8)
7. American Colony Hotel, Jerusalem (83.2)
8. Al Bustan Palace Inter-Continental, Muscat, Oman (82.0)
9. Inbal Jerusalem Hotel, Jerusalem (81.1)
10. Palais Jamai, Fez (79.1)
Nov 25th, 2002, 06:48 AM
Posts: n/a
Very interesting, Rocco, but meaningless. I've stayed at a number of those places, and you have to understand HOW to measure them. Take the game lodges - the TOP priority is game viewing!!!!!! They all offer good lodging, some fancier than others, and all offer good food. But it's the animals that count, and some offer better viewing than others. To rate Singita above MalaMala is silly - it simply costs more at Singita. And to suggest that Cape Grace has slipped to just ahead of some LV hotel is silly as well. You've never stayed there, so sounds to me like sour grapes, with a back-up from Conde Nast. Silly magazine in any event, and any one planning a trip to southern africa would be silly indeed to pay the slightest attention to those recommendations. Sorry, but whatever you're doing is off the mark.
Nov 25th, 2002, 08:06 AM
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What are you talking about? You are comparing Mombo Camp, a game lodge in Botswana, with Palace of the Lost City in Sun City, S. Africa. Mombo at 81.6 comes in just ahead of Sun City at 80.8.
So what!

Mombo is a fantastic lodge in the upper part of Botswana, in the Okavango area. You fly there to see the animals. The Palace in a faux-Las Vegas style place where you go for gambling and shows - Michael Jackson is an investor.

Why are you paying heed to this nonsense? I hope people reading this site will understand that Conde Nast is comparing an apple with a frog. They aren't even in the same food groups, lol.

This must be a JOKE!
Nov 25th, 2002, 09:20 AM
Posts: n/a
If you are done shooting the messenger, I am just reporting an article in Conde Nast Traveler.
Personally, I trusted Conde Nast Traveler's ratings in booking my South Africa trip...AND I AM GLAD I DID!!!
Singita was incredible and unless a person has stayed at both Mala Mala and Singita, they cannot make an educated comparison. Conde Nast Traveler simply reported what their readers had responded to a readers poll.
Although I did not stay at the Cape Grace, I did have lunch there and didn't see why it was rated higher than Table Bay in last years edition.
Nov 25th, 2002, 09:40 AM
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Don't worry Rocco, I support you even if I haven't been to many of the places mentioned in CN. I just don't like the way people like to reply in this forum to notices posted by anyone like you and I! They all think they are so cool to be able to turn down whatever one writes just because they feel like it. In my view, comments should be more fair and should be written in a more respectable way. Ciao
Nov 25th, 2002, 09:49 AM
Posts: n/a
Sounds like you're more than a messenger, rocco. Conde Nast put your place #1.

I was at Gingita but didn't stay stay there - much like your experience at Cape Grace - and don't see why it's rated higher than MalaMala.

So, Conde Nast is merely reporting what its readers reported. But then gives a ranking. So, who stayed at both Singita and MalaMala - to quote you, if you haven't stayed at both places, you cannopt make an educated comparison.
Faux science!

Rocco, rely on anyone you like. But give us all a break about this Cande Nast stuff. It's a silly publication pitched to the affluent!

Tell me - I did ask - how would YOU compare Mombo or Chobe with Sun City?
Nov 25th, 2002, 02:21 PM
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X...if you need to take out some personal issues on somebody, go punch the wall.
I am a frequent contributor to this forum and I have no agenda here other than to report a readers survey published in Conde Nast Traveler.
My most recent postings on this forum in recent months have mostly involved finding a more economical alternative to the Singita's, Mala Mala's and Sabi Sabi's, as well as finding a more economical alternative to Table Bay, Mount Nelson and Cape Grace in Cape Town.
Next time you want to write a rude message to me, have the courage to list your real info instead of hiding behind an assumed identity.
Nov 25th, 2002, 06:30 PM
Selwyn Davidowitz
Posts: n/a


I am going to have to split thgis mail in 2 as this board will not accept a long mail. Such as this one.

I have read many of your excellent mails on this page in the past and I think I know exactly where you are coming from when you published your original CN ratings mail. I suggest you just ignore the comments on the page that are "flames" and simply read those that have constructive value in their writings.

As far as the CN list is concerned my feelings with all these lists are that they represent commercial hype and really are not worth the paper they are written on. To this I must add that they do act as guidelines to the totally ignorant and in this regard could prove to be handy sometimes.

My own personal feelings about this years rankings are that thy prove exactly what I have just said. Please bear in mind that I am at the coal face on a daily basis with the hotels you are talking of and have many visitors who have stayed at most of them. May I add that I have stayed at them too even though I am a local Capetonian. The only reason that I have done this is because I have wanted to experience the establishments first hand.

Without going into detail about most of the ratings I am simply going to home in on one example to show the absurdity of the these CN type lists by concentrating on The Cape Grace, Table Bay, Bellagio scenario. The reason as to why I am choosing these are because

1. I have stayed at Bellagio and know it pretty well.

2. Resided in the Table Bay well as have the toured with 9 visitors who have resided there in the past year

3. Resided in the Table Bay well as have the toured with 18 visitors who have resided there in the past year

Now if the above as well as the fact that I am a tourism professional based in Cape Town does not qualify me to so called rate a hotel then nothing will imho. With that said the question is how would I rate these venues?

The answer is dual fold.

If I had to rate them for what I regard as my own personal needs they would be in order of The Cape Grace, with the Table Bay and Bellagio tying for whatever spot they hold. What I must add is that the Cape Grace would be 50 spots ahead of the other 2 hotels in that I rate it so highly.

Selwyn Davidowitz.
Continued in part 2....
Nov 25th, 2002, 06:31 PM
Selwyn Davidowitz
Posts: n/a

If I had to rate the venues in a CN type list I would not go near doing this because the answer is "how long is a piece of string". One mans meat is another mans poison and one simply cannot attain any values out of this type of rating. Let me quote an example of this. A traveller might be the sort of person who wants a closely knit, intimate hotel. The Grace has 100 rooms whereas The Table Bay has over 200 rooms and I think Bellagio must have more than 500 rooms. At the same time you might want to rate the venue because of how many restaurants that it has. The Grace has 1 restaurant. The Table Bay has 2 places to eat and Bellagio must have the best part of 8 places to dine at. Now just taking these two factors into account how in heavens name can anyone try and compare these establishments on a top 10 list. The lists are the biggest lot of hogwash and I would not place much attention to them however I grant you the personal choice of doing so and read what your thoughts are with great interest.

All I know is that last year the Cape Grace went on a huge marketing campaign saying that they were voted number one by Conde Naste. I wonder what their campaign will say this year and moreso I wonder what the Table Bay's campaign will say or 2003. In a nutshell these lists are nothing other than marketing hype and I think the above proves it all.

At the end of the day for any traveller wanting to be walking around saying "I have stayed at the best hotel in the world" is imho the biggest load of nonsense as there is no such venue. If you have stayed at a hotel that you rate as the best in the world then be happy that you have done so and as far as the hotels that others rate as the best in the world are concerned respect them for this factor HOWEVER I ask you if 98% of the world say that you should jump into the fire because its hot would you do so? Conde Naste and all the equivalent pages, services etc are nothing other than commercial ventures who prey on the ignorance of travellers. My suggestion is that the travellers should rather read what is written on forum board like Fodors etc and get it straight form the travellers mouth.

Rocco I am very happy that you wrote your original mail to the board as it has given all a chance not to really comment about the hotels and venues that you have mentioned but rather focus on the Conde Naste type of lists. This in its own makes your mail very positive. Look past the language that some of your respondents have used and try and only concentrate on content. If the language used is too inflammatory then just look past it and DONT respond in a similar way because that just makes you as guilty as the other party and as I have already said I know from reading many of your past advice mails that you are NOT this sort of person; As a matter of fact you are the exact opposite.

Keep up your mails as they are always a joy to read.

Selwyn Davidowitz.

Nov 25th, 2002, 07:24 PM
Posts: n/a
Thank you for your insight and level-headedness, Selwyn.
I am not foolhardy enough to want to stay at the Palace of The Lost City over the Okavango Camp or Sabi Sabi, so yes, I can also read between the lines and attempt to filter out the obvious.
I do concur that these guides are an invaluable tool to the ignorant who have never been to South Africa before.
Without such a guide, I could have as easily ended up at the Commodore Waterfront or, heaven forbid, the Holiday Inn "Waterfront" (and I use the term Waterfront loosely as the Holiday Inn Waterfront is nowhere near the waterfront) instead of the Table Bay or Mount Nelson Hotel.
Also, there are so many private safari lodges out there that who knows where I would have chosen if not for the previous years Conde Nast Traveler that referred me to Singita. There are so many other places that possess about 1/10 the land as Singita yet charge about 85% of the price of Singita (Exeter and Leopard Hills come to mind).
Even a place like Kirkman's Camp at Mala Mala may be more than 50% the price of Singita but judging from the comments of other guests at Matetsi Game Reserve in Zimbabwe who were absolutely thrilled with Matetsi after a stay at Mala Mala Kirkman's Camp, I wouldn't have cared for it much. Matetsi was an upgrade for them after Mala Mala while it was an initial disappointment for me after Singita.
I do not take this list as gospel. For example, I met a very well traveled couple at Singita who actually preferred the Royal Malewane to Singita, yet the Royal Malewane appears nowhere in Conde Nast Traveler or in any other American publications I have seen (other than a little blurb in the Robb Report).
Anyway, as I have said recently, I am most likely done with these most expensive accomodations and instead will choose very nice bed and breakfasts in Cape Town (or even top end self catering apartments on the waterfront or Camps Bay/Bantry Bay) and lesser known private game reserves such as Idube's new camp, Vuyatela, or even Savanna or Chitwa Chitwa, all for less than half the price of Singita, Mala Mala and Sabi Sabi.
Ultimately, my wife and I hope to buy a home in Cape Town, hopefully sooner rather than later. Unfortunately, as foreigners, we may only qualify for a 50% bond ("mortgage" for all of you without Capetonian ambitions), and until we can put at least 75% upfront for a home in a place like Upper Claremont, Hout Bay or Constantia, we will hold off, as we do not want to finance $75,000 (USD) at the 16-17% interest rates in South Africa.
Anyway, I am off the beaten path now. Let me just say that I love South Africa and I meant no harm in my initial post. Take it with a grain of salt, but be assured that if you stay at the top places you will be completely satisfied.
Nov 26th, 2002, 01:37 PM
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lol, courage! funny, but you got this business started with that dumb CN list, an absurdity others have pointed out by now. If you have some personal experieces to benefit fellow travellers, post them, but all means, and theyll aid all of us. But whats the point of some magazine's outlandish ranking of apples and oranges. Maybe youre having second thoughts about CN. No offense intended, but its a magazine most pay no mind to. No point in getting hot about that, youre not the publisher.

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