Travel & Leisure's picks

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Aug 17th, 2004, 08:32 AM
  #1
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Travel & Leisure's picks

In the current Sept issue, they have a long "A-List" article of top travel agents (who are generally too pricey) and then their suggestions. The Africa/mid east page starts with "on their radar" - Zambia, saying the best guides in Africa have moved from Zim to here and the game-viewing is incredible. Rocco, you're about to have a lot of company. The other four listed after were Mozambique, Libya (!), Dubai, South Africa.

Under "safaris" Sussi & Chuma Lodge in Victoria Falls Park and Lechwe Plains Tented Camp were mentioned. Someone else mentions Ivory Lodge (new) along the Sabi River.
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Aug 18th, 2004, 11:42 AM
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(Sigh....) I for one have feared this day.
I'd love to see Zambia get more business, but hope it never becomes a "destination".
And of course with popularity, prices will rise...and then I suppose Roccco will have to discover another Africa destination...
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Aug 18th, 2004, 11:57 AM
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That's T&L for you. Personally, if it's missing Botswana at the top, then it's missing. I'll believe my own eyes over that mag' any day - and my eyes begin taking it in again very soon.
 
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Aug 18th, 2004, 01:02 PM
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You miss the point, Formal (and lucky you for an upcoming trip). The article wasn't called "What's the Best in Africa" but "On the radar" meaning what are *these* top agents talking about (and some may have their own agendas). Everyone knows about Botswana, has known about Botswana for years but it's expensive and very much so with the exchange now. Tashak, agreed, it's a double-edge sword with Zambia. I don't want it to be a "destination" either but would like to see it survive in an increasingly challenging travel economy. Anyway, I thought you all (esp. Rocco) might be interested in what they said.
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Aug 18th, 2004, 01:14 PM
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Is this by chance the same T&L article another posters was raving about three days ago, one that ranked Mombo and Cape Grace below Mala Mala? They lost me then. We've been there several times already, and yes, soon, very, once again. I'm unsure how they arrive at their conclusions.
 
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Aug 18th, 2004, 01:46 PM
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I posted the original reference to the T&L article. I seldom rave.

T&L says they get their rankings based on customer feedback. I think it has to do with the "absolute" average, rather than anything volume-adjusted. One presumes there is more total feedback regarding a hotel in Singapore with 500 rooms than for a 30-person luxe safari camp in S. Africa. One presumes.
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Aug 18th, 2004, 06:36 PM
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Could be same magazine but not the same article. This is "On the Radar," part of an "On the A-List" (travel agents) article. It is chat from top travel agents. It is not their readers' poll.

Not their readers' poll.

I've been to Mombo and Cape Grace and am eager to go to Mala Mala after hearing from safarinut. But comparing Cape Grace, a hotel, with Mala Mala is like apples and oranges.
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Aug 18th, 2004, 10:27 PM
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FormalAttire,

And just how many of the Big Five have you spotted while at the Cape Grace???
As Clematis pointed out, its apples and oranges.

Personally, I don't even believe the Cape Grace to be the best hotel in Cape Town. Sure, it has plenty of ambience, but step outside the hotel and you are surrounded by tens of thousands of common folk frequenting the Waterfront and you are located in the middle of a working harbor! I would take the Twelve Apostles Hotel any day of the week over the Cape Grace.

As far as Zambia goes, please let us know how many times you have visited there beyond Victoria Falls. Admittedly, I have yet to visit Botswana, but it is mostly because I have found such an until now undiscovered gem that I have little desire to go elsewhere. The very finest of lodges are available for less than half the price of their Botswanan and South African counterparts, and guests are not nickle and dimed for road transfers that may cost as much as $100 USD EACH WAY PER PERSON! as they are in South Africa. Even two hour road transfers to lodges that are further away from the Mfuwe Airport are free of charge (or at least included in the tariff).

I have every intention and desire to see Botswana, Tanzania, Namibia and more of Zimbabwe after Mugabe dies or relinquishes power. However, meanwhile, I am all too happy to have Zambia seemingly all to myself (well, sharing with Tashak, I suppose!).

Ultimately, the top 100 lists, etc., are fun to play around with, but of course they cannot capture all of the great places out there. Personally, I would rank Chichele Presidential Lodge in South Luangwa, Zambia, right alongside Singita, but until they can get more than a 25% occupancy rate, they will have a very difficult time just staying in business, yet less making any World's Best lists.

Also, as a new hotel, the Twelve Apostles will need more time before appearing on any such list, although it was already named in Conde Nast about six months ago as one of the hottest new properties in the world.

Personally, I do get caught up in the pomp and circumstance, finding it hard to ignore the allure of these lists...how do you think I chose Singita and South Africa in the first place back in 2002, before discovering Zambia and all of its charms?

I am having a very hard time ignoring Bushmans Kloof for my next vacation when in all reality I am still having a hard time selling myself on a South African holiday when I want nothing more than to visit places like:

Sausage Tree Camp in Lower Zambezi, Zambia

Chichele Presidential Lodge in South Luangwa, Zambia (AGAIN)

Little Ongova, Etosha National Park

Kirawira, Serengeti, Tanzania

Chief's Camp, Chiefs Island, Okavango Delta, Botswana

Kwando Kwara, Kwando Reserve, Botswana

Kwando Lagoon, Kwando Reserve, Botswana

Sand Rivers Lodge, Selous, Tanzania

Khwai River Lodge, Moremi, Botswana (although this isn't a very well publicized place, I do see it on a lot of top private guides itineraries such as Mad Mike Penman's and Gavin Blair's, both very highly esteemed private guides leading mobile tented safaris but also stopping at certain game lodges. For the kind of money these guys are charging they better be able to produce the best possible game experiences, and with Khwai River Lodge on their lists, it makes me want to visit Khwai River Lodge).

Kaingo, South Luangwa National Park (AGAIN). In my opinion this is the best value that I have ever experienced, with three game activities daily, drinks included in the tariff, and with rooms perched on a short cliff that look right over the Luangwa River with literally dozens of hippos and crocodiles within 50+ meters. I cannot imagine a better place for someone that is really interested in hippos. I mean you can just sit on your lounge chair, read a magazine or book, listen to the constant snorting and then put your reading material down and enjoy the action when they start challenging each other. Kaingo is an excellent camp with excellent guides, an excellent staff, the best birding I have seen yet and excellent pricing. The owner, Derek Shenton, is a great guy and is involved in the day to day operations and continues to lead the occasional game drive and/or bush walk.

None of the above places will likely appear on any lists soon, but they are all excellent options, or appear to be so (for the lodges I have not yet visited).

To sum it all up, neither the Best Of lists nor Botswana are the say all, end all, for the best experiences that Africa has to offer. There are many, many, opportunities out there, and it is a major struggle not so much choosing an itinerary, but rather in eliminating all the other great itineraries that are possible for those of us that really take an interest in this all.
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Aug 19th, 2004, 06:28 AM
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Roccco, your point is ... ? Long diatribe, but it really only reflects your personal views.

Thanks for enlightening all of us that one may not compare a hotel in a major city with a lodge and environs. In fact, I didn't make the comparison ... that came from another poster quoting from a suppsoed T&L article.

Your rendition of Cape Grace seems intentionally negative. Apparently you've an issue with the V&A Waterfront. Many apparently do not dislike other tourists, or where they may congregate. V&A is a lively setting where one goes for fun. The issue with that is ....?

You may believe because you say you spend heavily for your trips, and tout the upscale places where you stay, that your word is the final word on safari travel. Perhaps sometime we can share lists of places, etc. and time in country ... but it's probably irrelevant.

By the time I'm in country, soon, I'll have forgotten this discussion.
 
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Aug 19th, 2004, 06:37 AM
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Formal Attire,

The Cape Grace works well for those wanting a mega-mall and working harbor at their doorstep. Admittedly, the Cape Grace has beautiful facilities, but that is lost once you step out the door and are surrounded by 10,000 other people that surely are not paying $500+ per night, as the guests of the Cape Grace are paying.

I, for one, do not like paying a high dollar amount for exclusivity, only to lose it with a single step outside the hotel walls.

Have a grat time on your trip and please don't let the door hit you on the way out.
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Aug 19th, 2004, 07:11 AM
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Your description of the Cape Grace and environs isn't accurate, and it doesnt do the area justice. There really aren't thousands of tourists outide the Grace, making noise, lol. Of course, lots of people at V&A, but it's a big and fun place. You must admit that on occasion, you've emphasized how much you pay and that you grow annoyed quickly with places that don't meet your particular standards. But since you've never stayed at the Grace, and lunch doesn't count, I think you ought to cease ... it's a special place, and you're giving people the wrong idea. You are no more experts at this than many of us. So, perhaps you might wish to tone it down a bit. That won't in the least detract from the useful information you have provided.
 
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Aug 19th, 2004, 12:22 PM
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Hi Roccco...thanks for agreeing to share Zambia with me! It is a big country...

I wouldn't dream of getting in the middle of the Twelve Apostles vs. Cape Grace debate. (I save my $ for wildlife areas.)

But less anyone think that the working harbor makes the V&A waterfront unattractive...well just look at some photos before you make that decision. I thought the working container port (which is not right next to the CG) was an astonishing and beautiful sight. I totally loved the fact that a working facility could be so striking and attractive, and it was a superb example of good city planning and architecture. The V&A is for tourists..but it is a fun place that locals frequent with lots of entertainers--organized and not. I thought it was super and would count it as an amenity and a plus for the Cape Grace. But in Capetown there are accomodations for every budget and preference... one of the excellent things about this gorgeous city.
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Aug 19th, 2004, 03:29 PM
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I have purposely been staying out of the type of debates in this thread as Roccco always suppoosedly knows best. This time I am going to enter the bunfight in shortlived manner.

It is my opinion that when it comes to good deals in Zambia and some upmarket safari lodges in SA that Roccco does know a lot. Why is this as such? Simple! All can all be researched on the internet as well as with some calls and faxes and Rooccco is truly an expert at this function.

With the above said I have to comment that when it comes to Cape Town Roccco acts as if he is the expert yet I believe he is very, very far from this position of status. I am saying this as a person who is born in Cape Town, has lived here for all of my life and now travels with many visitors in this town as a travel professional. Anybody who makes the statement "sure, it has plenty of ambience, but step outside the hotel and you are surrounded by tens of thousands of common folk frequenting the Waterfront and you are located in the middle of a working harbor" has no clue of what it means to stay at the Cape Grace. (Why does'nt someone ask Roccco if he has ever had the pleasure of staying at the Grace thus qualifying him to speak in such expert terms) Please understand that I am not lauding the Grace, all I am saying is that Rocccos description of the Grace is totally inaccurate and please understand that I am saying this as someone who walks in and out of the Grace's doors up to twice a week and have also stayed in the hotel to sample its facilities

An example so as to prove my point is that last week I travelled with two folk from California who were staying at the Cape Grace for 5 nights and they only saw the Waterfront and its "common folk" when they visited Robben Island and the aquarium. May I also ask what is so awful about "common folk" or do they not come up to Rocccos stringent uncommon standards? Who in heavens name even said that because one stays at the Grace one has to visit the Waterfront especially when Cape Town has much more to offer than the Waterfront itself. Most of those that I travel with who stay at the Grace walk through the hotel doors, turn right and hardly even know that they are staying in the Waterfront other than seeing a working harbour in front of them and whats so bad about that I ask?

As far as the visitor staying at the Grace is concerned he/she is in the middle of everything that the city centre has to offer and is within 5 minutes of all that he/she could truly want to do city wise be it in the Waterfront or not. Now lets ask Roccco how far his dearly beloved 12 Apostles is from all.

Btw I have now also made a point of staying at the Apostles to satisfy my own curiosity and I found that it was a plush hotel where one never sees a local (not even in the restaurant or bar areas) and only see the couple of tourists at the hotel. (The hotel is rarely filled to capacity which amazes me after the way that Rocccco lauds the venue in this web forum) Furthermore when staying at the hotel I could not sleep with an open front window to the sea as the noise from the road in front of the hotel was too disturbing. You may ask then why not close the door and the answer is that one of the wonderful facilities that the Apostles does have is a magnificent sea view so I ask why not enjoy the opportunity to sleep with an open door listening to the wonderful sounds of the sea? Anyway the traffic passing the Apostles does not allow this to happen with comfort.

As far as I am concerned there are better places to stay at when in Cape Town than the Grace however the Apostles would not be one of these venues imho, as a matter of fact the Apostles would rank in my last 50% of choices when it comes to accommodation in Cape Town other than if one is a person looking for a secluded, plush vacation.

About 12 months ago Roccco made the announcement that the 12 Apostles would be one of the top 4 hotels in Cape Town in the near future. Is it as such today? My answer would be "no". Cape Towns peoples answer would be "are you crazy to even ask the question?"

With that all said I am going to leave this Grace vs 12 Apostles debate (which has been hacked to death in this web forum already) with a final statement and that a great tip for all travellers who visit anywhere in the world is. "Listen to the locals of a city who are there 24/365 as opposed to "one to four day wonder travllers" who only visit a city for 24 - 96 hours of their whole life and claim expert experience!

Someone once proclaimed that "empty vessels make the most noise" Suppose that is why Roccco likes counting his posts on Fodors showing how he supposedly helped others and then tells us all about these numbers very proudly. (yup he has done this in the past) Makes one think does it not!

Just my twopence worth.

Very proudly part of the wonderful nation of South Africa


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Aug 19th, 2004, 03:49 PM
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Selwyn: what is your opinion of the Mount Nelson? I have a chance to stay in November on a special inspection rate so I am not so concerned that there could be better price options -- just interested in the overall experience, especially in comparison to the Grace and other top luxury hotels. Thanks.
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Aug 19th, 2004, 03:58 PM
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I stayed at the Mount Nelson on my first visit to Cape Town, and its an excellent hotel, although maybe not in the very best location (we took taxis to and from the waterfront). But you can walk to Long Street (a backpackers' hangout with very good, inexpensive restaurants), which we did via the park and found it very safe. Its a classic, historic hotel, on par with the Victoria Falls Hotel and the Polana in Maputo (I try to stay at the older hotels when I travel). The Cape Colony restaurant was also excellent.

On my second visit, I stayed at the Victoria and Alfred Hotel (at that time, August 2003) it was only around US$100 per night, which I thought reasonable for a hotel on the waterfront, which is where we wanted to be for ease of access to the ferry to Robben Island and walking to city center and Long Street. I like to be in the center of things and don't want a feeling of isolation -- we like to experience the city.
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Aug 19th, 2004, 05:29 PM
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Hi Selwyn...it doesn't work that way ANYWHERE. Ditto for Zambia...
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Aug 19th, 2004, 10:19 PM
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Selwyn,

So nice of you to come out and play!

Just to review a couple of your statements...

>>>As far as I am concerned there are better places to stay at when in Cape Town than the Grace however the Apostles would not be one of these venues imho, as a matter of fact the Apostles would rank in my last 50% of choices when it comes to accommodation in Cape Town other than if one is a person looking for a secluded, plush vacation.

Hmmmm...a secluded, plush vacation...gee, sounds like half the reason that Fodorites visit Africa. Perhaps they would like the exclusivity, secludedness and plushness to continue, even while in Cape Town? Is that even remotely possible? Is it possible for a person to want the ocean at their front doorstep and the Twelve Apostles range at their back doorstep, all in complete privacy from the rest of Cape Town, yet only a 5 minute drive away from Camps Bay and a 15 minute drive away from the Waterfront? There are always private luxury cars (with drivers) for hire at the Twelve Apostles.

NEXT

>>>Why does'nt someone ask Roccco if he has ever had the pleasure of staying at the Grace thus qualifying him to speak in such expert terms.

Selwyn, of all of the Capetonians that you have appointed experts at deciding which is the best hotel in Cape Town, how many of them have stayed at either the Cape Grace or The Twelve Apostles??? My guess would be that it would be less than 1%.

For the unfamiliar, the Twelve Apostles has had a very rocky relationship with many of the locals, from the Muslims due to a nearby burial site, all the way to Selwyn Davidowitz, who for some reason just has it in for this place.

Yet, including myself, there have been at least three Fodorites who have stayed at the Twelve Apostles in the last year or so and absolutely loved it. Until I meet an unbiased traveler that does not fall in love with the Twelve Apostles, instead of a jaded tour operator, I will not give any credibility to statements that the Twelve Apostles is not one of the top three hotels in Cape Town.

Selwyn, for you to state that the Twelve Apostles is not even belonging the top 50% of hotels in Cape Town, really makes me question whatever credibility that you claim to have by being a lifelong Capetonian.

Selwyn, wasn't it you that declared that the food at One, the restaurant at the Cape Grace, was unspectacular "American food" that could be found at any hotel in Las Vegas??? My memory could be failing me, but I believe those were your words.

For the record, I was never bothered by noise from the highway by the occasional passing vehicle. The sound of the waves crashing on the rocks below far outweighed the sound of the highway. For every passing car, there must have been ten crashing waves, and I had no problem sleeping part of the night away on my balcony overlooking the beautiful Atlantic Ocean.

It is also very worthwhile to note that the bed at the Twelve Apostles was the most comfortable bed in which I have ever slept.

Selwyn, if there is a nicer spa in Cape Town than the one at the Twelve Apostles, Fodorites would appreciate your expert feedback. Otherwise, it appears that the Twelve Apostles has the finest spa in all of Cape Town, and possibly the Western Cape and beyond:

http://www.12apostleshotel.com/content.asp?id=7

I encourage anybody that would like to make an independent decision about the Twelve Apostles to have a look at their website:

http://www.12apostleshotel.com/defau...=21&ImageID=16

Selwyn, your comments about the Twelve Apostles are without merit. Not everybody wants a hotel in the middle of all the action. Let's face it...the better off socioeconomically that a person is, the more likely it is that they will appreciate the exclusivity that a beautiful hotel like the Twelve Apostles may offer.

While I have not stayed at the Cape Grace, I have stayed at the neighboring Table Bay Hotel, a two minute walk away. While it is sometimes nice to have everything right outside your doorstep, I much more appreciate being able to have nothing but the limitless ocean views and Twelve Apostles mountain range at my doorstep.

Anyway, I don't even know why you have responded to this post. You have your quirky preference for unheralded inns & lodges, and this topic is about the World's Best list as listed by an American publication. Selwyn, Cape Town discusion or not, you are out of your element.
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Aug 19th, 2004, 11:49 PM
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Roccco I am not even going to bother to respond trying to defend what I have said in my oroiginal mail as I stand by all that I have already said solidly. I just have to correct you on some issues that you are out of touch on that have happened since your last weekend sojourn to Cape Town.

_______
You wrote:
Selwyn, if there is a nicer spa in Cape Town than the one at the Twelve Apostles, Fodorites would appreciate your expert feedback. Otherwise, it appears that the Twelve Apostles has the finest spa in all of Cape Town, and possibly the Western Cape and beyond:
_______


By making the above statement you prove EXACTLY what I have been saying all along. About a year ago the Grace opened a spa and the LOCAL press raved about it then and still rave about it now. I have seen (not used) both spas and let me tell you that the spa at the Apostles does not even touch the Grace. To this I might add that please remember that this last statement is my opinion after all the question could be related to the how long is a piece of string statement. Futhermore a new spa has opened in Franschhoek which is getting good reviews too although I wont comment on this as I have not been there as yet.

This above type of scenario is the classic situation as per what I am trying to say all along viz. "if you aint there you dont really know what is going on up to the minute" and that includes an international press review team that did a review a couple of months ago. So once again I say listen to the locals.

______
Selwyn, your comments about the Twelve Apostles are without merit. Not everybody wants a hotel in the middle of all the action. Let's face it...the better off socioeconomically that a person is, the more likely it is that they will appreciate the exclusivity that a beautiful hotel like the Twelve Apostles may offer.
________

Roccco anybody, inclusive of you, who tells me that they are visiting Cape Town for exclusiveness does not realise what Cape Town offers in all manners of visuals etc. To be holed up in plush secluveness next to the sea with wonderful city at your doorstep (far from the Apostles doorstep I might add) just has got to be totally crazy but then maybe thats how you like to travel and so be it.

May I also add that concur with what I originally said to you about The One restaurant but pray tell what has that to do with this thread at all when Cape Town has such a myriad of other restaurants which btw are so so so far from the Apostles.

________
"Selwyn, Cape Town discusion or not, you are out of your element"
________

I love the above "Rocccoism" (theres a new word for this Fodors forum) ending to your mail Roccco when you make this great statement sitting somewhere in the heart of the United States of America while I am sleeping full time in the city of Cape Town. It simply says it all as far as your Cape Town opinions are concerned.

Very proudly part of the wonderful nation of South Africa
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Aug 20th, 2004, 12:33 AM
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Selwyn,

Perhaps as I have been appointed "Roccoisms", you should be afforded a new term for being a Spin Doctor, "Selwynisms."

After reading about your comments about the Spa at the Cape Grace, I did a little research. As I suspected, this was nothing more than another Selwynism.

For anybody interested in this little pi**ing match, here is a link to the Cape Grace's spa and a link to the Twelve Apostles Spa:

http://www.capegrace.co.za/spa/index_f.asp

http://www.12apostleshotel.com/content.asp?id=7

I see nothing in the Cape Grace's Spa to indicate that it is somehow superior.

I do not blame you for wanting to talk more about your comments that the Twelve Apostles is not amongst the top 50% of hotels in Cape Town. It is a ridiculous statement and I don't know how you allowed it to seep out of your mouth. On the one hand you have three very well traveled Fodorites declaring it one of the best hotels they have ever visited, and on the other hand you somehow, with a seemingly straight face, can declare it, basically, garbage. If a hotel is not amongst the top 50% of hotels, can it be considered anything other than garbage?

I have probably been to a dozen 5* hotels, from Ritz Carltons to Four Seasons, to Quinta Reals in Mexico to Fairmonts in Canada, but none have compared to the Twelve Apostles. I have stayed at each the Table Bay Hotel and the Mount Nelson Hotel, and although they were both very nice, they were not the Twelve Apostles.
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Aug 20th, 2004, 05:32 AM
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PredatorBiologist,

I assume that your rate that you have obtained at the Mount Nelson is a good one because if it is not I would not recommend the venue too highly.

The Nellie has wonderful old world, raj like charm and when you walk through the front door it is as if you can smell the world "British" . The place is is getting a little bit run down but dont laugh when I say that this all helps because in a way it all adds to the charm of the old style type architecture. The location of the hotel is ggod, the hotel gardens are beautiful and high tea is a superb event. The hotel restaurant (Cape Colony) is good however it is a very average eating place relative to the many other wonderful restaurants in Cape Town. To me the big problem at the Nellie is the service at the hotel in that this function is far from being up to scratch. I have had some very serious incidents in this regard at the Nellie on behalf of visitors who have travelled with me in the past. I think the hotel management tries hard but they just dont seem to get there overall.

If I had to look at other top places of stay in Cape Town then off the top of my head I would rate The Grace, Ellerman House and even the Table Bay ahead of the Nellie. As a hotel the Cellars Hohenhort is also a great place of stay but it is rather far from the city.

With all of the above said overall I believe that you probably will enjoy your stay at the Nellie especially with you obtaining what sounds like a much cheaper than normal rate which will probably sweeten your journey immensely.

Enjoy our city when you visit us in November.

Very proudly part of the wonderful nation of South Africa
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