Travel & Leisure's picks

Aug 20th, 2004, 05:37 AM
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Hey, don't be dissing the Cape Grace - 'cause if it was good enough for Bill and Hill, it'll do you just fine. Their spa is first rate. And their restaurant, fabulous. This hotel isn'tt overly fancy, they just make you feel right to home. Their service is solid and reliable, and warm and very feel good. And the view out the windows ... Table Mtn. or the V&A Harbor. What more could one ask. This is a completely unsolicited endorsement of the CG ... but I'm hoping they will see it and offer me a freebie next time. I even have a CG baseball hat, and it is fab as well.
Aug 20th, 2004, 09:19 AM
Join Date: May 2004
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Selwyn and Thit_Cho: Thanks for your feedback on the Mount Nelson. I appreciate it.
PredatorBiologist is offline  
Aug 22nd, 2004, 08:15 AM
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So after all this, what is nice high end hotel in a GOOD walkable location?
newyorkgolfer41 is offline  
Aug 23rd, 2004, 05:53 AM
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Let me settle this once and for all, for we have indeed stayed at all the hotels listed in this overly long and dull thread: the Cape Grace takes it hands down. Enough said. The V&A, if you can in fact get it for US $100, is a very nice place to stay as well. The Neslo is nice, and expensive. But the Grace is IT!!!! Roccco's words are completely off base. I've noticed over the past year or so that if Rocco decided to stay some place, he immediately insists it is the best!! He does have good ideas, but he is NOT the expert for southern Africa. His views are valuable, but they are not the best or most accurate available. For example, see Kavey, Sandi and Clematis. And without a doubt, listen to Selwyn!!!
Aug 23rd, 2004, 07:53 PM
Join Date: Apr 2004
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We have stayed at the Cape Grace and loved it. The rooms and facilities are wonderful. To us, the harbor and the shopping areas are pluses, especially after being in the bush. There is something fascinating about siting in your room and watching the action on all the small ships, or walking a 100 meters and watching a 150 year old working drydock. You can walk to multiple restaurants and stop on the way to watch the seals play in the harbor. Beautiful area.

In the Cape Town area, we have also stayed at the Bay Hotel in Camps Bay (wonderful) and the Portswood near the V&A area (Awful!!). Haven't tried the 12 Apostles, so can't comment.

Roccco, Selwyn, I've learned a lot from both of you in the past, but I really wish you two would get back to what you do well and stop pissing on each other's legs. It diminishes you both.
Scout52 is offline  
Aug 23rd, 2004, 09:06 PM
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What a vulgar comment from the last poster. I hardly ever come to this board, but I read with interest what Selwyn had to say to this Rocco, which I found thoughtful and very much on point-it could hardly be said to have "diminished HER-him yes, but he deserved it! However experienced a traveler this Rocco claims to be, well, anyone who thinks that being an experienced traveler means insulating yourself in super-luxe hotels away from the quote "common people" demonstrates quite clearly that he has absolutely no concept at all of what the experience of travel is all about. I would automatically dismiss ANYONE who expressed himself in those terms as a vulgar "nouveau riche" type. And I don't need to go any further than that, Selwyn articulated her points quite cogently. I mean, how do you compare someone who is a lifelong resident and apparent tour guide with an occasional foreign tourist who insists on staying in some luxe place, apparently so he can brag about how expensive it is-what in God's name could someone who thinks like that contribute to a post seeking information about Capetown, about its people and a sense of the city? How absurd to even compare someone who's priorities are so skewed with a native's knowledge and experience. It's like comparing apples and clams-they simply don't compare.

So thanks, Selwyn, I learned something about Capetown from YOU-and from someone who has spent a fair bit of time in North Africa, but none in South Africa, I'll be looking to come down your way one of these days, and when I do, I'll surely know who to look up.
Spygirl is offline  
Aug 23rd, 2004, 09:44 PM
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You obviously don't know me very well and are applying a stereotype that is not true. Anybody that has read more than a couple of my posts knows that I am the ultimate bargain hunter and try my best to avoid places that are too expensive. What I do try to do, on the other hand, is get the most bang for my buck.

So, if I am able to get what I believe to be a top-notch hotel, on par with any of the others, at 40% of the rack rate, then I will sing to the high heavens about it, and hope that other travelers are wise enough to jump on the bandwagon. So far, two other Fodorites have jumped on the bandwagon and each loved the Twelve Apostles and saved about $1,000 USD over other hotels in the same caliber such as the Table Bay Hotel, The Mount Nelson and the Cape Grace, of which I have stayed at both the Table Bay and the Mount Nelson.

Spygirl, get off your high horse and learn how to read a colorful statement such as the one that Scout used in his closing paragraph without acting shocked. It really was a pretty mild statement, but then again that is to the ears of a "nouveau riche" type that I have been categorized.

Let me address a couple more of your comments:

>>>what in God's name could someone who thinks like that contribute to a post seeking information about Capetown, about its people and a sense of the city?

Spygirl, go back to the original post that started this thread. The original poster was NOT seeking information "about Capetown, about its people and a sense of the city." Did you just automatically decide on your own that this was the topic of this thread???

>>>How absurd to even compare someone who's priorities are so skewed with a native's knowledge and experience. It's like comparing apples and clams-they simply don't compare.

I beg to differ. Most natives have no reason to even visit the hotels in their respective city, unless it is for an occasional brunch or occasional party/wedding. So, to automatically think that a native person is better versed about the hotels in their city is wrong. Even the so called expert that I sparred with in this thread said he stayed there ONE night only. So now he is an expert after one night?!

We are all built differently...just as some see the Waterfront as being a plus, I have seen many others that consider it a negative. Personally, I would much rather have a hotel in an area where there are not thousands of other people walking around, and, in all honesty, this has more to do with my desire to get away from other tourists than to get away from locals. I guess nobody ever even considered that possibility. It is the very same reason why so many of us like to stay at the smallest lodges possible, instead of at a Protea Hotel right outside the gates.

I suggest next time that you try actually following an entire thread instead of showing up at the end, knowing little or nothing about the discussion at hand.
Roccco is offline  
Aug 23rd, 2004, 10:12 PM
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Like I said, anyone who, like yourself,feels the necessity to state how much he paid for a luxe hotel that insulates one from the "common people" along the waterfront is someone who does not understand what the concept of travel is all about. And although you're quite correct that locals often do not know the hotels in their city, Selwyn is clearly not in that category-she has obviously made it her business to know whereof she speaks. I think, having spent the better part of my life traveling around the world and living in a few different countries, I can separate the wheat from the chaff, as far as travel credibility goes, and you do yourself no favors in terms of your credibility when you express yourself in such an offensive manner.
Spygirl is offline  
Aug 23rd, 2004, 10:30 PM
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You wrote:

"I suggest next time that you try actually following an entire thread instead of showing up at the end, knowing little or nothing about the discussion at hand."

My oh my who as an example started the so called different entrance fee story in this self same thread? Who started talking about The One restaurant in this thread. These are only two of many examples in this thead of how something was started that had absolutely nothing to do with the original posting and for that matter the entire thread. Threads on any forum change (Thats the nature of normal discussion) as they build up and Spygirl has full rights to comment on anything that is relevant to the subject that she feels like that is relevant to a thread that changes as it grows, after all so have you.

Anyway right now I am only answering this thread as a sideline comment. I am not going to embroil myself in this discussion any further as there are much more important travel items to talk about on this board. Actually I suppose before I do any of this I had better go drive past the 12 Apostles this morning. I am saying this because it seems as if one nights stay and probably driving past the venue 200 times a year as well as stopping in there on three other occasions this past year firstly for a poor dinner as well as secondly taking some travel agents to see the venue is not supposedly enough to affirm the fact that it is way out of nowhere according to your standards Roccco. (Btw the travel agents that I took all agreed wholeheartedlt with this fact.) Furthermore I dont suppose you would want to join me as I simply can fall out of bed and hop into my car to do this whereas you might have to do 50 hours of internet hunting for a cheap flight over to Cape Town.

Very proudly part of the wonderful nation of South Africa

Selwyn_Davidowitz is offline  
Aug 23rd, 2004, 11:17 PM
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In response to your comment:

>>>I've noticed over the past year or so that if Rocco decided to stay some place, he immediately insists it is the best!!

I have stayed at exactly 15 different Southern African lodges and hotels in the last 2.5 years. Of these places, I do not feel qualified to discuss three of them because I had only single night stays at each of these places (Victoria Falls Hotel, Rosebank Hotel and Lanzerac Manor).

Of the other dozen places I have stayed at, I really feel like I have only praised about three of them (Twelve Apostles Hotel, Chichele Presidential Lodge and Kaingo) repeatedly and possibly only two of them to excess (Twelve Apostles and Chichele). Meanwhile, I expressed extreme disappointment with one of the lodges (Kulefu Tented Camp) and mild disappointment with one of the lodges (Djuma Vuyatela).

Naturally when someone asks for a recommendation, I am going to tell them about the place I believe is best, rather than places I think they should avoid.

In any event, here is how I would rate the dozen lodges/hotels I have visited, breaking them down into six categories. These categories are:







Chichele Presidential Lodge, South Luangwa, Zambia.

Location - 10.0
It sits atop Chichele Hill with views as far as the eye can see in each direction of the Luangwa Valley

Accomodations - 9.0
Rooms measure nearly 800 sq. ft. with clawfut tubs in the bathroom, a huge balcony to take in the view, and plenty of windows, all completely capable of being covered, for more views, along with fourposter bed with mosquito netting and bathrobe and slippers neatly laid out awaiting your arrival.

While the rooms do not compete with Singita, they are still excellent and more than enough to completely satisfy.

Service - 10.0
The managers, Nic and Tracy, are both excellent at what they do. As was mentioned in a recent thread, a lot of the top guides from Zimbabwe are crossing over into Zambia, and Nic & Tracy also fall into this category. While you would think this is only to the benefit of guiding, believe me, it is also to the benefit of service, as they are both ready to jump 10 feet high to make sure the guests have the best possible experience. The service during meals at Chichele is excellent. Whenever I don't have to look around for a waiter, but instead before I even have to look around, the waiter is at my table usually with whatever it is I need, whether it is a refill on the wine, a new fork, or more bread, that is excellent service. The waiters are never more than 5 meters away and are attentive to the diners, yet far enough away so that you forget they are there until they magically show up usually before you even decide you need them.

VALUE - 10.0

Even at the full rack rate of $450 per person per night sharing, I would give this a 10.0 in value, as I consider this on an equal or better experience than Singita at more than double the price. Also, for the unfamiliar, although Chichele is more than a one hour drive from the airport, road transfers are always included, as they are at all other Zambian game lodges.

FOOD - 9.0.
Very good food ranging from chicken enchiladas (with guacamole on the side) that were VERY good even to a Mexican guy from Los Angeles to wonderful steaks & baked potatos for dinner to hot breakfasts cooked to order.


Although there is no canoeing available in the South Luangwa, the bushwalks are unrivaled, and the one bushwalk that I engaged in while at Chichele was definitely one of the highlights of three African holidays. Nic, the manager and lead guide, previously led walking safaris in Zimbabwe and is excellent at guiding, both in game drives and in walking, naarating the whole way through, or at least sharing his every thought. It is as if you are on Jeff Corwin's show, following Jeff Corwin around, except if at Chichele with Nic, you are really there!

With guides and trackers customary on night game drives, wet season boat safaris, and the usual morning game drives also available, the South Luangwa offers an incredible experience, made all the moreso when you are provided with a quality guide, and so far, Nic is the best guide that I have met at seven different lodges.

OVERALL AVERAGE FOR CHICHELE = 9.83 out of a possible 10.

To compare, I rate the other safari lodges as follows, but will not comment beyond the scores, as I probably don't have any readers at this point, anyhow!

Singita, Sabi Sand Game Reserve, South Africa

Location - 9.5
Accomodation - 10.0
Service - 9.5
Value - 8.0
Food - 9.5
Quality of Gameviewing/Leadership of Guides/Variety of Game Activies - 9.5


Kaingo, South Luangwa, Zambia

Location - 9.5
Accomodation - 8.0
Service - 9.5 (they actually drove 2+ hours all the way to Chichele the next day to deliver the battery charger I left behind)
Value - 9.5
Food - 8.0
Quality of Gameviewing/Leadership of Guides/Variety of Game Activies - 9.5



Location - 8.5 (excellent grounds but outside the park requiring a pontoon crossing or 20 minute drive each time the park is entered)
Accomodation - 8.5 (natural hot spring jacuzzi and nice swimming pool bring up the score)
Service - 8.5
Value - 8.5
Food - 6.5
Quality of Gameviewing/Leadership of Guides/Variety of Game Activies - 8.5



Location - 9.0 (probably one of the most isolated locations possible, a 3+ hour drive south from the more popular Mfuwe sector of the park and situated on an island in the middle of the Luangwa River)
Accomodation - 8.5 (as basic as you can get but newly constructed each year out of thatch and open to the elements with the walls only coming up waist high but with a roof, really allows you to FEEL Africa and be sung to sleep by the very nearby hippos)
Service - 9.5 (we had six staff for only my wife and I in camp)
Value - 9.5
Food - 8.0 (all cooked over the camp firepit, but a lot better than Kafunta River Lodge...maybe it forced them to use more fresh items)
Quality of Gameviewing/Leadership of Guides/Variety of Game Activies - 8.0 (very good bushwalks but game drives are not possible unless you cross back to other side of island, and the purpose of visiting Kafunta Island Bush Camp is for excellent bushwalks)


Djuma Vuyatela

Location - 7.5 (too close to the entry gate and without a river)
Accomodation - 9.5 (the cleanest place I have ever stayed. The housekeeping staff was excellent and the rooms were very, very nice)
Service - 8.0 (excellent staff but one of the owners was horrible, not even acknowledging us while eating at the same table, entertaining friends and family in the dining room for a private dinner and sending guests to their verandah for dinner in the mid-40 degree farenheit weather.
Value - 8.0 (it was under $300 USD per person per night sharing, but this was when the USD was about 25% stronger to the Rand as it is now.
Food - 8.5
Quality of Gameviewing/Leadership of Guides/Variety of Game Activies - 8.5


Kulefu Tented Camp, Lower Zambezi, Zambia

Location - 8.0 (set too far back from Zambezi River)
Accomodation - 8.5 (very nice for canvas tent, but I prefer lodges)
Service - 9.0 (the service from the staff onsite, including excellent managers Andy & Catherine was a 9.5+ but due to poor support from ownership based in Livingstone, the necessary support to run a nice camp just wasn't there)
Value - 7.0
Food - 6.0 (they were very low on supplies...thanks ownership!)
Quality of Gameviewing/Leadership of Guides/Variety of Game Activies - 8.5 (I loved the canoeing, but the game drives were mostly a bust, but I have been told once August comes that all the animals are present and gameviewing is excellent)




Location - 9.5
Accomodation - 9.0
Service - 9.5
Value - 9.5 (usually has good specials running on various websites)
Food - 9.0



Location - 9.0
Accomodation - 9.0
Service - 9.5
Value - 9.0
Food - 9.5 (Both Room Service And Restaurant Were Excellent)



Location - 9.0
Accomodation - 9.5
Service - 9.0
Value - 9.0
Food - 9.0



Location - 8.0 (Great views of Table Mountain but in City Bowl)
Accomodation - 9.0
Service - 9.0
Value - 8.0 (very high rack rates, but last second specials of 50% off are available even to foreigners, if you book within two weeks of travel, or at least that is how it was as I remember it)
Food - 8.5 (not bad, but cleanliness wasn't up to par according to my wife)


Of the above, the only can't miss places I would say are obviously Chichele Presidential Lodge, Kaingo and the Twelve Apostles for those not wanting to stay on the Waterfront.
Roccco is offline  
Aug 23rd, 2004, 11:23 PM
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I am bound only by my youth. There is no telling where I will be in 5, 10 or 20 years, all before I reach your age.
Before too long, I may just be able to fall out of bed and also drive on over to the Twelve Apostles and other Cape Town destinations.

Although we have our obvious differences, I do share your love for Cape Town and do hope to one day divide my time between Southern California and Cape Town.

Just as you have your associates that do not think highly of the Twelve Apostles, I have presented other Fodorites that thought VERY HIGHLY of the Twelve Apostles, as both scaredtodeath and I do.
Roccco is offline  
Aug 24th, 2004, 12:14 AM
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This is such a ridiculous spat!

I fully agree with Spygirl on the farcical idiocy of someone who has visited South Africa for a total of maybe 3 weeks having the gall to suggest that someone who's not only living there but is also a very successful tour guide (and hence has not only his own reactions but those of hundreds and hundreds of customers and several colleagues, all of whom have feedback from their own customers) doesn't know what he's talking about!

Rocco, whilst you are correct that you have stayed in the hotel about which you rave what you can't provide is a true comparison to the other similarly appointed hotels nor do you seem to have much in common with what most visitors are looking for when they travel. If you were to say something along the lines of "although I haven't stayed in many Cape Town hotels I find the TA hotel an absolutely incredible deal in terms of value, comfort and service" and leave it at that, I'd have a lot more respect than I do for you with all your absolutes and your convictions that, without experience or knowledge of the alternatives, you can honestly claim to know better than others.

You're darn good at getting a bargain but on the rest of it? I think it's best to accept that your opinions are based on very limited experience and knowledge.

Selwyn, hopefully you can see that most people do not share Rocco's opinions on your expertise, experience and all the assistance you give on this board.

PS Spygirl, I can assure you that Selwyn is a male!
Kavey is offline  
Aug 24th, 2004, 12:40 AM
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My point is that Selwyn loses credibility when he claims that the Twelve Apostles in not in the top 50% of Cape Town Hotels. That is just such a ridiculous comment to anyone that has actually stayed at the Twelve Apostles and enjoyed the fantastic service, the unrivaled views, the exclusive setting and the fabulous beds, not to mention enjoyed the mountain trails starting right at the back of the hotel, the spa and the fabulous high tea that Selwyn seemingly enjoyed so much, along with plenty of "bad food" during the high tea, as he has said of the Twelve Apostles food.

I could completely live with it, if someone said something to the effect of, I think that these 5 hotels are better than the Twelve Apostles:

1. Cape Grace
2. Ellerman House
3. Table Bay Hotel
4. The Bay Hotel
5. The Mount Nelson

But, being that there are possibly a couple hundred hotels in Cape Town, I have a hard time accepting from a so-called expert that the Twelve Apostles is not within the top 100, especially when at least two other Fodorites besides me, absolutely raved about this hotel and believed it to be one of the nicest hotels they have ever visited.

I agree that I am out of line for saying that the Twelve Apostles is as good or better than any hotel that I have not yet stayed. However, I do think that the Table Bay Hotel and Mount Nelson are good measuring sticks.

I can accept someone saying that there are five or even ten better hotels than the Twelve Apostles in Cape Town, but to say that a full 50% of hotels are better is either coming from a delusional individual or from an individual that has it in for the Twelve Apostles.

It's all well and good to respect your elders, but let's not put Selwyn on some kind of pedestal for knowing the city that he has lived in for 55? years.
Roccco is offline  
Aug 24th, 2004, 01:20 AM
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Actually, the phrase "top 50%" is completely subjective.

Top 50% on what basis?

On bed comfort, service, value? If those are the criteria being used then by all means TA should be included.

On location and proximity to attractions? If those are the key criteria then it doesn't fit.

On both location AND amenities? Then it's a personal opinion as to whether the value, comfort etc of TA outweight the location (which is a negative for many people).

Given that Selwyn has a good understanding of what many visitors are looking for from a CT hotel I think it IS credible for him to say that, in his opinion, when taking into account what the majority of people are looking for, TA doesn't come into the top 50% of choices that people want to consider.

That doesn't mean it's wrong for someone else to say that, according to their varying criteria, it IS in the top 50%.

And, given that TA is simply not getting the occupancy rates a top hotel should be able to get, Selwyn is clearly not the only one who thinks it is the best choice in Cape Town.
Kavey is offline  
Aug 24th, 2004, 01:22 AM
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That last sentence should read:

Given that TA is simply not getting the occupancy rates a top hotel should be able to get, Selwyn is clearly not the only one who thinks it is NOT the best choice in Cape Town.
Kavey is offline  
Aug 24th, 2004, 01:23 AM
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And as far as I'm concerned, it's not a case of putting Selwyn on a pedestal. I have certainly chosen to ignore his advice in some cases where it didn't fit with my own requirements and evaluate what he says in the same way as I evaluate what anyone says.

It's more about knocking you off the pedestal onto which you have placed yourself.
Kavey is offline  
Aug 24th, 2004, 01:36 AM
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Better get a wrecking ball, I think I have super-glued myself!

Okay, as Rodney King, of LAPD Police Brutality fame once said, "Can't we all just get along?"

Roccco is offline  
Aug 24th, 2004, 01:38 AM
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Roccco I feel like saying "read my lips" so all I will say is "read my words" as I will repeat what I wrote in an earlier mail

"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"

What you are reading is my own personal opinion the 12 Apostles and I am entitled to this as much as anybody else so if you think that the hotel ranks at no 1 and I think that it ranks at number last we are both entitled to this opinion. Nothing will change my mind about the fact that if one wants to visit and truly see Cape Town for all that it offers then the 12 Apostles is NOT well located to do this however for an exclusive, away from it all stay, it certainly is a good place to want to reside but then I ask why leave home when I am sure that one can always find this type of place close to your own place of stay. I could go as far as saying why even travel anywhere for that matter?

Roccco I want to make a very serious suggestion to you and that is to drop this subject because in about 4 or 5 days time (I need time to gather some info and pictures while I am on tour) I am about to show Fodorites factual pictorial proof as to the hotels location. Thereafter I suggest that you comment and then leave it to Fodorites to decide for themselves as to what they think.

Up until I publish these pics I am going to take some very wise advice from a private mail that I received from a well respected writer on Fodors who has suggested to me to let you go on rantng on your own. All that I will be contributing to this whole debate in the future will be the above promised pictures because as they say in the classics "you might not believe my words but my pictures dont tell lies"
Be pateint and I can assure you that all will be able to see the pictures soon.

Very proudly part of the wonderful nation of South Africa

Selwyn_Davidowitz is offline  
Aug 24th, 2004, 01:38 AM
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Rocco, will one wrecking ball be enough?

Kavey is offline  
Aug 24th, 2004, 02:29 AM
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Knock yourself out. Your pictures may point out more sophisticated decors, but they will fail to capture the overall experience. Better than pictures, find me a couple Fodorites that feel as negatively about the Twelve Apostles as you do.

I have already produced a couple Fodorites that believed the Twelve Apostles to be an excellent hotel and a great experience.

Can we please stop the one-upmanship. I have an excuse, I am still relatively young and stupid. What is your excuse...that you are relatively old and stupid?

I agree to a truce on all this BS so that we can get back to real travel talk and stop this mindless pi$$ing contest.
Roccco is offline  

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