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Travel & Leisure's picks

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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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    (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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    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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    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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    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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    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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    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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    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 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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    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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    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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    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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    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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    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 ((r)) nation of South Africa

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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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    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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    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.


    >>>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:

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

    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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    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 ((r)) nation of South Africa

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    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:

    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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    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 ((r)) nation of South Africa

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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.

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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!!!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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 ((r)) nation of South Africa

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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)

    KULEFU SCORE = 7.75



    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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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 ((r)) nation of South Africa

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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.

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    Roccco, possibly your error was in simply not praising TA, and letting it go at that, as previously pointed out. Instead, you provided a rather negative appraisal of the Grace, gratuitously, a hotel apparently that Selwyn doesn't particulalry care for either. Safe to say neither of you has even stayed at the Cape Grace, and you agree on that much, so why not stop there.

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    I stayed at the 12 Apostles in December 2003. All I can say is AWESOME. Impeccable rooms, detailed service, stunning scenery and just enough seclusion for us honeymooners. Just my 2 cents and a little fuel for this fire...

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    I love a completely unsolicited opinion. Though you're too late, the fire is out. In any event, TA wasn't the central issue anyway. People were perfectly willing to accept Roccco's opinion that he loved TA ... it's just that he dumped on the Grace et al in the process. He's sort of like my sister-in-law ... wherever they stay is THE only place to stay. Oh, yeah, says who! Happy you like TA ... others do too, while others prefer other places. Ah, diversity!

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