Davinci Hotel

 Untitled design (4)

SW Business Solutions recently went out and about in Sandton, Johannesburg to catch-up with latest developments on the hotel front in the area. It was fun and a good exercise to do. Please find the first, of a series of hotel inspection notes for the convenience and interest of you, our valued clients.

The DAVINCI is situated in the heart of Sandton. In fact, it is located right opposite Sandton City, one of South Africa’s upmarket shopping malls on the one side, linked to the center direct via legendary Nelson Mandela Square and opposite the Sandton Convention Center on the other side. The hotel is truly a lovely 5 star luxury hotel. Nice and big for incentive groups – at the same time, all public facilities give the impression that this is a smallish boutique style hotel with a warm personal touch. This feeling is mainly due to the fact that the hotel has been built on a very narrow strip of land. The personal feel and touch, makes it thus also ideal for small groups and FIT’s. The Davinci Hotel is part of the Legacy Group of Hotels.

The hotel boasts 135 Standard Rooms; 10 Deluxe Rooms; 16 Executive Rooms; 5 Junior Suites. On the serviced apartment side, there are 26x 1 Bedroom apartments, 20x 2 bedroom and 4x 3 bedroom apartments.It is exquisitely designed, has an exceptional restaurant, lounge, fitness center and spa. Keep this hotel also in mind for families and long stay clients, due to the apartment option.

The rooms offer all the known 5-star conveniences and are spacious.  Independently controlled house lights, natural light, wall to wall carpeting and individually controlled air conditioning. The rooms have en-suite bathroom with separate shower, HD LCD TV, direct dialing telephones.

The conference venue offers top range facilities for groups of up to 120 delegates.The Hotel has approximately 140 secured undercover parking bays for residents. Additional amenities and services:-

  • DStv,
  • CCTV surveillance,
  • Room service:24 hours a day,
  • Security with card access system,
  • Electronic safes,
  • Doctor and dentist on call,
  • High speed internet access,
  • Butler and bay sitting services
  • Outdoor swimming pool
  • Smoke detectors and sprinkler systems.
  • Pre-arrival shopping
  • Health hydro and Spa
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The Warm Heart of Africa


As a newcomer to the travel industry, I am still learning so much about what my magnificent continent has to offer. It was actually scary when I realised that there were so many places I had not paid much attention to right here on my doorstep. Of course you’ll never know about Africa’s wonders until you learn and explore, so now that’s what I do when I have a moment to spare and my most recent lesson on Africa was learnt when I attended a travel workshop organised by the Malawian Tourism Board.

Malawi is known as the warm heart of Africa, a landlocked country nestled between malawi-04Zambia, Tanzania & Mozambique.

Quick Facts:

  • Currency: Kwacha (MWK)
  • Malawi time is GMT+2, as with most of southern Africa.
  • While English is an official language, and is widely understood, a number of indigenous languages are also spoken. The most common is Chewa (or Chichewa – the language of the Chewa).

 

Malawi offers a variety of stunning wildlife opportunities, beautiful landscapes, and a 5253Tree-Lake-Malawi-1024x640beach-fringed lake with an impressively large number of activities on land and in the water.

Although totally landlocked, Malawi is not denied its “inland sea”. Lake Malawi is the country’s biggest attraction and takes up one fifth of the countries size. Nicknamed the ‘Calendar Lake’, Its approximate dimensions are 365 miles north to south and 52 miles broad.Malawi wildlife 9083344

The diversity of the country’s landscape definitely adds to its charm and appeal with
its green, lush country, with highlands, forests, mountains and dramatic river valleys.

Malawi is subdivided into 3 regions:

North Malawi is the least populated of Malawi’s regions but is characterised by unique
highland areas and dramatic lake shorelines. It has one National Park and one Wildlife Reserve.

attractions_landscapwe_malawiHighlights/Places to visit: Livingstonia Mission, Nkhata Bay, Manda Wilderness (Mozambique) Karonga and more.
Central Malawi is home to the country’s capital, and most common point of entry, Lilongwe.

Highlights/Places to visit: Chongoni Rock Art, National parks and forest reserves, Marelli Islands and more.

South Malawi is the most Elephant-in-Malawipopulated and developed region. And also holds the countries commercial capital Blantyre.

Highlights/Places to visit: Blantyre, Lake Chilwa, Lake Malawi National Park, Monkey Bay, andimg_30911_sunset overlakemalawi more. 

Best Time to Travel…

For most people the dry (winter) season is most attractive (i.e. April/May to October/November). The chance of rain is slim, daytime temperatures are generally pleasant (in the 20s Celsius) and the low vegetation and limited availability of water mean that game viewing is at its best.

Rainfall is extremely rare in the dry season and even in the so-called wet season, the rains are usually short-lived storms, as is typical of the tropics, and at no time does the climate seriously inhibit the traveller.

20121030_0437_42_1lakemalawi-gotoafrica

 I can’t wait to experience the unrivalled combination of Lake, Landscape, Wildlife & Culture in one of Africa’s most beautiful and compact countries – Malawi. Breathtaking is an understatement… and I haven’t even been there yet!

Jadyne Nydoo

Junior Consultant, SW Africa Destination Management

 

 

 

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Sabi Sabi Educational

What a start to a week… It surely cannot be much better than this. It starts with a seamless 45 minute SA Airlink flight to the recently (July 2014) reopened Skukuza Airport. The private lodge feeling of the airport is something special. We are blessed to arrive on the first cool day in months and we are met by our rangers and our safari vehicles. Despite a bit of drizzle we enjoy our 30 minute game drive (not a transfer) to Sabi Sabi Bush Lodge. We arrive in time to enjoy a delicious lunch with many different dishes on offer including crocodile and venison.20151116_163350

A site inspection follows of the refurbished rooms as well as the 2 new breathtaking villas each boasting 2 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms each. The main ensuites bathroom is luxury personified as it comes complete with 2 side by side baths with panoramic glass all round so one can experience the bush while relaxing deep in foam. The standard suites at Sabi Sabi are extremely comfortable and they are fitted with nearly every conceivable comfort including a large bathroom with both inside and outside showers, a lounge area with a day bed that can be converted into a bed for 2 young kids and a personal Nespresso coffee making machine.. Talking of kids Sabi Sabi bush lodge has its very popular Elefun Centre for those that travel with kids. There are professional mind keepers who do not only look after kids but inspire them to learn more about the bush and the environment.12240962_924272714287047_5534512179204894595_o

The main reason though for coming to a lodge, such as Sabi Sabi, is to go out on safari with your ranger and tracker. The Sabi Sands is infamous for its leopards and we were lucky enough to spot a female and her year old male cub. What made the sighting so special was seeing the 2 beautiful cats interact. We stayed for a long time and just watched. We then were fortunate to come upon a honey badger digging for leguvan eggs which it managed to extract from a depth of around half a metre. We continued on to our sunset spot which was specially prepared for us complete with white table cloths and enough snacks to feed a small army. Sabi Sabi has taken to offering a comprehensive range of craft beers and these went down extremely well with the compulsory biltong. 20151116_182220Arriving back at the lodge there was time to freshen up and enjoy an aperitif before sitting down to a 6 course dinner!!!! The night ended with a nightcap before hitting the pillow and falling asleep in about 6 seconds…..

5:30 wake call was followed by an outside shower and a strong Nespresso
coffee before heading out on our morning game drive. If we thought that our leopard sighting from the night before could not be topped then we were seriously mistaken. We were treated to what must be my best leopard sighting ever. A large male leopard (Maxabeni) had killed a waterbuck and had managed to somehow lift it about 4 metres up a Jackalberry tree. What followed was a real treat. A hyena came sniffing around hoping to have a loose piece of meat dropped down to her and then a female leopard (Little Bush) entered the frame. We then witnessed some growling between the leopards before the female was finally allowed up the tree to feed. We continued on to a surprise bush breakfast under a glorious Jackalberry tree where we were once again greeted by beautifully decorated tables and a hearty breakfast. 20151117_090717We had enough time upon our return to freshen up and relax in the stunning lounge areas of the lodge overlooking the waterhole with lots of game around it including elephants, buffalo, wildebeest and more. A game drive transfer back to Skukuza Airport in time for our return flight bought an end to a wonderful albeit short educational trip.20151117_114813

A huge thank-you to Carol, Jan and Rod plus the rest of the amazing Sabi Sabi crew and SA Airlink for this wonderful opportunity. I sometimes have to pinch myself when I think that this constitutes work but I guess in our line of work it is necessary that we can experience what our guests are likely to experience. I am looking forward already to my next educational 🙂

 

Peter Faber

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Is Zimbabwe bouncing back to its position of Africa’s Paradise?

With the new $150 million international airport planned for Victoria Falls,
which will have an annual capacity of approximately 1.2 million international travelers and 500,000 domestic passengers…. one could be forgiven for believing that Zimbabwe is rising again to its position as a top tourist destination. The planned building of the new airport really shows that Zimbabwe is more than ready for the return of tourists. Is Zimbabwe becoming a regional hub perhaps?zimbabwe_pol

Zimbabwe is situated in Southern Africa on the northern border of South Africa and also borders Mozambique, Zambia and Botswana. It lies between the Limpopo River and Zambezi River which both flow through Mozambique into the Indian Ocean.

This is a country that used to be called Africa’s Paradise, and now called a world of wonders… And with these major developments one starts to think, are they rising to their position  as Africa’s Paradise or are they turning into a regional hub for Southern Africa, this is indeed a world of wonders…..

After attending the A’Sambeni Africa Business Expo – which was Matobo
organized by The Zimbabwe Tourism Authority in conjunction with the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair Company – I have come to realize that Zimbabwe is not only about Victoria Falls, but has plenty to offer, from the huge boulders of the Matobo Hills, to rolling hills of the Eastern Highlands, and large game parks full of all types of wildlife, of course not writing off Victoria Falls, one of the Seven Wonders of the World….

We started off in Bulawayo (the second largest city in Zimbabwe after the capital Harare), this is where the exhibition took place. We also did a city tour of the ‘’City of Kings’’ and visited the Bulawayo Natural History Museum. The Natural History Museum of Zimbabwe is one of the best in Southern Africa. It contains displays and collections of incredible diversity for casual visitors, students and researchers. The Museum offers its visitor a unique opportunity to discovery Zimbabwe’s past and present and to experience its cultural and natural heritage all under one roof.  It is also a renowned home of research, housing some of the largest collections and most extensive of Natural History in Africa.

During the exhibition we did not stay in town (Bulawayo), but at MatoboMatobo Hills Lodge Hills Lodge which is situated approximately 50km from Bulawayo within a private wildlife reserve bordering Matobo National Park. Matopos hills is an area of exquisite beauty, the lodge’s accommodation units are built upon a granite outcrop with sweeping panoramic views over the surrounding hills.

A note worth mentioning, it is important to note that the roads in Zimbabwe are in good condition but one can’t do a normal or usual speed of 100/120 km an hour, at most it is an 80 km/h. Inside the park/reserve the speed is also reduced, meaning as we may say the place is 50 km away from Bulawayo, it may take over an hour to get there.

Matobo National Park (A UNESCO Natural World Heritage Site) is also the gravesite of the grave of Cecil John Rhodes. He is buried at the summit of Malindidzimu – “hill of benevolent spirits”. He referred to this hill as having a ‘View of the World’. A short walk from the parking lot will lead the
visitor to his grave, which is carved out of the solid granite hill and surrounded by a natural amphitheater of massive boulders.boulders

After the exhibition we then continued by road to Hwange National Park. Hwange is Zimbabwe’s biggest national park occupying roughly 14,650
square kilometers and is often referred to as a home of the elephants, as you would see Elephant-at-the-waterhole-in-Hwange-National-Park (1)herds of them inside the park or while enjoying a game drive. In fact, it has the biggest variety of animals from elephants, lions, buffalo, kudu, impala as well as plenty of bird life. Various types of accommodation, ranging from tents to luxury safari camps is available inside the park.

We stayed just outside the borders of the Hwange National Park, at Hwange Safari Lodge. They have got a beautiful outside area/garden which can be used for lunches or drinks and there is waterhole right in front of the lodge, where you could spot game without even leaving your lodge. This Lodge caters for guests with diverse needs – from families, to couples, to singles, to tour groups.

Like any other traveler would prefer, we also had to complete this tour and finish on a high, take some memories back home, we finished off in Victoria Falls. The locals called it Mosi-o-Tunya which translates “The smoke that thunders” because of its noise and water splashes.Vic-Falls

As we may all know, Victoria Falls is located on the Zambezi River, the fourth largest river in Africa, which is also defining the border between Zambia and Zimbabwe. It is one of the seven natural wonders of the world, as well as a UNESCO world heritage site.

You are always spoiled for choice here when it comes to activities, just to name a few, there is bungee jumping, helicopter flights, sunset cruises, canoeing, fishing, flying fox, walk with the lions, the list is endless. Same thing applies when it comes to the accommodation selection, depending on the budget or the location or the standard, there is always something for everyone…

We stayed at the newly refurbished Cresta Sprayview Hotel (well, it looked pretty new to me), situated just 1.4 km from the Victoria Falls Rain Forest entrance. It is a home away from home, rooms are spacious, they are like private villas, and you could also park your car if you are on self-drive, right in front of your suite/room.

So yeah, that’s how we spent that one full week’s programme in Zimbabwe, and that is not all, believe you me… Like I said, Zimbabwe has plenty to offer, there is still Great Zimbabwe, Mana Pools, Kariba Dam, The Eastern Highlands etc, which we would cover on the next blog on Zimbabwe, stay tuned and watch this space..!!

Stanley Shongwe

Senior Consultant

SW Africa Destination Management

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LE PICNIQUE IN THE CAPE

For years and a day, a picnic in the Cape winelands was associated with the absolutely beautiful and stunning BOSCHENDAL WINE ESTATE.  SW Business Solutions has investigated and inspected some alternative, upmarket and most exclusive PICNIC EVENT OPTIONS for your valued incentives and other tourist business to South Africa.

An insider’s tips:

The entire Cape peninsular is considered Cape Point Wine Estate wine country! Why not thus replace a lunch on the Cape Point route with a luxurious picnic on the slopes, overlooking the vineyards and the Atlantic near Cape Point, at the SPECTACULAR CAPE POINT VINEYARDS? www.cpv.co.za

CONSTANTIA GLEN ESTATE and BUITENVERWAGTING ESTATE amazed our clients with an absolutely amazing Charcuterie/cheese platters and a picnic featuring truly home made Cape delicacies in stunning surroundings in the CONSTANTIA WINELANDS, South Africa’s oldest wine growing area! www.constantiaglen.com / www.buitenverwachting.com

And if you would like your incentive Ernie Els Estate looking accross to Helderberg (1)alfresco lunch event in a wineland reach completely new dimensions, try the PETER FALKE WINERY  on the farm Groenvlei in the Stellenbosch area – Ideal for smaller incentives of up to 50 people – www.peterfalkewines.com

Alternative estates to consider in the Stellenbosch and Franschhoek areas:

ZORGVLIET ESTATE – beautiful location for bigger groups – www.zorgvlietwines.com

BLAAUWKLIPPEN ESTATE – beautiful views of Simonsberg, good for big groups but does not have the beauty of Boschendal – www.blaauwklippen.com

WARWICK ESTATE – rather modern look and feel but really nice venue to consider – www.warwickwine.com

MONT ROCHELLE – near Franschhoek – Waterford estatefor smaller incentives, is stunning beautiful and has been taken over by Sir Richard Branson, so really quality service and an overall upmarket experience! www.virginlimitededition.com/en/mont-rochelle/dining

BOSCHENDAL ESTATE – The estate was geared to big groups and incentives on very expansive picnic grounds, idyllic with a lake, huge pine trees, with a good view of the long oak lined alley leading up to one of the most picturesque manor houses in the Cape. Allow for a long detailed pre-run on the day of the event. Depending on the group size, one may also require additional local DMC staff on the ground to ensure the smooth running and a successful event! – www.boschendal.com

Iris Himmel

SW Business Solutions

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The Kingdom of Swaziland: small and INTENSE

The Kingdom of Swaziland or eSwatini as local Swati’s call their nation, is a beautifulMap of Swaziland 17,364 km2 land locked country sharing with boarders South Africa and Mozambique.

A unique selling point for Swaziland is her unpretentious friendly people. They are not being friendly to you because you are a tourist but because you are human being and that is how the Swati people treat each other.

Contrary to popular set itineraries, mantenga-nature-reserve
Swaziland has more to offer than just a one night stop over.  The country has a lot to offer like unique arts and crafts, pristine nature reserves with hiking trails for ardent hikers. White water rafting is a firm favourite for both local residents and tourist alike.

While moving towards a being first world country she has kept and maintained her tradition and culture. Unapologetically so.

Whether you spend a day sightseeing or just appreciating the natural beauty of
Swaziland’s landscape, her lush green sweeping hills to contrasting flat dry plain lands will take your breath away. Take a deep breath, and another, just for good measure.

One can go shopping to spoil a loved one Landscapeby buying original pieces of glassware at renowned Ngwenya Glass. Or maybe buy hand crafted home décor and jewellery at Tinstaba Crafts. Either way you’re spoilt for choice because craft markets are all across the country.

I can go on and on highlighting her splendour, bottom line is Swaziland has to be experienced rather than described. I insist.

Nolwazi Maseko

Tour Consultant

SW Africa Destination Management

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Tour Guide Report – Namibia Travel Tips – August 2015

Accommodation inside the Etosha National Park in northern Namibia has long suffered Etoshathe negative reputation of being not up to standard. Instead we have come across the accommodation at Halali being perfectly adequate, clean, a big bonus being the big game, such as rhinos and elephant frequenting the water hole at the camp at night – ideal for us to sit and relax and watch them throughout the evening.

Ombili – It was our first time there as we usually do bushmen in Tsumkwe. We phoned them two weeks prior coming to re-confirm the booking, then again a week prior, a day before the visit and two hours before the scheduled tour. In spite of all this calling to advise our arrival… nobody was ready for us! None of the few SAN people around were dressed in their traditional garb. An elderly SAN person eventually appeared to do the bush walk with us and to demonstrate how the bushmen hunt. They introduced him also as a traditional healer but this proved a bogus at the end of the day. The local tour guide kept saying that the SAN had an upcoming soccer tournament and that I should translate to my group, that they should contribute towards this event. Then we were asked what we had brought for the children and the local guide then proceeded to push hard for his own tip as well. We duly paid the entrance of R 120 per person, which we felt was ample for the ‘experience’. In the end they even did not get the children together so there was not dancing either. It was not a disaster but for future, I feel that the clients would be better off spending the time by Etosha waterholes rather than going to Ombili.

Burnt Mountain and Organ Pipes are now charging an entrance fee of R 50 per person. It was decided in April and they started charging as from 1 July 2015.

The Damara Living Museum en route from DamaraEtosha to the Damaraland along the C38/C39 is right next to the road and thus easy to build into any itinerary. Although really a living museum, people enjoyed it a lot! It only took 40 minutes and it was a pleasant break during the travelling. R 80 per person. The Himba visit nearby was also excellent and the people were very excited. The Mola Mola ocean safari, departing from Walvis Bay is still an all time highlight!!!

Accommodation/Itinerary tips:

– To have two night stays in one Swakopmund_(Namibia)accommodation in key sightseeing areas such as Etosha and in Swakopmund is an excellent idea and makes perfect sense.
– For travelling purposes in the rest of the country, however, be it in the south near Sossusvlei or in the Damaraland in the north, one-night stays along the route make more sense in order to avoid having to travel backwards and forwards to the sightseeing spots, over long distances. This is of course not always possible due to the limited accommodation infrastructure in those areas, particularly during high season (June – September) but is the ideal scenario.
– Visitors who are not necessarily keen photographers, painters or keen fishermen, should not really travel the route from Khorixas to Tora Bay and along the coast to Swakopmund. The route from Khorixas past the Brandberg to Uis and on to Hentiesbay and Swakopmund is scenically more diverse. Good to know, however, there is NO charge for passing from Khorixas through the Skeleton Coast National Park to Tora Bay and on to Swakopmund.

Looking forward to my next trip to Namibia – Jana

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