NEWSLETTER - 11 November 2016

Welcome to new members

We'd like to extend a warm welcome to new TTA members:
Spa at Manhattan Hotel
Rockefeller Restaurant at Manhattan Hotel
Rietvlei Coffee Shop and Lion Camp Tours
Railways Café@ Makers Village & Crafters Store
The Capital Menlyn Maine
Makro (Supplier to Industry)

Rietvlei Nature Reserve Coffee Shop & Lion Camp Tours offer a breath-taking experience

At the forefront of ethical captive lion facilities, and managed by the professional veterinarians of the National Zoological Gardens, tours of the lion camp at Rietvlei Nature Reserve offers the visitor a chance to view these magnificent cats right here in our city, in a nature reserve, safe in the knowledge that they are never bred for canned hunting or submitted to inhumane treatment or conditions.

Transformation is taking place at the Rietvlei Nature Reserve. We have been blessed with wonderful rain these past two weeks and the Reserve is undergoing a metamorphosis into the lush green Rietvlei we know and love.

With the new shoots of green leaves we have also been joined by many new additions. There is now an abundance of baby Blesbok, Eland, Redhartebeest, Zebra, Jackal and Springbuck to be seen on the Reserve.

The reserve is also home to 3 cheetah and we are all holding our breath for the arrival of the expected cheetah cubs. The cheetah breeding programme (conducted in conjunction with the Endangered Wildlife Trust) has kicked off well with us catching Sanbona (male) and Kiara (Female) in the act some time ago placing her due date in mid-November. One can never have too many spots!

With the enhanced scenery and the year coming to an end we are hosting many functions, celebrating birthdays and receiving many schools for educational trips. Dates are filling up fast so if you ae looking for a beautiful venue for any occasion, please do contact us.

On 26 November we will be hosting a ladies day charity event for the Reach for a Dream foundation. It will be a lovely day with breakfast, cakes and tea all in support of a wonderful cause. Your support would be much appreciated.

With Christmas around the corner we are also excited to be hosting a delicious Christmas day lunch with all the trimmings! Space is filling up fast so if you wish to make a reservation do not hesitate to contact us.

For more information on functions, game drives, lion tours, the Ladies Day Charity Event or Christmas day reservations please contact us on Charne.rietvleicoffeeshop@gmail.com | melanie@rietvleicoffee.co.za | 0825004422 / 0827999524.

View photo's of the reserve and coffee shop. Photos by Charne Wilhelmi.

Helping disabled people feel at home could boost your bottom line

The upcoming TTA members meeting to be held at Wonderboom Airport on 17 November will address Universal Accessibility & Responsible Tourism, Darryl Erasmus (Chief Quality Assurance Officer of the Tourism Grading Council of South Africa. Visit www.tourismgrading.co.za for more information on its star grading system and universal accessibility) provided the following interesting article recently for Tourism Update (source).

People with special needs love going on holiday just as much as everyone else and it can enrich their lives beyond compare. So it's important that when they do decide to go on a trip, they can book in at an establishment that caters for them and makes them feel comfortable.

This is the aim of universal accessibility. It's an international campaign to enable people with restricted physical ability – such as those whose mobility, sight or hearing is impaired – to enjoy the benefits of travel. This includes elderly people and pregnant women, people of small stature and those in wheelchairs or using crutches.

South Africa has in the past come under criticism over its lack of disabled-friendly facilities, from public transport to simple pavement ramps. The good news is that this is changing, as municipalities start incorporating the needs and physical abilities of all residents into their town planning. And the hospitality industry is gradually following suit.

In September, when we celebrated Tourism Month in South Africa, the theme was #TourismForAll – with the government promoting accessible and affordable travel for all our citizens. This tied in perfectly with the United Nations World Tourism Organisation's theme for Tourism Day, which was universal accessibility – promoting awareness of the right of society's most vulnerable people to experience the joy of travelling.

This is by no means a small or select group. In fact, if marketed correctly, catering to people with special physical needs could have a favourable impact on an accommodation establishment's triple bottom line – social, environmental and financial (or people, profits and planet).

Look at these statistics: The World Health Organisation estimates that 15% of the world's population lives with some form of disability. That's one billion people! So enabling local and international travellers with physical impairments to enjoy South Africa's tourist facilities, products and services makes sense from both a socially responsible and a commercial point of view.

The Tourism Grading Council of South Africa, a quality assurance body that rates member establishments according to a star grading system, also assesses them for universal accessibility compliance. In fact, several of these disabled-friendly establishments – from holiday resorts to upmarket hotels – were toasted during the recent Lilizela Tourism Awards, hosted by the Minister of Tourism, the National Department of Tourism and South African Tourism.

A shining example of what a graded establishment can do to make disabled people feel not just comfortable, but heartily welcome, is the ATKV Goudini Spa in the Western Cape. Located near Worcester, this self-catering family resort is proud to be regarded as a holiday destination of choice for blind and deaf visitors as well as wheelchair users, who derive much pleasure from its healing hot mineral springs as well as its custom-equipped facilities.

Says resort Manager Pieter du Toit: "We are constantly seeking ways to improve the experience of our guests and have recently redesigned another six of our rondavels to be totally disabled-friendly. An imported pool hoist has been installed in the indoor pool to assist people with special needs. In addition, we have built a completely new ablution facility for disabled people in our caravan park, as there was a demand from people in wheelchairs."

It helps that the Goudini Spa has a wonderful relationship with its surrounding community, which is home to several organisations for people with physical and intellectual disabilities. "They normally visit us during the week, as we then grant them free access to our facilities and pools," says du Toit, adding that two staff members were recently trained in sign language.

The resort has won awards (including a Lilizela Award) for its universal accessibility and constantly strives to be a good socially responsible corporate citizen. It has recently organised a golf day to raise funds for the Western Cape Association for Persons with Disabilities and has sourced placemats for a conference from the Institute for the Blind. "We believe we are blessed to be a blessing to others," du Toit says.

Even smaller establishments can offer universal access to guests, and it doesn't need to cost a mint. Geoff Applewhite, the General Manager of the Gardenview Guest House in Port Elizabeth, says the place was retrofitted when being adapted from a family dwelling into a guest house.

"We have ramps for easy access at our front entrance and all facilities are available with no steps," he explains. "Only one of our six rooms is universal access compliant, but I would say it is a good investment as the changes are very subtle and don't detract from the overall appeal."

Another establishment that has been graded for universal accessibility is the Holiday Inn Johannesburg-Rosebank, which opened its doors in 2010. General Manager Bill Frohlich says that being part of a global hotel brand with very strict universal accessibility standards ensured that this new Holiday Inn was built to comply.

"The adaptations range from access ramps to adapted bedrooms that can accommodate people in wheelchairs, as well as deaf and blind people," he says.

"Special devices are available should a deaf person need the sense of comfort in knowing when an emergency situation occurs by placing a device called a Deafguard under their pillow that will vibrate in an emergency. Public restrooms and adapted bedrooms have an emergency pull cord, should someone be in distress. This will alert our team that someone requires assistance. Of course, there are also simple things like having the peephole in the room at a lower level and wardrobes that have lower shelves and hanger rails."

He relates, however, how it has caused some amusement when some (non-physically challenged) guests have used the emergency cord to call for room service!

Frohlich says the Holiday Inn makes a special effort to welcome disabled people, who often find a hotel to be an intimidating and unfriendly place if it is not adapted to their needs. Several physically impaired guests have used the hotel's meeting rooms, which are also adapted for universal access.

But, he adds, universal access goes beyond facilities to include customer service: "A culture of welcoming all people needs to be instilled in a team, and I am proud to say that our team does not discriminate and we accept and welcome all guests."

These establishments are among a growing number that are currently graded for universal accessibility with the Tourism Grading Council of South Africa. It's heartening to see that more and more players in the South African hospitality sector are giving consideration to the high number of physically challenged international travellers who want to enjoy the same level of independence and comfort that they do at home – and we hope more local establishments will follow suit.

Kievits Kroon named Best Luxury Country Hotel in South Africa

Kievits Kroon has been named Best Luxury Country Hotel in South Africa in the 2016 World Luxury Hotel Awards at a gala ceremony held in Qatar earlier this month.

Winners are judged on service delivery and effective management as voted by international tour operators, travel agents and hotel guests. This year, awards were presented to luxury hotels and resorts in over 60 categories on a country, regional, continent and global basis.

Anton Perold, Managing Director for the World Luxury Hotel Awards, said: "We wish to congratulate all our winners for the 2016 award year, who through their tireless efforts and unbounded passion to satisfy their guests needs, have received this honour tonight. True luxury is no small feat, it takes a team of highly dedicated staff willing to go the extra mile and stop at nothing to ensure that no request goes unanswered. This is the definition of luxury, this is what defines a World Luxury Hotel Awards winner."

This is the 10th anniversary of the awards and the seventh consecutive year that Kievits Kroon has been acknowledged as a winner.

Alan O'Leary, Managing Director of Kievits Kroon said, "I believe that the Kievits Kroon brand exemplifies the high standards set by the awards. Our aim is to exceed our guests' expectations on all levels and this award confirms that our efforts are being acknowledged by hotel guests as well as the hospitality industry itself. Thank you to all our loyal hotel guests for voting for us. We appreciate your ongoing support."

Forensic research highlighted in upcoming symposium

The 7th Annual NZG Research Symposium will be held at the National Zoological Gardens of South Africa on 17 and 18 November 2016. More than 90 people from across the country will be joining the NZG's research staff to present a number of relevant talks.

The first day's keynote speaker is Prof Fred W. Allendorf. Prof Allendorf is a renowned Regents Professor Emeritus at the University of Montana in the United States. His specialty is conservation genetics, evolutionary biology and population genetics.

John Werth, the Executive Director of Pan African Association of Zoos and Aquaria (PAAZA) will address the symposium. PAAZA is the regional zoo association for Africa and is affiliated to the World Association of Zoo and Aquariums (WAZA). PAAZA strives to improve the standard of zoos on the continent and has accordingly developed standards to which member zoos have to adhere. Several research staff from the NZG will also be presenting papers and talks on their fields of expertise or research projects.

You are cordially invited to attend the symposium. Please RSVP your attendance to Angeliné Schwan on or before 14 November 2016 at 012 339 2757 or email angeline@nzg.ac.za.

New member: Railways Café @ Makers Village has plenty to offer

FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) is a contagious bug that creeps into your heart after your first encounter with Railways Cafe. From unforgettable live entertainment to mouth-watering meals, this is why you should never skip an opportunity to pop in and experience the magic.

Nestled in the heart of Irene is one of Gauteng's best kept secrets – a treasure chest of a venue with hidden gems around every corner. For those who have eyes that enjoy being teased, ears that desire to pleased and a soul longing for a sense of mischief and adventure then welcome to your new home away from home. A standard weekend will see the regulars rolling in for sundowners, couples enjoying a pizza in the glorious sunshine and newcomers bouncing about to the very best the local music scene has to offer. But the heart that keeps Railways beating lies in the people that work there – no matter who is busy doing what, nobody is ever too busy to flash a warm, welcoming smile.

And that's just an average day – Makers Village in Irene is an experience of it's own!

There are very few venues that are equally appealing by day as they are at night, with the moon and sun each adding their own charm to the venue. However, the beauty of the sun lies in the fact that every nook and cranny can be seen and explored. And with the winter chill creeping in, a day of basking in the sunshine surrounded by eclectic mix of elements is a treat like no other. Throw in a picnic basket, festive live music and your family and friends and you have the perfect day out. Why not spoil your staff. Family or friends mom by giving them an experience? A village filled with Arts and Craft and wonderful entrepreneurs that is willing to custom make your designs. The best place to order your Christmas surprise because no matter how hard you try, unforgettable memories and special moments can't be wrapped up with a bow.

CSIR International Convention Centre inspires change

The CSIR International Convention Centre (CSIR ICC) is committed to make a difference in the lives of kids within its community through a series of outreach events.

The ICC chose Nellmapius Primary School in Nellmapius near Mamelodi as the beneficiary of its recent donation drive. The drive consisted of collecting surplus conference materials and donating these to the school. The aim of the drive was to give the kids the opportunity to improve their learning and self-esteem by helping them with their educational materials in an effort to eliminate some of the issues that hinder their progression in classrooms.

The CSIR ICC team donated notepads, pens, schoolbags, lanyards and stationery bags, as well as banqueting material such as tablecloths, cutlery, plates, seat-covers, table-runners, overlays, crockery, linen serviettes, wooden trays and chairs.

"We are delighted to be in partnership with the CSIR ICC. This initiative has been crucial in showing commitment and helping the school. These donations are helping us to provide a better quality education for the learners and we are thankful for their contributions," said Joyce Ndhauduma, Nellmapius Primary School vice Principal.

The CSIR ICC has placed a branded donation box in its foyer and encourages conference delegates to donate their conference materials/surpluses. The Centre also extends its gratitude to those sponsors, delegates and clients who continue to contribute to the initiative.

Recommended reading

In the Accommodation Management space: LittleHotelier Resource Hub
In the Attractions Management space: Attractions Africa
General Tourism news: Tourism Update

Upcoming industry conferences, exhibitions and events

See what hot entertainment is on in the city
TTA Spa Chapter Members Meeting, 14 November 2016
TTA Members Meeting, 17 November 2016, Tshwane
IBTM 2016, 29 November-1 December 2016, Spain
TTA Facilities Manager Forum meeting, January 2017, Pretoria AIME, 21-22 February 2017, Australia
Meetings Africa, 28 February - 1 March 2017, Johannesburg
WTM Africa, 19-21 April 2017, Cape Town
IBTM Africa, 19-23 April 2017, Cape Town
Food and Hospitality Africa 2017, 3-5 May 2017, Midrand
Indaba, 6-8 May 2017, Durban
Attractions Africa 2017, Dates to be confirmed, Tshwane
SAACI 31st Annual Congress, 4-6 June 2017, Pretoria

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