Condé Nast Traveler has just released the results of its annual Readers’ Choice survey for the Best Hotel in the World. It revealed that the Ritz-Carlton Shanghai luxury hotel is the 2011 winner of this prestigious title.
In second place was Peninsula House in the Dominican Republic, just ahead of the Four Seasons Sharm El Sheikh in Egypt. Luxury hotels in South Africa, which have done very well in tourism awards so far this year, was represented by the Safari Lodge at Phinda Private Game Reserve which was given fourth place.
The awards are chosen by a large cross-section of business and leisure travelers as over 28,000 readers submitted their top choice. The same process was used for readers to vote for the best city in each country. Here the United States winner was Charleston, South Carolina. Quebec City was voted top city in Canada and San Miguel de Allende won for Mexico.
Further awards were given for each continent, giving travelers more ideas for some great city trips. Sydney, Australia was voted the top city to visit in the Oceania section, Buenos Aires won for Central and South America, Kyoto won in Asia and the lovely city of Florence, Italy won the award for best city in Europe.
Despite an onslaught of hype and billions of dollars invested, Dubai did not get a mention until #49 when the Park Hyatt Dubai was named, well behind more modest offerings in England, New Zealand and Greece.
The recent World Travel Awards, known as the Oscars of the travel industry, recently announced the winners of their comprehensive awards program. Luxury hotels in South Africa were the talk of the event with the Legend Golf and Safari Resort at Limpopo winning an impressive double. They scooped not only the award for Africa’s Leading Sports Resort, but also made it a double celebration by being recognized as South Africa’s Leading Golf Resort for the second successive year.
Located two hours’ drive north of Johannesburg in the Limpopo Province and within striking distance of the Kruger National Park, their unique “world-in-one” Signature Golf Course is a must-play for serious golfers. Each of the 18 holes has been designed by a world golfing legend. However, the most talked-about hole is the Par 3, the Extreme 19th. Set high up on the impressive Hanglip Mountain, the hole is accessible only by helicopter and played to a green the shape of Africa some 1,300 feet below. It boasts a unique golfing experience complete with adrenaline rush!
Despite its remote location, Peet Cilliers, CEO of Legend Lodges, Hotels & Resorts, said, “The resort is proving to be a great success and increasingly popular with tour operators, conference and event organizers and travellers from around the world. And we continue to strive to deliver a truly 21st century experience in the heart of the African bush”.
Adventure travel continues to be popular and is definitely not just for gap year students. Luxury hotels in South Africa, Tanzania and Myanmar are opening their doors and encouraging international travelers to experience some amazing adventures, cosseted by five star hotel standards, yet immersed in a totally different culture.
Packing advice is to travel light and leave behind a lot of those high-tech gadgets which are part of our everyday westernized lifestyle. The challenge is could you really do without the following essentials?
E-readers – designed to save space and weight in luggage, they are far more stealable than books, you need to recharge them and, on a charitable note, you cannot leave them behind for the locals to enjoy. Better take a couple of bestsellers and trade them with fellow guests before giving them away.
GPS – another useful gadget, especially if you like Geocaching, but they attract thieves like magpies to gems. A compass may be less likely to break, is definitely cheaper and with a map you will understand far more about the local terrain.
Ipod – space saving and familiar, but music does isolate you from the foreign sounds that are part of any trip – the babble of local languages, wails from the muezzin or the quiet sounds of unseen inhabitants in the rainforest.
Translation Software – there are some great translation software packages including an iPhone app that overlays English onto foreign writing. Unfortunately users say it is useless on menus, so perhaps the good old dictionary, phrase book and a smile may get you further in the end.
Personally I leave behind the things that distract and take everything that may enhance my trip. How about you?
by Gillian at Luxique Luxury Hotels
I reported earlier this month that the French sports minister, Rama Yade, had caused a stir by criticising the national soccer team for staying in surroundings at the World Cup that she thought were too luxurious.
It’s now been reported in France that the minister was herself booked in to a junior suite at a luxury hotel in South Africa that cost more than those used by the French squad.
According to the weekly satirical newspaper, Le Canard Enchaîné, Ms Yade was due to spend two nights in a five-star hotel where a junior suite at £554 ($820) a night had been reserved for her. Five other rooms at £280 ($415) had been booked for her staff, the newspaper claimed.
Ms Yade wanted to cancel the booking but the bill had already been paid and the hotel was not prepared to reimburse the ministry, the paper said. Instead she spent two nights at the French Consul’s residence and a third night in a hotel room costing £100 ($148).
Ms Yade said the ministry had made only a ‘precautionary pre-booking’ for the luxury hotel, which it was able to cancel. Her office added that the initial reservation had been made by the embassy in South Africa without her approval.
“There is nothing there that is scandalous or abnormal,” she said.
by Andy Moreton
With the World Cup soccer tournament beginning in a few days, a junior minister in France has caused a stir by criticising the national team’s luxury hotel arrangements at a time of economic difficulty.
The French players are based at the Pezula Resort luxury hotel and spa on the Indian Ocean at Knysna in Western Cape province – described as ‘Africa’s first truly luxury resort.’ Normal low-season room rates range from £410 ($594) a night for a studio suite to £5,300 ($7,680) a night for a suite in the hotel’s ‘castle’ built into a rock face on a private secluded beach.
France’s junior sports minister, Rama Yade, said she hoped the French side would dazzle everyone with their sporting skills and not ‘for staying in showy hotels’. She commented: “Spain, which is one of the favourites [to win the tournament], chose a university campus.”
Yade, who described herself as ‘a No 1 fan’ of the team, added: “Personally, I wouldn’t have chosen that hotel. In times of [economic] crisis you have to consider this.” The French Football Association said the cost of the hotel was not falling to the taxpayer.
In Italy, where a debt-slashing budget is imminent, a minister demanded that Italy’s national team chip in by giving up their win bonuses if they lift the World Cup. “It would be the right thing for footballers to participate in the sacrifices being made by Italians during this crisis,” said Roberto Calderoli of the Northern League party.
by Andy Moreton
The ‘Obama effect’ of a US President with African heritage, and the 2010 soccer World Cup have been credited with creating a surge of interest in Africa as a tourist destination.
The UN World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) says Africa bucked the global trend in 2009 – it was the only continent to see a rise in the number of international tourist arrivals: up by 5 per cent.
That compared to a slump of 4 per cent in travel worldwide amid the economic crisis and the swine flu pandemic.
The head of the UNWTO, Taleb Rifai, told a tourism conference in Madrid:
“There has been a shift in the way people look at Africa. It’s now considered a serious destination for travellers from the major generating markets.”
Kenya’s tourist board says the fact that President Obama’s father was from Kenya has led to an increase in Americans visiting the country. And the African Travel and Tourism Association (ATTA) says this year’s World Cup in South Africa will have an enormous effect.
“The World Cup is certainly the most exciting thing to happen to Africa, not just southern Africa,” said the ATTA’s head, Nigel Vere Nicoll. “All Africans are very proud that it’s going to be there.”
by Andy Moreton
Check out Luxique’s selection of luxury hotels in South Africa, as well as in Botswana, Kenya, Zambia and other parts of the continent.
Tourism and soccer officials in South Africa have warned airlines, hotels and restaurants not to charge exorbitant prices during next year’s World Cup tournament.
Tourism official Calvyn Gilfellan said he was worried that if businesses viewed the month-long event as a cash cow it would harm South Africa’s tourism industry.
Kevin Miles, who coordinates international travel for England soccer supporters, said:
“It’s far better to create an impression that will encourage people to return to the country in years to come. That’s what happened with Germany – there was a big hike in tourism after 2006.”
South Africa is expecting a tourism boom during the tournament, with some 500,000 visitors spending about $850 million (£520 million). Twenty-five new hotels have been built and other types of accommodation will also be available, including university halls of residence, safari park lodges and even cruise liners.
One concern is transport. Teams up will have to travel vast distances to play their matches. In Group G, one of the teams faces having to play a game in Johannesburg, followed by one in Cape Town - a distance of 880 miles.
At the draw for the opening stages of the tournament, the United States and England found themselves in the same group. The toughest group is probably the once consisting of Portugal, Brazil, Ivory Coast and North Korea.
by Andy Moreton
If you’re looking for a bit of pampering to go with the soccer, check out Luxique’s selection of luxury hotels in South Africa.