South Africa

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South Africa is one of the continent’s economic ‘super powers’, although in 2014 it conceded its number one spot to Nigeria. The Nigerian economy surpassed the South African economy as the largest on the continent, after the West African nation overhauled its GDP data for the first time in two decades.

FACT FILE
Population:
  53 million
Time: GMT +2
Plugs: Three-pin round
Dialling code: +27
Currency: Rand – $1=11.5ZAR
Language: 11 official languages, but English is predominantly spoken 

BACKGROUND

South Africa’s apartheid legacy lingers on in high unemployment and a vast wealth gap between rich and poor, yet it remains one of the wealthiest countries on the continent. Its vast mineral resources (it has some of the world’s largest gold, diamond, platinum and chromium deposits) have powered the economy for over a century.

South Africa accounts for a massive 40% of Africa’s industrial output and is by far the most sophisticated free-market economy in Africa. The abundant supply of mineral resources, well-developed financial, legal, communications, and transport sectors, plus modern infrastructure, support an efficient distribution of goods to major urban centres throughout the entire region.

That being said, the country does face enormous infrastructural challenges, with basic services deteriorating across the country, led by a dysfunctional energy sector that has the potential to cripple South Africa’s industrial output, never mind affect everyday life.

An unsettled labour force is another challenge, with protracted strike action having a big impact on the country’s resources sector.

Lastly, politically, the future of South Africa is uncertain, with the ruling ANC party under pressure to retain the huge majority it has enjoyed in the past. It’s also not clear who the leading candidate to replace current president Jacob Zuma is, with widespread ANC in-fighting further unsettling South Africa’s political future.

BUSINESS TRAVEL NEWS

It’s been an interesting year for South Africa’s travel and tourism industry, arguably dominated by the fall-out from the country’s Home Affairs department announcing significant changes to its immigration regulations.

Most of the interest concerned the new requirement for in-person biometric visa data collection for travellers to South Africa, and changes to regulations for minors travelling by air into, out of and through the country.

South Africa’s Home Affairs Department announced the changes in May 2014, which prompted an angry response from the industry, which then attempted to engage the government in discussions. That eventually took place, with the industry represented by the likes of ASATA, SATSA, TBCSA etc.

Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba did make some concessions, with the implementation of the changes to the travelling minor regulations deferred until 1 June 2015.

The big 2014 hotel news was the Marriott International acquisition of South Africa’s 116-hotel Protea Hospitality Group. The company now manages, franchises and leases hotels across the Protea Hotels brand (103 hotels), the boutique Protea Hotel Fire & Ice! brand (two hotels), and the African Pride Hotels collection (11 hotels). 

Also on the acquisition front, Tourvest Holdings bought Three Cities Management, in a move that sees its African Hotels and Adventures (AHA) business, a division of Tourvest, become the second largest tourism hotel and lodge management company in South Africa. In terms of the deal, Tourvest acquired the existing sales, marketing and management contracts for 23 hotels and lodges across the country, as well as TCM’s shares in the Alpine Heath and Greenway Woods resorts.

It was also an interesting year for Sun International. First, the hotel and casino operator decided to sell its share in Dreams, a South African tour operator. That was followed by the news later in the year that Sun International had entered into agreements with Minor International Public Company (MINT), whereby Sun International disposes of a significant portion of its interests in its African assets to a foreign subsidiary of MINT.

In terms of significant openings, one of Johannesburg’s iconic hotel properties re-opened on 1 December. The Westcliff is now the Four Seasons Hotel The Westcliff Johannesburg. Guests and visitors will be able to enjoy five new dining outlets, a destination spa with nine treatment rooms, a deli, lap pool and 117 newly-decorated rooms and suites. Two new transparent panoramic elevators will take guests to the upper part of the property, where the two main restaurants View and Flames are perched high up on the hillside.

Also taking on a new identity in 2014 was EAH Executive Apartments & Hotels. As of 1 November, it became The Capital Hotel Group. The current portfolio consists of six properties situated in Sandton, Johannesburg, the heart of Africa’s financial and business hub, with expansion plans set for a further 11 properties, all to be located in capital cities in and around South Africa and the sub-Saharan market. The concept offers a full hotel service with the option of self-catering apartments and a host of facilities geared towards the requirements of both business and leisure travellers.

Another group making a move was BON Hotels, a Cape Town-based company that owns, manages and markets hotels. It has taken on ownership and management of Riviera on Vaal Hotel & Country Club and the 49-room Constantia Hotel in Midrand – both in the Gauteng province.

In a move geared specifically to the business traveller, Birchwood Hotel & OR Tambo Conference Centre in Kempton Park, in close proximity to the airport, unveiled an upgraded facility called Silverbirch @ Birchwood. It is situated in a quiet and separate area on the Birchwood property, with separate controlled access, a dedicated check-in area, 153 rooms, larger workstations, unlimited and uninterrupted high speed Wi-Fi access, a complimentary airport shuttle service, dedicated porter facility, and fine dining at the Grill At One Twenty.

Opening in Cape Town was the Park Inn by Radisson Newlands, a 122-room new-build hotel that enjoys a prime location in close proximity to Cape Town’s main sporting venues, shopping malls and historical tourist attractions. The hotel offers complimentary in-room high-speed internet, five Smart Meeting rooms, an outdoor swimming pool, a fully-equipped fitness centre and a large terrace. Also part of the Carlson Rezidor group, the Radisson Blu Hotel Waterfront in Cape Town refurbished its meetings and events facilities, including the West Atrium and Lobby.

In Durban, Tsogo Sun’s Southern Sun Elangeni & Maharani Hotel’s Maharani Tower opened a new multi-purpose venue on the 31st floor – called Sky – offering panoramic views of the city’s coastline. A short distance away, the group’s Garden Court South Beach now offers business, conference and events facilities. The Malibu Room, on the hotel’s second floor, caters for up to 250 delegates and all event space can be arranged to suit any occasion. Also within the Tsogo Sun group, Nelspruit’s Emnotweni Casino complex was upgraded, whilst Silverstar Casino on Johannesburg’s West Rand received a similar re-vamp, with a much-improved entertainment offering.

Also in Nelspruit, the Protea Hotel Nelspruit opened a new conference venue that can accommodate up to 70 delegates, whilst the Protea Hotel Fire & Ice! Cape Town completed renovations. The hotel’s new public spaces have been given a fresh look, there are comfortable conversation areas, a new restaurant, and a bar area with coffee station and ‘make-your-own’ milkshake bar.

In George, on South Africa’s Garden Route, Fancourt’s private departure lounge at George Airport was given a facelift. On departure from George Airport, every Fancourt hotel guest can enjoy complimentary use of the air-conditioned lounge overlooking the runway. There is a complimentary bar service, snacks, comfortable seating, big screen TV, and work areas with electricity points.

Also having work done was Peermont’s Emperors Palace, situated in close proximity to Johannesburg’s O.R. Tambo International Airport. It completed comprehensive upgrades to its convention centre, as well as to the Theatre of Marcellus.

In Cape Town, the Cape Grace Hotel & Spa, which overlooks Cape Town’s yacht basin and Table Mountain, upgraded its pool and conservatory area. The pool area has been designed to resemble a luxurious yacht deck, complete with sunken lounge, rim-flow pool and fashionable bar.

In the same city, the Cape Milner, located in the suburb of Tamboerskloof, underwent a complete rejuvenation, in a bid to position itself as a boutique hub.

Much further north, in the mining town of Phalaborwa, the 4-star Bushveld Terrace Hotel & Guesthouse is the Limpopo province’s newest property. The hotel, built on the original site of an old caravan park, is located a hundred metres from the Kruger National Park’s Phalaborwa gate. Eight family suites and 18 luxury rooms have been designed to reflect the bushveld. Linked to the guesthouse by a lantern-lit pathway is the Hat and Creek restaurant.

On the airline front, South African Airways was once again in the news on a regular basis. The airline took delivery of a group of new A320 aircraft, which are configured with 24 Business Class seats offering ample leg room with a pitch of 39 inches, space to stow a tablet, a USB power point, and PC power points in the centre console for additional laptop computer power.

With regards its route network, SAA increased capacity on its Cape Town and East London routes. It also added to its African flight schedule, with SAA offering eight frequencies per week on its Lagos route from the beginning of August. Other destinations to receive additional frequencies included Harare, Lusaka, Abidjan, Blantyre, Dar es Salaam, Kinshasa, Nairobi, Ndola, and Windhoek.

SAA also announced a new online check-in feature called Social Check-In, and implemented baggage wrapping for customer bags as a permanent feature. From a loyalty programme point of view, the end of 2014 saw SAA announce significant changes to its Voyager programme. The programme changes which, for the most part, come into effect on 1 February 2015, have simplified the existing programme, taking into consideration issues members had with how miles were awarded, implemented and communicated. 

In related SAA news, Travelport, a travel commerce platform providing distribution, technology, payment and other solutions, announced in 2014 that SAA had become the first carrier in Africa to sign up for Travelport’s Rich Content and Branding. Travelport Rich Content and Branding enables airlines to more effectively control how their fares are visually presented and described on travel agency screens, bringing them more in line with the airline’s own website experience.

On the low-cost airline scene, the South African Air Services Licencing Council granted FlySafair a domestic air service licence for the operation of domestic scheduled flights between Johannesburg and Cape Town, and Port Elizabeth and Cape Town. FlySafair began flight services in October and announced a partnership with First Car Rental, as well as a new destination, in the form of George.

From a codeshare point of view, another low-cost operator kulula.com was very active, announcing agreements with Kenya Airways and Air France.

Also in the low-cost space, Mango increased its flight frequency between the South African cities of Johannesburg and Port Elizabeth.

There was also plenty of Airlink news. The South African private airline commenced scheduled services between Nelspruit Kruger and Vilanculos in Mozambique, as well as between O.R. Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg and Sishen in the Northern Cape. Airlink also re-introduced the SAA code to scheduled flights operating between Cape Town International Airport and Windhoek’s Hosea Kutako International Airport in Namibia, and added additional flights and frequencies to its Cape Town-Upington schedule. 

In terms of international airlines, Emirates introduced a fourth daily flight between Dubai and Johannesburg, and Emirates and SAA extended their codeshare partnership to include the new service.

Cathay Pacific launched a new Business Class product on its B777ER flying daily between Johannesburg and Hong Kong.

Virgin Atlantic made changes to its network. Most significantly, from a South African point of view, the winter seasonal service to Cape Town operates as planned in the winter of 2014/15, but will not be renewed the following year. The final London-Cape Town flight will leave Heathrow on 26April 2015, and the final flight from Cape Town will depart the following day.

Also pulling out was Thai Airways, which announced that it was pulling its South African route in January of 2015.

Conversely, Qatar Airways is now offering five weekly non-stop services between Doha and Cape Town. The route is being operated by Qatar’s Boeing 787 Dreamliner.

British Airways opened its new $1.8 million lounge at Cape Town International Airport, the first in South Africa to be modelled on its Galleries lounges at London Heathrow’s Terminal 5. Also in the lounge space, Bidvest opened a new Premier Lounge in Cape Town, whilst Menzies Aviation did likewise in Durban, with the uMphafa Lounge, the only lounge in the international terminal at King Shaka International.

SAA Voyager Gold, Platinum and Lifetime Platinum members travelling in Economy Class on the SAA codeshare flights with Emirates from Dubai will no longer be able to use the Marhaba Lounge in Dubai. A new lounge agreement is being initiated. Meanwhile, SA Express has terminated the business lounge services at Bram Fischer International Airport in Bloemfontein.

On the private aviation scene, ExecuJet Africa expanded its charter fleet in 2014 with the addition of an Embraer Phenom 300 business jet. The aircraft is one of only two Phenom 300s available on demand for charter in sub-Saharan Africa. ExecuJet also expanded its helicopter charter fleet with the addition of a Bell 230 helicopter in partnership with Acher Aviation.

In car rental news, Avis adopted a ‘smoke-free’ stance in 2014. This was to keep in line with global standards, and in response to customer requests for clean vehicles. In other Avis news, the new Mercedes-Benz C-Class is now available in the Avis Rent a Car and Avis Point 2 Point fleet. The car has been placed under the Group H category. The car rental company also concluded an agreement with Mango in 2014.

The year also saw South African Tourism open marketing offices in Lagos, Nigeria and Sao Paulo, Brazil, whilst ASATA announced the make-up of its newly-elected board. Vanya Lessing, Sure Travel CEO and former ASATA CEO, takes the helm as the organisation’s President over the coming year. Travel With Flair MD and founder Johanna Mukoki joins Lessing as Vice-President, with James Sedgwick of Sure Travel, Fish Hoek as Treasurer. Additional board members include Bronwyn Philipps (HRG Rennies Travel), Claude Vankeirsbilck (Tourvest Travel Services), Johann Strydom (World Leisure Holidays), and Lance Smith (Avis Rent A Car).

CITIES

The capital of South Africa’s smallest province, Gauteng, Johannesburg is the economic powerhouse of Africa.

Much of the financial activity takes place in and around the Sandton district in the north of Johannesburg. Sandton features many of the big banks and associated corporates, the Johannesburg Stock Exchange, a host of hotels, restaurants and bars, a Gautrain station, the huge Sandton City shopping centre, and Nelson Mandela Square.

Much of Johannesburg’s corporate business has moved out of the CBD, which is located in the south, although some do still retain their offices, and there are pockets of rejuvenation taking place, such as in Newtown.

Rosebank is one of the ‘nodes’ that is benefiting from a reduced interest in the CBD, and it is situated between town and Sandton. It also has a Gautrain station, a large re-vamped shopping centre, and quality hotels. Standard Bank has recently moved its office from the CBD to Rosebank.

Outside of Johannesburg, the other South African cites that see business travel are Cape Town, Port Elizabeth, Durban, Bloemfontein, Polokwane, Nelspruit, and Pretoria.

Cape Town, Durban and Port Elizabeth are coastal cities that see much in the way of leisure travel, but Cape Town has emerged as a meetings and conferences venue of choice, as has Durban, to a lesser extent – both due to, among other reasons, their impressive convention centres.

Pretoria is only half an hour’s drive from Johannesburg, and these two cities are linked by the Gautrain. It is the executive or administrative capital of South Africa.

Bloemfontein is the capital of the Free State province and the judicial capital of South Africa.

Polokwane is the capital of the Limpopo province, situated to the north of Gauteng, and a major urban centre.

Nelspruit is situated in the north-east of the country, in close proximity to the Mozambican border.

AIRLINES & AIRPORT

South Africa has 10 international airports, the major one being O.R. Tambo International in Johannesburg, which is the main gateway to South Africa. This state-of-the-art airport has the capacity to handle up to 28 million passengers annually and provides connections to most regional airports from here. The airport is 22 kilometres east of Johannesburg and access to the city is quickest via the Gautrain, which is a modern rapid rail transport system that links the airport with Pretoria, Sandton, Rosebank and the city centre.

For travellers coming through international arrivals, just make sure you keep right out of the exit doors and look for the Gautrain signs. Purchasing a card is straightforward and will cost you just over $1. Thereafter, it’ll cost you in the region of $12 for each leg to and from Sandton, which is about 12 minutes away from the airport.

Lanseria International Airport is located to the north-west of Johannesburg, and is emerging as a popular choice for business travellers living in the north of Johannesburg, particularly as there are a good selection of flights to destinations such as Cape Town and Durban. Lanseria is also the focal point for South Africa’s private aviation industry, and is home to the likes of ExecuJet, National Airways Corporation etc.

Cape Town International Airport is about 20 kilometres from the CBD and was extensively renovated in the lead-up to the 2010 FIFA World Cup. A similar theme applies to King Shaka International Airport in Durban, which opened in 2010 and was a new-build airport north of Durban, which previously had its airport based south of the city. Both airports are modern, well-designed structures with quality facilities.

In terms of lounges, there are a number of airline-specific Business Class lounges in South Africa, particularly at O.R. Tambo International, in the form of the Virgin Atlantic, British Airways, SAA and Emirates international lounges. SAA actually has two international lounges and one domestic at ORTIA, two domestic lounges in Cape Town and one in Durban.

ORTIA is also home to Menzies Aviation’s two lounges – Shongololo and Mashonzha – which are used by a number of airlines, including Arik, Air Seychelles, Etihad, Qatar, Qantas and Cathay Pacific.

The other lounges worth looking out for, particularly if you are a First National Bank customer (access via bank card – sometimes for a fee, depending on the state of your bank account), are the SLOW lounges at ORTIA, Cape Town International and King Shaka International.

Passengers also have access to the Bidvest Premier Lounges at ORTIA and in Cape Town, Durban, Port Elizabeth, East London and George. Domestic lounge entry costs $16 and international lounge entry costs $27. All lounges provide complimentary light meals and snacks, beverages, newspapers and magazines, TV and Wi-Fi. Bidvest Premier opened a new lounge in Cape Town at the end of 2014, whilst it also offers the Bidvest New Sky lounge at ORTIA (domestic).

The other new lounge on the scene on 2014 was the uMphafa Lounge at King Shaka International – a Menzies Aviation product.

HOTELS

As you would expect, Johannesburg has a host of international hotel brands, and a fair number of them clustered in the main business district of Sandton, which is approximately 20 minutes from the CBD and about half an hour from O.R. Tambo International Airport.

There’s a 5-star Hilton property in Sandton, and the group also has hotels in Durban (adjacent to the city’s main convention centre) and Cape Town (smaller, with a boutique-type feel).

Also in Sandton are two 5-star Radisson Blu hotels, including the Radisson Blu Gautrain, which is ideally positioned opposite the local Gautrain station. The greater hotel building also has a SLOW business lounge on the bottom floor, which can be accessed for a fee. There’s also a Park Inn by Radisson in Sandton, so Carlson Rezidor has a significant presence in this business-focused area of Johannesburg.

Another international group with a presence in Johannesburg is Accor, through its midscale Mercure brand. They have three properties, but none in Sandton. Instead, the Bedfordview hotel to the east of the city provides easy access to the airport, whilst the Midrand hotel bridges the gap between Johannesburg and Pretoria, and the Randburg property taps into the West Rand market.

Holiday Inn has three properties in Johannesburg – in Rosebank, Rivonia Road (Sandton) and Woodmead – whilst InterContinental, part of the same group, has the 5-star Johannesburg Sandton Towers and the 5-star property at O.R. Tambo Airport. Speaking of the airport, the general area around it is dotted with hotels across the star range, whilst a short drive away is the Peermont offering, in the form of the 5-star D’Oreale Grande at Emperors Palace, which is also home to the group’s 4-star Mondior, 3-star Metcourt and 3-star Metcourt Suites properties. The D’Oreale Grande is exceptional, if you’re looking for a 5-star hotel in close proximity to the airport.

In the same Kempton Park area is arguably the country’s biggest conferencing offering, in the form of the Birchwood Hotel & O.R. Tambo Conference Centre. The sister property to this hotel is situated in Soweto, on the other side of Johannesburg, in the form of the 4-star Soweto Hotel. It’s well worth a visit, should you want to explore this historical area of Johannesburg.

From a local brand point of view, it’s significant that Sun International now has a ‘business hotel’ presence in Johannesburg – more specifically Sandton – with The Maslow opening in early 2013. Sun International does, though, still have a strong presence in the gaming world, with Carnival City to the east of Johannesburg, the Morula Sun and Carousel to the north of Pretoria, and its flagship Sun City property in the North West, with adjacent Palace of the Lost City. One of Sun International’s standout properties is the Table Bay in Cape Town, which consistently receives rave reviews, whilst Durban features the group’s Sibaya Casino & Entertainment Kingdom property.

Looking at the other big local brands, Tsogo Sun Hotels, Protea Hotels and City Lodge are the groups with a big presence, as has Legacy Hotels & Resorts, which is strong in the Sandton area.

Tsogo Sun has 22 properties in the greater Gauteng area, which includes three in the Montecasino entertainment complex to the north of Johannesburg, with the 5-star Palazzo Hotel the flagship there. Then there’s the three hotels at the airport (InterContinental, Southern Sun, Garden Court) and six in and around the Sandton node, including the 5-star Sandton Sun, the 5-star Southern Sun Hyde Park and two Garden Court properties. Tsogo Sun, though, will be happy that it now has a presence in Rosebank (10 minutes from Sandton), with the luxurious 54 on Bath, which was previously The Grace. Tsogo Sun’s budget brand, StayEasy, has just two properties in Gauteng, in Pretoria and Eastgate, whilst in the same category, 2013 saw Tsogo Sun rebrand its Formula 1 hotels as SUN1 hotels, of which there are a host of around the country.

Protea Hotels has 10 properties in and around Johannesburg, including two at O.R. Tambo International Airport. But, perhaps the hotels to stand out among those are the two Melrose Arch properties, which are excellent options, should you be doing business in the area, Rosebank, Sandton or the CBD. The Melrose Arch Hotel – under Protea’s African Pride brand – claims it makes the best cappuccino in the city! There’s also a Fire & Ice! property in Cape Town and two standout African Pride hotels – 15 On Orange and the Crystal Towers Hotel & Spa.

The City Lodge Hotel Group consists of 1-star Road Lodges, 2-star Town Lodges, 3-star City Lodges and 4-star Courtyard Hotels. The group has 52 properties across South Africa, including the following in Johannesburg: three Courtyards, six City Lodges (including the new Waterfall City property in Midrand), four Town Lodges and six Road Lodges. Cape Town has three City Lodges, one Town Lodge and two Road Lodges. Durban has two City Lodges and two Road Lodges. So, this group has a wide offering across the star range in many different key locations across South Africa.

Legacy Hotels & Resorts’ footprint in the Sandton area includes quality properties in the form of the 5-star Michelangelo, DAVINCI Hotel & Suites, Michelangelo Towers, and Raphael Penthouse Suites. These are suited to the premium business traveller who wants to be in the heart of Sandton, on the doorstep of the big shopping mall, Sandton City, or adjacent to the Sandton Convention Centre. Legacy’s remaining two Johannesburg properties are the Sunnyside Park Hotel and the Airport Grand Hotel. There are two good Legacy options in Cape Town, with both the Commodore and the PortsWood in close proximity to the V&A Waterfront, and just a few minutes from the CBD. They both enjoy outstanding views of Table Mountain.

One of the smaller South African groups – Premier Hotels & Resorts – has a couple of properties in Johannesburg, with one hotel situated at the airport and one in Midrand, giving them a good cross-section of business, without having to compete with the big international brands in the Sandton node.

From a boutique hotel perspective, two properties stand out – the Saxon and Fairlawns – with both situated within a few minutes’ drive of Sandton City, either side of it. The Saxon is arguably the premier boutique hotel in Johannesburg and possibly South Africa, and is where the late Nelson Mandela wrote his memoirs.

Just a short drive up the road, opposite the Johannesburg Zoo, is the newly-opened Four Seasons Hotel The Westcliff Johannesburg, which boasts arguably the best view in the city from its elevated terrace.

A notch or two down the star scale, Faircity has three properties – all in the three and 4-star range, with one in the Johannesburg CBD and two in Sandton – Falstaff and Quatermain. Interesting that Faircity has that CBD presence, as not many of the other big groups do, although Lonrho Hotels decided to open its first South African property – the easyHotel Johannesburg CBD – in De Korte Street. Orion Hotels has The Devonshire, which is well situated in Braamfontein, should you want access to the CBD.

The Rosebank node, about 10 minutes’ drive from Sandton, has a good selection of quality hotels, with the Hyatt Regency, the Holiday Inn, the Courtyard, 54 on Bath, Mantis Collection’s Monarch Hotel (which underwent renovation in 2012), Crowne Plaza Johannesburg – The Rosebank, and the Clico Boutique Hotel, which has a good reputation and has an intimate conferencing offering.

Lastly, should you find yourself looking for a smaller boutique property in the areas of Hyde Park, Craighall or Parkhurst – about 15 minutes’ from Sandton – then make sure you consider The Hamilton, The Parkwood or Ten Bompas (along with Clico and 10 2nd Avenue Houghton, all members of the Johannesburg Boutique Collection). The remaining member of the collection is The Peech Hotel, which is a short drive away just behind the Wanderers Club.

If you’re flying in and out of Lanseria International Airport to the north-west of Johannesburg, you may want to consider Misty Hills Country Hotel in the Muldersdrift area. It has a ‘country’ feel to it and provides a welcome relief from city life, along with playing host to the famous Carnivore Restaurant.

Some of the main players in Cape Town have already been mentioned, but if you’re in the 5-star market, it’s worth mentioning the Cape Grace and the Mount Nelson, which are iconic Cape Town properties. If you’re after a brand name, Carlson Rezidor has the Radisson Blue Hotel Waterfront, Cape Town, which is where you’ll also find Kerzner International’s opulent One&Only – with fantastic views of Table Mountain – and Sun International’s Table Bay Hotel.

A short drive away is the Cape Royale in the suburb of Green Point, and not far on from there you’ll find Winchester Mansions on the promenade.

If you’re looking for a great location close to Cape Town International Convention Centre, then look no further than the 5-star Westin, situated adjacent to CTICC, and a Starwood Hotels & Resorts property.

A short walk from there you’ll find Tsogo Sun’s Southern Sun The Cullinan, and the group has six other properties in Cape Town.

There are a number of quality hotels in the Cape Town CBD, including the Pepperclub Hotel & Spa, the Taj Cape Town, and African Pride 15 on Orange. The latter is part of the Protea (now Marriott) stable, and the group also has five other properties in Cape Town itself, including the inviting Protea Fire & Ice! Cape Town and Protea Sea Point.

If you’re looking for something a notch or two down the star range, there’s a Holiday Inn Express in the Cape Town CBD.

The Three Cites group – acquired in 2014 by Tourvest Holdings – has a solid presence in Cape Town, with its Bantry Bay, Inn On the Square, and Mandela Rhodes Place properties. All quite different, unique, and worth checking out.

Three Cities is particularly strong in Durban, with three properties – the Auberge Hollandaise Guest House, Riverside Hotel & Spa, and Waterfront Hotel & Spa – in Durban itself, and four properties – the Gateway Hotel, the Palm Hotel, the Square Boutique Hotel & Spa, and the Urban Park Hotel & Spa – in the Umhlanga area.

Much of the action has moved from Durban to Umhlanga on the north coast, and here you’ll find four Tsogo Sun properties, including the iconic Beverly Hills Hotel, which in 2014 celebrated its 50th birthday. Tsogo Sun has a further five properties in Durban, including the Suncoast Towers and the Southern Sun Elangeni & Maharani, which has had extensive work done to it in recent times.

Also in Umhlanga is the Oyster Box, which has earned a reputation as the premier 5-star hotel in the area.

Protea has four Durban properties, including the African Pride Audacia Manor on the Berea.

There is also a fair smattering of smaller, boutique hotels, such as Endless Horizons and the St. James on Venice, which both come with good reputations.

CARD ACCEPTANCE

VISA and MasterCard are accepted almost everywhere. American Express and Diners Club are also accepted, but not as widely. Most retail stores accept credit cards and pin-based debit cards as payment.

VISAS

Most African travellers do not require a visa to visit South Africa for a stay of 30-90 days. Note that visas are currently not issued at South African ports of entry, so travellers requiring visas should apply for these before arrival.

Travellers arriving from yellow fever-endemic areas will require a yellow fever certificate.

CONNECTIVITY

South Africa has an exceptionally well-developed communications infrastructure. Internet and Wi-Fi are easily accessible and the extensive GSM network works on the same frequency as the rest of Africa and Europe. There are five cell phone providers in South Africa: Vodacom; MTN; Cell-C; Virgin Mobile and 8ta.

Sim card pre-paid starter kits are available for around R1. You will need a passport and a proof of residential address, and it has to be registered before you can call or receive calls.

You can expect to have access to Wi-Fi in just about all South African hotels, with many now offering a complimentary service, particularly the 5-star and branded properties.

HEALTH

There are no major diseases to guard against. Most of South Africa is malaria-free, but always check with the game reserves you are planning to visit and take precautions if necessary.

There are many world class private hospitals and medical centres around the country, especially in the urban centres.

TRAVEL TIPS

Safety is an issue, particularly in Johannesburg, and visitors to South Africa should be aware of the country’s high crime rate. South African authorities do give high priority to the protection of tourists, and popular tourist sites and the main hotel areas tend to be safe and most visits are trouble-free.

E-Tolling has been introduced in the province of Gauteng and car rental companies have fitted e-tags to their rental fleet in order to bill clients for the gantry fee.

CONTACTS

www.saembassy.org
www.southafrica.net

OPINION PIECE
Glenn Stutchbury
CEO – Cresta Hotels

O.R. Tambo International Airport is well laid out and works well. A heads-up, though – if you arrive between 08h30 and 09h30 you will end up with all the long-haul flight passengers hitting immigration, and this is not pleasant. As a foreign passport holder, you never feel you are important to the country. There are double the officials for SA residents compared to the foreign passport holders, of which there are 10 times the number of passengers. If you have meetings or connecting flights, be very aware of this, as you can spend an hour and a half waiting for your passport to be stamped.

With regards hotel accommodation, I generally stay in Sandton, because my meetings are there and it is extremely convenient. My current hotel of choice is the DAVINCI Hotel & Suites – a Legacy Hotels & Resorts property. The staff and GM are very customer-friendly and recognise regulars. The free airport shuttle to the Gautrain station is also a big plus for me. You also have access straight into the Sandton City shopping mall, which is very convenient, and whilst the prices are cheeky, at least you can be quick! The access to a variety of restaurants for meals or entertaining is also good.

The Gautrain service into Sandton is brilliant. It takes just 15 minutes from the airport, and compared with the potential traffic, it’s an easy choice. Even if I am hiring a car, I rather collect it in Sandton and use the train. The train ticketing can be a frustrating, particularly for a first-time traveller. I generally don’t hire a car in Johannesburg, as there is just too much traffic and it’s way too fast! The Uber car service is the way forward and it works perfectly in Johannesburg. A word of advice, though – don’t use Uber Black unless you’re trying to impress someone. Uber X is way better value, and the difference is a smaller car and a smaller bill. I can then work, check email, and make calls, while someone else who knows the city drives me around. At the end of the day, in time and cost, it’s cheaper than car hire.

AIRLINES
Air Austral – air-austral.com
Air Berlin – airberlin.com 
Air Botswana – airbotswana.co.bw
Air France – airfrance.com 
Air Madagascar – airmadagascar.com
Air Mauritius – airmauritius.com
Air Namibia – airnamibia.com.na
Air Seychelles – airseychelles.com
Air Zimbabwe – airzimbabwe.aero
Airlink – flyairlink.com
Arik – arikair.com
British Airways – ba.com
Cathay Pacific – cathaypacific.com
Cemair – flycemair.co.za
Condor – condor.com
Delta – delta.com
EgyptAir – egyptair.com
El Al – elal.com
Emirates – emirates.com
Ethiopian – ethiopianairlines.com
Etihad – etihadairways.com
Fastjet – fastjet.com
FlyAfrica – flyafrica.com
FlySafair – flysafair.co.za 
Interair South Africa – interair.co.za
Kenya Airways – kenya-airways.com
KLM – klm.com
Korongo – flykorongo.com
Kulula – kulula.com
LAM – lam.co.mz
Lufthansa – lufthansa.com 
Mango – flymango.com
Precision – precisionairtz.com
Qantas – qantas.com.au
Qatar – qatar.com
RwandAir – rwandair.com
Singapore – singaporeair.com
SAA – flysaa.com
SA Express – flyexpress.com
Swiss – swiss.com
TAAG – taag.com
TAP – flytap.com
Turkish – turkishairlines.com
TUIfly – tuifly.com
Virgin Atlantic – virgin-atlantic.com
Yemenia Airways – yemenia.com

HOTELS
JOHANNESBURG
10 2nd Avenue – houghtonestate.com
12 Decades – urbanhiphotels.com
54 on Bath – tsogosunhotels.com
African Pride Melrose Arch – africanpridehotels.com
Birchwood – birchwoodhotel.co.za
BON Hotel Midrand – bonhotels.com
Carnival City – suninternational.com
City Lodge Bryanston – citylodge.co.za
City Lodge Fourways – citylodge.co.za
City Lodge JHB Airport Barbara Rd – citylodge.co.za
City Lodge Katherine Street – citylodge.co.za
City Lodge Morningside – citylodge.co.za
City Lodge O.R. Tambo – citylodge.co.za
Clico – clicohotel.com 
Courtyard Eastgate – citylodge.co.za
Courtyard Rosebank – citylodge.co.za
Courtyard Sandton – citylodge.co.za
Crowne Plaza – The Rosebank – therosebank.co.za
DAVINCI Hotel & Suites – legacyhotels.co.za
EasyHotel JHB CBD – lonrhohotels.com
Faircity Falstaff – faircity.co.za
Faircity Quatermain – faircity.co.za
Faircity Mapungubwe – faircity.co.za
Fairlawns – fairlawns-hotel.co.za  
Four Seasons Westcliff – fourseasons.com
Garden Court Eastgate – tsogosunhotels.com
Garden Court Milpark – tsogosunhotels.com
Garden Court Morningside – tsogosunhotels.com
Garden Court O.R. Tambo International – tsogosunhotels.com
Gold Reef City Theme Park – tsogosunhotels.com
Hilton Sandton – hilton.com
Holiday Inn Rosebank – holidayinn.com
Holiday Inn Sandton – holidayinn.com
Holiday Inn Express Woodmead – holidayinn.com
Hyatt Regency – johannesburg.regency.hyatt.com
Indaba Hotel – indabahotel.co.za
InterContinental O.R. Tambo – tsogosunhotels.com
InterContinental Sandton Towers – tsogosunhotels.com
Mercure Bedfordview – mercure.com
Mercure Midrand – mercure.com
Mercure Randburg – mercure.com
Michelangelo Hotel – legacyhotels.co.za
Michelangelo Towers – legacyhotels.co.za
Misty Hills – mistyhills.co.za
Monarch – monarchhotel.co.za
Palazzo Montecasino – tsogosunhotels.com
Park Inn Sandton – parkinn.com
Peermont D’oreale Grande – peermont.com
Peermont Metcourt Hotel – peermont.com
Peermont Metcourt Suites – peermont.com
Peermont Mondior – peermont.com
Premier Midrand – premierhotels.co.za
Premier O.R. Tambo – premierhotels.co.za
Protea  Balalaika – proteahotels.com
Protea Fire & Ice! Melrose Arch – proteahotels.com
Protea Midrand – proteahotels.com
Protea O.R. Tambo – proteahotels.com
Protea Parktonian – proteahotels.com
Protea Roodepoort – proteahotels.com
Protea Samrand – proteahotels.com
Protea Transit O.R. Tambo – proteahotels.com
Protea Wanderers – proteahotels.com
Radisson Blu Gautrain – radissonblu.com
Radisson Blu Sandton – radissonblu.com
Raphael Penthouse Suites – legacyhotels.co.za
Road Lodge Isando – citylodge.co.za
Road Lodge JHB Airport – citylodge.co.za
Road Lodge Randburg – citylodge.co.za
Road Lodge Rivonia – citylodge.co.za
Sandton Sun – tsogosunhotels.com
Southern Sun Gold Reef City – tsogosunhotels.com
Southern Sun Hyde Park – tsogosunhotels.com
Southern Sun Katherine Street – tsogosunhotels.com
Southern Sun Montecasino – tsogosunhotels.com
Southern Sun O.R. Tambo – tsogosunhotels.com
Southern Sun Silverstar – tsogosunhotels.com
Soweto Hotel – sowetohotel.co.za
Splice – urbanhiphotels.com
StayEasy Eastgate– tsogosunhotels.com
Sunsquare Montecasino – tsogosunhotels.com
SUN1 Alberton – tsogosunhotels.com
SUN1 Benoni – tsogosunhotels.com
SUN1 Berea – tsogosunhotels.com
SUN1 Edenvale – tsogosunhotels.com
SUN1 Midrand – tsogosunhotels.com
SUN1 O.R. Tambo – tsogosunhotels.com
SUN1 Southgate – tsogosunhotels.com
SUN1 Wynberg – tsogosunhotels.com
Sunnyside Park – legacyhotels.co.za  
Ten Bompas – tenbompas.com
The Airport Grand – legacyhotels.co.za  
The Capital Empire – thecapital.co.za
The Capital Esprit – thecapital.co.za
The Capital Hydro – thecapital.co.za
The Capital Moloko – thecapital.co.za
The Capital Villa – thecapital.co.za
The Capital 20 West – thecapital.co.za
The Devonshire – orionhotels.co.za
The Hamilton – thehamilton.co.za
The Maslow – suninternational.com
The Nicol – urbanhiphotels.com
The Parkwood – theparkwood.co.za
The Peech – thepeech.co.za
The Residence – theresidence.co.za
The Saxon – saxon.co.za
The Winston – thewinstonhotel.co.za
Tintswalo at Waterfall – tintswalo.com
Town Lodge JHB Airport – citylodge.co.za
Town Lodge Midrand – citylodge.co.za
Town Lodge Roodepoort – citylodge.co.za
Town Lodge Sandton Grayston – citylodge.co.za
Westpoint Executive Suites – executivesuites.co.za

CAPE TOWN
26 Sunset Ave Llandudno – 26sunsetavenue.com
African Pride 15 On Orange – proteahotels.com
African Pride Crystal Towers – proteahotels.com
Blackheath Lodge – blackheathlodge.co.za
Cape Grace – capegrace.co.za
Cape Royale – caperoyale.co.za
Cape Town Lodge – capetownlodge.co.za
City Lodge GrandWest – citylodge.co.za
City Lodge Pinelands – citylodge.co.za
City Lodge Waterfront – citylodge.co.za
Courtyard Cape Town – citylodge.co.za
Derwent House – derwenthouse.co.za
Double Tree by Hilton – doubletree3.hilton.com
Garden Court De Waal – tsogosunhotels.com
Garden Court Nelson Mandela – tsogosunhotels.com
GrandWest Casino – suninternational.com
Hilton Cape Town City Centre – hilton.com
Holiday Inn Express – holidayinn.com
Hotel Verde – hotelverde.com
Kensington Place – kensingtonplace.co.za
Last Word Constantia – thelastword.co.za
Last Word Long Beach – thelastword.co.za
Lawhill – lawhillluxuryapartments.com
Mount Nelson – mountnelson.co.za
New Kings Hotel – newkingshotel.co.za
One&Only – oneandonlyresorts.com
Park Inn by Radisson CT Foreshore – parkinn.com
Park Inn by Radisson Newlands – parkinn.com
Premier Cape Manor – premierhotels.co.za
Protea Breakwater Lodge – proteahotels.com
Protea Cape Castle – proteahotels.com
Protea  Durbanville – proteahotels.com
Protea  Fire & Ice! Cape Town – proteahotels.com
Protea  Island Club – proteahotels.com
Protea  North Wharf – proteahotels.com
Protea  President – proteahotels.com
Protea  Sea Point – proteahotels.com
Protea  Tyger Valley – proteahotels.com
Protea Victoria Junction – proteahotels.com
Radisson Blu Waterfront – radissonblu.com
Road Lodge CT Airport – citylodge.co.za
Road Lodge N1 City – citylodge.co.za
Southern Sun  Cape Sun – tsogosunhotels.com
Southern Sun The Cullinan – tsogosunhotels.com
Southern Sun Newlands – tsogosunhotels.com
Southern Sun  Waterfront – tsogosunhotels.com
StayEasy Century City – tsogosunhotels.com
SUN1 Foreshore – tsogosunhotels.com
SUN1 Milnerton – tsogosunhotels.com
SUN1 Parow – tsogosunhotels.com
Table Bay Hotel – suninternational.com
The Commodore – legacyhotels.co.za
The Hyde All-Suite Hotel – thehydehotel.com
The PortsWood – legacyhotels.co.za
The Westin – starwoodhotels.com
Three Cities Bantry Bay – threecities.co.za
Three Cities Inn On the Square – threecities.co.za
Three Cities Mandela Rhodes Place – threecities.co.za
Three Cities Peninsula All-Suite – threecities.co.za
Town Lodge Bellville – citylodge.co.za

DURBAN
African Pride Audacia Manor – proteahotels.com
Albany Hotel – albanyhotel.co.za
Beach Hotel – beachhotel.co.za
Belaire Suites – belairesuites.co.za
Beverly Hills Hotel – tsogosunhotels.com
Blue Waters Hotel – bluewatershotel.co.za
Cabana Beach Resort – tsogosunhotels.com
City Lodge Durban – citylodge.co.za
City Lodge Umhlanga – citylodge.co.za
Coastlands on the Ridge – coastlands.co.za
Emakhosini Boutique – emakhosinigroup.com
Endless Horizons – endlesshorizons.co.za
Florida Park Hotel – floridaparkhotel.co.za
Garden Court South Beach – tsogosunhotels.com
Garden Court Marine Parade – tsogosunhotels.com
Garden Court Umhlanga – tsogosunhotels.com
Hilton Durban – hilton.com
Holiday Inn Express – holidayinn.com
Parade Hotel – paradehotel.co.za
Parkview Hotel – parkviewhotel.co.za
Pavilion Hotel – pavilionhotel.co.za
Premier Hotel Pinetown – premierhotels.co.za  
Protea Hotel Edward – proteahotels.com
Protea Hotel Umhlanga – proteahotels.com
Protea Hotel Umhlanga Ridge – proteahotels.com
Quarters Florida – quarters.co.za
Riviera Hotel – rivierahoteldurban.co.za
Road Lodge Durban – citylodge.co.za
Road Lodge Umhlanga – citylodge.co.za
Saint James on Venice – stjamesonvenice.co.za
Sibaya – suninternational.com
Southern Sun Elangeni & Maharani – tsogosunhotels.com
Suncoast Towers – tsogosunhotels.com
Sunsquare Suncoast – tsogosunhotels.com
SUN1 Durban – tsogosunhotels.com
The Benjamin – benjamin.co.za
The Concierge – the-concierge.co.za
The Oyster Box – oysterboxhotel.com
The Royal Hotel – theroyal.co.za
Three Cities Auberge Hollandaise – threecities.co.za
Three Cities Riverside Hotel – threecities.co.za
Three Cities Royal Palm – threecities.co.za
Three Cities The Square – threecities.co.za
Three Cities Urban Park – threecities.co.za
Three Cities Waterfront – threecities.co.za
Umhlanga Sands Resort – tsogosunhotels.com

PRETORIA
African Pride Irene – proteahotels.com
Burgers Park Hotel – burgerspark.co.za
Carousel Casino – suninternational.com
Centurion Lake – legacyhotels.co.za  
City Lodge Hatfield – citylodge.co.za
City Lodge Lynwood – citylodge.co.za
Cornerstone Guest Lodge – cornerstonelodge.co.za
Court Classique Suites – courtclassique.co.za
Courtyard Arcadia – citylodge.co.za
Faircity Grosvenor Gardens – faircity.co.za
Faircity Roodevallei – faircity.co.za
Garden Court Hatfield – tsogosunhotels.com
Holiday Inn Express – holidayinn.com
Hoogland Health Hydro – hoogland.co.za
Illyria House – illyria.co.za
Kievits Kroon – kievitskroon.co.za
Lombardy – lombardy-hotel.co.za
Meintjieskop Guest House – meiguest.co.za
Morningstar Express – morningstarhotel.co.za
Premier Hotel Pretoria – premierhotels.co.za
Protea Capital – proteahotels.com
Protea Centurion – proteahotels.com
Protea Hatfield – proteahotels.com
Protea Manor – proteahotels.com
Road Lodge Centurion – citylodge.co.za
Sheraton Pretoria – starwoodhotels.com
Southern Sun Pretoria – tsogosunhotels.com
StayEasy Pretoria – tsogosunhotels.com
SUN1 Pretoria – tsogosunhotels.com
The Blades – theblades.co.za
The Farm Inn – farminn.co.za
The Manhattan – manhattanhotel.co.za
Town Lodge Menlo Park – citylodge.co.za

BLOEMFONTEIN
Anat Boga – antaboga.co.za
Bloem Spa – bloemspa.co.za
City Lodge Bloemfontein – citylodge.co.za
College Lodge – collegelodge.co.za
Corporate Boutique Hotel – cbhc.co.za
Emoya – emoya.co.za
Halevy Heritage – halevyheritage.com
Hobbit Boutique – hobbit.co.za
Protea Bloemfontein – proteahotels.com
Protea Bloemfontein Central – proteahotels.com
Protea Willow Lake – proteahotels.com
Road Lodge Bloemfontein Airport – citylodge.co.za
Southern Sun Bloemfontein – tsogosunhotels.com
Stanville Inn – stanville.co.za
SUN1 Bloemfontein – tsogosunhotels.com
The Golf Lodge – thegolflodge.co.za
The Urban – urbanhotel.co.za
Villa Bali Boutique – villabali.co.za
Windmill Lodge – suninternational.com

PORT ELIZABETH
5th Avenue Beach House – fifthave.co.za
African Pride Hacklewood Hill – proteahotels.com
Boardwalk Hotel & Casino – suninternational.com
Brookes Hill Suites – legacyhotels.co.za  
City Lodge Port Elizabeth – citylodge.co.za
Courtyard Port Elizabeth – citylodge.co.za
Garden Court Kings Beach – tsogosunhotels.com
Humerail – humerail.co.za
Isango Gate – isangogate.co.za
Kings – urbanhiphotels.com
Manor 38 – manorcollection.co.za
No5 Boutique Art Hotel – no5boutiquearthotel.com
Protea Hotel Marine – proteahotels.com
Radisson Blu Port Elizabeth – radissonblu.com
Road Lodge Port Elizabeth – citylodge.co.za
Road Lodge Port Elizabeth Airport – citylodge.co.za
Sir Roys at Sea – sirroys.co.za
Summerstrand Hotel – summerstrandhotel.co.za
SUN1 Port Elizabeth – tsogosunhotels.com
The Beach Hotel – thebeachhotel.co.za
The Hub – the-hub.co.za
The Humewood Hotel – humewoodhotel.co.za
The Kelway – thekelway.co.za
The Paxton – paxton.co.za
The Vic – urbanhiphotels.com
The Windermere – thewindermere.co.za
Town Lodge Port Elizabeth – citylodge.co.za

CAR RENTAL
Alamo – alamo.com
Avis – avis.co.za
Budget – budget.co.za
Cash – cashcarrental.co.za
Capital – capitalcarhire.co.za
Dollar – dollar.com
Drive – drivesouthafrica.co.za 
Drive Africa – driveafrica.co.za
Eco Car and Van Hire – ecocarhire.co.za
Europcar – europcar.com
Exeque – exequecarrental.co.za
First – firstcarrental.co.za
Hertz – hertz.co.za
National – nationalcar.com
Pace – pacecarrental.co.za
Pender – pender.co.za
Resq – resqrentacar.co.za
Rhino – rhinocarhire.com
Sixt – sixt.com
Tempest – tempestcarhire.co.za
Thrifty – thrifty.co.za
Top Notch – topnotch.co.za
TTE Shuttle – tteshuttle.co.za
Value – valuerentalcar.com
Wise Wheels – wisewheels.co.za
Woodford – woodford.co.za

TMC
Access-to-Africa – access-to-africa.com
America Express – americaexpresstravel.co.za
BCD – bcdtravel.com
Club – clubtravel.co.za
Corporate Traveller – corporatetraveller.co.za
CWT – carlsonwagonlit.com
Duma – dumatravel.co.za
FCm – fcm.travel
Harvey World – harveyworld.co.za
HRG Rennies – renniestravel.com
Indo Jet – indojettravel.co.za
Maties – matiestravel.co.za
SATC – satravelcentre.com
Seekers – seekers.co.za
Suretravel – suretravel.co.za
Travel with Flair – travelwithflair.co.za
Travel.co.za – travel.co.za
Uniglobe  – uniglobetravel.mu
Wings – wings.travel
XL Travel – xltravel.co.za