Tuesday, May 05, 2009
Singita, South Africa's best
Opulent décor decor and excellent service accompanied by some of the best game viewing in South Africa make Singita arguably the most exquisite game lodge in the country. Located both in the Sabi Sand Game Reserve as well as in a private concession within Kruger National Park, Singita offers five distinctive accommodation choices, each with a common lodge and an outcropping of guest suites. What sets Singita apart from scores of other safari lodges is not just dramatic décordecor, but an attention to detail that’s painstakingly maintained in the game experience itself. Rangers who oversee your game drives possess an astounding mental history of migrations and herds within the region, and will entertain you with firsthand tales from the bush as you make your way through the savannah.
Singita is composed of five unique lodges, each an entity unto itself, with a common area and 10- to 12 suites each. While each they all offers a similar experience and the same high quality of food and service, they differ by décor decor and mood. Ebony offers perhaps the most traditional, “Out of Africa–”-like experience; heavy four-poster beds, double-sided fireplaces, and massive teak decks with private plunge pools echo ancient Africa and a wildlife-rich bush experience. The white leather and linen of Boulders is not far off, offering a more starkly modern accommodation with a similar bush experience. Sweni— -- on the banks of a river— -- and the very contemporary Lebombo (with dramatic lofts set into a cliff of falling water) are for those seeking a more secluded setting with less active game drives, while Castleton is ideal for small gatherings like wedding parties or family reunions.
Rangers walk you around the property to ensure that stray wildlife doesn’t get too close; and staff here is happy to wait on you, but they don’t fawn over you. Rangers are top-notch; they’re well-versed in the habits of local wildlife and show real enthusiasm tracking animals.
Dine on in the privacy of your private deck, or join other guests on the common deck as you choose from a buffet of South African and international fare such as fresh fruit, green salad, ostrich fillets and bobotie (a sort of South African Shepherd’s shepherd’s Piepie). And you’ll never go thirsty: Singita claims the best bush cellar in Africa, with over more than 12,000 bottles buried in a rock beneath the lodge. Still, you come here to see game, and here you’re unlikely to see clusters of Land Rovers roaming the wilderness looking for animals. Drives are often very exciting, as you can drive off-road and at night, and it’s not uncommon to spot a black rhino or a large pride of lion. Better still, take a one-on-one guided bush walk and return for cocktails on the verandah, drinking a glass of chilled Cabernet as the sky’s glowing fireball slowly sinks below the green horizon.
I had simply three of my greatest days at Singita!
Sunday, May 03, 2009
1 May 2009 -- World Health Organisation (WHO) is not recommending travel restrictions related to the outbreak of the influenza A(H1N1) virus. Today, international travel moves rapidly, with large numbers of individuals visiting various parts of the world. Limiting travel and imposing travel restrictions would have very little effect on stopping the virus from spreading, but would be highly disruptive to the global community.
Influenza A(H1N1) has already been confirmed in many parts of the world. The focus now is on minimizing the impact of the virus through the rapid identification of cases and providing patients with appropriate medical care, rather than on stopping its spread internationally. Furthermore, although identifying the signs and symptoms of influenza in travellers can be an effective monitoring technique, it is not effective in reducing the spread of influenza as the virus can be transmitted from person to person before the onset of symptoms. Scientific research based on mathematical modelling indicates that restricting travel will be of limited or no benefit in stopping the spread of disease. Historical records of previous influenza pandemics, as well as experience with SARS, have validated this point.
Travellers can protect themselves and others by following simple recommendations related to travel aimed at preventing the spread of infection. Individuals who are ill should delay travel plans and returning travellers who fall ill should seek appropriate medical care. These recommendations are prudent measures which can limit the spread of many communicable diseases and not only influenza A(H1N1).
The National Business Travel Association (NBTA) released a report highlighting the most recent impacts of the economic crisis on global business travel. In a March 2009 survey of 119 corporate travel managers, NBTA found that nearly 85 percent of respondent companies have decreased travel spend since October 2008, and more than 70 percent expected continued decreases through 2009. In response to cut backs, 53 percent of respondents report that new travel management initiatives have saved companies more than US$50,000 since October 2009.
According to the NBTA report, the top five travel management initiatives to cut costs are:
1. Overall Travel & Entertainment budget cuts
2. Encouraging or requiring less air travel
3. Sending fewer employees to conventions/conferences/trade shows
4. Emphasizing advance purchase of air tickets
5. Strengthening travel policy mandates, enforcement of travel policies
Kevin Maguire, CCTE, GLP, NBTA President & CEO, said, “In a time when corporations are suffering because of a down economy, traveling smarter becomes a top priority. This report shows that during a recession, an efficient travel management program is key to saving money while still keeping travelers on the road to help bolster revenue. Corporate travel managers are coming to the rescue when corporate cost heroes are needed most.”
The NBTA report reveals a confidence in travel management, as 63 percent of respondents feel secure in their current positions. While half of those respondents believe their companies value their positions more than ever in a cost cutting economy, nearly 20 percent have reported reduced travel staff in recent months.
Maguire commented, “The current value placed on travel managers is not surprising given the effective policy changes and savings companies are seeing. It is those companies that do eliminate and reduce travel staff that will risk losing more money in the long run.”
Survey respondents also indicated that both the economy and recent negative perception of corporate meetings and events have been major factors in reduced spend for meetings, conferences, incentives and client events despite the fact that 85 percent report offsite strategy meetings and leadership conferences as an important part of their companies’ business planning and talent-development process.
Maguire added, “The combination of cost-cutting measures due to the economy and perception-driven reductions is devastating the corporate travel and meetings industry. NBTA and other travel industry leaders have been fighting this negative perception of meetings for the very reason survey respondents indicate - meetings and conferences are vital to a company’s strategic planning process and revenue stream. These results only further justify spend on corporate events to not only boost profits, but also to boost the economy.”