Air Mauritius Launches Stopover Packages

Air Mauritius has launched the Mauritius Stopover Plus Travel Package, which offers passengers up to two complimentary nights in Mauritius as part of their journey.

Air Mauritius regional manager, Southern Africa and Latin America, Carla da Silva, said: “Being a global carrier with an effective footprint in Australia, India, China, Malaysia, Europe, Africa and the Indian Ocean Islands, it is key for Air Mauritius to promote its beyond Mauritius destination strategy.”

Depending on the connectivity, Air Mauritius will pay for passengers to spend a night on the island on either a bed-and-breakfast or half-board basis. Passengers can choose to extend their stopover by adding an extra night or two.

The Mauritius Stopover Plus Package lets passengers choose from approximately 16 hotels, ranging between three and five stars, and located on the west, east, north and south coasts. Urban hotels in Port Louis have also been included to meet the needs of corporate travellers wishing conduct business meetings, en route to London, Paris, Australia, Malaysia, etc.

“While the new stopover package is a tremendous value-add to all our passengers, as well as a unique selling point for the airline, seamless connectivity is still available on certain routes. Consumers can thus choose not to make use of the offering, or enjoy it on one leg of their journey only.

“A family of four, can expect to save as much as R5 500, at the current rate of exchange. So why not book now and expand your holiday horizons to include quad biking, cycling, abseiling, snorkelling, scuba diving, archery and mountain climbing, to name but a few,” said Carla.

A review of SAA’s Platinum services

Some say it’s a blessing to be seated in the first few rows of the economy cabin; some say it’s a curse. But there’s a certain feeling you have when you take your seat in economy and you’re able to view the business class cabin. Is it jealousy as you view business class passengers sipping their Moet & Chandon? Is it longing for the spacious seats and adequate elbow room? Is it the mere legroom, the thought of arriving in London without bruises on your knees?

Perhaps the United Airlines passenger row had something to do with having a view on business class legroom.

The VIP experience with SAA starts long before boarding the plane, in fact, as a Platinum client you have access to the dedicated Voyager Platinum Call centre. Big deal? Absolutely! The staff at Platinum may just surprise you with their skills, not to mention knowledge. The booking process is actually pleasurable, and rumour has it SAA Special services are inclined to pay a little more attention to a request sent from the Platinum desk – making those VIP requests and waitlists easier, not to mention upgrades! Yep – it’s true, if economy class is fully booked and a Platinum client is left in economy, there’s a pretty good chance a Platinum client my find themselves in business class on boarding.

Airport services takes travelling to a whole new level. Did you think the VIP’s are the lucky devils queuing at business class check in? You’d be mistaken. SAA Platinum services actually provides a curb-side check in service where the very important don’t have to mingle with us mere mortals.

Imagine pulling up to the check in counter in your chauffeur driven Mercedes (courtesy of SAA to their Platinum clients), with SAA staff rushing to the car with luggage trolleys. It’s true – the only thing missing is paparazzi and screaming fans. Once in the building, take a comfortable seat, and perhaps sip a cappuccino as you’re checked in without lifting a finger. The staff smile like they do in adverts, and you think to yourself… this is where they’ve been hiding! The SAA staff will even have your bags wrapped for you – after all, the sole purpose of their existence in this secret road side check in counter is your comfort. Platinum even get’s you extra baggage allowance, a courtesy which is extended by all star alliance partners. You ‘ll only see your bags in London again, handled with care and attention thanks to that bright orange sticker “Priority Baggage” and just like that you’re free to make your way through customs and onwards to the lounge – even before you’ve finished your cappuccino.

Just before you reckon the travel experience is off the charts ridiculous, bearing in mind you actually haven’t boarded the plane yet, Priority Travel bumped up the VIP experience with a Fast Track through the queues at customs. Indeed, those long windy queues of people is avoidable with a dedicated customs clerk for diplomats which Priority Travel is able to arrange for their super duper important clients. Alright, I admit, the service is payable and surprisingly doesn’t cost as much as you’d think – but totally worth every penny as you whisk past the economy travellers.

Most of us may know that business class passengers head off to airport lounges before departure, and a few of us are even savvy enough to know that your local bank card may get you into the likes of the Bidvest lounge or Slow Lounge at Or Tambo. What you probably don’t know is that SAA owns two lounges at OR Tambo, the business class Baobab lounge and the Cycad First Class Lounge (Featured picture above). The latter reserved exclusively for Platinum clients only – even your business class seat on SAA won’t get you in.

What’s inside you may ask? Well.. not only quiet, comfort and solitude ahead of your long flight. The Cycad lounge offers every conceivable service imaginable. Ever heard of sleeping pods? – special low lit rooms for cat naps. There’s also a full business centre complete with boardrooms and meeting rooms. Shower rooms, with full shower facilities including plush towels. The food and beverage service is not quite that buffet counter of pre-packed mass produced nonsense – there’s a menu, there’s a waiter – again, their existence is purely for your comfort.  You don’t lift a finger.

Overall, the quality of food, personalised attention and friendly service received makes racking up those voyager miles seem like the logical thing to do. With Platinum in mind, I’d support SAA any day to secure my lifetime seat in luxury.

Boarding SAA’s new business class cabin, and being introduced to my host for the evening I could only roll my eyes in amazement as I felt sorry for the unlucky passenger in view of the business class cabin.

I simply couldn’t wait to get comfortable in my lie flat bed, complete with duvet and decent pillows as I tuck in for the evening.

All this luxury is exhausting after all…

Getting to Platinum:

Priority Travel offers a special voyager tracking service – to help you get to Platinum.  Monitoring your travel spend with SAA and offering an advisory service on which fares to book in order to secure your Platinum card for the next year.

How to get to Platinum:

  • 100,000 Tier miles per year
  • 6 Years in Platinum secures lifetime Platinum membership
  • Or 100,000 Tier miles on SAA only secures lifetime Platinum membership.

Benefits of Platinum:

  • Dedicated Voyager Platinum Call Centre
  • Priority waitlist
  • Chauffer service
  • Specialised curb side check in at Or Tambo
  • Extra baggage allowance
  • Preferential seating
  • Airport Upgrades
  • Dedicated airport lounge
  • Companion Cards

Winelands vineyard introduces farm-stay experience

Boschendal, between Franschhoek and Stellenbosch, is launching a new farm-stay experience in South Africa’s Winelands region fromDecember 15.

In line with its vision to restore its legacy, renovated Cape Dutch labourer cottages bring to life the working farm, where visitors’ experience will be about connecting with the land, its produce and its heritage.

Guest cottages are rural yet contemporary and are ideal for families, groups of friends and couples, ranging from a five-bedroom Rhodes Cottage, a National Heritage Site built by Sir Herbert Baker for Cecil Rhodes, to the Orchard Cottages, a series of one- and two-bedroom cottages with an outdoor dining area for braais, a large swimming pool and a setting among the plum trees. Adjacent to the historic Werf, the seven one-bedroom Werf cottages are within walking distance of the restaurant and deli.

Also being restored is Boschendal’s Cape Dutch Werf, which incorporates the original Manor House. A farmshop and deli in the original wagon house will offer breakfasts, light seasonal lunches and afternoon teas. It will stock wholesome farm produce and delicatessen products that include Boschendal extra virgin olive oil, Black Angus beef home-made bread, jams and preserves. Picnic baskets can also be made up for guests.

The Werf Restaurant will offer tasting of naturally grown produce from Boschendal’s bio-friendly farms to pair with its wines from the 200-year-old Cape Dutch Cellar. At lunchtime the help-yourself harvest table will see chefs, led by executive chef Christian Campbell, putting the final touches to meals at interactive food counters.

With access to Boschendal’s 2 200ha farm, guests staying in the cottages can join farm and history tours, follow trails through orchards, stopping off to pick pears, plums and citrus fruits, depending on the season. There are mountain biking trails, wine tasting and cellar tours, and trout fishing and swimming in the dams.

A New Study from Timetric

A New Study from Timetric Ranks Scandinavians as the World’s Most-Travelled People, the US as the Largest Domestic Tourism Market and China as Having the Most Outbound Trips in 2013

According to Timetric’s new data, Scandinavians travel the most, with the four Nordic countries all in the top five. The Finns top the chart with an average of 7,5 trips per person a year, followed by Sweden (6), Denmark (5,3) and Norway (5,2).

According to Arnie van Groesen, travel and tourism analyst at Timetric, the reason Scandies travel so much comes down to money, weather and holiday traditions: “People in Scandinavia can afford more trips due to high incomes and relatively low unemployment rates. Cost of living is relatively expensive in Scandinavian countries, meaning that if they go abroad they’ll often get more value for money. The weather conditions make them attracted to less severe conditions in the southern part of the world, such as the Spanish beaches.” Norwegians make two international trips a year on average, the highest in Europe.

The average American takes 6,7 trips a year. A large majority of these are domestic trips, making the US the largest domestic tourism market in the world in volume terms. International travel is very limited. Only one in every five Americans makes an international trip a year and fewer than half of Americans own a passport.

Van Groesen said: “Going abroad is costly and the US is such a vast country it doesn’t lack things to see and do.” He said visiting friends and family was the main reason for domestic trips, as many Americans live in a different state from the one where they grew up, making it natural for them to travel back multiple times a year, with Thanksgiving and Christmas being peak periods. Many Americans and others from more excluded parts of the world, such as Australia, prefer to take longer and fewer trips abroad.

People from Hong Kong are the sixth most-travelled in the world. Although domestic tourism is almost nonexistent, the average Hong Kong national takes 4,3 outbound trips a year, 74% of these to China. Mexico ranks surprisingly high, performing better than all the BRIC countries. Domestic tourism, especially, is very popular with 1,7 domestic trips a year.

China has the highest amount of total outbound trips with 97,3 million trips in 2013. The ratio, however, is very low as the majority of the Chinese population don’t take international trips at all, but those who do, travel frequently.

Africa to become surfing capital of the world

According to the WTM Global Trends Report 2014 in association with Euromonitor International, many emerging tourism destinations in Africa have identified surfing as a target market, released World Travel Market on Monday.

Estimates suggest that some 35 million people across the world are regular surfers. Traditionally more popular in the Americas, Europe and Australasia, surfing is also growing in popularity across African countries, benefiting intra-regional and domestic travel. The WTM Global Trends Report 2014 suggests that “combining a surf holiday with traditional African tourist attractions such as safaris is an effective way for travel retailers to attract older surfers who are prepared to spend more”.

However, concerns over the possible spread of the Ebola virus could have a negative impact.

South Africa has an established reputation with the international surfing community but other countries are gaining a foothold. Sierra Leone hosted a week-long competition and festival this September while Ghana will host the Africa Surf Series next year.

Some specialist tour operators are already active in the region the report reveals. Family surfing holidays in Madagascar, Zanzibar and Mozambique are available from South African tour operator All Aboard Travel, while UK-based Errant Surf includes Morocco, Ghana, South Africa and Mozambique among its surf adventures itineraries. Other countries with potential include Liberia, Cote d’Ivoire, Cape Verde and Senegal.

The International Surfing Association has made expansion of the sport on the continent a major priority, aiming to stimulate and develop local economies by increasing tourism and creating new jobs.

“If surf tourism is developed in a sustainable fashion, it can lead to improvements in health care, education, job opportunities and infrastructure,” said the association’s Africa adviser Sean Brody. “Additionally, the sport of surfing acts as a catalyst for peacekeeping, since the youth have a positive activity to focus on.”

Euromonitor International, Head of Travel and Tourism, Caroline Bremner added: “Overall, we see tourism in Africa benefiting from solid economic expansion and a strengthening transport infrastructure in terms of hotel openings and flight connections. Surfing can capitalise on this and be a significant driving force for development across the continent’s coastal communities.”

New Visa Regulations for South Africa

On 1 June 2015 new visa regulations will come into effect.
The new requirements stipulate that foreigners who want to visit SA must apply for visas in person at South African embassies abroad. Visitors will also need to have their biometric data captured at an embassy. Parents and guardians travelling in or out of the country with minors, must be in possession of an unabridged birth certificate showing both parents’ details. This condition applies to children 17 years old and under.” – ENCA.
Read the full story here.
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