/ 31 January 2007

SA dominates World Travel Awards nominations

Guests at The Saxon hotel, in the northern suburbs of Johannesburg, can listen to music while under water in the pool. It’s one of the tiny details — along with the koi ponds surrounding the luxury suites, the selection of biltong served with every cocktail and the stone water feature crisply running through the spa — that makes this hotel one of the best on the continent.

Along with other leading hotels such as the Table Bay Hotel in Cape Town and the Melrose Arch Hotel in Johannesburg, The Saxon has been nominated for six World Travel Awards, contributing to South Africa’s reputation as one of the best tourist destinations in Africa.

But whether it’s sunbathing on the deck of a metropolitan hotel, spotting game on safari or teeing off at beautifully landscaped golf courses, South Africa may well be the leading travel destination on the African continent.

The country’s tourism industry — including its airlines, resorts and convention centres — has been nominated for yearly World Travel Awards in 29 categories in the Africa section, with more than one South African nominee in each category.

Established in 1993, the World Travel Awards acknowledge and reward achievement in all sectors of the global travel industry — the world’s fastest-growing industry. Awards are given to regions, including Africa, the Caribbean, the Americas and the Middle East.

Last year, South Africa won awards in 12 of the 18 categories at the time, including Africa’s leading spa resort (Pezula Resort Hotel and Spa) and Africa’s leading hotel (Mount Nelson). This year’s Africa and Middle East winners will be announced on March 12 in Abu Dhabi.


Mountains rolling on to gorgeous beaches or the millions of yearly visits to its waterfront made Cape Town attractive enough to be nominated — for the second time — for Africa’s leading destination, competing with Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania and the Serengeti.

Perhaps the Mother City’s magnetism lies in its hotels. Four of the continents leading and most luxurious hotels line the city’s coast — the Table Bay, Twelve Apostles, Mount Nelson and the Cape Grace are all nominated for Africa’s leading hotel.

The best masseuses, pedicurists and seaweed wrappers in Africa are evidently to be found in the Cape too, where four spas and wellness centres are nominated for Africa’s leading spa resorts.

South African Airways (SAA) is also nominated for three awards, including Africa’s leading airline, a title it won last year.

”A great deal of research, time and resources goes into this, and it is heartening to see this work is consistently being recognised by such leading awards,” SAA spokesperson Jacqui O’Sullivan told the Mail & Guardian Online.

New category

There is also a new category in this year’s World Travel Awards. Two South African airlines have been nominated for the leading budget/no-frills airline.

The quirky (”anyone caught smoking on this flight will be escorted off the aircraft immediately”) group kulula.com, known for its ingenious marketing and branding schemes, competes with Mango, which was launched in 2006 and charges a meagre R150 for some local flights.

OR Tambo International Airport and Cape Town International Airport have been nominated for Africa’s leading airport, competing with the likes of Bole International Airport in Ethiopia and Cairo International in Egypt.

For gamblers, resorts such as the Palace at the Lost City at Sun City, D’oreale Grande at Emperors Palace and InterContinental Palazzo at Montecasino are lavish havens close to the buzz and sparkle of the slot machines and roulette tables — reasons why all three have been nominated for Africa’s leading casino resort.

Nine of South Africa’s safari providers — such as Londolozi Private Game Reserve and Mala Mala Game Reserve — are nominated, proving that the country is a primary destination for wildlife and eco-tourism.

And if tourists still have no idea what they are looking for, SA Tourism — nominated for Africa’s leading tourist and convention bureau — will guide them through the savannas of the north, the scorching Karoo desert and the valleys of the Cape Fold Mountains.