5 Unmissable Festivals

Travelling can be the most fun when it’s done to experience something unique. By “being there” for an annual event which is like no other (thanks to its rare tradition), you become part of its special history. What’s more, you don’t have to regret missing out on the fun or the inspiration that comes with taking part in something so memorable.

Here is a selection of festivals from around the globe which we think offers something for everyone. All of these festivals are large and popular (for different reasons) so you are sure to experience the WOW factor at all of them. Maybe it’s time to try out something new? After all, travel broadens the mind and having fun is just… FUN!

Sky Lantern Festival – Taiwan
3.png
Our calendar of must-see festivals begins in February at the Sky Lantern Festival in Taiwan. This peaceful festival has been going for thousands of years, with its tradition starting somewhere between 300BC and 200AD! Lanterns were originally used by towns and the military to signal danger or safety to others and we’re all really lucky that this wonderful tradition has been kept alive.

Travel to the island of Taiwan to be filled with fuzzy, happy feelings while watching tens of thousands of lanterns float off, illuminating the night sky (I wouldn’t want to have a thatch roof there)! The festival often has wonderful fireworks displays as a cherry on the top.

Our Package For You:
5 nights from R14 500 per person sharing

Valid from 01 – 28 February 2019.
Subject to availability and currency fluctuations.

Included in your holiday:

  • Return airfare from Johannesburg
  • 5 nights’ accommodation in Taipei
  • Daily breakfast
  • Enjoy releasing a sky lantern at Shifen and visit Ningxia Night Market to experience the nightlife of Taipei

For more information, call 087 808 2000 or click here.

Rio Carnival – Brazil
4.png

From a very peaceful celebration, we move south to Rio de Janeiro for an event that is definitely more boisterous! The Rio Carnival takes place just before Lent each year where millions (yes, millions!) of tourists flock to the sunny paradise for days filled with entertainment. Bright outfits and loud music fill the beachside streets in this incredible celebration.

When you are there make sure you take part in loads of outdoor dance classes as dancing and music are what this festival is really about. If dancing isn’t something you’d like to do, simply witnessing this amazing sight which attracts around 2 million people each day will definitely give you loads of life-long memories.

Our Package For You:
5 nights from R13 900 per person sharing

For departures 01 March – 10 March 2019.
Subject to availability and currency fluctuations.

Included in your holiday:

  • Return airfare from Johannesburg
  • 5 nights’ accommodation at the Copacabana Rio Hotel
  • Daily breakfast
  • Estimated airport taxes

For more information, call 087 808 2000 or click here.

St. Patrick’s Day – Ireland
8.png

If the Rio Carnival sounds like it may be a bit too loud for you, consider heading over to Ireland to take part in the St. Patrick’s Day celebrations on 17 March every year. Don’t expect this celebration to be any less festive though, as the Irish really love to celebrate the death of their foremost patron saint (Saint Patrick)!

The festival, which is all about dressing up in green clothing, drinking Guinness beer and eating good food, has become so popular that it is now the most widely celebrated national festival in the world! So, why not head over to Dublin to experience the real thing in March next year?

Our Package For You:
5 nights from R14 500 per person sharing

Valid for departure 10 March 2019.
Subject to availability and currency fluctuations.

Included in your holiday:

  • Return airfare from Johannesburg
  • 5 nights’ accommodation in Dublin
  • Daily breakfast
  • Skip the queue at the Guinness Storehouse

For more information, call 087 808 2000 or click here.

Oktoberfest – Germany
9.png

The Munich Bierfest really is a sight to behold! Millions of visitors go to the wonderfully decorated festival grounds in Munich for non-stop entertainment that runs every day for 16 consecutive days in September/October each year. What many people don’t realise is that this spectacle isn’t just about beer! There is a theme park where kiddies can have an amazing time and the great food is also a big part of Bierfest tradition, with pretzels, sausages and chickens the order of the day.

If you are up for a lot of socializing, some bumper cars, large crowds of merry people and Bavarian outfits then this is the festival for you.

Our Package For You:
5 nights from R16 300 per person sharing

Valid for departure 20 September 2018, strictly for under 35s.
Subject to availability and currency fluctuations.

Included in your holiday:

  • Return airfare from Johannesburg
  • 5 nights’ accommodation in Munich
  • Daily breakfast
  • Transfers to and from the festival

For more information, call 087 808 2000 or click here.

Cape Town International Jazz Festival – South Africa
11.png
Taking place in March every year, normally around Human Rights Day – 21 March, people come together on the streets of Cape Town to embrace different cultures in a very festive musical extravaganza! Visitors get to enjoy the sounds of world-class jazz (of course) and performances of blues, bluegrass and Ghoema can also be heard.

Part of the magic of this festival is the free outdoor concert, in Greenmarket Square, which is an unmissable event thanks to amazing weather, a vibrant crowd and some of the best jazz on the planet. A huge number of performances can also be enjoyed, in the Cape Town International Convention Centre, over two days which never fail to sell out!

Make March 2019 a magical month by heading to Cape Town to experience this gathering of talented, entertaining performers in the Mother City’s beautiful surroundings.

Our Package For You:
3 nights from R5 300 per person sharing

Valid from 01 March – 31 March 2019.
Subject to availability and currency fluctuations.

Included in your holiday:

  • Return airfare from Johannesburg
  • 3 nights’ accommodation in Cape Town
  • Daily breakfast
  • 1-Day Hop on hop off City Sightseeing bus ride
  • Estimated airport taxes

For more information, call 087 808 2000 or click here.

We hope this blog has inspired you to try something new which will be fun, entertaining, fulfilling and more! These festivals capture the beauty, passion and love of some truly unique cultures so why not have a mind-blowing experience where you’ll get to learn and understand more about these great traditions? Happy travels!!

Advertisements

FUN FIT FAB

Who doesn’t like to go on a holiday? The chance to have an enjoyable break from your usual routine by getting away somewhere special is something that we all love to do.

On trips like these sightseeing or relaxing are often top-of-mind but for most of us staying fit definitely isn’t important. Here are some ideas about getting fit on holiday (enjoyably), while having enough time to do everything else that you were looking forward to doing.

Attack the day

WAIT! Before you shut down your computer or turn off your phone please hear us out. Yes… we are suggesting waking up early on holiday but we are not asking you to do this every day of your trip.

Once you’ve arrived and settled down in your accommodation, have a look at a weather report and pick the best mornings of your trip to wake up early. Then see how each evening pans out and only get up early the next day if you haven’t had a really late night (see, we aren’t being drill sergeants here). So, on those one or two mornings you do wake up early, why not take in the perfect weather and peaceful early morning surroundings with a bit of healthy exercise? Exploring on long walks or cycling are great ways to do this. You can either explore starting from your accommodation or you might want to travel to a place of interest and then walk or cycle around there.

Off 1 (1).png

This is one of the best ways to discover great sights which could even include beautiful streets that you normally wouldn’t have come across. In large mountain ranges like the Drakensberg, you might even find a mountain stream or river that you could have an early morning dip in. If you are at the beach, a swim in the waves is one of the best ways to freshen up and start your day well. After that, head home for a well-deserved coffee, brunch or even an early nap before enjoying the rest of the day.

Use nature as your gym

Wherever you decide to go on holiday, even if it is in the middle of a large city, there will always be loads of “natural gym equipment” for you to use. Large tree roots can be the perfect place for some push-ups, stairs are great for a leg workout and there’s always a rock lying around that can be picked up or even “bench pressed” if you are feeling up to it! Don’t forget that a simple lawn is great for doing some yoga.

If those activities sound like too much of an effort (or not enough fun), having a swim in a pool, dam or the ocean is an incredible workout. It doesn’t have to be strenuous and it doesn’t have to be for ages either but a little splash around works more muscles than any other workout! You can even float your way to better health as staying warm in water burns loads of calories. Now doesn’t that sound like a plan?!

Off 1 (2).png

Go to a local gym

Ok, maybe you just rolled your eyes… especially if you’ve never been to a gym before. Respecting that we won’t go any further for those readers who are “allergic” to gyms. For the gym lovers out there, however, why not have a great workout at the nearest local gym? You should be able to pay per visit or there may even be a discounted bundle rate. After a great workout food will taste that much better, you’ll enjoy your naps even more and you’ll also sleep better at night.

Off 1 (3).png

Sleep well

We just felt your relief, in fact… was that you that we just heard sighing?!

“Now this is something that I can enjoy doing” is what you are probably thinking and that’s great because sleeping well has a number of major health benefits. Only two-thirds of all adults get enough sleep and going on holiday is a perfect chance to catch up if you are behind on sleep. A great sleep allows your muscles to heal, it gives your mind a much-needed break and it helps to increase your energy levels for the following day (for more exercise)!

Off 1 (4).png

We hope that these ideas help you to enjoy your holidays even more. Being fresh from a great sleep, yoga or a de-stressing workout will only help you to feel better… which will help you to enjoy the rest of your holiday even more. Why not indulge in that 3rd crumpet if you’ve earned it with an early morning stroll?

Happy travels everyone. We hope that by following these tips your holidays have an interesting new side to them and that you return home happier and healthier than ever before. Break a leg 😉

Fashionably Free Fun

Time spent with kids or grandkids is always special. Although they can demand quite a lot of energy (wanting to do every possible activity) it doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg to entertain them.

Here’s our guide to keeping kiddies very happy… without breaking the bank.

Fill a time capsule – Now this is fun, especially if you keep visiting the same resort of ours over and over!

Get everyone involved in creating a time capsule – which could include letters to your future self, a recent newspaper, photographs, your favourite CD (if you still use them) or maybe even a USB that is full of things you love. Kids will definitely love getting involved in this and the anticipation when they return to find the time capsule is always such fun. Just don’t forget to dig it up! Keeping this in mind, please chat with the Manager at the resort to see if he/she is happy with you burying your time capsule on the property. If not, bury it somewhere you always visit while on holiday like at a dam you often visit or along a hiking trail that you enjoy walking.

11.png

When entertaining kids at home, do a clean-up of your neighbourhood or visit people in need – Teach your kids a bit of social responsibility while getting them to appreciate what they have. South Africa, for example, is covered in litter and it’s damaging our beautiful planet at an alarming rate. Get out with the kids and show them how to give back to the community by doing something like cleaning up – they will feel great afterwards! Another thing you can do, which may not be 100% free but can be affordable, is take them to spend some time with people or animals who might be less fortunate, such as an orphanage or an SPCA. Take something small with you to donate, maybe even some things you have lying around the house that you don’t use anymore? This will help them to appreciate what they have, they will learn something in the process and you never know – they may want to start doing things like this more often. There is no better feeling than giving to those in need!

20.png

Play board games – What could be better than watching your children or grandchildren work out a puzzle or problem? For some of us, maybe choosing to beat them (if we are feeling slightly mean) might be better 😉  but hey, the age-old pass time of board games is definitely not enjoyed often enough! In this techno-everything world, be one of the reasons that your children appreciate interacting with each other by teaching them how fun this competitive form of entertainment can be. Games like Jenga, Monopoly and 30 Seconds can give you hours of entertainment whether you are at home or on holiday somewhere. Top tip: When you are at one of our resorts, ask Reception what board games you can borrow.

18.png

Read your favourite children’s story – Books should be read to children on holiday – they aren’t just for school after all. For a child or grandchild, the person reading the story to them is just as important as the story itself. Give them these super happy memories by reading whatever they would be interested to hear (hopefully, a story that you are also fond of). Their reactions might just entertain you more than you expected. So don’t forget to make use of the great libraries at our properties!

Blog size Images (9).png

Make homemade greeting cards – This activity really is a great thing to do. By making cards with your kids or grand-kids, you’re fostering their creativity, allowing them to appreciate how sentimental cards can be and… you can use the unique cards next time you need some 😉 What’s also great about card making is that they can be kept, a wonderful way for your kiddies to hold onto the special times that they’ve enjoyed with you. Another great thing about making cards is that you can do it anywhere! So don’t forget to pack your supplies when visiting one of our properties!

Have a photo-taking competition – When you’re on holiday at one of our resorts, take your kids or grand-kids on a walk around the property to take snaps of things that you have nominated as landmarks. If they love technology, maybe bring it into the mix by using Instagram to share your photo taking competition – you never know how many people might take interest in your adventure! You can even ask the kids to walk around the garden, taking imaginative images of what they see around them, before posting the photos on Instagram to see who gets the most likes 😊 AND the winner can get a prize.

If your kids are too small to be on social media, you can still teach them how a camera works by walking around one of our resorts, taking pictures of what you come across and showing them how the photos come out. They will be absolutely enthralled! If that sounds like too much energy, download the Snapchat app and have some fun taking images of yourselves pulling funny faces with the creative filters you can find in the app. It’s sure to have tears running down your face from laughter!

21.png

Play hopscotch & other outdoor games – Unfortunately, these days, lots of kids don’t spend enough time outside – playing in the sun. Take them back to the good old days by locking those phones/tablets/laptops away to get outside for some catch, cricket or hopscotch. They may complain for the first 10 minutes but the fresh air and family laughs will definitely put a smile on their faces, PLUS you will have some fun stories to talk about around the dinner table. “Remember that time James fell while trying to catch the ball?”… and the whole family will laugh and reminisce 😉

14.png

We hope this helps you plan for when the little ones visit or go on holiday with you – it’s always a good idea to plan ahead and have a few activities lined up. Making things even better, these activities don’t cost much to do and they are great for getting kids to do healthy things that they might miss out on in their normal routines.

Stay Connected

For some of us, going to the farthest corner of the globe to get away from it all sounds like absolute bliss. For the more tech and social media-savvy, this could be a real nightmare as staying in touch with your besties or followers is not negotiable!

Here are some ideas on how to stay connected with the special people in your life while having a great time on holiday… After all, sharing is caring.

Check-in on social media

So, you’ve just arrived and your chalet or apartment has a magical view of the shimmering ocean. You want to capture and share how super spacious it is along with describing the feeling of liberation that you have from being away from the hustle and bustle of city life and your usual routine. Without a doubt, this is something really special to share with your friends and family online – simply inquire at Reception to get the WiFi password, switch on “location” on your smartphone, snap a selfie and do a Facebook check-in. Don’t forget to add your quirky caption and tag the resort you are at.

If you are after being even more connected than that, use Spaces to spend some time with any of your friends (wherever they are on earth) in your holiday accommodation! Spaces uses virtual reality to create live-streaming holograms (in a virtual reality space) of people you are connected with. Isn’t that cool?!

1.png

Snap, share and socialise

Now the real fun starts. You begin receiving messages which are from friends around the globe who are super happy for you after seeing your check-in online. It seems like your Facebook check-in managed to create major hype and the love from your friends just does not stop coming in. They request ongoing updates about your day ahead and they especially ask for a Facebook Live video so that they can share in all the adventures that lie ahead. With so much to see and discover here’s how you can embrace your experience whilst staying in touch:

  • Go on a fun photo-taking spree, capturing the special moments of saddling up for a horse ride, driving around the scenic surroundings, and enjoying a game drive. With augmented reality filters, you can even use a special chip on new cell phone models to project an image of a celebrity sitting or standing next to you. This cool trick will let you take photos featuring whoever you like that look real.
  • Gather the pictures from your day and if you are feeling creative, use a grid application to make a collage of your photo memories. This can be shared later from the comfort of your apartment or chalet
  • Upload these images onto Facebook and tag your travel mates
  • Caption and share each special moment.

Don’t forget, you’ve done a good deed by sharing your experience on our Facebook pages as other travellers can use this information to make the best possible decisions about their future holidays.

2.png

Create your own hashtag

Share a glimpse of your travel destination on Instagram with other social media enthusiasts by telling a story through your pictures LIVE. You can do this while experiencing a barge cruise, admiring the breathtaking scenery or just relaxing on a lounger sipping your favourite cocktail – it’s very easy. Make whatever hashtag you like but try to make it catchy while having some fun!  You can even engage with any friends who might be online with an instastory (a slideshow of your favourite images) that captures your wonderful holiday destination and if they love your images, they can save them too. Using a hashtag will give you the chance to be featured on social media pages to be seen by all of their followers.

Video calling

Sometimes being away from loved ones can make us feel slightly gloomy. Don’t despair because a video call allows you to share your special moments LIVE, which brings you closer together!  These two-way live videos are ideal for situations such as when the kids are playing a round of adventure golf and you want loved ones who are further away to see just how much fun the kids are having. If that wasn’t enough a new social media experience, thanks to Houseparty, allows you to make conference video calls, so you can chat with loads of friends at the same time. This allows you to chat with special people who couldn’t make the trip, all at the same time!

3.png

@HolidayRetweet

Of course, you can upload and share your pictures on Twitter but how about engaging with like-minded people who have travelled to the same holiday destination as you? Twitter loves hashtags and by searching for any of our resorts, you will find all the information you need to plan your next holiday. To make your tweets more fun, customise your own new filters (we’ve all seen the doggie ears on photos a million times now!) to give your photos a unique, interesting look.

When you’re spoilt for choice on which activities to choose between, create a “tweet poll” and allow your friends and fellow travellers to vote for what they feel is your best option.  All it will take is a few tweets and you’ll have an awesome day that includes some things which you ordinarily wouldn’t have done – variety is the spice of life!

Blog it

You must have heard of blogs or maybe you’ve even read a few. Be sure to know that it’s not over (in the social media universe) until its blogged. Why? Because sharing your experience and giving it a personal touch allows you to feel the holiday spirit while elaborating on your travel experiences for your readers. Blogging for the first time about a holiday could be the beginning of something BIG. You can even use your blog as an online journal or scrapbook, allowing you to look back and reflect on the special memories which remind you of how it all began. When planning your next trip referring back to some of this information might come in handy too.

In the online world we live in, sharing experiences while living in the moment allows you to stop, play and replay. Your breaks may even become more enjoyable and meaningful than before by sharing them with loved ones or like-minded people. See… it pays to stay connected.

4.png

Happy travels everyone. Make sure you share them with all your favourite people including us!

Travelling on a budget

The festive season has come and gone and wow was it a great time. We hope that our tips on how to make it really festive worked out well!

That said, with the New Year ahead of us, it’s back to our normal routines and for most of us that means cutting back on expenses until our next salary comes in. To make things a little easier, here are some ideas on how to have an amazing holiday in the next couple of months without breaking the bank…

Travelling on a budget:

Fortunately for all of us, a couple of low season/off-peak months lie ahead which means that there are a whole lot of benefits to travelling now. Flights, car hire, accommodation, tours, entertainment and much more will all cost less – not to mention that your chosen destination will be quieter and less congested, which means better access to the best activities while you are there!

Travelling lightly comes with a number of perks from avoiding the cost for overweight luggage when flying, to hiring smaller (and less expensive) vehicles, causing less pollution and having more space to take mementos home with you at the end of your well-deserved break.

Off Beat & Rainbow.png

For those of you that just love cooking, here are a couple of tasty ways to travel for less:

  • First of all, travel with some homemade snacks that are perfectly suited to the journey. Biscuits, biltong, deluxe sandwiches and fruit like apples are pretty easy to eat en route. This will save you the cost of fast-food bought at petrol stations along the way or food and drinks bought on the plane (if they aren’t included).
  • Consider staying in self-catering accommodation where you can shop locally for fresh, in-season food which hasn’t been imported (thus costing less, supporting local jobs and saving the planet at the same time) and have some fun cooking up delicious meals that will cost far less than eating out.
  • Should you get a craving for local cuisine, consider trying out some of the restaurants that locals usually eat at. These are often found in suburbs or smaller towns rather than around the tourist hotspots. These hidden gems also usually have a more traditional and authentic offering!

For the tech-savvy, using free travel apps can save you a whack of money in a number of ways. First of all, you can save the money that you would have spent on travel guides. You can also get vouchers on the apps for restaurants and live entertainment. Otherwise picnicking, taking part in a volunteer programme over part of your holiday to have your trip subsidised, shopping at the cheapest destinations along your trip, using public transport, and travelling with a partner are all ways to travel for less.

7.png

Saving money before you travel:

Open a dedicated savings account
This is one of the most effective ways to save money for great holidays. As we all know, waiting until you get the holiday bug, and then using whatever money you have in your bank account to pay for it, can cause major problems if any unexpected expenses arise. Save for your holidays methodically.

If you do decide to book a holiday on a whim, make sure that you don’t get charged any penalties for negative account balances as you don’t want to be spending money on anything but a holiday! Also, download your bank’s app onto your phone, so you can plan and budget during your trip. This will help you to keep track of your balance, do internet banking and make transfers if need be.

The good old change jar
We just heard you laugh! Yes, we know having a jar or piggy bank for loose change is outdated – but it works! You can even decorate the jar or piggy bank in a way that describes your holiday – helping you to save, and it will look great, getting you excited for your holiday every time you look at it. Just make sure you can’t take any money out of it on those rainy days – as you might regret this. 😉 You could even add a few notes to the jar or piggy bank each time you’re in the holiday spirit. 😉

5.png

Get everyone saving
You’ve heard the saying – ‘Many hands make light work.’ Well, the same thing applies to saving for travel – the more you encourage other friends or family members to save, the more activities you can take part in during your holiday. Maybe even make everyone a change jar (as mentioned above) so that they can save money in the same way. Then make a game out of it – whoever saves the least has to buy a round of drinks when your long-awaited holiday arrives. Sounds fair, right? 😉

Reduce your electricity and water bills
Due to the fact that there is a huge water crisis in SA at the moment, most of us are making efforts to reduce our water usage already – but what could motivate you to save harder than an upcoming holiday? Firstly, take note of how much you are paying for water and electricity at the moment… and then start changing your habits and routines to reduce your consumption. Switching lights (that aren’t required) off and having quick showers are easy ways to do this. Now compare your previous bills and put the balance (what you’ve saved) towards your next amazing holiday.

6.png

We hope these tips help you save as we want you to have the best experiences possible!

Add the festive to the season

‘Tis nearly the season to be jolly and we’d love to share some suggestions that will bring an extra sparkle to your December holidays, whether you are spending them at home or travelling. With the year winding down, now is the time to take those small steps that will make a BIG difference when your long-awaited December break arrives.

Staying at home:

As the holidays often mean spending time with family and friends, why not book tickets to some awesome events or make a reservation to eat out at that restaurant you’ve been meaning to try for years, but have never got around to it? This really is the best time of the year to try out new things. Surprising a group of friends or family with luxurious La Vita Spa treatments would surely go down a treat, wouldn’t it?!

15.png

Other great events for you, your family and your friends to go to include: Summer cricket series, the ballet, stand-up comedy evenings or live concerts in some of South Africa’s most picturesque parks (a perfect way to spend an afternoon or evening snacking on a good old cheeseboard)! There really is something on offer for everyone at this crazy time of year, so get yourself to the front of the queue, by making a couple of reservations now. You might just become everyone’s hero for getting tickets to that soon to be sold-out event.

If A LOT of relaxing is what’s in store for you, why not plan some fun things to do at home?  These could include:

  • Getting hold of sentimental recipes – even if they are for someone else to follow.
  • Bringing out your favourite video footage of that highly entertaining thing that you did decades ago!
  • Hosting braais or fun family dinners with your favourite music playing in the background are also great things to organise before the holidays start.
  • Gift-wrapping presents, decorating your house or a tree to a festive theme, getting busy with arts and crafts, building a slip-and-slide for the kiddies or buying that perfect DVD to watch when all of your family and friends are over.
  • And if that all sounds like too much work, maybe buy a hammock, some beanbags or a relaxing soundtrack which will all help you to hibernate your way through the holidays!

19.png

Whatever it is that would make your holidays more magical, why not get up and make sure that your dreams are fulfilled. After all, it will only take one phone call to book that trip of a lifetime to one of our brilliantly located resorts 😉

Travelling over the festive season:

If travelling during the festive season is what is on the cards for you, then you have come to the right place. Not only will we help you find the perfect holiday for you and your family, we will also give you some tips on how to keep things festive during your stay with us! The staff at all of our destinations will be getting into the festive mood, aiming to make your stay merry and special – but there are ways of doing this yourself as well.

Make your family a delicious, festive meal:
The holiday period is all about spending time with family, enjoying a few laughs together and, of course, eating some good food. Don’t let this tradition stop because you are away from home. We have a lot of self-catering units at our properties that give you the freedom to have a blissful time – so you will be able to make that traditional lunch you enjoy having with your family every year. But also, if you are wanting to take a break from the kitchen, our properties have scrumptious restaurants which would be delighted to serve you a holiday meal! Alternatively, our Reception staff will be more than happy to recommend excellent local and nearby restaurants that you are sure to love – but be sure to book in advance, as you don’t want to miss out on an amazing dining experience.

18.png

Decorations:
Decorations really make holiday time special. No matter what you believe in, which religion you follow or what your traditions are – sparkling lights and candles are sure to put a smile on anyone’s face! There is something so special and festive about walking into a room that is decorated, even in the slightest manner.  So don’t forget to pack a few festive decorations before your journey, to ensure that your suite, apartment, chalet, etc. will bring joy to you and your guests.

Join in the festivities:
The wonderful staff members at our properties always get really involved and excited about the festive season and they plan a lot of activities to get you into the festive spirit. Join in the fun! Take part in that karaoke night or make sure to mingle at the properties’ events. You are guaranteed to meet a variety of wonderful people and have a great time.

16.png

Check out the local tourist attractions:
Most of our properties are ideally located to explore the area around you, being in close proximity to towns and areas you wouldn’t usually explore on your own – and most of these places have amazing festive events planned. Make sure that you do a bit of research about the community you are visiting before your trip – there may be a Carols by Candlelight event which you may really enjoy or a festive market with local cuisine and perfect gifts for your loved ones. You never know!

We hope you have an amazing festive season this year, whether you are at home or travelling to one of our holiday destinations. Please stay safe, spread the love and happiness, and most of all – have a great time!

Don’t forget to share your holiday images with us on social media using #FirstGroup…we would love to see them!

P.S.: Happy New Year too!

Year-End Checklist

We’re all looking forward to the end of the year for one reason or another! From spending cherished moments with family and friends, to getting up to your own devices, the holidays are always interesting and entertaining!

In the lead-up to the crazy season here are some ideas, to get you ahead with all of your planning, which will make your holidays that much more memorable (for the right reasons)!

Detox:
Love or hate it, why not get your health up before indulging on delicious homemade food and rich holiday meals. Enjoying a piece of fruit to start your day, drinking lots of water and even just doing some moderate exercise (when you can fit it in!) are all great ways to boost and revitalise your health.

10.png

Goals:
With the year coming to an end, we’re all running out of time to tick off those goals that we (ambitiously) created for ourselves at the beginning of the year. Maybe you wanted to spend more weekends on the beach, buy certain furniture or organise your filing – well now is the time! Just remember that an amazing holiday awaits you at the end of it all.

Checklist:
We all know that holidays don’t just happen and that tonnes of planning is required for a smooth experience. With time in hand, get ahead on your planning by creating a to-do list and enjoy getting things organised one step at a time. This way you will avoid panic and unpleasant experiences over the holidays from things that could otherwise have gone wrong.

11

Organise care for your children:
If you aren’t planning to travel with your children, now is the time to see which family or friends would love to host them while you are away. Kiddies often love the different routine that comes with staying at someone else’s house and even having different sandwiches packed into their lunchbox for school. If you are travelling with kiddies, arranging a nanny now to allow you to have a later than usual dinner or a day spent doing extreme activities like skydiving, without worrying about your children’s safety and happiness, is a must.

Book animals into homes or kennels:
On the same theme of getting organised, and truly being an early bird at this time of year, you have the option of booking your pets into other people’s homes – if you are not a fan of leaving your fur-babies in a kennel! This service is growing in popularity but most pet-homes have a very small capacity so book now for your pets to be pampered while you are away.

12.png

Set up out of office mailers:
Small things like setting autoresponders and changing your voice message can help you to avoid losing any business while saving you hassles on your travels.

Inform your neighbours that you are going away:
If you don’t trust your security company enough to keep an eye on your home while you are away, tell your neighbours just so they can keep an eye on things for you. Really great neighbours might even water your pot plants if you ask nicely.

13.png

Service your car, check your tyres or do wheel alignment before long drives:
This is a big one! Before a long road-trip, ensure that your car is safe and road-worthy. Getting this out of the way also gives you one less thing to do in the new year.

Spring clean:
For those with a spring in their step (please excuse the pun), there is no better way to head into the silly season than with a house or car or even garden which has been well-maintained – leaving you much less to do once life gets back to normal in the new year.

9.png

Making special requests and early bookings:
Little details can make for great memories. Whatever your next trip requires to be that much more enjoyable, why not make arrangements in advance so that a real treat is waiting for you? This tip is great for special birthdays and anniversaries (who doesn’t love rose petals around your bed or bath 😉 but thoughtful requests can make any holiday more memorable. Some top restaurants are already fully booked until 2018 so don’t delay! Great ideas include booking spa treatments at a La Vita Spa, buying tickets to a live music or sporting event or even arranging a microlight flight around the beautiful destination that you have chosen to visit.

Get visas out of the way, consider taking out travel insurance and double check that your passport is still valid:
There is nothing worse than that sinking feeling from being told that your visa won’t be ready in time for your holiday. Even worse than that – being turned away, with luggage in hand, at an airport because your passport has just expired. Rather get these out of the way long in advance to have hassle-free travels.

Blog size Images (6).png

We hope these tips will help you prepare for your end-of-year holidays. We aim to make your holiday experiences perfect, so take our advice before it’s too late.

Please travel safely and remember to share your holiday pictures with us on social media so that we get to experience your holidays too! We always love seeing our happy members on holiday!

Holiday Fears

Travelling is something that some people crave and some people fear. We completely understand that there are risks which come along with travelling, but which exciting part of your life doesn’t come with risks? Did you know that the fear or travelling is called ‘Hodophobia’ and it is completely personalized by the people that have it – depending on what they are afraid of?

We do our best to make your visits to our hotels and resorts as safe and memorable as possible but even so, some of the bravest travellers still have holiday fears. We have done some research on the fears that people have when it comes to travelling and it was amusing to see that getting sunburned is one of the most common holiday fears! So here we go, a journey into tackling three of the biggest holiday fears that many people have:

  1. Sunburn

8.png

We have a variety of stunning beach properties, so make use of a large hat and sunscreen (apply this as often as possible, especially if you are in and out of a pool or ocean). As South Africa has one of the most sought-after climates in the world, you may need to pack these essentials wherever you go, whether it’s at the beach, berg or bush – as you never know what adventure might pop up next, which could keep you outdoors for longer than you had initially expected.

But what if you still get sunburned? Well, the first thing to do is avoid any further exposure to the sun. After that, do your best to apply an after-sun lotion, which has soothing properties and also contains vitamins and minerals which will help your skin to cope with and recover from the sunburn. Do your best to stay hydrated too. Should you experience severe sunburn, please do take it seriously and contact a doctor via Reception, rather than making hundreds of amusing posts about your eye-watering sunburn photos on social media.

  1. Sharks

7.png

Well…this is a fear I think we all have. Who wants to get bitten by Jaws’ fourth cousin once removed? No one!
If you’re staying at one of our berg or bush properties, this shouldn’t be a problem. As we do have a wide range of resorts and hotels on the coast, however, please take note of the following…

Sharks feed more aggressively, on larger mammals and fish, in cold water (as they have a greater need for energy); sorry Capetonians! Be aware of any flags on the beach which could indicate any recent, nearby shark sightings. Also, only swim in demarcated swimming areas, not just for safety in numbers, but also to have well-trained lifeguards on the lookout for an ominous dorsal fin! Avoid swimming in dirty water too, as a shark may confuse you with something else if the visibility is low (sharks don’t actually enjoy eating humans, despite what the often-dramatic mass media may say) and lastly, if you get a cut, please exit the water immediately. Sharks can smell blood in the water at one part in a million!

  1. Bad Weather

6.png

If you’re planning an international holiday and are looking for a sunny location, consider visiting the eternally summery Cumbria to stay at our luxurious Brockwood Hall or go for a blissful cruise with Flexi Club on the Thames River, to cruise (come rain or shine)!

Should a beautiful and weather-friendly holiday in South Africa be what you are looking for, you will be spoilt for choice! South African was made for vacationing! The Drakensberg is ideal for escaping from the summer heat and if crisp, fresh mountain air and cosy times spent around a fireplace, sipping red wine, are your thing, then winter is also an excellent time of year to go. The same goes for the rest of our inland destinations, most of which have a river, dam or pool onsite.

We all also know that Durban doesn’t have a winter. Well, that’s what everyone, except for Durbanites (some of whom wear beanies and gloves whenever it goes below the magical 20-degree threshold), has to say. So have no fear and enjoy a beach trip at any time of year. An added bonus of going out of season is less traffic, better specials on offer at local restaurants – and your colleagues will be extra jealous of you when you return to work, with a tan!

As for the Western Cape. Well, is there any better destination in South Africa, at any time of year?! Even in bucketing winter rain (once it hopefully returns) the service and wine at the Cape’s top wine estates remains just as impressive. So too, the sushi at the V&A Waterfront or the experience of shopping at one of Cape Town’s trendy malls.

Hopefully, this blog/guide will help you if you’re feeling a bit fearful about your next holiday. Please let us know some of your travel fears in the comments below…we would love to hear them!

We wish you safe travels and our properties look forward to welcoming you…

Cooks need a break too!

Cooking can be such a hassle, especially after a long day at the office. Most of us work all day, get home and either have the husband, boyfriend, kids or maybe even the wife bugging us to start cooking already. Can we not have a minute to relax?

Yes, we may be superwomen or supermen, but we need a break too. While staying at most of our resorts, this is something that doesn’t have to cross your mind, as we have chefs that are more than happy to take the burden off your hands and prepare a delicious meal for your family.

Take a look at some of our stunning resorts that feature restaurants that will tantalise your taste buds and give you a break:

The Palace – Pesto:
If you’re looking for a quick bite or a creamy cappuccino with a view, then this is the place for you. Pesto has some delicious treats with a Mediterranean feel that will satisfy you no matter the time of day. Take a look at their full menu here.

Blog size Images (4).png

Gethlane Lodge – Izinyoni Restaurant:
This restaurant has a social vibe that can put anyone at ease – which is perfect when on holiday. Whether you are looking for a delicious breakfast, a scrumptious tramezzini, a fresh salad or a delectable pizza – Izinyoni has it all! Find out more here.

Selborne – The Lord Selborne; The Terrace; Barkers Bar:
Selborne Golf Estate, Hotel and Spa has several different options for you to choose from. Whether you are in the mood for fine dining, a casual meal or a relaxing cocktail at the end of a fun-filled day – there is something for everyone! Take a look at your dining choices here.

5.png

Hole in the Wall – The Bell Buoy:
If comfort and scrumptious food is what you are after, then The Bell Buoy is perfectly suited for you. Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, the restaurant prides itself on home-style, excellent value for money meals – offering bites to suit all tastes and all ages. View the full menu here.

Bushman’s Nek – The Bushpot:
The Bushpot has a wide variety of delectable treats on offer, so try one of their great weekly specials or the Sunday buffet, or just pop in for a quick bite. The Bushpot offers fiery curries, melt-in-your-mouth oxtail, hearty pies, filling breakfasts, tramezzinis, wraps and pizza, with a grand finale of decadent gateaux and waffles. Take a look at the full menu here.

Blog size Images (3).png

Qwantani – The Marshall Eagle Restaurant:
Looking for home-style cooking with a relaxed atmosphere? Look no further. At The Marshall Eagle Restaurant, you will be spoiled for choice, with a variety of culinary treats that will delight your taste buds. Find out more here.

La Montagne – Crayfish Inn and The Palm Terrace Café:
Seafood, seafood, seafood! Who doesn’t love a delicious serving of prawns? We sure do! Just like Selborne, La Montagne has restaurants to suit different needs, ages and tastes. The Crayfish Inn has a luxurious feel with delicious offerings such as Kingklip, Fillet and Prawns. If you are looking for something simpler than The Palm Terrace Café is suited to you! With a more relaxed atmosphere, this restaurant is perfect for a quick bite (and for those who are allergic to shellfish). Click here for more information.

7

Midlands Saddle and Trout – 29° South:
This restaurant is fairly new to Midlands Saddle and Trout. It was built because the GM and staff felt as though the resort was missing something – and they never looked back. Everyone is raving about how delicious the food is and we completely agree. A range of tasty treats is available, their toasted sandwiches are legendary, and if you’re feeling daring, try out the Giant Burger. Find out more here.

The Oceanic – La Vita:
Not to be confused with our awesome La Vita Spa chain. This restaurant may have you leaving relaxed and happy but don’t expect to get a massage there. 😉 La Vita has a charming and informal setting with a splash of Italian flair. Best known for its pizzas, La Vita has a range of popular dishes that can be enjoyed by everyone. Take a look at the full menu here.

Blog size Images (1).png

La Côte d’Azur – French Vanilla Coffee Shop:
Relax and enjoy a delicious meal at French Vanilla Coffee Shop. This restaurant aims to entice your taste buds and have you leaving with a smile on your face. The food is not only delicious, but also excellent value for money. Find out more here.

Magalies Park – Pica Pau Restaurant:
Pica Pau Restaurant dishes up delicious bites with a continental touch, served either on the deck or in the relaxed interior setting. Whether it is Italian Pasta, Portuguese chicken, a quick pizza or rich lamb shank you crave, Pica Pau has something to appeal to your tastes. P.S.: Lasagne Picada is their speciality. Find out more here.

6.png

We hope this has inspired you to get out, do something different and leave the kitchen – you deserve a break too! Treat your family to a weekend away where you won’t see a spatula or frying pan anywhere in sight. The family may think you are doing something nice for them, but it’s really for you. 😉

Road Trip Essentials

Items you must pack when taking a long car trip

Travelling is an experience that everyone craves. It’s a way to escape your daily routine, take some time for yourself and relax. This is all well and good, but we usually forget to consider the essentials that need to be packed if a long car trip is on the horizon. Mistakes happen, people get injured, cars break down, and kids – well they’re a whole planning process on their own; when it comes to travelling, everyone should plan ahead. There is nothing worse than getting injured or breaking down, being in the middle of nowhere, and not having anything or anyone to help you. Don’t worry, we have your back! Take a look at the list we have compiled to ensure that you have a safe journey!

The essentials:

These are items that every car should have, especially if you have planned a long road trip. We love the quote: ‘I am prepared for the worst, but hope for the best’ by Benjamin Disraeli. This couldn’t be truer when it comes to travelling. Rather be safe than sorry! Make sure you have the following in your vehicle:

  • Safety pins
  • A roller bandage
  • Cotton buds
  • Gloves
  • Gauze
  • CPR mouthpiece
  • Plasters
  • Antiseptic
  • First aid dressing
  • Scissors
  • Tweezers
  • Alcohol swabs
  • Rescue blanket
  • A box of matches

Blog_body_1.jpg

Your vehicle and its roadside emergency kit:

In South Africa, the roads are not always in the best condition. We have to deal with potholes, cattle, wild animals and even pedestrians. The truth is that vehicle breakdowns happen on a daily basis and they don’t always happen in a sunny, warm spot with flawless cell phone reception and a tow truck close by. A roadside emergency kit can ease the pain and reduce the hassle of such breakdowns. Here are a few items we think you need to have on your trip, to ensure you are safe and out of harm’s way:

  • A fully charged cell-phone, or a portable charger
  • A fire extinguisher
  • Reflective warning triangles
  • A spare tyre
  • A jack
  • Foam tyre sealant
  • Jumper cables
  • Flashlight and extra batteries
  • Duct tape
  • A tow rope
  • A multipurpose utility tool
  • Extra drinking water
  • Non-perishable snacks
  • A rain poncho

Blog_body_2.jpg

Travelling with kids:

All parents know that travelling with kids is no easy feat, and this is a circumstance that HAS to be prepared for! Can you imagine leaving your kids favourite teddy behind? Or not having a wet-wipe when someone has been sick or messy? These are just a few of the things to keep in mind. We love being a part of your holidays and we understand the importance of having family trips, so here is a list you can use when packing for your next family adventure:

  • Wet wipes (WE REPEAT, WET WIPES!)
  • Extra diapers, or clothes easily accessible. Don’t be the family on the side of the road unpacking everything to get to a new outfit for the little one because there was a spill or any one of the other things that kids manage to do on a daily basis.
  • Plastic bags
  • Tissues
  • Games or toys to keep the little ones occupied
  • Toilet paper (this may not only be for the kids 😉)
  • Snacks
  • Juice boxes
  • Motion sickness medication
  • A blanket
  • The favourite toy or teddy

Blog_body_3.jpg

We love having you visit our properties, but we also want you to be safe. Make sure you have planned ahead for anything that may happen and ensure that you are not stuck on the side of the road, injured without an emergency kit, or – and this is the worst – have a sticky crying kid in the back seat! 😉 Please be safe, travel wisely and have a great trip!