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News and views on the events, function, conference and incentive industry brought to you by your Favourite Events Company – Solutions Group!

What a great year thus far! Fast paced and dynamic all round and the last quarter picks up even more momentum here at Solutions Group!

We’ve worked on a myriad of events this year so far – ranging from product launches around the country and into Africa, Conferences all around sub Sahara Africa, a ton of exhibition stand designs with a difference, incentives to far and wide destinations from Prague, Mauritius, Reunion and Mediterannean cruises and now of course it’s Year end function and family day time!

We hope you’re having as fabulous a year as we are – albeit stressy at times to keep up the pace and standards and we hope to collaborate with you and your company in the upcoming months.

Enjoy our Newsflash covering interesting titbits of what’s happening out there in travel, tourism and hotels – to keep you up to date in this ever changing industry!

Best Regards,


Quote of the month:

Top 10 end of summer holiday destinations

Where to go on holiday before winter arrives in the northern hemisphere
Nothing like a last burst of short-haul sunshine to make summer last a bit longer and carry us through the autumn with a glow. For anyone without schoolchildren, there's a good argument for taking your European summer holiday in late September/October. Sea and skies are still blue as can be, the water's warm still and once others are all back to school everything's a lot quieter and better value. Meanwhile, down in southern Africa, this is a great time for game-viewing on safari.

Modica, Sicily
When isn't there a good time to go to Sicily? The warm wind that blows across the Mediterranean from Africa keeps Italy's sunniest, most richly cultured island hot well into autumn, though its wild and beautiful beaches are never crowded in October; yet it's cool enough for exploring the labyrinthine streets of its enchanting baroque towns. Memorable meals are to be had everywhere - September is a fine time for fruit and produce from Etna's rich national park; and there's no problem getting a room in Sicily's most charming boutique hotels.

It is a surprising fact that it rains more in Milan than in Manchester. Still, never let bad weather stand in the way of a truly splendid city break. Go in October, which has the fewest rainy days of any month in Milan, and an average daytime temperature of 24ºC. Go new-season shopping and spend too much money on some excellent boots which will keep your feet dry and make you happy in the cold, wet months ahead.
New York
New York we love you, every day of the year! For the weather, for the new season, and all the fresher air of autumn and possibility of a new season and that new season's styles, the way the city gears up again after sultry, away-on-Long Island August. (Yes, for that matter, Long Island is lovely end-of-season in September, too, from theHamptons to Montauk.) Or combine New York City with an Upstate New York road trip to the Catskills, all that autumnal mellow mistiness and sense of nostalgia for a thing you never even had, listening to the Grateful Dead as you wind through the trees to a New England log cabin.
Ibiza and Formentera
Those crazy free spirits who spend the season in Ibiza and Formentera breathe a sigh of relief when October comes. At last you can get a spot to shake out your towel on the beaches again, and a table for lunch at a beach restaurant without so much as a booking (even at Formentera's famous Juan y Andrea). It's all still hot, hot, the closing parties are the clubbing highlights of the season, and hotels and villas suddenly become a lot more affordable - though you'll still have to take out a loan for drinks!
The shoulder seasons - April-May, September-October - tend to be the most pleasant time to visit Greece and the Greek Islands. But blue as the Ionian Sea is, it's still chilly in springtime - so we will plump for September in Corfu, when our morning swim is a warm and delicious affair, when the island's forested hills are still green for afternoon dozes beneath the oaks and olive trees.
The Cotswolds
Simply one of the loveliest places in the world, at any time of year, the Cotswolds. Its loveliness wraps itself around you like the early morning mist among the orchards; its dry stone cottages and honeycomb-coloured Cotswold stone buildings, ancient and eternal, clambered all over by rambling roses and wisteria; its trickling rivers and weeping willows and wild swans; gentle landscapes and the quaintness of its villages, and all those country-house hotels for weekend escapes. October brings the harvest, when the local produce is at its best, and the hunter's rich pickings are cooked magnificently in all those country pubs.
The original ultimate safari heavyweight is back in the game and is becoming the safari destination to watch. There are some fantastic new lodges opening up in Zimbabwe's exceptional and little-visited national parks, and beside the Victoria Falls. October is one of the best months to go to Zimbabwe for game-viewing, when wildlife congregates around the diminishing watering holes as the temperatures begin to rise and rain is rare, and large elephant herds can be seen in Hwange National Park. It may be high season, but the parks here never get crowded.
Ask an islander what their favourite month on Santorini is, and they'll likely tell you late September, early October. The boiling, broiling summer rush is over, the sea is warmer than ever and the skies are blue, blue, all day long, and the evenings are cooler in its up-steps-and-down hillside towns. September sunsets paint the town of Oia gold, and the deep blues of the Caldera seem heightened in these days of late summer.
A grand and romantic city Budapest, with a complex history and beautiful architecture. It’s not a rainy month and the days are still warm. The evenings may be drawing in, but as night falls its cool neighbourhood 'ruin pubs' are lit up by fairy lights and full up with a young crowd drinking cocktails outdoors in these pop-up bars set up in crumbling buildings. Ideal autumn pursuits: a wallow in its thermal baths, or sweet pastries and strudel in its wonderful cafés.
It's definitely still sunshine season in October in Barcelona - temperatures average around 25ºC in the daytime, a balmy 19ºC at night. The locals are back from their holidays, but everyone's still going to the beach and eating out and partying like mad to make the most of the last days of autumn.

Radisson Bu opens serviced apartments in Maputo

Radisson Blu has taken over the management of 117 serviced apartments in Torres Rani, adjacent to the 154-room Radisson Blu Maputo on Avenida Marginal.

GM, Niklas Jonsson, says: “We have noted the international trend towards ‘residencing’ that provides five-star luxury along with a certain degree of independence, privacy and security than just a hotel room. The Radisson Blu Residences will provide a fully furnished ‘home away from home’ but with elite standards of 24-hour service.” The residences include 64 studios and 53 one-bedroom apartments, including a universal access apartment. The first 33 apartments have been completed and the remainder will be operational before the end of the year.

Why we can’t wait to go to Mauritius...

The idyllic One&Only Le Saint Géran resort on the north-eastern coast of Mauritius has announced its plans for an exciting rebirth of the beloved resort.

The resort will close in February 2017 for an extensive renovation, and will re-emerge late 2017, retaining what guests have always loved – a sense of exclusive privacy on its own private peninsula.

All of the restaurants will be redesigned, introducing additional outdoor dining and new dining concepts including a pan Asian experience complete with sushi bar.

Marriott enters Kigali

Marriott enters Kigali MARRIOTT International has opened the Kigali Marriott Hotel, its first hotel in Rwanda, in the central business district of the city.

The 254-room hotel is a 20-minute drive from Kigali International Airport. The rooms and 25 suites are equipped with high-speed Internet and 122cm LCD TVs. The hotel has four restaurants and three bars. There’s also a spa with a 450-sqm swimming pool and fitness centre.

Windhoek resort refurbishes rooms

WINDHOEK Country Club Resort has refurbished 26 guest rooms. The bathrooms have been rebuilt, and all rooms now have separate bath and shower. The rooms have been repainted and have new furniture, fittings and wallpaper. The remaining rooms’ refurbishment will be done in stages during the next few months.

Sun international reports loss, exits Nigeria

SUN International recorded a R503m loss for the year ended June 30, 2016, despite revenue growing 15% to R12bn. It has also announced that it will be exiting Nigeria. Currently, the group is a 49% shareholder in the Federal Palace in Lagos.
The group attributed its growth in revenue to the acquisitions in Latin America as well as revenue generated by insourcing of food and beverage. Room revenue was up by 14%, benefiting from the weak rand, with strong growth in international business, in particular at The Table Bay and Sun City.

Major hospitality merger gets the nod

Tsogo Sun will acquire control of Hospitality Property Fund (HPF) by vending a portfolio of hotels into the Hospitality Property Fund in exchange for shares, after a deal was approved by the Competition Tribunal. The deal will add 16 hotels to Tsogo’s portfolio.

“Tsogo Sun and Hospitality are pleased to announce that the transaction has been approved by the Competition Tribunal, subject to conditions accepted by both parties, and that a merger clearance certificate has been issued,” a statement dated August 11 reads.

“We now own an additional 16 hotels as a result of this merger. The hotels continue to be operated and leased by the existing third parties, including Radisson, Protea, aha and, in the case of the Holiday Inn and Crown Plaza, by Tsogo,” Marcel von Aulock, CEO Tsogo Sun, told TAM.

Acsa upgrades free wifi offering

Passengers at boarding gates in Acsa’s nine airports now have access to four hours or one gigabyte of free data.

When the complimentary four hours have lapsed or the one gig of data is reached, users can opt for a pay-as-you-go service.

How to access the Airports@vastWiFi service:
1. Search for Airports@vast on a smart device (laptop, tablet or smartphone).
2. Select the service from the device’s WiFi search list.
3. Open the device’s browser. Users will be redirected to the service’s login page.
4. Select complimentary service.
5. Users will need to register with a valid email address.
6. When registration is complete users can surf the web.

Branson’s exclusive property now open for bookings

Branson’s hotel company has announced the opening of an exclusive Manor House at Mont Rochelle Hotel and Mountain Vineyard in Franschhoek. The Manor House is within walking distance of the main hotel and can accommodate eight adults in four luxury suites and six children in a bunk room. Facilities include a ‘winter’ lounge and a games room, an open-plan lounge/dining room and an outdoor plunge pool. There is also an outdoor dining area, gym and a heated outdoor swimming pool. A dedicated team and private chef take care of guests, arranging private dining, spa treatments, horseback riding and wine tasting.

Head chef revealed for Jamie’s italian in Johannesburg

A South African chef is set to take the helm of the first Jamie’s Italian on our shores, which is opening in Melrose Arch later this year. Shane Smit will fill the role of group head chef for the highly anticipated restaurant, which is set to switch on the lights in November.

Together with Jamie Oliver’s team, Shane will put together a menu full of local flavour and Italian inspiration for the Johannesburg restaurant, as well as the Cape Town Jamie’s Italian branch (whose exact location is yet to be announced) and the further three Jamie’s Italian restaurants expected to open in the next seven years in South Africa.

While they do share menu items and branding across the board, all Jamie’s Italian stores are unique, with many of them incorporating bespoke graffiti into the design. We look forward to seeing how the restaurant in Melrose Arch, a centre known for its high-end fashion outlets and stylish restaurants, will turn out, as construction draws to a close over the next few months. Keep an eye on Eat Out for details. In the meantime, follow @JamiesItalianSA on Instagram.

Thailand new airport to open

The new terminal at Phuket International Airport is set for a September opening, The Phuket News claims.

An exact date has yet to be decided, but airport authorities have said that it will definitely have opened in September at some point.

Tests at the new terminal started being carried out on August 16 and will be completed by September 7.

British Airways inks deal with China Eastern

British Airways is set to gain access to the domestic Chinese market as it launches a new partnership with Shanghai-based carrier, China Eastern Airlines.

With its gleaming skyscrapers and ancient temples China is more accessible than ever before as the British carrier will start selling flights to Kunming, Xi’an, Nanjing, Hangzhou and Chongqing on a BA flight code, while the Chinese carrier will sell British Airways flights to Aberdeen, Belfast City, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Leeds Bradford, Manchester and Newcastle on their MU flight code.

For the customer it means an easy one-stop-shop booking experience and ease of connection between the two carriers.

“And for leisure travellers looking to explore and witness ancient culture and stunning landscapes, these flights will lead them to the Terracotta Warriors in Xi’an, the Purple Mountain in Nanjing and the Porcelain Village in Chongqing.”

Air Mauritius launches weekly flights

Air Mauritius have launched weekly flights to Guangzhou, China, on 12th July. It will be the airlines fifth Chinese destination after Hong Kong, Beijing, Shanghai and Chengdu.

“The launch of the new route in China is in line with our vision of connecting Africa with Asia.” Air Mauritius said in a statement. Economy-class fares will start from R8 500, all-inclusive, and business-class fares from R28 500, all-inclusive, subject to class availability and currency fluctuations. Passengers on this route will also receive a free night in Mauritius on return, including accommodation, selected meals and transferes.

New airline plans SA route

Congo Airways is planning to launch a multi-weekly flight from Kinshasa to Johannesburg from 1st November, CEO of the airline, Desire Balazire Bantu, told TNW. The airline will deploy an A320-200 on the route, with 10 seats in business class and 150 in economy. The flag carrier of the Democratic Republic of the Congo started operations in October last ear with eight domestic routes.

Ownership of the airline is divided between government, local and international investors. Desire says the service to Johannesburg will mark the airline’s international debut.

Cruise Lines International Association welcomes French America line

Cruise Lines International Association has announced the addition of new Regional Cruise Line Member – French America Line, America’s premium river cruise tour.

The river cruise company joins the growing number of CLIA Cruise Line Members, totalling 62 cruise lines.
“We are pleased to have French America Line join our cruise community, and look forward to helping connect them with the travel agent community,” said Cindy D’Aoust, president, CLIA.

Inaugural sailings begin September 2016 aboard the charming ship brimming with French flair and signature experiences celebrating regional food, music and history.

Carnival to offer unique Alaska cruise in 2017

For the first time, Carnival Cruise Line will offer a 14-day Alaskan adventure round-trip from Long Beach, California.

Launching in September 2017, the trip will feature seven spectacular destinations, including Glacier Bay, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and the line’s first visit to Icy Strait Point, an unspoiled wilderness area offering some of the best whale and bear watching in the state and the world’s longest zip-line.

In addition to a full-day sailing Glacier Bay and Carnival’s inaugural call to Icy Strait Point, the 14-day cruise will feature the stunning Alaskan ports of Ketchikan, Skagway, Juneau and Sitka, as well as Vancouver, British Columbia.

Guests sailing on the special 14-day Carnival Journeys cruise will also enjoy unique on-board experiences where they can sample Alaskan cuisine and enjoy local entertainment and cultural opportunities within the various ports of call.

MSC Cruises to launch exclusive marine reserve in Bahamas

MSC Cruises, has unveiled ambitious plans to create an unprecedented exclusive marine reserve island experience in the Bahamas.

The visionary project was officially launched in the Bahamian capital Nassau, where a 100-year lease agreement that will enable MSC Cruises to occupy and develop the island was signed, this is so that it canbe called Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve.

It is hoped this is a project will transform the local economy base from resource exploitation to resource conservation.

Top specials

Southern Sun Hyde Park
Packages from R2 220 per room per night. Offer includes one night’s accommodation, breakfast and a gift card.
Vaild for stays until 21st March 2017

Legacy Hotel & Resorts (Sandton)
Indulge at the Michelangelo Hotel from R1480pp per night sharing
Single rooms per night from R2370.
Rates include one nights accommodation in a superior room with breakfast at the Piccolo Mondo restaurant re, complimentary managed WiFi, romantic turndown and a choice of spa treatment. Available Friday, Saturday and public holidays only. Vaild for stays until 31st January 2017

Interesting facts
Seventy-five millions passenger travelled throught Heathrow in 2015- 205 400 a day 51% arrivals and 49% departures. 93% (69,8m) were international passengers and only 7% (5,1m) were domestic. 64% (48m) were leisure while 36% (27m) were business travellers.

The most popular destinations for travellers flying onward from Heathrow are (in descending order) New York, Dubai, Dublin, Amsterdam and Hong Kong.


News and views on the events, function, conference and incentive industry brought to you by your Favourite Events Company – Solutions Group!