Saturday, 23 September 2017

New venture for wine's perpetual-motion man

There are seldom enough hours in the day for global wine industry player Martin Krajewski.

A self-made man, the English son of Polish immigrants, he owns wine businesses in France and South Africa and is casting glances towards Australia for the second time.

He recently sold his Bordeaux business, Chateau de Sours, to one of the world's richest men, Chinese billionaire Jack Ma. He's close to Ma and is helping him as a consultant.

The sale of Chateau de Sours, home of one of France's most vaunted rosés, enabled Krajewski to concentrate on his impressive Grand Cru St Emilion estate, Clos Cantenac, and his South African venture; Aristea.

Krajewski, who worked with former Penfolds Grange maker John Duval on the Songlines/Bylines business in Australia, also owns Chateau Seraphine in Pomerol and has recently invested in a private distillery in Norway called Oslo Handverksdestilleri.

The former owner of a recruitment firm in the City of London is a major figure in the world of contemporary art and is casting covetous glances at cool-climate vineyards in Tasmania.

Like many of the super-rich, Krajewski is down to earth and humble with few airs and graces. He's been a friend for a while now, and our most recent meeting was at a pub in La Perouse when he hit Sydney to promote both Chateau de Sours and Clos Cantenac, both of which are distributed in Australia by Robert Oatley.

Now he and his business partners - Florent Dumeau, a leading oenologist from Bordeaux, and Matt Krone, a local winemaker whose family pioneered sparkling wines in South Africa some 12 generations ago - have released their first Aristea wines.

"The aim of Aristea is to produce exceptional wines which speak of their terroir and reflect the Cape itself, from its harsh landscape to its raw beauty," Krajewski says.

"Even the name, Aristea, reflects one of the many plants found only in the Cape which requires the brutality of fire to allow it to flower, and then for just one day."

Aristea owns no vineyards but draws on long-established relationships to source some of the best fruit from around Stellenbosch.

For its market début, Aristea has released a 2016 chardonnay and 2015 cabernet sauvignon from Stellenbosch but there are some MCCs - Méthode Cap Classiques - in the pipeline, needing a few more months on the lees before they are released.

The launch in London early this month proved a success, with quantities already limited. For those interested go to or

"These wines are the result of four years of very hard work, struggle and careful planning, but it has been well worth the long wait as they 'sing' a new song about South Africa and it's wonderful promise and for that Matt Krone, Florent Dumeau and I are happy and grateful to have experienced the long journey together," Krajewski said.

Friday, 22 September 2017

Somewhere sophisticated, sexy and safe to stay in Johannesburg

If I am staying in much-maligned Johannesburg then boutique hotel Ten Bompas is my accommodation of choice; budget permitting.

The helpful staff, brilliant location and chic surroundings make Ten Bompas my home away from home in this vibrant, edgy African city.

The hotel is situated in a tranquil garden setting in the upmarket neighbourhood of Dunkeld West and is close to the business and entertainment hubs of Rosebank, Hyde Park and Sandton.

There are just 10 rooms at this leafy oasis and personalised service is a major drawcard for me at the all-suite hotel and restaurant complex.

Each suite is furnished individually and there is an unmistakable European vibe (the owners also own a property in France).

The inspiration behind the name of the Ten Bompas restaurant Winehouse is a painting of Amy Winehouse by Joanna Flatau a Poland-born artist living in Paris.

The owners of Ten Bompas first met Joanna in Lagrasse, Languedoc, where they purchased her iconic painting for the quirky hotel eatery.

Space, meanwhile, is a contemporary event and conference centre designed for Ten Bompas by award-winning architect Enrico Daffonchio.Wrapped in glass and steel, the interior of SPACE is a blank canvas, allowing users to customise their functions and events.

There are all the luxuries you'd expect from a boutique hotel; security, a swimming pool, gardens and same-day laundry.

All suites comprise a separate lounge with guest toilet, workstations and wood burning fireplaces, a large bedroom with king or twin beds and full bathroom and steam room.

Each suite leads on to a private garden or terrace and free high-speed wifi in all rooms, lounges and public areas.

Ten Bompas is part of the Design Hotels portfolio and is at 10 Bompas Road, Dunkeld West, Johannesburg. +27 11 325 2442. Rates start from $4000 a night (under $400) and are inclusive of breakfast, complimentary in-room mini bar, hot beverages and laundry service. 

# Winsor Dobbin visited South Africa as a guest of Amarula and was assisted by South African Airways.

Thursday, 21 September 2017

A hotel bothers to ask guests what they really, really want

Hotel rooms and facilities often seem to designed by some strange creature who has never spent a night away from home. 

Stupidly placed lights, unworkable showers, uncomfortable pillows, power points that need to be accessed by climbing under the bed, ridiculously expensive wifi and so many more issues. Anyone who spends more than a few nights away from home has encountered them. 

So it was nice to hear about a hotel that actually bothers to ask its guests what they actually want. No surprise that hotel was the uniformly excellent Rees Hotel in Queenstown, New Zealand. 

In preparation for launching its new luxury Rees Residences, general manager Mark Rose wanted to gauge what former guests thought and surveyed 5000 - who didn’t hold back on their feedback.

“So often we think we know what people want, but when you actually go to the market you actually find out – and some of the results were surprising” says Rose.

Top hotel and room amenities combined and ranked in order were: 
1. Free high-speed wifi, 2. Complimentary breakfast 
3. Car parking, 4. A room with a view, 5. Daily housekeeping. 

The items and amenities that made the least favourite list were the in-room Bible, turndown service and complimentary magazine selection. 

The survey identified a parochial preference for ‘Linden Leaves’ when it came to a choice of bathroom amenity brands in order of popularity. The Kiwi brand beat international rivals L'Occitane en Provence, Hermes and Molton Brown.

Many guests were surprised to sight condoms in a mini bar and thought hotel shower caps were “very 1980’s”.

Taking all these passionate responses into account, Rose says The Rees Hotel will now have fresh eyes and inspiration when it comes to deciding on which amenities and in-house comforts to provide guests.

Turn away now, unless you have an black Amex card

I love to dream about holiday destinations. Particularly exotic ones.

And when it comes to exotic, it would be hard to beat Anantara Medjumbe Island Resort, which sits on Quirimbas Archipelago off the northern coast of Mozambique.

Untouched, remote and exclusive, the African island hideaway measures just one kilometre long and 300 metres wide and boasts white powdery sands and azure waters.

And for those who have oodles of cash to splash, Anantara Medjumbe Island Resort has just launched Naturally Exclusive, a rare opportunity to enjoy the tropical paradise with a hand-picked selection of your friends and loved ones.

Naturally Exclusive offers a luxurious setting perfect for gatherings, intimate weddings or special occasions for the family.

The island accommodates up to 24 guests in 12 luxury villas, each with its own private plunge pool boasting endless views of the ocean.

Chefs are on hand to create breakfast, lunch and dinner menus; including traditional Portuguese-accented seafood.
Guests are offered a feast on the beach or an evening sail on a traditional dhow.

The region is part of the Quirimbas National Park, renowned for its coral reefs, and whale, dolphin and dugong populations.

Resort buildings are designed in tribute to the surrounds, with sustainable materials used wherever possible. Recycling and conservation are major trademarks.

How do you get here? A three-hour flight from Johannesburg's OR Tambo Airport and a 45-minute helicopter ride should do it.

The Anantara Medjumbe Naturally Exclusive opportunity costs $12,900 per night, for a minimum three-night booking, including accommodation for 24 guests, full-board dining created by personal chefs, and a selection of non-alcoholic drinks, house wines, beers and spirits.

Actually, that doesn't sound so expensive at all. If only I had some credit left on my cards. 

For more information about Anantara Medjumbe Island Resort’s Naturally Exclusive offer, visit

Tuesday, 19 September 2017

Discover one of the most romantic getaways in Asia

Sala Phuket, one of Thailand's leading independent hotels, is located on one of Phuket's quietest and cleanest beaches but is just a 20-minute drive from the international airport. 

It is regarded as one of most romantic hotels and is a popular wedding destination. No wonder. The setting is simply stunning.

This deluxe pool villa resort features private swimming pools in 63 of its 79 rooms, villas and suites, along with beautiful daybeds and outdoor showers. You can enjoy complete privacy if you opt for in-villa dining but you'd miss out on the spectacular sunsets from the poolside Sala restaurant.

There is a wide range of traditional Thai and western dishes on offer, with the signature Kanom Jin dish; rice noodles served with spicy red coconut curry slowly simmered with daily market fish and infused with ginger, kaffir lime leaf and shrimp paste.

The vibe here is chilled with Sino-Portuguese architecture combining with modern five-star facilities; a beachfront bar and, during summer, rooftop dining, offer cool spots for a cocktail or glass of wine from the award-winning list.

Mai Khao beach is great for a sunset stroll – and is often almost deserted. If you want to really get away from it all and spend some quality time with a loved one, then this is a perfect location.

Activities on offer for couples include snorkelling, elephant trekking, cooking classes and yoga, while on-site facilities include a gym, library, business centre, sea kayaks, bicycles, two beach-front pools, steam rooms, while there is high-speed wireless internet for those who simply must stay in touch.

Accommodation choices in this tranquil sanctuary include the signature pool villas and one- and two-bedroom pool suites and, as a special treat, guests can enjoy a long-tail boat day trip to the limestone cliffs of Phang Nga.

My bet, however, is that most guests will not want to leave their own little slice of paradise. 

Sala Phuket, 333 Moo 3, Mai Khao, Thalang, Phuket. +66 7633 8888.

The writer travelled with assistance from Singapore Airways. SIA has operated services to Australia since 1967 and has grown from twice-weekly flights to Perth and Sydney to operating 126 weekly flights from six Australian cities. Alongside its regional wing, SilkAir, and low-cost carriers Scoot and TigerAir Singapore, SIA provides Australian travellers with access to a global network of 131 destinations in 36 countries through the world-famous Changi Airport hub, including Phuket. 

Airline flies its environmental credentials

British Airways has entered a partnership to design a series of waste plants that convert household waste into renewable jet fuel to power its fleet. 

I've been no great fan of BA's service in the past but this partnership with Velocys, a renewable fuels company, is part of the airline’s plans to develop long-term, sustainable fuel options. And that has to be a good thing.

The first plant will take hundreds of thousands of tonnes of household waste per-year, destined for landfill or incineration, including nappies, plastic food containers and chocolate bar wrappers, and convert it into clean-burning, sustainable fuels. 

This will contribute to the airline’s commitment to reduce net emissions by 50% by 2050.

As well as helping the airline industry reduce its carbon emissions this initiative will also significantly reduce the amount of waste going to landfill. The United Kingdom still sends more than 15 million tonnes of waste per year to landfill sites which not only damages Britain's natural environment but also releases further greenhouse gases affecting climate change.

The planned plant will produce enough fuel to power all British Airways' 787 Dreamliner-operated flights from London to San Jose and New Orleans, Louisiana for a whole year. It would be the first plant of this scale. 

The airline plans to supply its aircraft fleet with increasing amounts of sustainable jet fuel in the next decade. 

The jet fuel produced at the plant will deliver more than 60% greenhouse gas reduction, compared with conventional fossil fuel, delivering 60,000 tonnes of CO2 savings every year. This will contribute to both global carbon emissions reductions and local air quality improvements around major airports.

For details on British Airways see

Saturday, 16 September 2017

Sorry gentlemen. This gourmet tour of Italy is not for you.

I just received notice of a new tour that sounds like hell to me. Private shopping in Rome with an Italian fashion journalist; private tours of the Hall of Mirrors and the Vatican.

Fortunately, I am not the target market for the Tastes of Rome & Sicily Tour, which runs from September 6-16 next year. 

For a start I am the wrong sex. This is tour is aimed squarely at ladies only. Ladies who like to shop, eat and drink. Ladies who are single.

Put together by Andrea Powis of Travelling Divas, who specialises in "high quality, high value and experiential travel for women" this tour for a maximum of 12 "combines the glamour and sophistication of Rome, with the beauty, culture and divine wine and food of Sicily".

It's a good idea really; showcasing two very different sides of a fabulous country. 

Attractions that sound much more up my street include a vintage Vespa tour of Rome, cocktails and canapes at the rooftop bar of the Sofitel, and a catered picnic in Borghese Gardens.

Exclusive access to wineries in Sicily and exclusive dining experiences, with wine pairings including at two Michelin-starred restaurants, also sound up my street, but alas...

There will be at least one man involved: Uncorked & Cultivated's Master of Wine, Peter Scudamore-Smith, a wine expert with impeccable contacts.

Hotels are "a mix of five-star glamour in Rome to divine, luxurious old-world hotels in Sicily, with sweeping views of the sea and inland at a renovated Locanda".

For full details and pricing, check out: