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Meet in Cape Town

Published: 16/11/2011 - Filed under: Home » Archive » 2011 » November 2011 » Destinations » Home » Features »

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South Africa’s second-largest city, Cape Town, is a little different from what a first-time visitor to Africa might expect to find. Located just off the crossroads of the Indian and Atlantic Oceans, and an hour’s drive from a world-class wine-producing region, the city’s mild climate and dramatic geography more closely resembles a Mediterranean enclave than the sprawling metropolis of Johannesburg or sun-scorched Cairo. 

As one of the southern-most major cities on the globe, it can appear deceptively inaccessible, but Cape Town is easily reached due to regular flights arriving at its international airport, the third-largest airport on the continent. And thanks to the 2010 FIFA World Cup, this fact has been proven as sports fans from around the world descended upon South Africa to trumpet their vuvuzelas.

In the aftermath of the World Cup, South Africa is now easier to get to and work in than ever before. Since 2004, the country has invested $1.8 billion in road work, airport upgrades and highway expansions, and an additional $40 million in telecommunications improvements. The effect this has had on business became apparent when the Cape Town International Convention Centre (CTICC), which opened in 2003, announced a total contribution to the South African gross domestic product of R2.7 billion (nearly $340 million) last year. 

The facility can host as many as 9,500 delegates, but expansion plans were announced earlier this year that would create a “convention precinct,” adding almost 33,000 square feet of retail space, a hospital, an office tower and numerous basement parking lots. According to Sthu Zungu, president of South African Tourism, North America: “The World Cup may be over, but we’re still reveling in the profound positive effects this one event has brought to our country – we’ve only just scratched the surface.”

 

Table Mountain Summit Lounge

Reserve the grandest table of all and benefit from bird’s eye views of the city bowl and the Twelve Apostles mountain range. The Table Mountain Aerial Cableway manages two indoor and four outdoor venues, including the U-shaped Summit Lounge. The space, which can accommodate as many as 120 people, boasts three balconies and is ideal for cocktail receptions, while an upstairs boardroom can be rented out for more professional needs. It’s a great ace in your pocket in case of a flight delay or hotel complications, as they will take late reservations just two hours in advance if there’s availability, and arrange for a private outdoor area with wine and light snacks. All events are accessed by Cableway gondolas, and tickets can be purchased two weeks in advance from 175 rand ($22), round trip. They scale the 3,560-square-foot mountain in less than ten minutes, slowly rotating as they ascend, making for a memorable entrance. 

Lower Cable Station, Tafelberg Road; tel. +27 21 424 0015; tablemountain.net/cafe_and_venues 

 

Two Oceans Aquarium

Cape Town’s aquarium offers another notable setting for events, including its newest space, Tranquility. The room’s defining feature is a window displaying the serene Kelp Forest Exhibit and it can accommodate groups as large as 20, but there is also the Think Tank Auditorium, which can host as many as 120 attendees. The window in this room overlooks Table Mountain, with an adjacent outdoor deck. Attendees for events in either space are able to tour the Aquarium, including its ever-popular Predator Exhibit, as part of the standard rental package.

Dock Road, V&A Waterfront, tel. +27 21 418 3823; aquarium.co.za

 

The Protea Hotel Victoria Junction

The recently refurbished hotel has 550 square feet of meeting facilities that can seat up to 120 people. Located in Greenpoint, the 172-room property not only updated its technological amenities, it also improved its environmental impact with energy-efficient lighting and water-saving rain showers. Meetings held at this hotel can easily continue over a glass of organic wine at the hotel bar, a favorite after-work haunt for locals.

Corner of Somerset and Ebenezer Roads; tel. +27 21 418 1234; proteahotels.com 

  

The Westin Cape Town

Adjacent to the Cape Town International Convention Center, the Grand Ballroom at The Westin can accommodate as many as 600 guests, while 10 more meeting rooms cater to smaller groups of eight to 60. There is free WiFi throughout the facilities, while a business center also offers secretarial services, faxing, copying and even cell phone rentals. 

Convention Square, Lower Long Street; tel. +27 21 412 9999; starwoodhotels.com  

 

Mount Nelson

This Orient-Express property rests at the foot of Table Mountain, providing easy access from points throughout the city. The chandelier-bedecked ballroom is a prime location for stately occasions, accommodating as many as 400 people in the 3,596-square-foot space. The Garden Room, which has been an event space since 1899, can accommodate 150 people within its wood-paneled walls, while various other rooms can accommodate board meetings and other smaller gatherings.

76 Orange Street; tel. +27 21 483 1000; mountnelson.co.za 

 

Where To Stay

Adam Rodriguez researches the best in Cape Town accommodations

 

Ellerman House

Nestled along the base of Lions Head mountain, this former Cape Edwardian mansion offers just nine rooms and two suites, most overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. Operating under Relais & Chateau, guests can expect lux perks and amenities such as under-floor heating, free WiFi, a complimentary room bar and excellent staff services.

Art aficionados will undoubtedly appreciate the carefully-curated collection displayed throughout the rooms and public spaces. But these are just a taste of what can be seen on site, as the Ellerman Contemporary Gallery continues to showcase South African contemporary art two years after its opening. The gallery, which is located under the front terraced lawn, is open 24 hours a day with private tours available on request.

Additionally, guests can make use of a full spa menu, gym, lap pool, library, lounge and the Ellerman Bar, where Cuban and Dominican cigars are available.

180 Kloof Road, Bantry Bay; tel. +27 21 430 3200; ellerman.co.za

 

The Bay Hotel

Camps Bay, Cape Town’s glamorous beach-side neighborhood, is just five miles from the business district, but feels like an island getaway. The Bay Hotel is your best bet for a meeting in this part of the city, as it offers enough flexible space to accommodate most needs. The most distinct venue on site is the dome-shaped rotunda, which dates to 1904. It has been updated with an array of technological amenities and can accommodate 500 guests. Meanwhile, the conference room is equipped with a working fireplace that adds an extra touch for winter occasions. The room can accommodate 30 to 120 people.

But whether you’re meeting here or elsewhere, you’ll want to snag one of the hotel’s 78 guest rooms and suites for yourself. You can’t get any closer to the beach than here, but there are also four pools and sundecks to rival the sand. Mint Wellness spa is equipped with sauna, steam room and a menu of soothing treatments and Camps Bay Tennis Club is just behind the property. 

69 Victoria Road, Camps Bay; tel. +27 21 430 444; thebayhotel.co.za

 

Cape Grace

Cape Grace is one of the city’s most prestigious properties, occupying its own private quay in the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront. Many of the 122 guestrooms and suites benefit from this location with views of the colonial buildings lining the active harbor. The hotel evokes a sense of classic luxury in both style and action, with complimentary sherry set out each evening in the library and free luxury chauffeured transfer service within a 12-mile radius. Returning from a particularly grueling meeting, you’ll no doubt appreciate the services of the rooftop spa.

West Quay Road, Victoria & Alfred Waterfront; tel. +27 21 410 7100; capegrace.com 

 

Weekender

Le Quartier Français Franschhoek Valley

South African wines have been making a big splash on the international stage, so any trip to Cape Town would be incomplete without a visit to nearby Franschhoek Valley. The area is just one hour from the city by car, which means it’s easily accessible for a day trip, but there are so many vineyards to visit that you might as well make a weekend of it.

Le Quartier Français is a small, privately-owned hotel with a peaceful garden setting that’s just off the main road, making it an ideal home-base during your stay. Each of the 21 rooms is outfitted with charming details, like wood-burning fireplaces, that mingle effortlessly with a playful, yet soothing décor. Meanwhile, your days here will be punctuated with exceptional meals served on the terrace, in the Tasting Room or on the family farm. Of course, no weekend escape would be complete without a spa experience, and the treatment room at Le Quartier Français offers a menu of services using Decleor Paris and Ahava – The Dead Sea products.

Don’t forget to take a stroll through the village to explore its shops and galleries or book one of the custom experiences on offer at the hotel, like Wine, Charcuterie and Chocolate, which includes a guided tasting of all three.

Corner Berg and Wilhelmina Streets, Franschhoek; tel. +27 21 876 2151; lqf.co.za

By Ally Miola

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