(Article written by Rosalie Howard)

I have spoken to several people in the hospitality industry recently, all of whom have shared the same story with me … that they have had bumper seasons with 100% occupancy throughout December into January with further holidays booked and confirmed for next Christmas season, resulting in full houses again!

This tells me that there is cash flow once again and I celebrate this news that if South Africans and visitors from abroad have holiday cash, the conference industry will also have the experience in this year of turning a page … leaving the past behind except for the experiences which serve us and moving forward into a new paradigm, both personally and in business – a time of reaping.

It is always good advice to make future plans where possible, in January, as this is usually the time that hotels and conference centres offer cut rates especially in the first quarter of the year.

In the Western Cape, summertime as you all know is the best time to visit the fair Cape when the weather is better than anywhere else (although they too have had a few heat-waves recently); the KZN Midlands where the weather is balanced and with good rainfall, the greenest province in South Africa; the Eastern Cape, which while windy boasts some of the most beautiful beaches along the entire coastline; inland at our numerous Game Reserves and Country Retreats and in Gauteng in the picturesque Magalies area, Muldersdrift, along the Vaal River or for tight schedules, the many 4-5 star, exceptional hotels on the East Rand.

What’s up that’s big this year?

• The African Mining Indaba in Cape Town 4-7 February
• The Microsoft Tech-Ed Conference at the I.C.C. Durban 10-14 February
• Enterprise Risk Management Conference at the Hyatt Regency Hotel Johannesburg 12-15 February
• The Core Banking Solutions Conference at the Indaba Hotel in Johannesburg 13-14 February
• The 6th World Congress on Paediatric, Cardiology and Cardiac Surgery at the I.C.C in Cape Town 17-22 February
• Future Bank World Africa Congress at Sandton Convention Centre Johannesburg 11-12 March
• The 12th World Federation of Chiropractic Congress at the I.C.C. Durban 10-13 April

And the calendar for the rest of the year continues over many pages … this is a mere handful of what to expect in the first quarter of the year.

Should any of you have block accommodation bookings you wish to make, we can assist you with these … contact us on or make your enquiries on (

Special Days and celebrations coming up …

BURNS NICHT is on Friday 25 January … Being a Friday, all the Scots among us can celebrate in grand style, without considering tomorrow … order your Haggis now; start planning the Athol Brose for which has published a delicious recipe:
Pear and Haggis Salad with Athol Brose Dressing
Athol brose is a sweet Scottish dessert of cream, whisky, honey and oatmeal.
Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 40 minutes
Serves: 6
• 3 tbsp blended malt whisky, or our Buyer’s recommendation: Isle of Jura 10-year-old whisky
• 4 tbsp half-fat crème fraîche
• 2 tsp Dijon mustard
• 1 tsp Scottish heather honey
• 120g pack Waitrose Aromatic Baby Leaf Herb Salad
• 6 Perfectly Ripe Conference Pears
• ½ x 454g pack Macsween Vegetarian Haggis
1. Preheat the oven to 190°C, gas mark 5. Cut the pears in half lengthways. Remove the cores with a teaspoon to leave a cavity for the filling, but leave the stems intact. Put the pears into a shallow, ovenproof dish just large enough to fit them in a single layer.
2. Divide the haggis between the pears, filling each cavity with a generous mound of the mixture. Drizzle 100ml of cold water and the whisky around the pears.
3. Cover with foil and bake for 35 minutes, until the pears are tender. Uncover and bake for a further 5 minutes, until the haggis is golden. Meanwhile, blend the crème fraîche, mustard and honey together in a bowl.
4. Serve the cooked pears with the salad leaves. Pour the juices from the baking dish into the dressing, season to taste and mix well. Drizzle over before serving with oatcakes.

VALENTINE’S DAY … 14TH February. Wine and dine your loved one in a romantic setting with roses and chocolates …

EASTER SUNDAY 31 March. Plan and book your weekend away ahead of the rush at your favourite get-away or try a venue you have never been to before

Start your conference planning well ahead this year as this is the year when venues will book up earlier than in the past three or four years. For a comprehensive list of venues throughout South Africa, visit our website on

We wish you a successful, happy and abundant 2013!


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