Flight Centre recently hosted some VIP guests at the Marly Hotel in Camps Bay, Cape Town, to promote the launch of their new Red Label Holidays. I was lucky to be included! I loved connecting with Erika from Die Burger, Bridget from Good Taste Magazine, Vicky from Opulent Living, Ilse from BizCommunity and, of course, the Flight Centre Brand Manager for the Western Cape Region, Reeva.
Last month was one of refining processes, contracts and efficiency. I have many projects happening simultaneously. One thing I’ve started to see is that I’m constantly in meetings. Here’s some things to keep in mind about meetings:
1. Carve out certain days of the week to meet
Be intentional about what days are good for you to meet people. Make committments and stick to them. I always think it’s a good idea to schedule meetings a week or two in advance so you don’t do things last minute. That way you can be prepared. If you work for yourself, planning the use of your time wisely can be tricky. Make sure to pen in appointments and keep your diary close at all times!
2. Set an agenda/itinerary
Ideally, you want to stick to an agenda which you set. Get through the business first, then you can move onto the fun stuff if you still have time.
3. Let people know how long you can meet
Time is precious. If you have lots to get through, make sure you structure your days well and stick to your goals. It’s always a good idea to set out the time you have available when organising meetings. Literally say to yourself (and your client) how long you have for the meeting. 1 hour? 2 hours? Put a lid on how much time you can spend working on something with someone. If you don’t do this, you may just run over time and disappoint yourself when you can’t achieve your other goals for the day.
4. Keep the location in mind and be intentional about it
Where inspires you? Where is there free wifi? Do you need a plug point for your laptop? Do your research when you schedule a meeting with someone. If it’s not in an office, ensure you’re somewhere that has the resources you need and also makes you feel good (and has good coffee!)
A few weekends ago I found myself at the Hydro in Stellenbosch for a weekend getaway treat. The Hydro offers all kinds of spa packages and its set amidst the beautiful winelands of the Stellenbosch wine region (40 minutes drive from Cape Town). Walking through the vineyards in between treatments, I was stunned by the truly picturesque sights I was seeing. Below are a few photos I took while walking around the estate. I did a course at Vega offered by Canon in the basics of photography, so I had a great time putting what I learnt to use!
Grootbos Private Nature Reserve is the kind of place you never knew was missing from your life until you’ve experienced it. It’s a sort of African kingdom overlooking the sea. Only 2 hours outside of Cape Town along the stunning “Whale Coast” through Hermanus, it’s a glorious bubble of nature safaris, candle-lit dinners, horse-back excursions, whale-watching outings, historical tours & community outreach projects.
Not so long ago I traveled to Bavaria, Germany, with family and friends. We landed in Munich and took a train to Oberammergau; the prettiest village I’ve ever been to. The reason we went was to watch the famous “Passion Play”, which is performed there only every ten years.
My dogs really make me smile. It’s one of the reasons I love coming back home. My Chocolate Labrador, Bella, gets up to all kinds of mischief when we go walking. She’s not like my Golden Retriever Joe Fox who is happy to just sit in the sea and never wants to leave! I cherish every moment I’m with them.
Even though I now live in the U.S, I was born in South Africa. I try visit as often as possible. We are surrounded by so much beauty there everyday! I thank God for the wild + exotic marvels he provides for us in that part of the world.
I don’t think tourists realise just how beautiful it is there. I don’t think they understand the similarities there with where they’re from. When they book their trips to South Africa, I’ve heard they expect to find mudhuts all over the place with animals walking through dirty streets in a 3rd world pocket of nothingness. That’s simply not true. Of course they’ll always be poverty wherever you go, but the picture they have in their head is completely innacurate. I remember back to when I lived in New York. People didn’t think South Africa was developed at all. I hope to change that misconception!
When they land, tourists are always surprised to find that we have a very normal lifestyle there with bars and nightclubs just like them. We have attractions, schools, universities, businesses, buildings, highways and entertainment just like them. We have a well-developed and working infrastructure. I’ve been all over the world and our international airports are the best I’ve seen.
They gasp at our beauty. They enjoy our top-class hotels, our polished service and our commercial culture – just like they have. They see our world-class education facilities, our safe amenities, our well-spoken citizens, our clean streets, our modern households, our friendly attitudes, our quirky sub-cultures and our huge fashion scene.
They recognize our healthy lifestyle in amidst stunning settings. They love the open space, the land, the people, the views. They marvel at the Cape Winelands, the game reserves, the nature, the beaches, the rolling hills and the mountains. They toast to our sunsets and drink wine under our starry skies. They visit heritage sites of our world leaders like Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu.
Our greatest assets are our minds. We as a people are very forward-thinking and cosmopolitan. What I love about us is that we’re also down-to-earth and mindful of those less fortunate.
Our wildlife is part of our beauty.
In South Africa, you can get up close and personal with our animals. It’s unlike anywhere else in the world. Around where I grew up on the east coast of the country is a lion park. It’s called “Seaview Predator Park”. If you’re planning a trip to South Africa, this is definitely a place you want to go.
Even though all the animals are in cages, trust me, they are well-looked after. They are tame and sociable with tourists. Check out Seaview’s Facebook Page here and scoot over to Pinterest to see my Africa board.
Each and every time I watch the video my business filmed of them, my passion for my homeland grows stronger. Cape Town and Johannesburg have made their names famous internationally, but don’t underestimate the lesser-known places off-the-beaten path such as Port Elizabeth (5 hours from where Nelson Mandela was born!).
All in all, our time is coming.
Photos: Dane Doubell
Cover Photo: Death To The Stock Photo
Meet Nicole Thomson. She’s a graphic designer who grew up in South Africa and then moved to Australia to live and work.
I should be saying Gooday’ mate! But I haven’t got there yet. I’m too South African by heart, so Hello it is! I’ve known Tam since the first day of grade one, on which I went to her house to play Barbies! She is fabulous and we have been through plenty together. From shows, to choir, to band. After growing up in Port Elizabeth, several bouts of travel and studying graphic design, I decided I wanted to see the world from another angle. I moved to Perth, Australia, to see what adventures lay ahead. There have been good times and challenging times, as well as three magical months in Bali in between. But what has remained is the building of the chapters of my story. We all have a story to tell. Be they good or bad chapters, they’re all chapters that strengthen and challenge us to become the people we are destined to be. We learn from each other’s stories, are guided by them, and make our own destinies from those stories. We all have the power to tell our own story, so go out there and start writing yours. Each one has a dark chapter and a chapter full of light, but at the end of the day it’s your own. We are all unique, we are all different and we are all destined for greatness.
Aeterna Non Caduca: Strive for the everlasting and not the passing things of life. That’s the tattoo I got, whilst living in Bali for three months after quitting my job in Australia. I decided life was about more than spending three hours a day in traffic, going to a dull, blue-painted office that had saddened stained carpets and a not-so-welcoming wafting smell of an old library mixed with your grandmother’s house! I think it sums up so superbly the thing we’ve all forgotten the most. As humans, we so easily tend to get caught up in the day-to-day hum of our lives, allowing the bitchy girl at work to get under our skin, or the guy who still hasn’t asked you to be his girlfriend after 3 months of ‘sleep overs’. We obsess over the conundrums and incredible velocity of every day life instead of realising the importance and the beauty of what we can create as eternal. As we know, nothing is really eternal and we all face the ever pirouetting circle of life. But we can choose what we hold as eternity. Is it our memories, our families, our friends or the mesmerizing world that surrounds us? What ever it is for you, choose to strive more to embrace it, treasure it and immerse yourself in it. Although we are not always – or ever – in positions to quit our jobs and escape to exotic islands, we still have every opportunity to stop for a minute, take a deep breath and realize that there is more that surrounds us. There is more happiness, joy and magic in the eternal than in the things that we forget. So I challenge you from now on, to Aeterna Non Caduca – Strive for the everlasting and not the passing things of life!
Christmas / New Year’s is that delicious little period in life when all the worries of the world seem to fade away into some fantastically naughty little indulgence. It can actually be any indulgence in the world – allow me to show you some of my little indulgences over the past 2 weeks 🙂
I flew up to Johannesburg with my family & stayed at Southern Sun, Montecasino. I absolutely LOVED my hotel! We had a gorgeous view from our room overlooking the “Sun Square” as well as a superbly-designed lake, fully equipped with a family of ducks and my favourite – two black swans 🙂 The hotel is a brand-new addition to the hotel family at Montecasino from my understanding… opened in May 2010. I’ve always stayed at their legendary Palazzo hotel when I’ve travelled to Montecasino. I still absolutely love it! But compared to this new addition, it’s a tad old-fashioned. Apparently it’s due for refurbishment this year, which will hopefully give it the freshness & contemporary ambiance of its sister hotel the Southern Sun!
Opened in May 2010 the Southern Sun Montecasino located at The Pivot is an exciting addition to the Montecasino Precinct. The hotel has 194 bedrooms and offers all the modern facilities for both business and leisure travellers including a high spec gymnasium.
The hotel reflects a fusion of period and modern Venetian furnishings with a fresh electric style. Punchinello’s restaurant offers Mediterranean cuisine in an exciting open plan kitchen which allows guests to share in the activities of the bustling kitchen.
A contemporary bar and lounge leads out to a large wooden deck overlooking the pool which is the ideal setting for sundowners.
Walking out of our hotel, there was easy access to the main Montecasino entertainment complex. We spotted these fabulous Venetian-inspired statues along the way! I loved them – there was a statue for every season. My favourite was summer…
There was also just generally some beautiful Venetian-inspired scenery which was so inspiring.
There is an exciting hub just a 5 min walk from our hotel called “Sun Square” which is just brilliant! Complete with restaurants – including the winner of Masterchef South Africa’s very own restaurant called Aarya – a musical fountain, a big screen TV, a clock tower and a giant Teatro (Italian for “Theatre”) hosting top notch productions all year round. Everything in the complex is styled to look like Venice, which I loved. This is where we celebrated New Year’s Eve.
The fireworks at the stroke of midnight were marvelous. I absolutely loved them. I think fireworks at midnight on New Year’s is an absolute MUST. Fireworks & champagne, that’s a true celebration for a new year. All these pics are by my brother, Dane Doubell. Prior to the countdown on New Year’s Eve we enjoyed the award-winning, much-acclaimed musical production “Dirty Dancing”. It blew me away.
I was really excited to wear my new dress from “Forever New”, white always looks great against a bit of a tan 😉
On New Year’s Eve we started a special new tradition which I hope will last for a very long time… We lit 2 beeswax candles which were part of a delicate little ornament I received as a gift from a friend who went to the German Christmas Market last year.
I lit the candle on the left for the old year and blew out all of the past. Then I lit the candle on the right for the future, and breathed in the light of the new year.
I recently created a quote for myself which is where the premise of this tradition began 🙂
Breathe out the past and breathe in the future
I also saw one great quote at “Skoobs” – my new favourite book store – which held lovely significance for me.
To top it all off, I threw a lucky penny into this fountain on New Year’s Eve and made a wish.
What I totally enjoyed about Montecasino was walking around the complex popping into this shop and that, grabbing an iced coffee and watching the live entertainment. There’s always some entertainment in the centre, from saxophone players to magicians to singers to circus folk. I loved the bookstore in the complex and also the 3D cinema where we watched some great films.
Something we loved to do was take a golf cart during the days from our hotel to the “Palazzo Hotel” and swim in their beautiful pool! We alternated between swimming at our hotel and the Palazzo hotel, which were both so gorgeous…
A few more indulgences were definitely at the breakfast buffet.
There were so many people at this hotel and in the complex generally.. I knew we’d picked the perfect place to spend New Year as a family 🙂
On the last day we visited the Montecasino Bird Gardens ……… and I loved it. My impressions of the park were that it is very clean and spacious. Also that they have such a diverse collection of birds. The birds are well looked after and I was thoroughly delighting in all the various exotic birds they have there…
They hold wonderful bird shows every day at different times of the day. I really enjoyed it much more than I first thought I would – I felt like a kid again!
There was one creature I particularly liked, and that was the chameleon!
I also liked the snake, seeing as 2013 is the year of the snake!
I calmed my nerves at a nearby waterfall – gorgeous!
On one evening we went and got a Thai Massage. We did a foot massage and then went into a full body “deep tissue” thai massage. Absolutely incredible! They actually manipulate your entire body as part of the massage. It’s quite something – had me stretching in positions I never knew I could. The parlour where the Thai spa was lay inside the Montecasino complex, making it very convenient for us. I just remember walking in and smelling the sweet scent of vanilla incense…. it was stunning.
I loved everything about this place and it certainly made me add “get a thai massage at least once a month” to my resolutions list.Here is some more info on Thai massages (I found it quite interesting!)
Traditional Thai massage is based on the belief that all life force spirals around special pathways, or prana pathways, in the body. There are 72 000 invisible energy lines, which make up the energy body. Any blockage along these lines can cause disease (dis-ease) on a physical, emotional and spiritual level. Thai massage focuses on 10 important lines, called sen sip. By releasing any blocked energy along the sen lines, prana can flow freely, thereby restoring balance, health and harmony in the body.
Traditional Thai massage is a combination of acupressure, reflexology and yogic exercises, or gentle stretching, which manipulates the energy lines and so diminishes tension, stimulates metabolism and creates a feeling of wellbeing and vitality. Unlike some other therapies, you will feel refreshed and energized after a Thai massage, rather than sedated and lethargic.
After a glorious holiday in Johannesburg, we flew back to my home town Port Elizabeth where I am currently writing to you from.