Brewer's Droop #204

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I have a challenge for you and I’m 100 per cent sure I know how you’ll vote.

One of the things I look forward to at the weekends is reading the newspaper travel sections. But last week I looked at a feature and thought to myself “can’t be!”

We all know that SA is not getting the number of tourists we deserve (these are the people who could give our entire economy a huge leg-up). I always thought there were two primary reasons. The first was our bad rep for violence and the second was a 12 hour journey from Europe (and SAA hasn’t made it any easier by not flying directly to Cape Town anymore).

But there’s a third reason – and it’s the cost of accommodation here. It’s simply insane. I’ll give you a couple of quick examples (on a like-for-like basis). A night at the Cape Grace will cost from R5,200 and the Vineyard Hotel less, at from R2,475 in Cape Town. In Johannesburg the Hilton (Sandton) is from R3,500. Now pop over to London and you’ll find that the RITZ is from R4,890, the Royal Garden Kensington (it’s close to the palace so Royals pop in there quite often) from R3,030 and the Henry VIII R1,900.

How can a Cape Town hotel be more expensive than the Ritz in London?

No wonder the tourists aren’t exactly flocking here – it’s a disgrace.

Returning to this feature (headlined “need a short break?”), it described weekend getaways as we approach our winter. The first was a state-of-the-art house near Swellendam called “Godswindow” and it looks fabulous. It costs R12,000 per night for 3 couples. Compare that to a Villa in Tuscany (for 3 couples) at R4,500 per night or one in the Algarve (also 6 people) from R2,000 a night. Go figure. How can a weekend house in Swellendam cost between three and six times what they charge for lovely villas in Europe? Again, no wonder we’re not seeing a lot of Euros being exchanged.

Several other places were said to be “perfect” and one of them was the Marine Hotel in Hermanus. It costs from R6,600 per night (for 2 people). The Marine is a lovely hotel but, frankly, it’s still only Hermanus so let’s not get too excited yet.

Now, here’s your challenge.

A ten day, five star cruise in the Med costs R9,500pp (that’s a suite with balcony and includes as much food as you could possible want to eat). It cruises from Rome to Istanbul and back – so your view is constantly changing as it crosses different seas until the Bosphorus and then back again. So the cost for two of you would be R19,000

Three nights for two at the Marine will cost R19,800

It’s your choice. You can spend 10 days in luxury, travelling in sunshine, visiting exotic ports between Italy and Turkey with stage shows every evening and hundreds of other things to do, together with the best service you can ever possibly imagine and five star cuisine – all included.

Or you could spend three nights in Hermanus, risking the weather and having to pay for whatever you wish to eat as an additional charge.

You choose.

Of course there’s a catch. You have to get to Rome. But Turkish airlines will fly you there for R6,500 return (including taxes etc.) So, to be fair, you have to compare five nights in Hermanus to ten nights in the Med (including the flights).

Yes, I was right, you chose Hermanus in the winter and out of whale season didn’t you? Good choice.


A young lady I know came crying to me recently to say she’d been fired from her job. Naturally I asked what her employer’s reasons were and she said they’d accused her of wasting her time on Facebook and other sites.

I asked her if that was true and she said “not really, I mean I do go on Facebook a bit but not enough to really waste any time – or that’s what I thought anyway.”

So I checked her profile and, as far as I can see, she’s been posting photographs and inane messages every day (working day – not weekends) for a long time. Normally between 9 and 11am and then again around mid-afternoon.

Apparently her boss was having her monitored so when the axe fell he could tell her exactly how much company time she’d been wasting. They knew the exact times of postings, the length spent logged into various sites, in fact they knew so much that he queried how on earth she had time to do her work.

She didn’t know they were watching. But she’d been warned several times that the company would deal severely with any employee wasting company time on social media.

I happen to know her boss quite well and she asked me to put in a good word for her. But I just couldn’t do it and said I was sorry but she deserved getting the heave-ho, adding that if she worked for me then I’d probably do the same thing.

So all you active Tweeters and Facebookers out there be warned! You may be being monitored without knowing it – until one day an officious bloke from HR comes around and tells you to pack your bags.

And if you think you’re so clever that you can never be caught then you should be even more worried.


In Texas recently, Diamond D’s whorehouse began construction on an expansion of their building to increase their ever-growing business. In response, the local Baptist Church started a campaign to block the business from expanding — with morning, afternoon, and evening prayer sessions at their church.

Work on Diamond D’s progressed right up until the week before the grand reopening when lightning struck the brothel and burned it to the ground! 

After this had happened, the church congregation were rather smug in their outlook, bragging about “the power of prayer.”

But late last week ‘Big Jugs’ Jill Diamond, the owner/madam, sued the church, the preacher and the entire congregation on the grounds that the church “was ultimately responsible for the demise of her building and her business — either through direct or indirect divine actions or means.”

In its reply to the court, the church vehemently and voraciously denied any and all responsibility or any connection to the building’s demise. 

The crusty old judge read through the plaintiff’s complaint and the defendant’s reply, and at the opening hearing he commented…

”I don’t know how the hell I’m going to decide this case, but it appears from the paperwork, that we now have a whorehouse owner who staunchly believes in the power of prayer, and an entire church congregation that thinks it’s all bullshit!”

You gotta love Texas.


And speaking of pimps, I see there’s an argument going on at the moment concerning Government’s apparent attempt to control the fees that lawyers can charge. (It’s something like that anyway – I don’t like reading about how attorneys and advocates squeeze so much money out of their clients really).

Anyway, I have a solution. Let’s say the average lawyer charges between R2,000 and R20,000 per hour? There should be legislation in place that says no lawyer can charge more than R500 an hour (which is still over a million a year). Then the difference in their fees can be given to professions that actually deserve it, like nurses, teachers and policemen – getting their salaries up to something relatively meaningful.

Now that would be a nice thing to do wouldn’t it?

Ho hum, there’s still a lot of Summer and cricket left, so chuck another chop on the braai and enjoy!


(In case you didn’t know, I’m an award-winning writer – unfortunately the award was for swimming.)

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  1. Chris, you are SO right! You can get really good hotels in London for less than ZAR1,400 – and that’s for the ROOM (not per person)!

    • That’s what makes it even more ridiculous. When two (or more) of you are traveling together the difference in price becomes exponentially absurd – this rate per person is crazy.

  2. One of my favourite whinges actually. My husband and I found perfectly good farm stay accommodation in Tuscany last year for between Euro 380 and 500 per week. That’s right – per week. And you haven’t even started on the game lodge prices yet.

  3. As a former Chief Marketing Officer of South African Tourism, it is my firm belief that pricing like that is lunacy. It is simply not justified. Wrong on so many levels.

  4. Quite simply, it’s called GREED

    • It’s also called stupidity.

  5. Hotel accommodation prices are f—king ridiculous. And why do we charge per person and not per room? A number of years ago (not too long) my husband and I paid R600 for a room with continental breakfast (horrible) in Venice in June. And I bet the hotel staff is paid far more than ours. Has anybody in the hotel industry got an explanation?

    • I wonder if anyone’s ever calculated what the additional COST to a hotel is if one extra person stays in a room? Sure as hell it’s not going to be the rate they charge per person!

  6. That Facebook lady deserves to lose her job. We’ve just installed monitoring systems in our office and suddenly all the stupid messages have stopped! Massive time waster!

  7. Quite right – our five star hotels are not only over-priced but lacking in service. The only thing keeping them alive is the pathetic value of the Rand. Speaking of which the Rand should be tried for treason – But that’s another story

  8. Chris, can you offer a small hint as to the cruise company or is that blatant marketing? I’m intrigued.

    • No problem. We’re going on Norwegian Jade (Norwegian Cruise Line) at end April. There are lots of special offers on right now.

      • Thanks for heads-up on the cruise. Enjoy!

  9. Love your droops – always a good read!

  10. So true – two years ago I spent a week in the Dordoigne region in France doing cookery course. The hotel was a fabulously renovated 17th century chateau, listed in the Conde Naste Top Hundred European hotels, the chefs were trained in Michelin-starred restaurants, and the entire week (including generous supplies of wine and cognac) cost less than bed and breakfast at the Pumula Hotel on the KZN South Coast!

    Of course, it was the off-season, and I did have to get to France, but still…

  11. Our family of six + baby spent a week in a beautiful 4-bed, 3 bathroom fully equipped apartment in Venice for 1500.00 Euros. Go figure.

    • …in July…

  12. I’m also interested in that Cruise Company Chris. 10 days in the Med sounds good in the middle of a Jozi winter……

    • Gill, see my reply to Chantal above.

      Bon Voyage!

  13. So right, I fly to London every 6 weeks to watch football and stay in a 4 star Radisson hotel in Bloomsbury. My room (small suite) costs me R1500.00 per night, garden court prices for SA. To fly to Johannesburg on business for 3 nights including a Sandton hotel = R12,000 – 15,000 and I can go to London for that price for a long weekend

    • Yeah, there’s something horribly wrong somewhere!

  14. It’s a sad reality that I could take my wife and kids on a 3 week trip to the US including Disney, the big apple and even the Florida Keys staying in 4*+ hotels for less than what the same trip would have cost locally.

    Undeniably though, our local market is just too small to be really competitive with the 12 hour + travel from pretty much anywhere with money. ergo, we pay more.

    • A South African, who lives in the USA now, was visiting here recently and was totally gobsmacked by the prices. He reckons MOST things are cheaper in the States – and as for hotel prices, well he thought they were SO expensive they were laughable.

      He was puzzled as to why our prices keep on rising faster than most other countries.

  15. HaHaHa! Good one Chris!
    Reminds me of the movie with Billy Connelly
    “The man who sued God”
    in this case, even better –
    “The DD madam who sued God”

  16. Louise and I travelled to Phuket via Singapore last year, stayed over for two nights. Spent two full weeks in a wonderful three star resort hotel on the beach just north of Patong in Phuket, Had great day trips to Phi Phi, and an elephant farm.Had meals out every night (hotel offered outstanding B&B) all for under R15 000 each- all in! (Booked through Thompson’s) Holidays).

    • Or you could have had three days in Hermanus (including airfares, car-hire, dinners at the Wimpy and a day’s visit to Caledon).

  17. The price of accommodation in SA is ridiculous. I read an article written during the Soccer world cup and compared the ridiculous amounts that hotels were charging. The writer reckoned that many Europeans did not come to SA but rather opted to stay home and watch the action on TV, go on holiday to Spain and still have change.

    • Yep. I read something similar – although I also had a lot of overseas friends who had a sudden desire to come and visit me!

      The reality is that, whilst many possible visitors can just about come to terms with the airfare (and the 12 hour journey) when they look at the accommodation prices it’s just a no-brainer – they can’t afford it (or refuse to spend it).

      We’re losing out on hundreds of thousands of visitors every year.

      • …Especially because over World Cup, Fifa took first option (and then cancelled on) hundreds of bed nights, and everybody else pre-empted the imagined supply-demand deficit by putting up their prices.


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