I have long held the view that the first 15 minutes is the most important time period when you arrive at a hotel as it starts to define your experience. The same can often be said when you arrive at a destination – there is nothing worse than a long wait for a few overworked, immigration officers.
Our arrival into Jo’burg mirrored that of all our clients with your name on a sign at the top of the jet bridge. Regardless of how well-traveled you are, that simple interaction removes so much anxiety…you are with a local. Movement through an airport with a friendly face and local connection removes the needs for the reading of signage. Check-in for the
domestic flight and access to a lounge facility is the next step. All went
Arrival into George Airport was similarly easy. The driver has a sign outside baggage claim and 10 minutes later we are checking into the Manor House at Fancourt.
To be clear, Fancourt is a wonderful resort, but the Manor House is 18 suites with exceptional service inside that environment. First Class within a premium experience. Our group of 15 couples had virtual exclusive use and the camaraderie from the first evening was palpable…like-minded has never been a truer expression! Dinner, drinks, laughs, comparing notes and clubs, overlapping friends…it was a memorable first evening and set the tone for the next 12 days.
The next morning, golf was thoughtfully arranged at noon, golf carts to the front door of The Manor House and off we go with sunny skies and 72 degrees, light breeze.
I am probably an oddball, for I enjoy long haul air travel. I enjoy the experience and the excitement – and for the most part, I try to build an interesting flight into the trip. For me, it is more than getting there and back. On this occasion, I booked British Airways Club World (with points) on the outbound, and Qatar Q Suites on the return flights.
While British Airways is
fairly pedestrian but very dependable, my plan was to use that as a backstop in
the hope Lufthansa First Class (with points) became available – they release
these seats 14 days before travel – but alas, that did not occur, nor did any
Emirates or Etihad award space open on my day of travel.
That being said, it is
my first British Airways A380 flight – as much as I enjoy upstairs on the B747
(row 62 or 64), it did not come close to comparing.
I am looking forward to trying the new Club Suites from British Airways on another trip, but the current, dated Club World ying-yang configuration at the rear of a cabin is fine, where the window passenger has free access to the aisle, although I find the aisle seat has virtually no privacy.
The perception is that trips to South Africa are long…they are. While SAA and Delta offer nonstop service from the USA to Jo’burg, the flight times and our schedule did not match up to save us time, hence the journey via Europe is just fine. A day room at the Sofitel (Terminal 5) and BA First Class lounge (Emerald OneWorld Status) makes the journey that bit shorter.
My other rationale for this one-way routing was to try Qatar Q Suites on the homeward journey via Doha. While Qatar is notorious for changing equipment, their old, reverse herringbone Business Class seat on an A350 is very good (as a fallback!). Additionally, outbound, one-way premium fares from South Africa can be quite aggressive, as I recall, the one-way Business Class fare, JNB to Philadelphia was less than $2,000….for one of the very best Business Class experiences in the world.
Delayed or lost luggage is a frustrating fact of the travel lifestyle. If you travel enough, you have likely been subject to the cruelest game of wishing, particularly if you are on a golf trip and the item which is MIA are your golf clubs. This recent announcement by British Airways is an interesting development and one that I will track closely.
After 35+ years of travel, I will admit to particularly enjoying the more convenient and comfortable ways of airline conveyance. This can be my preference for airline lounges, an exact seat on specific aircraft layout or routing with a preferred carrier. Therefore, the recent announcement of a new arrival and departure facility at Dublin Airport caught my attention. Read more “Experience Effortless Travel Through Dublin Airport, Ireland”
Rome is a city beyond compare, combining a blend of romance, culture, history and beauty to create an ideal destination for any traveler possessing a keen sense of adventure and intellectual curiosity about previous eras.
Millions of guests from around the globe visit Italy’s capital each year, mingling with the city’s 2.8 million residents amid relics and structures that date back two thousand years. While many visitors indulge in exquisite dining and fine wines in the evening, they perhaps walk the avenues the next day to observe the architecture, parks, gardens, monuments and museums, burning calories while enjoying the scenery.
The golf is fantastic and diverse in Italy as guests on a PerryGolf Escorted Tour enjoy six rounds, including one at Marco Simone, located 10 miles from the center of Rome and sharing the grounds of an 11th century castle. Marco Simone is the site of the 2022 Ryder Cup and from several holes offers a view of St. Peter’s Dome, which was designed by Michelangelo. The brilliant Italian fashion designer Laura Biagiotti (“The Queen of Cashmere”) and future husband Gianni Cigna bought the property in the late 1970s and commissioned American architect Jim Fazio in 1989 to carve out the outstanding 27-hole golf course.
If your travels to Rome allowed you only one sight to see, this would surely be it. Then again, you’ll hardly face that problem on a PerryGolf Escorted Tour as there is ample time allotted for each sight to be enjoyed at a leisurely pace. And this architectural wonder deserves to be savored and explored.
Also known as the Flavian Amphitheater, The Colosseum was commissioned by Emperor Vespasian in 72 AD and his son, Titus, opened it with a bang eight years later, presenting 100 consecutive days of games – which included gladiators battling and wild animals fighting. After four centuries, the arena fell into neglect and only one-third of the original structure remains today. Nearly four million visitors tour the grounds each year.
Perhaps Michelangelo himself best described this former temple the first time he gazed upon it, saying it looked more like the work of angels than the work of humans. The best preserved Roman Monument, it was built in 120 AD by Emperor Hadrian, who collaborated with Apollodorus of Damascus on its design. The building became a church in the 7th century and features the world’s largest unsupported dome, measuring 142 feet in diameter – nearly 50 feet larger than than the dome on the U.S. Capitol. Supporting the building are 16 massive Corinthian columns weighing 60 tons apiece. During construction each column traveled down the Nile River during spring flooding and onward across the Mediterranean Sea before arriving in the heart of Rome.
Located inside the city of Rome is the world’s smallest fully independent city-state which serves as headquarters to the Roman Catholic Church. Vatican City gained its current status on the 11th of February, 1929, signed into existence by the Italian leader Benito Mussolini. St. Peter’s Basilica, built between 1477 and 1480, is a featured building while inside the Vatican Palace the Sistine Chapel features the renaissance art of Michelangelo, including his remarkable paintings on the ceiling, which have been fully restored in recent years and are vibrant and clear today. A central point to the ceiling art is nine scenes from the Book of Genesis, including The Creation of Adam, a work without compare in the High Renaissance world. The majority of Vatican City’s 600 residents live abroad, although it remains, of course, the residence of Pope Francis.
The center of ancient Rome, the Forum ruins give a glimpse of the temples, basilicas and vibrant public spaces that beginning in the 7th century served as host to religious and secular events. Rectangular in shape, it was once the home to battles between gladiators, general elections, public speeches, criminal trials and also functioned as the centerpiece of Roman commerce. It developed and transformed over many centuries under different rulers and was eventually replaced by nearby buildings constructed under the rule of Julius Caesar among others. Augustus Caesar gave the Forum its final configuration.
As legend has it, toss a coin into the Trevi Fountain and ensure your return to Rome. Millions of liras and euros have no doubt plummeted to the fountain floor in this pursuit. Dating to the earliest Roman times, the fountain served as a display of an ancient Roman aqueduct. Built mostly of travertine stone, the Trevi Fountain is 85 feet high and spills 2.8 million cubic feet of water daily. The theme of the fountain is the ‘taming of the power of water.’ The muscular, majestic form of Neptune (16 feet in height) is the primary figure among the intricate carvings, which include his two steeds and their tritons as well as Abundance, holding the horn of plenty and Health, drinking from a serpent filled cup. Pope Nicholas V ordered a restoration in 1453 and the fountain has enhanced its reputation as Italy’s most beautiful in the centuries since.