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What does the TripAdvisor Trip Friends Feature mean for the hospitality industry?

In a nutshell the TripAdvisor Trip Friends Feature allows travelers to tap into Facebook and find friends that can offer advice about a specific destination and what they should see, do and definitely avoid while they’re there.

This feature means that, for us in the industry, TripAdvisor is now even more important and more relevant.

Before this feature users (or TripAdvisor community members) were reading reviews by individuals who weren’t friends but who had personally experienced the destination, restaurant, hotel, wine farm and more that the user was looking to experience.

Now imagine how powerful it would be if these people reviewing their experiences weren’t strangers. Imagine if the people advising you were your trusted friends.

CC attribution soylentgreen23 on Flickr

That’s incredibly powerful and, as I mentioned before, it makes TripAdvisor reviews even more relevant to the individual.

What this means is that, as a brand affected by TripAdvisor, you can no longer afford to bury your head in the sand.

CC attribution Learning Futures Festival 2010 on Flickr

You need to recognize TripAdvisor and work out how you going to harness its phenomenal power and leverage your brand off its incredible reach.

Posted by: Le Quaf
Posted in: Travel, Trends,
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Dining at Noma – The Owner’s Perspective

If you’ve read Margot’s blog post, about our dinner at Noma, you’ll already know that it was fantastic. In fact it was so fantastic that I just had to write about it too.

The entire Noma experience is phenomenal but there are a few things that were standouts for me.

Image courtesy of paz.ca (http://www.flickr.com/photos/pazca/4065853316/)

Image courtesy of paz.ca (http://www.flickr.com/photos/pazca/4065853316/)

The first standout – the décor:

Noma’s décor is minimalist. It showcases beautiful, simple Scandinavian design and there isn’t a tablecloth in sight! In many ways the decor is not what you’d expect from the best restaurant in the world. But it is very true to its heritage and, as we rediscovered throughout the night, Noma is all about being Nordic!
The second standout – the ingredients:

All the ingredients, used at Noma (which incidentally stands for Nordic Food), are from Nordic countries. So, for example, no olive oil is ever used! In fact René and his team (from 21 different countries) spend time foraging on the local beaches for natural and different ingredients.

The third standout – the food:

We indulged in Noma’s 12 course menu. What I experienced was a series of flavours and textures each more extraordinary than the last. From the moment you, as a guest, arrive at Noma you receive food starting with tastes from smoked quail eggs to chicken skin sandwiches. Then the courses start arriving and they ranged from crayfish tales, that have to be eaten by hand, to marrow bones wrapped in brown paper and filled with smoked toffee … all exceptional!

The fourth standout – the plating:

All tastes and courses, at Noma, are served in unusual containers including: old cake tins, felt and rocks from the sea-bed. At Noma the plating is as intriguing as the food. The cutlery, on the other hand, is simple. Only one style and size of knife and fork are used throughout the meal. Then there is the fantastic interaction that guests have with the chefs who come to the table and actually pour the sauce, they’ve created, into the plate. At Noma the artists don’t hide in the kitchen!

The fifth and final standout – the juice pairing:

As someone who doesn’t do wine pairings I find that I end up drinking glass after glass of water with a great meal. As you can imagine this can get a little boring so I absolutely loved the fact that I could have my 12 courses paired with different juices. This made me feel, like I too was experiencing something very special!

The trip was worth every minute and, if you get a booking at Noma, you have to go! This might be a feat in itself because after being named no.1 in the San Pellegrino World Top 50  Restaurant Awards their website crashed, their emails gave up and their phone stopped working. They could be fully booked for the next 3 years but, luckily, they only take bookings 3 months in advance. For more information visit the Noma website.

Posted by: Sue Huxter
Posted in: Experience, Travel, Trends,
comment-notesComments: 0


  

Eating at D.O.M in Brazil

Just under a month ago we were in Brazil, South America. We were there to experience their culture and cuisine and introducing them to Franschhoek, South Africa.

One of the highlights of our trip was our meal at D.O.M. The unique cuisine offered at D.O.M is the brainchild of the incredible, Alex Atala. He’s a passionate man and, from the moment you set foot in D.O.M, you can feel his love for both Brazil and food.

Chef Alex Atala in his restaurant D.O.M. Photograph by Cristiano Madureira.

Chef Alex Atala in his restaurant D.O.M. Photograph by Cristiano Madureira.


D.O.M offers diners a menu that highlights indigenous Brazilian flavours. Ingredients, herbs and spices are used to showcase everything that is Brazil. When we dined at D.O.M we experienced Priprioca essence with amazing little squid and beetroot cream, liquid coconut risotto with Dendê oil and mint, Paca fried crispy with manioc and Madeira sauce, Brazil nut cake with dark chocolate whiskey sorbet and a dusting of curry and more.

It is an exceptional restaurant and one that, if you find yourself in South America, you simply have to try.

Posted by: Sue Huxter
Posted in: Experience, Le Quartier Français, Travel, Trends,
comment-notesComments: 0


  

What should top hotels realistically expect guests to pay for?

I recently read a short article – you’ll find it here – and it got me thinking.

As hoteliers I believe that we often forget what is really important and what adds real value to a guest’s experience. Somehow, and I think this happens in all industries (not just tourism), we believe that in the hallowed-halls of our own establishments the things that irritate us – when we are paying customers elsewhere – don’t apply.

When I’m a guest there are a few specific things that don’t work for me and I’ve worked hard to ensure that Le Quartier Français guests never have to experience them. Because, apart from the fact that they irritate me, I think that they have the ability to ruin a premium hotel experience.

I’m very interested to find out what your pet hotel peeves are? What has the ability to ruin your entire stay at a luxury establishment?

Posted by: Sue Huxter
Posted in: Hotel, Le Quartier Français, Travel, Trends,
comment-notesComments: 0


  

Travel with Purpose

The Mrs. Ndaba programme has forever changed the way we look at travel.

We are now constantly looking for new experiences that enrich our lives but, at the same time, make a significant difference in the lives of others.

In Buenos Aires we found another great Travel with Purpose Experience. A friend of mine, Milagros, has opened a wonderful restaurant. This restaurant offers diners great local food  and at the same time it helps makes a difference in the lives of countless homeless children.

Milagros is doing something phenomenal, she’s changing lives.

Posted by: Sue Huxter
Posted in: Community, Inspiration, Mrs Ndaba, Travel,
comment-notesComments: 0


  

Dining at Noma

Eating at Noma, only fours days after it was awarded the title of 2010 S.Pellegrino World’s Best Restaurant was an incredible experience.

It is impossible to describe the dinner in a few words, but what I loved the most is that it was so true to itself. We tasted Nordic cuisine, herbs, pickled vegetables, berries and more. I chose to pair my meal with wines while Susan had hers with a juice pairing – incredible, especially the apple and pine shoots!

What stood out for me?

The raw chestnuts sliced at different thicknesses for texture, served with a fishroe sauce, rye crumbs and cress. The whole crayfish tail, just cooked, served on a rock from the beach with a cream of oyster, and powder of seaweed which had to be eaten without cutlery – fabulous! Then there was the dehydrated scallop with grains, watercress and seaweed/squid ink oil.

In fact every course, of our six hour long dinner, was amazing. From the six pre-dinner amuse – served with champagne – to the incredible 12 courses that followed.

My inspiration has been completely re-charged. I only wish Copenhagen was a little closer to Franschhoek…

Posted by: Margot Janse
Posted in: Cuisine, Experience, Food, Travel,
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We are dining at Noma tonight

Tonight the owner and I will be dining at Noma (number 1 in the S.Pellegrino World’s 50 Best Restaurants 2010 awards).

Super excited!

Posted by: Margot Janse
Posted in: Le Quartier Français, Margot Janse, Travel,
comment-notesComments: 0


  

Travel & Leisure 2010 World’s Best Survey

If you’ve been meaning to, but haven’t yet had the chance, please pop on over to the Travel & Leisure World’s Best Awards to vote for Le Quartier Français. Voting closes at 11:59 ET on the 31st of March 2010, so there is still time.

If you’ve already voted but feel so strongly about us appearing in the World’s Best please feel free to vote again.

If you need a little motivation … Travel & Leisure are running their own competition that sees one lucky voter winning a dream trip worth $10 000,00. If that’s not enough incentive to vote I don’t know what is!

Remember, you can’t win if you don’t enter.

Posted by: Sue Huxter
Posted in: Hotel, Le Quartier Français, Travel,
comment-notesComments: 0


  

New addition to Margot Janse’s KLM Business Class Menu

Margot’s very popular Business Class KLM menu has been updated. If you’re a frequent KLM Business Class passenger you’ll definitely appreciate the new addition to the menu.

The new starter is a: Beech-smoked salmon offered with pickled fennel, crispy fried onions and dill
with a ginger and buttermilk flan.

If you’ve tried it please leave a comment and let us know what you think.

Posted by: Sue Huxter
Posted in: Cuisine, Le Quartier Français, Margot Janse, Travel,
comment-notesComments: 0


  

Dining in Paris at Le Chateaubriand – the World’s 40th Best Restaurant

While I was in Paris I ate at the world’s 40th best restaurant – Le Chateaubriand – located in the 11th Arrondisment.

It was intimate, there were no pictures on the wall, the tables were wooden and packed closely together. There was only one menu – 5 courses – and absolutely no choice!

The only way to maybe have something changed or removed from the dish was for allergy reasons (and even this wasn’t guaranteed). Simple dislike of a food type i.e. tomatoes did not warrant it being removed from the dish.

Le Chateuabriand - image courtesy of Meg Zimback (http://www.flickr.com/photos/megzimbeck)

Le Chateaubriand - image courtesy of Meg Zimback (http://www.flickr.com/photos/megzimbeck)


I didn’t think I’d enjoy the inflexible menu as much as I did. I loved the fact that I did not have to choose my meal! It was really easy – the food was all very enjoyable – and we had a great evening.

Diner-proof menus are something I’ve noticed are appearing in a number of the top restaurants world-wide. Are they a trend or are they here to stay?

My personal opinion is that they’ll be around for a while. The customers that visit the top restaurants in the world all lead exceptionally busy lives and, when you’re that busy, it’s nice to have a few hours where you’re not required to made decisions. Plus when the menu has been diner-proofed the emphasis is placed on enjoying spectacular dishes the way they were meant to be enjoyed.

Posted by: Sue Huxter
Posted in: Cuisine, Experience, Inspiration, Le Quartier Français, Travel, Trends,
comment-notesComments: 0


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