Ralph Iantosca's Podcast

Belmond Journeys in Africa

December 30, 2019 Ralph Iantosca, Cindy Holloway and Sean Clark Season 1 Episode 2
Ralph Iantosca's Podcast
Belmond Journeys in Africa

spk_0:   0:06
so Good morning, Sean. And Cindy, I'm so glad you guys are here with us. Welcome. I want to communicate to all of our listeners about Belmont journeys in Africa. And we love you as a supplier. I think that your programs are beautiful. And so I'd like for you to give us a little bit of background about you and about journeys in Africa.

spk_1:   0:23
Yeah, absolutely. And well, thanks for the opportunity to be on your podcast. And also thanks for the support that you've given to Belmont. My background is quite diverse. My grew up in a hospitality family, and my parents ran safari lodges and resorts and hotels in South Africa. I ended up living in a game reserve for eight years throughout my teenage years, and it was there's a very experiential upbringing that we had having lines in your backyard, but it really was fantastic and hospitality, but just kind of let me and I ended up going to university and getting a marketing degree, but then falling back into the hospitality side of things and being with bellman Now for 12 years, I worked for a cooperator before that, but literally your hospitality has been in my blood. I remember my parents saying to me once do they said, Never get into the hospitality industry. It's long hours and little pain on I said, Never. Don't you worry. I'm gonna be a hotshot marketer based out of New York. And well, here I am.

spk_0:   1:18
And Cindy and I have been friends for well over 20 years. Way your first bar there? Yes, I was an African virgin when I met you.

spk_2:   1:26
That's right. 2000 to 4000 Thio, Botswana,

spk_0:   1:32
South Africa as well. So it's fun

spk_2:   1:35
now. Here you are.

spk_0:   1:36
Yeah, talking about Botswana today. I love it, so I have a question for you. So who's the candidate or the client that best travels with Belmont, Africa?

spk_1:   1:45
It's a good question, I think. What's so great about the industry that we find ourselves in is that the consumer is always so different in the guest that we get Thio a tractor, the lodges. If I had to define a Belmont, a guest that's travels to our safari lodges in Botswana, it would definitely be someone who's up for an adventure up for an experience. You know the word back. It list has always being bandied about in the last five or six years of it. Really, I always say it's on your bucket list until you experience it once. And then once you come back, you just keep all. Once you experience it, you just keep on wanting to come back. But the Belmont declined. Here is someone who's really wanting luxury, but at the same time that soft experience that they know that when they leave the larges, they're gonna have really inauthentic experience and I know or think sense of place, our gain, some of the buzz words that have been used. But if you know Belmont, you know that we really have that sense of place with a ll the property. Well,

spk_0:   2:35
that's what you wanna make partners. I mean, the three key ingredients dairy trip. We do have to have the same thing we have to have authentic, innovative and memorable. And if I can't include those three things in the trip, we won't do it.

spk_1:   2:45
Yeah, 100%. And I think we're exactly the same thing in South Africa and in Botswana. I don't think you can replicate the Belmont experience despite the fact that There are so many options that you get to choose from eyes, really a very specially spirits when you travel with Belmont.

spk_0:   2:58
So let's talk about Botswana. Botswana was the very first place everyone in Africa and it's in my heart, and I absolutely love it and special over the last 20 years of bookings, for he's going on, Safari is going to Africa. Almost all these years I learned that I love to be active, and I don't just love to go on a game driving a Jeep. I like to do different things. So why don't we talk about the two camps that you offer a very special experiences in that air? Extremely upscale like Let's talk about civility. Describe just civility camp to us

spk_1:   3:27
well, seventies, an extremely special camp and, you know, it was supposed to have favorite Children. Then I know Cindy Cindy's got her own favorite child, but my favorite child is is the beauty. I think that you know what what makes a beauty really special is that you cannot replicate that kind of ecosystem anywhere in Botswana or or in Southern Africa, for that matter. It's a great mixture of wild Africa it's raw Africa, but at the same time, you could have a really great luxury experience with with Belle. Monday. What really I love about the campus that you in the mixed off the adventure all the time. There's always wildlife around you, whether it's at the watering hole with you out on the vehicles in the Savannah area where you see roiling thunderstorms in the background or herds of 2 300 elephant crossing the savannah, it just is such a special special place. I mean, said Beauty has just recently, Bean rebuilt, so Belmont's invested a huge amount off for money in the property, and it's now one of the greenest, most sustainable lodges in Botswana.

spk_0:   4:24
That's really nice. And what's Eagle Island like?

spk_1:   4:28
Completely different to see beauty. And I think that's what the beauty of Botswana is is that you will get very contrast ing experiences on. That's why it's important to combine at least two or three different areas. Eagle Island is a watery wonderland. It's It's in the middle of the Okavango Delta knock of anger. Delta is the 1000 UNESCO World Heritage Site, and what's fascinating about the Delta is that these 11 million cubic tons of water. They come up from the Angolan highlands and travel through the arc of anger over an empty, out in dark of anger. Delta. And but it flows inland towards the desert, and it disappears into the desert. And that happens. Repetitive Lee every single year and Eagle Island is on an island in the middle of the delta. So in peak water there's literally nothing on that island except as from the airstrip in the village that's close by. You can't drive off. You can walk off, but you can only fly in. So you really get that sense that you're in literally one of the last remaining wildernesses in the world. And like I said, that's Cindy's one of Cindy's favorite places at the same time.

spk_0:   5:27
So if you're on Abel Island, let's talk about how active you could be because, you know, I just mentioned to going on a game. Drive is something we love, but there's more. So what are some other experiences? I think he had mentioned nine different experiences.

spk_1:   5:39
Yeah, correct. Eagle Island. It's not whether you're in the middle of the activity or not, it's It's almost trying to steal away those moments that you get to really be memorable about an Eagle Island. You always in that that kind of tension between I want to be out doing all the activities, but wow, look at my changing accommodation and I've got a plunge pool and I will really want to enjoy that experience, too. But it's known as the ultimate Water and Experience Safari in Botswana because it offers up to nine different safaris, depending on the time of year that you go. So whether it's your water based survives and we know the Delta is really what kind of creates that that different kind of experience compared to East Africa in South Africa, where you doing your canoes, which are commonly known as macaw rose in Botswana? You doing your barge cruises? You doing a motorboat safaris you can do walking. You can do fishing. You can do your village or your cultural experience, which is a phenomenal experience in its own right, when you really get to engage with the local villages and have an identity of how they actually live their lives. Or you could do horseback safaris or you could do helicopter safaris or even game drives, which so you've really got a smorgasbord off different experiences that you can select from. And I think that's really great for our guests because not one shoe fits every size. And I think that's what we pride ourselves on these having that difference.

spk_0:   6:59
So that's nice over. Get out like a desert in a Delta kind of experience. And then, if we're going to keep going with Belmont, you have one of the most beautiful properties in Cape Town. Cindy amount. Now

spk_2:   7:09
we do the Mount Nelson. It's a very historic property hotel, 120 years old, built by the British and throughout the hotel. As with any Belmont, you walk in and you know exactly where you are. You feel like you're in Cape Town. We're in Cape Town, the local Cape Town where the cake Tony ins go shop, where they go to bistros and for drinks out in the evening so you can walk out the back gate of the hotel and and you're on Bree Street or close street with the locals. And that's really what you want when you travel to the city to come home, feeling like you've not just been a tourist, but you've been in the local neighborhoods. The other beautiful thing about the Mount Nelson. We're surrounded by nine acres. So we're an oasis with in the middle of the city with some stunning views of Table Mountain from different areas of the hotel. We have a beautiful South African artists who not only have contributed to the art collection within the hotel, but contemporary artist and artists that are long gone. But throughout the gardens, how many gardeners do we employ?

spk_1:   8:18
My gosh, it is about 15 of them. They celebrate departed

spk_2:   8:22
beautiful gardens and there's all of these acres surrounding the hotel. But within the gardens, they're they're beautiful local sculptures as well. So you can do garden tours. You can do our tours, you can do sculpture tours and you have all

spk_1:   8:34
the sustainability projects, the beehives and the worm farms. It is a huge amount,

spk_2:   8:39
and everything that comes out of the warm forms goes back into the flower beds in the garden. So just historic and a wonderful feel of local Cape Town and the best afternoon British tea in all of the world.

spk_1:   8:54
Cheesecakes. But

spk_0:   8:56
okay, Yeah, no I love your hotel. I stayed there a couple of times, and I always thought it was just so special. Every time we were there, I think one of my favorite things was walking down the halls and seeing all the immigration photos from everybody from Europe that had come in. See, I'm getting off the ship and started their family life

spk_2:   9:12
and all those air still there incorporated into a bit of the new renovation and design.

spk_0:   9:17
We're big fans of Belmont and for how many years we worked together and travel together. And I've been almost every property for years. Yeah, and I love all of your properties and I love the Belmont experience, and I love that Belmont offers safaris. I mean, Africa is near and dear to my heart, so having the opportunity to travel with Belmont Africa now, it's just very special. Well,

spk_2:   9:37
we look forward to having you and all of your wonderful clients that have traveled around the world with us and to be able to experience This is terrific. So what are

spk_0:   9:45
three takeaways from this today that you would want to convey to our listeners who book all their travel through us and want to go to South Africa. In Botswana,

spk_1:   9:54
I think number one trust wealth. He knows what he's talking about. He loves bellman. He loves the brand. I think he knows exactly what what you're gonna be in store for in Botswana when you travel with us. But I think another key take out is that if you really wanting to do Africa, whether it's a back of the store repeats a kind of clientele that are gonna come across. You don't get an experience like Belmont. You really have to seek out those kind of experiences. And we pride ourselves on really conjuring up some of the most fantastic memories that you can have in Africa. And you got one thing for sure with you in Cape Town or whether you're in Botswana, you're gonna leave having truly experienced the destinations, and that's really goes without saying across our entire Belmont portfolio. But Africa is a very special place, a little creep into your heart time and time again.

spk_0:   10:37
And what if someone had never heard of Bell on? How would you describe your brand new luxury brand?

spk_2:   10:43
Well, we're actually not new, you know, the company started out. The name of the company was Orient Express. We changed it a few years ago because our unique portfolio has expanded. You know, in 43 years we started as a company with the Hotel Cipriani in Venice, and we still to this day on the Venice Simplon or ain't Express Train. You know that the train of kings and the King of trains, as we call it. But now we own 50 hotels, trains and cruises around the world, from Africa to Peru to all over Italy, into Asia. So, you know, one thing that I say about our portfolio is that it is unique. There's no other company like ours. When I talk about our hotels, we don't build hotels. We buy, um, we buy them for their cultural significance. We have two that were old monasteries, one that's in Italy, one that's in Cusco. We buy them for their cultural significance, their historical significance, their location, whether it's sanctuary, lodge up in the ruins of mantra P choo or its hotel, just Colorado, us on the you know, the banks of the river and exhaustive falls. Or it's Eagle Island camp in the middle of the Okavango Delta. I mean, there's nothing more special about that. We are a collection that is full off unique experiences and character. There's no other company like out.

spk_0:   12:16
Oh, and just finally, would you maybe describe the two hours that you're the blind the other day in Botswana?

spk_2:   12:22
Well, last year I went Thio Savuti for the first time because we had rebuilt the camp and I need to go see it. And I went with one of my best friends who had never been to Africa, and I've been to Africa many times. I've now lost count. So I woke up one morning and I thought, I don't want to do a game drive the whole camp. Everyone had gone out to do a game drive, and I took my coffee and went down into the elephant hide over the water hole alone, and I sat there alone for two hours with probably 2025 elephants coming and going and trumpeting and slurping and drinking and babies, you know, going in and out of mother's legs and I was so close to them. But I still sat there with my binoculars because I could get right up on their eyes and the trunks. And, you know, I sat there and I thought, it doesn't get any better than this.

spk_0:   13:20
You know, My thing is, you became the envy of yourself.

spk_2:   13:22
I was the enemy of myself. I just thought this is This is magic.

spk_0:   13:29
I love it. Well, thank you all for joining us today. And I appreciate the time to listen. Just share with our listeners about Belmont. I think this is gonna be fine. And we're gonna go. We're gonna put a trip together, and we're gonna go. I may go with Yes. All right. Thanks, everybody. Thanks. I'd love to speak with you more about these wonderful itineraries and things that we do. So please reach out to Ralph at the office. You can call me at 1877301 11 10. Again. Toll free. 1877301 11 10. Please visit our website www dot I am tosca travel dot com Spelled I a N T o s c A. Also, you can send me an email to Ralph R a L p h at I am tosca travel dot com. Thank you so much.