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Vol. XIV No. 38
Friday September 22 - September 28, 2006

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by Saichon Paewsoongnern

 

TRAVEL & TOURISM
HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]: 

Skål Thailand executives meet

Emirates means Business

JAL to add flight after Suvarnabhumi Airport opens

Bangkok Airways returns to the Maldives

Chaophya Park offers free internet to guests

African Latitudes extend to the Sheraton

A little taste of the Cape


Skål Thailand executives meet

The Skål National Committee of Thailand recently held the second of its two annual board meetings, this time in Bangkok at the Chaophya Park Hotel. Leading the team were Skål International (SI) Thailand President Malai Sakolvipak (4th right) along with SI Thailand International Councillor, Andrew J Wood (2nd right).
Seen also in the picture are SI Pattaya Ingo Raeuber, SI Koh Samui President Horst Hornung, SI Bangkok Bob Lee, SI Bangkok President Brian Sinclair Thompson, SI Bangkok Somsak Kiratipanich, Khun Malai, SI Chiang Mai David Thomas, Mr. Wood and SI Koh Samui Somchai Pantong.
The board meeting will be the last meeting prior to 67th Skål World Congress which will take place in Pattaya October 15-20, 2006.
Skål International (SI) is the world’s largest association of travel and tourism professionals, with over 22,000 members in 500 clubs in 87 countries world wide.


Emirates means Business

Flat seats on Business and First Class for new Boeing fleet

Emirates’ new generation lie-flat Business Class seats, feature a 10-zone in-seat massage function, large privacy dividers, handheld controls and a 600-channel entertainment system with 19-inch personal screens.

Emirates Airline has raised the stakes in the fiercely contested premium traveller segment with the launch of its new generation lie-flat Business Class seats.
This investment is a new milestone in a series of recent in-flight product enhancements for the award-winning airline, and it is a move expected to win the thumbs-up from more travellers on long-haul flights.
Passengers flying Emirates’ new Boeing 777-300ER between Dubai and London Gatwick, are the first to sample this new Business Class offering. By year’s end, another six Emirates jets will be operating with this new Business Class product.
All of Emirates’ new long-range Boeing 777 aircraft on order will be fitted with lie-flat seats in Business Class, and the airline will also retrofit its current fleet of 12 777-300 aircraft by early 2008.


JAL to add flight after Suvarnabhumi Airport opens

Japan Airlines (JAL) will add one more daily flight between Bangkok and Tokyo after Suvarnabhumi Airport opens on September 28.
“Many people want to use Thailand as a transit point to a third country, but Bangkok International Airport [Don Muang] is too crowded and the number of flights to Bangkok is limited,” said Seigi Iwasaki, JAL regional manager.
“The new airport will encourage more people to stop over at Bangkok.”
JAL currently has four daily flights between the capitals and will add a fifth after September 28.
Although service charges at Suvarnabhhumi Airport are higher than those at Don Muang, Iwasaki considers the rise reasonable.
“Suvarnabhumi’s service charges are still cheaper than other airports in Hong Kong and Singapore,” said Iwasaki.
He also voiced confidence in the airport’s security system, but is slightly concerned about the first-class passenger lounge with decorating yet to be complete.
Transport Minister Pongsak Raktapongpaisal has offered JAL the use of Thai Airways International’s lounges until their facilities are ready. - (TNA)


Bangkok Airways returns to the Maldives

Bangkok Airways has announced it will resume its service to Male in The Maldives, introduce flights to Fukuoka in Japan and increase its frequency to Hong Kong in its winter schedule.
From November 30, the airline will operate a twice-weekly flight between Bangkok and Male, using a 162-seat Airbus 320 aircraft.
The airline’s spokesman, Ms Nandhika Varavarn, said the direct flight from Bangkok to Male International Airport would take only four hours and the airline would offer an introductory return air fare of about 16,000 Baht (US$427) and accommodation packages.
The Maldives service was suspended in September 2005 due to a poor response following the 2004 tsunami.
Bangkok Airways will also offer a thrice-weekly service from Bangkok to Fukuoka, also using the A320 aircraft from December 9 and will increase the frequency of its Samui-Hong Kong service from five flights a week to daily by year-end. - (TTG)


Chaophya Park offers free internet to guests

Pictured signing the internet service agreement with Milcom System Co., Ltd are Andrew J. Wood, General Manager, shaking hands with Milcom’s Managing Director, Rattana Metem. Also pictured are the hotel’s EAM - Sales and Marketing, Dheerawat Bhunlapiwat (centre left) with Milcom’s Director of Sales and Marketing, Khun Paanun Urunanont (centre right).

In what is believed to be the first service of its kind in Thailand, the Chaophya Park Hotel, Bangkok will offer WiFi and 2MB broadband internet access free of charge to hotel guests commencing 1st October 2006.
Commenting on the upgraded internet service, Mr. Andrew J Wood, General Manager of the Chaophya Park Hotel, commented: “ Our research has shown that corporate business travellers; leisure travellers and families view access to email no longer as a luxury but as a necessity. As part of our long-term plan to re-position the Chaophya Park Hotel, we have taken this step to recognize this important trend in hotel services. Our investment in providing broadband internet access in guest rooms coincides with the completion of a Bt 150 million (US$ 4 million) refurbishment of all rooms and public facilities.”
Mr. Wood further added, “Our WiFi capability also extends to our 12 banquet rooms and all public areas, including the pool and fitness centre. Wherever our guests feel most comfortable, they will have free access to the internet.”
The Chaophya Park Hotel is a 402 room four-star deluxe hotel on Bangkok’s Rachadapisek Road. The hotel features, 5 restaurants, a Bali style spa and a full length 247yd. golf driving range, complete with 45 tee-off positions, electronic caddies and pro- shop.


African Latitudes extend to the Sheraton

(From left) Arno Grundlingh, Dr Iain, Ambassador Nomvume Magaqa and Christian Golay, presenting a cheque to Dr Iain on behalf of the Fountain of Life and the Jester’s Care for Kids charity.

(From left) Arno Grundlingh, Piet Dreyer, Ambassador Nomvume Magaqa, David Cuddon (GM Sheraton) and Christian Golay toast the success of SA winemaking into the world market.

Miss Terry Diner
As the sun went down over the horizon, a very select group of wine connoisseurs stood in the Mez restaurant at the Sheraton Pattaya Resort and sipped some amazing wines that had been specially brought over by Christian Golay and Arno Grundlingh from the African Latitudes wine importers.
The importance of this event was not lost on the South African embassy, as their ambassador to Thailand, HE Nomvume Magaqa was also on hand to speak on behalf of her country and its growing acceptance in the world markets, as was the energetic winemaker, Piet Dreyer, who introduced his Raka label wines over dinner. However, before dinner, Christian Golay, on behalf of African Latitudes presented Dr Iain with a cheque for 50,000 baht for the Fountain of Life Charity as their donation to the Care For Kids campaign.
Being a wine dinner, the Sheraton’s executive chef Matthew Woolford presented a six course dinner, with the items carefully chosen to complement the flavors in the South African wines. These were very different dishes from the usual fare at these types of dinners, with the tempura white scallops with soy and balsamic roasted pears and mustard cress perfectly blending with the Jonkheer (unwooded) Chardonnay. However, for me the most outstanding was the anise braised Wagyu beef cheek with roasted oyster mushrooms and pickles. This beef was so tender that knives were not supplied, and without contradiction I can tell you that I ate mine with chopsticks! It was that tender. We drank the Raka Quinary red, a full bodied red wine made from five grapes, as winemaker Piet proudly informed us.
However, for many of us, his trophy-winning wine was the wine of the evening, the Biography Shiraz 2004, judged as South Africa’s best Pinot Noir, and a multiple gold medal winner. Piet ‘modestly’ told us a short history of his life as a fisherman before becoming a winemaker, and he expressed the opinion that this red encapsulated his life, and hence the name Biography.
The Dreyer family bought the farm, Remhoogte south east of Hermanus in the Akkedisberg area in 1982. Piet Dreyer was doing commercial fishing at the time. During 1999 the Dreyers planted 10 hectares with Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Shiraz. Since then a few hectares were added every year, and the 63 hectares on the farm presently includes plantings of Pinotage, Sangiovese, Viognier, Mouvedre, Semillon, Petit Verdot and also lager planting of Cabernet Franc, Malbec and Sauvignon Blanc. Of the 250 tons pressed during the past harvest, all grapes are from the farm.
The cellar was completed in time for the 2002 harvest, and can accommodate 350 tonnes per harvest. It is gravity-fed, so that pumps are only used to get the wine from the fermenters to the barrels in the adjoining barrel cellar. There are sufficient small fermenters to accommodate the grapes from each vineyard block separately. The wine so separately vinified is also kept separate during the aging process when the wine from fermenters (thus each block) is kept in a separate batch of 225 liter French and American oak barrels.
In this way, Piet has managed to make a very young vineyard into an award winner, as he has all the different grapes and their harvesting totally under his control.
It was a most interesting and edifying evening at the Sheraton Pattaya, and the Raka Wines certainly made their mark with some of the finer palates in Pattaya.


A little taste of the Cape

Marcus Wirsching (extreme right), resident manager of the Dusit Resort, with (from left to right) Piet Dreyer, winemaker and owner of Raka Winery; Arno Grundlingh, director of African Latitudes; Jakrapong Vitayasirikul, director of food and beverage; Don Linder, PR consultant for African Latitudes; and Hans Peter Held, executive chef.

Andrew Watson
Photos by Don Linder

The Dusit Resort is anything but a sterile promontory. Jutting out into Pattaya Bay, with a panoramic vista stretching from south to north, a delicate waft of cooling sea air caressing the shore; Pattaya - it’s a beautiful place.
Ten years ago I visited Cape Town for the first time and every moment is etched into my memory. It remains the most visually spectacular city of my experience. From Camps Bay to Orange Street, from whale watching in Hermanus to pursuing penguins in Simon’s Town, it was phenomenal. So special is the environment of the Cape Peninsula that the whole area has been nominated for UN World Heritage Status. One day, we struck out to Stellenbosch, wine making country, a place of dramatic mountains and fertile valleys, planted with endless vines stretching across rolling fields. I fell in love with the taste of the Cape and now ten years on, here in our own backyard, was an opportunity to seriously indulge my ardour in a similarly scenically enchanting part of the world.

The managers of Dusit Resort, Pattaya.

But a short stroll from PMTV, I was back in wine heaven, tasting, savouring and I must admit, imbibing some of the very best wine that the world’s soil can offer up. The Dusit Resort was co-sponsoring a wine tasting evening with African Latitudes Co. Ltd., a Bangkok-based importer of premium South African wines.
Four wines from the family-run, 62-hectare RAKA vineyards featured, quite significantly in some cases: Biography Shiraz 2004, Quinary 2003 (a full Bordeaux blend), Spliced 2003 (a blend of 38% Cabernet Sauvignon, 23% Ruby Cabernet, 21% Shiraz, and 18% Merlot), and a surprisingly dry (1.91g/1 sugar) Rosé composed of 18% Sangiovese and 82% extracted juice.
All of these wines have won major international awards, including the Veritas Double Gold, the Grand D’Or of the Michelangelo International Wine Awards, and Wine Magazine’s 4 Stars. The Quinary and Biography are featured on Swiss Airlines and South African Airlines First and Business classes.
Located in the Klein Valley of South Africa’s Western Cape, not far from Hermanus, the RAKA boss is a loveable bear of an Afrikaner, a former fisherman, Piet Dreyer. RAKA, named after Piet’s pitch-black fishing vessel, is a specialist winery. For Piet, it is all about quality, rather than quantity. The resonance of the Spliced 2003 proved the point.
For Piet, it’s very simple. “If you aren’t the top skipper, you will not get the best catch. Similarly, if you concentrate on volume and not quality, you will not produce the best wines.”
I was introduced to the Dusit Resort’s executive chef, Hans Peter Held, who had created a sensational array of hors d’oeuvres for our delectation including Cape Meatballs; the perfect companions for our liquid indulgence. There was common ground here; the Dusit and RAKA, where meticulous attention to detail ensures outcomes of only the highest quality.
Dusit Resort resident manager, Marcus Wirsching was purring, “Wine tasting is a purely sensory thing.” I had to agree. He went on, “And this is just the first in a series of events in the pursuit of excellent wines for our guests’ enjoyment and appreciation.” His enthusiasm was shared by three other architects of the evening: Don Linder, executive director of Center Consulting Limited, Arno Grundlingh, director of African Latitudes and Jakrapong Vithayasirikul, director of food & beverage at the Dusit Resort.
There was one thing I noticed which I have to admit, was a pleasurable deviation from other wine tastings I have attended. Despite Piet Dreyer’s protestations, not only was there quality, there was quantity.
For more information about the philosophy and production of RAKA wines, please visit www.rakawine.co.za and www.african-latitudes.com.

RAKA winemaker Piet Dreyer and Dusit executive chef Hans Peter Held wait while resident manager Marcus Wirsching samples a glass of rose.



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