December 23, 2015

Sure Travel's travel highlights of 2015

Each year seems to fly by even faster than the one before. 2015 was no exception. We cannot believe it's almost Christmas and year-end already! As we do each year, we like to reflect on all the amazing travel experiences we've had. Here's what some of our Sure Travel HO staff got up to this year...

See our travel highlights for 2012, 2013 and 2014.

Jenna Berndt, Digital Communications & PR
Favourite holiday of 2015?
I had an AMAZING year of travel! Each of my travels was special in its own way so it’s difficult to pick a favourite. I was very fortunate to get to visit Reunion Island again this year. This little French island in the Indian Ocean did not disappoint a second time.  This time around, I spent a week road-tripping around most of the island. It was a very different experience to my first visit on a guided educational trip but just as fun. Despite being small in size, the island packs a serious punch in experiences and there are still things that I never got a chance to do (a reason for a third visit methinks!) Here are just five reasons you should visit.

Then in October, I got to tick Thailand off my travel goals 2015 list.  And completely fell in love with it! I really understand why so many South Africans return year after year.

A treasured memory from your 2015 travels?
On Reunion Island, watching the sun rise over an active volcano and standing on dried lava flows leading into the sea are two memories that I will never forget.

I have so many treasured memories of Thailand too.  In Bangkok: A dusk cruise on the Chao Phraya River and watching the city light up at night from Bangkok's highest rooftop bar (The Sky Bar 63 floors up). In Phuket, I watched the most amazing sunset in every shade of pink, purple and orange imaginable. Getting to wash and feed elephants at the Elephant Hills Camp and spending a night at their Floating Rainforest Camp was so special. And the food! Sampling Pad Thai and fresh coconuts every chance I got. Steamed buns and mango sticky rice (and mango smoothies and mango sorbet. And mango everything. A lot of mango). Yum!












If you could go anywhere in 2016, where would you go?
I’ve been dreaming of visiting Ireland for so long – maybe 2016 will be the year!

Layla Baderoen, Fares and Travel Consultant
Favourite holiday of 2015?
We enjoyed a mini holiday in Brittania Bay on the West Coast.  Living in Cape Town we are always so fortunate to have beautiful weather in the middle of winter. What I loved most about Brittania Bay was that it was so peaceful. On our way back we stopped at the little fishing village of Paternoster and enjoyed some fish and chips. A perfect getaway from the hustle and bustle of the city.

A treasured memory from my 2015 travels?
Watching the beautiful sunset while relaxing on the patio with my family and friends.





On my travel list for 2016:
Hopefully going on a roadtrip along the Garden Route and ending off in KwaZulu Natal.

Charlene Jones, Marketing Assistant
Favourite holiday of 2015?
My favorite holiday for the year was when I went to Durban. Even though it was within South Africa it was still a bit foreign to me in a good way!

A treasured memory from my 2015 travels?
My treasured memory on this trip was when we visited uShaka Marine World; we watched the dolphin show and it was amazing to see how these mammals do amazing tricks.









On my travel list for 2016:
I’d love to go to Patagonia to see its beautiful mountains and ice glaciers. 

Geraldine Boshoff, Contract and Marketing Manager
November this year was a huge month of travel! My travels took me from Cape Town to Johannesburg, then the exciting city of Hong Kong and Club Med's Dongáo Island in China and then Pretoria.

Hong Kong is still one of my favourite cities. A new attraction is the Kowloon Walled City Park. It sits on the very site of the former Kowloon Walled City, remembered today for its share of crime and debauchery. We visited The Peak Hong Kong, the highest 360 degree viewing terrace in Hong Kong from where you can see China in the distance and the most incredible sunsets. Madame Tussauds has also opened her doors, displaying world icons such as the Hulk, fictitious super heroes and ​Jackie Chang, Bruce Lee and others. 


Cathay Pacific airlines lived up to their promise of “A life well-travelled”, known as one of the best airlines in the world.  I experienced great service, excellent cuisine and in flight entertainment in a relaxed atmosphere. From Hong Kong we travelled to the Zhuhai Jinzhou Ferry Port by high speed catamaran and transferred to the exclusive Club Med ferry to Dong Ao Port.  

This was my first experience with the Club Med product. Club Med Dongáo Island Resort is a great property offering wonderful accommodation, sports from kayaking to archery, night entertainment and with the restaurants catering for all tastes from Chinese and Japanese to Italian and French, it is a product with something for every​one​. 


Nasheta Votersen, Operations Administrator
Favourite holiday of 2015?
I'd never been to Durban before - and when the opportunity came up this year I jumped at it. Even though it was work-related, lots of fun was had by our group. Read about what they got up to in Durban here

A treasured memory from your 2015 travels?
Our family take an annual break to Avalon Springs in Montague. We return every year without fail.  The kids absolutely love it and of course there is lots of entertainment for them so mom and dad get to relax as well. It's a win-win situation!


If you could go anywhere in 2016, where would you go?
Do I have to pick just one? Honestly though - Turkey or Mauritius :)  #fingerscrossed

Anthea Kaufmann, Sure Online Manager
I had a real travel bucket list experience this year – enjoying summer in St. Petersburg, Russia. I was blown away by this beautiful city by the sea, often referred to as the “Venice of the North”. And there was no snow in sight!

We had just missed the “white nights” of summer as we arrived in early August, but we still had more than 15 hours of daylight which was absolutely superb! The streets and cafés were filled with people and the boats cruising along the canals never seemed to stop. It all felt so surreal. This was not the Russia I had imaged. Words cannot truly describe my experience in St. Petersburg and the photographs I took do not do it justice. I had to take a moment each day to ground myself as the city swept me away into a fairytale-like haze...

Read more about Anthea’s summer in St Petersburg here.

What has been your favourite travel experience this year? What unforgettable travel moments have you had? And where do you want to head off to next year? Let us know!

{Closed} Fly to Win Competition!


[Competition closed] Book and pay for an SAA air ticket (selected airfare classes only) to anywhere outside of South Africa with your Sure Travel consultant & stand a chance to win amazing cash prizes!

YOU COULD WIN: R10 000 in cash OR 1 of 4 prizes of R5000 cash!
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CONGRATULATIONS TO OUR WINNERS

Jacobus Johannes Pretorius won the main prize of R10 000 cash! He booked his winning ticket with his travel consultant Lisa Forsythe at Sure Viva Travels in Garsfontein, Pretoria.

Our 4 prizewinners who each won R5000 are:

  • Maryna de Jager - booked with Chrisna van der Merwe from Sure Travel Scene, Kempton Park
  • Nicholas Grobler - booked with Chrisna van der Merwe from Sure Travel Scene, Kempton Park
  • Rian du Toit - booked with Sue Elphinstone from Sure Viva Travel, Tzaneen
  • Tracy Neale - booked with Maryke Ciorovich from Sure Penzance Travel, Alberton

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Only SAA air tickets from South Africa to Africa/regional and international destinations in booking classes Y, B, M, K, C, J or Z, booked and issued at a Sure Travel agency between 21 December 2015 and 31 March 2016, for travel departing by 31 March 2016, are eligible to win. Please check with your Sure Travel consultant if your preferred air ticket is eligible for entry into the competition.

Enter the competition here. 

TERMS AND CONDITIONS 

  • Terms and Conditions apply. Only South African citizens currently residing in South Africa, with a valid passport, are eligible to enter.
  • No codeshares - only SAA operated flights are eligible.
  • Domestic SAA air tickets do not qualify.
  • Only SAA tickets from South Africa to Africa/regional and international destinations in booking classes Y, B, M, K, C, J or Z, booked and issued at a Sure Travel agency between 21 December 2015 and 31 March 2016, for travel departing by 31 March 2016, are eligible to win.
  • Competition closes at midnight on 31 March 2016.
  • Winners will be chosen by random draw and will be notified via email by 15 April 2016.
  • Prizes are non-transferrable and cannot be exchanged.
  • One winner will win R10 000 in cash and 4 winners will win R5000 in cash each.
  • Declaring the winnings to SARS will be the responsibility of the prize winners.
  • Only one entry per ticket number allowed.
  • Sure Travel standard competition terms and conditions apply. Read Sure Travel T&Cs in full here.

December 3, 2015

Sure Travel's Management Forum 2015

“Planning travel on your own is like riding a seesaw. You can do it… but you'll be doing all the work instead of just having fun” said global travel industry expert, Nolan Burris, at Sure Travel’s annual Management Forum this November.  This is something great travel consultants need to make sure their clients know. How to remain strong and successful and share your unique value as travel experts in a tough industry was a key theme at the Sure Travel conference.

Looking for a great travel consultant? Contact your nearest Sure Travel consultant here.

Held at the Protea Hotel Fire & Ice! Menlyn, Pretoria, from 20-22 November, the Bootcamp-themed weekend saw Sure Travel members tackle an intensive training program covering everything from disruptors and technology to professional fees and productivity.



Gerry Skerritt, the Bootcamp Drill Sergeant, kept morale and fun levels high while Nolan Burris, founder of Future Proof Travel Solutions in Canada, drilled into all the four critical cornerstones of business: sales and marketing, finance, operations and technology.

Technology, as always in the world we live in, was a hot topic. William Price, leading digital marketing strategist and previous Digital Global Manager at SA Tourism, shared his view on the role of the travel consultant in today’s digital world. “A great travel consultant will interpret a client’s desires… travel is about emotion” said William. “The one thing a client cannot get anywhere else… is you” echoed Nolan, emphasising the unique value of the travel consultant.

After lunch, Nolan gave all a good workout on finance, particularly professional fees and travel procurement, followed by Tracey Foulkes, founder of Ireland based This is Productivity, who gave some great tips on how to work smarter and be more productive.

Combining work and play, Sure Travel members showed they know how to do both and enjoyed a fantastic Carnival themed Friday night – complete with famous Fire & Ice! grown up milkshakes, photo booth and caricature artist!

See all the fun photos of our Management Forum on our Facebook page.



Saturday evening was a chance to glam up and enjoy an elegant Gala Dinner. Congratulations to Anita Brits and Jolien van der Walt from Sure Glenwood Travel who won international air tickets on SAA for being the Sure Travel office with the most improved international SAA sales for the year to date.



From left to right: Anita Brits (Sure Glenwood Travel), Denise Kotze (SAA), Jolien van der Walt (Sure Glenwood Travel) and Vanessa di Stefano (Thompsons Holidays). 

Thank you to all the wonderful sponsors, especially main sponsors Delta Airlines and TIC. An extra special thank you to the Sure Travel members – you truly make the very best memories for life!

To make your own memories for life, contact your nearest Sure Travel consultant.

October 9, 2015

Why use an ASATA approved travel agency?

There are many potential risks when booking travel. It’s a special time so you want to make sure you’re putting your precious holiday – and your money – in safe hands. Sure Travel agencies are all members of ASATA (The Association of Southern African travel agents). Here’s why it’s so important to use an ASATA approved travel agency, such as Sure Travel

The best value for money 
An ASATA Member will tell you about all the available choices, special promotions and advise on the quality and value of a particular product.

Maximum choice
You will be given a wide variety of travel options and quotes from competing travel suppliers.

Convenience 
An ASATA Member will source multiple aspects of your trip, including air tickets, accommodation, car rental and more.

Customer advocate
 If you experience a problem on your trip an ASATA Member will help you, acting on your behalf to put it right.

Expert guidance
 ASATA Professional Travel Consultants use their extensive knowledge and experience to create effortless holidays for you.

Personalised service
ASATA Members understand what you want and understand the extent that the products can deliver. You won’t be dealing with some impersonal voice on the end of the phone but someone who is determined to deliver value.

Professional advice
All ASATA accredited travel agencies such as Sure Travel have the experience, training and knowledge to ensure that in every instance you get the best travel package, at the right price.
Timing savings – all the information is at the ASATA Members fingertips and can be pulled quickly, giving you better service.

Trust 
ASATA Members are a local business in your area, not an anonymous website. You know how to reach them and who they are.

Satisfaction
Uunbiased information. We work for you, the consumer, not for the airline or any other travel supplier. Our only objective is to get you the best value and a level of service that ensures that you will come back and see us again!

Sure Travel consultants do all this, and more! We truly love travel and we love our clients – and have the reputation, awards and loyal clients for life to prove it.

If you want to make the very best kind of memories on your travels, contact your nearest Sure Travel agency.


October 2, 2015

Summer in St. Petersburg, Russia

What do you think of when you picture Russia? For Anthea, Sure Online Manager at Sure Travel Head Office, it was always snow, ushankas (fur hats) and the Russian squat dance. However when she visited St. Petersburg in summer this year, it couldn't have been more different! Here’s her story…

I visited St. Petersburg during the summer and was blown away by this beautiful city by the sea, often referred to as the “Venice of the North”. And there was no snow in sight!

We had just missed the “white nights” of summer as we arrived in early August, but we still had more than 15 hours of daylight which was absolutely superb! The streets and cafés were filled with people and the boats cruising along the canals never seemed to stop. It all felt so surreal. This was not the Russia I had imaged. Words cannot truly describe my experience in St. Petersburg and the photographs I took do not do it justice. I had to take a moment each day to ground myself as the city swept me away into a fairytale-like haze.

Dinner while cruising the Neva River, seeing Da Vinci’s Madonna and Child in the Hermitage Museum, eating local cuisine, The Peter & Paul Fortress, dinner and vodka tasting at the Vodka Museum, The Church of the Saviour on Spilled Blood, superb shopping, throngs of tourists and friendly faces, summer rains, outdoor cafés, cobbled streets, visiting the Winter and Summer Palace’s and the view of the Gulf of Finland from the Summer Palace - THIS is the magic of a summer in St. Petersburg.

If you ever find yourself lucky enough to travel to the city designed by Peter the Great, I urge you to immerse yourself in all it has to offer! You won’t be disappointed.

St Isaac's Cathedral



The biggest bookshop in St. Petersburg.

Peter and Paul Fortress

Peter and Paul Cathedral Peterhof

St Isaac's Cathedral

Alexander Column, Palace Square


WHAT TO DO
Hermitage State Museum
You'll need at least 2-3 days to explore this monument, and even then I doubt you will fully experience its magnitude. To give you an idea, the official Hermitage State Museum website has 81 pages of highlights! My personal highlight was seeing Da Vinci's Madonna and Child.





The Church of Our Saviour on Spilled Blood
This Russian-style church was built on the same spot where Emperor Alexander II was assassinated in March 1881. It looks beautiful during the day, but it truly dazzles at night when the lights are turned on!



Neva River
A Neva River cruise gives you a different view of the history in St. Petersburg. Sunset cruises are the most stunning as you get to see the city change from its pastel hues to a lit up memorial of Tsar, Peter the Great.







Winter Palace
St. Petersburg's finest and most famous palace, the Winter Palace, is one of the greatest royal residences of the world, the home of the Romanov Emperors for two hundred years, and the main building of the world-famous Hermitage Museum.



Summer Palace
The oldest palace in St. Petersburg, Peter the Great's Summer Palace in the beautiful Summer Garden, is an elegant baroque mansion that, under the auspices of the State Russian Museum, has interiors evoking Peter's domestic life.

View from the Summer Palace towards the Gulf of Finland





Looking out over the Gulf of Finland

Bolshoy Gostiny Dvor
St. Petersburg's largest and oldest department store, Bolshoy Gostiny Dvor, was built in the mid-18th century as a trading point for merchants bringing their wares to the Russian capital.

PMI Bar
Looking for a restaurant with an impressive view of the city that serves great food and the most unusual cocktails? This is the place for you!




Roast Smelt at PMI Bar



Museum of Russian Vodka
The atmosphere of the museum allows you to experience the diversity of Russian culture, history and traditions of drinking. The museum tour is followed by a vodka tasting and I urge you to stay for dinner - the food is good too!





WHERE TO STAY
Three luxurious options to consider when staying in St. Petersburg:

Demetra Art Hotel
This is a modern 4-star establishment. It has only 60 rooms and caters mostly to business travellers. It is a beautiful little hotel and personalised service is top of the menu! High speed free internet and close to Nevsky Prospekt - the main street in St. Petersburg - makes it an ideal choice.

Belmond Grand Hotel Europe
This luxurious 5-star hotel caters to all your needs. It's great location allows you to walk just about anywhere you need to be. Business travellers, leisure travellers, families - all welcome! I was fortunate enough to have this hotel as my home during my St. Petersburg stay. The best meal I had on the entire trip was served in this hotel's restaurant. Their signature dish - Egg in Egg is divine! Truffle-infused scrambled egg, topped with beluga, oscietra and salmon caviar! Their exquisite cuisine is paired with musical entertainment ranging from jazz to classical music and ballet.

Four Seasons Hotel Lions Gate
The word opulence comes to mind when I think of this 5-star hotel. The Four Seasons is situated within a 19th-century palace with two marble lions guarding the entryway. The building and interior make you feel like royalty! With it's central location close to major attractions,  it's suitable for all travellers as well as families.







I would like to sincerely thank Turkish Airlines, followme2RUSSIA and Sure Travel for giving me the opportunity to visit St. Petersburg.

To book your trip to Russia, contact your nearest Sure Travel consultant.


SURE TRAVEL BLOG CONTRIBUTOR:
With a love of travelling (of course!) and the outdoors, Anthea is always up for an adventure. She is absolutely nuts about foreign cuisine and loves ballet, opera and classical music/theatre. She will try just about anything and the one thing she appreciates most about being in a foreign country is learning about the different cultures and religions.