Reflecting on local value

Anneke and I took a 3 week break in February. The annual Christmas holiday is peak season for us at the cellar door, so we worked full speed while most of our friends and family enjoyed summer! Etienne and Susan took Christmas leave ahead of the harvest, so once they started their harvest, Anneke and I could head for the British Virgin Islands and 3 weeks of sailing. I own a 25% share in a Leopard 46 catamaran and we met up with the yacht called Kili (after Mt Kilimanjaro) on the main island of Tortola in the BVI.

The trip was great – Anneke’s parents joined us for the first 10 days and then some of our US based friends joined us for the balance of the trip.

I used to travel a great deal for business in my previous career and it has become a lot tougher since 9/11.

One of the things I love most about sailing is the fact that you unpack and visit different places without packing up, checking out, traveling, checking in, unpacking and so forth!

Anneke & myself at the Boulders, Virgin Gorda, BVI Feb 09

While we really enjoyed the break, one can not help but look at what everything costs in the Caribbean and convert expenses to the Rand every now and then. When you do, you often wish you did not! The typical food in the BVI is OK – not great and not bad (like Cuba was the year before). There is a fair selection of wines from around the world available, but prices are quite high and I suspect effective storage is often a problem at many of the local restaurants.

We ended up in an expensive restaurant a bit by mistake the one night and ended up only having starters – decided to rather head back to the yacht for some home cooking instead of main-courses of R500+  per head! Add decent wine and it is very easy to spend well over R1,000 per person for dinner at such a restaurant. We enjoyed a few great crayfish dinners that were very memorable though!

Mayan Queen – Mexican owner from the mining and not the wine business!!

On the way home (a long trip from St Thomas to Atlanta, Dakar and then finally Cape Town) I reflected on the total cost of the holiday and theorised what we would get for that amount of money in the Cape! The reality is that we would be able to have a truly world class holiday in the Cape, with so many excellent restaurants to chose from, excellent food and wine at great prices in comparison, plus many golf courses, beaches and other things to do.

Obviously part of the attraction of overseas travel is the opportunity to experience different cultures, see new sights and to get away from your normal life. That is great and we love it. We are however, really blessed to live in such an amazing environment here in the Cape winelands!

The trip really highlighted once again how much value South African offers the international tourist at our current exchange rates. No wonder we see more and more US tourists coming past the winery every week, despite (or maybe because of!) the global financial crisis!