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BTN Interview: Last Word Long Beach

BTN Interview: Last Word Long Beach

The Last Word Long Beach was voted South Africa’s Leading Luxury Beach Hotel by the World Travel Awards last year.

As the property begins its pursuit of similar honours in 2011, Breaking Travel News met with general manager, Nicky Coenen, to discuss how this luxurious hotel strives to improve year-after-year.

Breaking Travel News: The Last Word Long Beach, South Africa, was last year recognised as South Africa’s Leading Luxury Beach Hotel. What do you think it is that separates you from your competitors?

Nicky Coenen: Ours is the only intimate hotel right on the beach and, with four other intimate hotels in four other equally picturesque locations, The Last Word offers the best and easiest way to see Cape Town.

The Last Word Long Beach has been designed to allow a free flow of the living areas right out to the achingly picturesque land and seascapes.

All six elegant en-suite bedrooms are sea facing. Guests also comment on the charming hospitality, a common thread which links all the hotels in the portfolio

BTN: You have been nominated in a number of categories this year – including Africa’s Leading Boutique Hotel. Have there been any changes since last year which you would like to tell us about?

NC: We are our own greatest critics so we are constantly upgrading, refurbishing and giving our hotels a fresh look and feel.

So yes, there are on going changes – nothing structural at The Last Word Long Beach; we still have six luxury en-suite rooms, all ocean facing - but in the next short while return guests will notice a change in the décor.

The theme is stylish, gracious and quietly enchanting – in keeping with the intimacy for which we have become renowned. Most guests wonder how we manage to improve on ‘best’!

Apart from adding a large family suite to our former eight-roomed intimate hotel in Constantia we have turned the hotel ‘outside in’ by bringing the spacious colourful garden into the open-plan living areas.

We have layered and textured the interior with fabrics in subtle greens, greys, metallics and lots of white.

A signature floral is used in certain areas to reinforce the garden theme. The result is a serene and tranquil effect that is sumptuously elegant yet comfortably homely. The Last Word’s ability to bring the understated to life is clearly evident here.

Spectacular views from The Last Word Long Beach

BTN: How about as we move into 2011; are there any investments or developments on the horizon for The Last Word?

NC: On the back of this successful brand, we are soon to launch The Last Word boutique shop in our intimate hotel in Constantia.

Here visitors will find unique, one-of-a-kind works of art in a tranquil setting. They are assured a peaceful shopping experience.

Hand-crafted jewellery and ceramics, custom-made wine and bathroom amenities as well as bespoke handbags and chic clothing are among the items on sale.

BTN: Talk us through your market, are you aimed at visitors from South Africa, or does the property tend to attract guests from further afield?

NC: We have been very successful in the UK market – they like our understated sophisticated yet relaxed style.

Germany, France and Italy are starting to make inroads and we have a loyal South African market – some Capetonians, strangely enough, but mainly from Joburg.

We have a very attractive domestic rate of R1 650 per room per night for visitors with valid SA identity documents. This makes us an affordable and desirable option for locals.

World class suites at The Last Word Long Beach

BTN: How much does your location - close to Cape Town, but close to the picturesque coastline – help? Is it easy to access the property?

NC: Most visitors to Cape Town want to be close to the beaches and Kommetjie is a particularly charming fisherman’s village.

We are about an hour’s drive from the city so our guests enjoy the scenic drive to the tourist attractions and return to our intimate sanctuary of tranquillity to revitalise their energy levels!

BTN: What activities are on offer at The Last Word Long Beach?

NC: The Last Word portfolio also includes Racontours, a touring outfit which offers bespoke, private tours to Cape Town’s four major tourist attractions. This is a one-of-kind opportunity to engage with nature; a learning experience which offers personalised adventures along roads less travelled.

The Strandlooper Safari uncovers the rich diversity of marine life along the Cape’s living shores while The Fynbos Explorer reveals Table Mountain’s colourful indigenous flora for which the Cape is world renown.

The Little Wine Journey takes guests behind the barrels to some hidden secrets of extraordinary winemakers responsible for remarkable wines and, under the Table, between the Lion and the Devil, The Old Cape Town Ramble brings sailor, settler and slave history to life.

Racontours presents an opportunity to discover intimate aspects of Cape Town most visitors never get to see. The outings are luxury, exclusive and private – most of all they are great fun!

We can also advise guests about: Surfing spots; Lobster fishing (in season); Horse riding on the beach; Township tours; Baboon Walks; Lighthouse Tour; Walking trails (beaches, fynbos); Marine Bird Watching; Noordhoek Farm Village; Chapman’s Peak drive;  Cape Point Nature Reserve; Cape Point Vineyards and Whale watching among other activities.

Evening at The Last Word Long Beach

BTN: Surfing is also popular? Can you tell us what experienced surfers might find attractive about conditions locally?

NC: The perfect wave! You’ll find it here and for the non-surfer there’s a perfect stretch of pure white sand with crystal-clear blue water lapping the shore.

This is an un-crowded beach with water temperatures of 9 - 12 degrees C. In the heat of summer, under the African sun, the sea offers a refreshing body surf.

For those who want to stay in longer a wetsuit is required.

The outside at Long Beach (“Inner Kom”) provides the perfect wave for the young, less experienced and less fanatical riders while “Outer Kom” and Sunset Reef is perfect for the Big Wave fanatics, adrenaline junkies and the professionals.

Long Beach accommodates a range of suffers and there is so much space that you can find your own peak on most days.

We have also installed a webcam with Vixxl who are launching a unique mobile application called BeachWatch which will allow the surfing and watersport community to view free live streaming footage of the beach conditions around Cape Town.

BTN: How about the market in South Africa more generally? Have you benefited from the recent increases in the international profile of the destination?

NC: Marketing always helps create awareness. The tourism industries (South Africa and Cape Town) and Mantis Preferred Boutique Hotels, of which we are a member, have been doing sterling work.

That said word of mouth continues to increase The Last Word’s profile locally and internationally

BTN: What do you consider to be the key assets in the continued success of The Last Word Long Beach?

NC: It’s the intimacy guests find here. Charming hospitality, awe-inspiring vistas, a home away from home, perfect peace in attractive surroundings and discrete personalised attention make this a place people return to.