I found this through Happy Hotelier. Ron Callari, Society and Trends Writer at writes:

The difficult thing about traveling is finding the right hotel in the right city at the right price! But equally important is securing a hotel you can trust – one that has been recommended by others. Hotel booking sites like can locate a number of hotels any where in the world and if you are diligent enough to cross-reference with TripAdvisor you can most likely obtain a review on that hotel’s performance. But until now, there was no one site that could surface hotel recommendations for you firsthand, without a lot of searching and cross-referencing. Twihotels is filling that void nicely with a new app they just rolled out in August. is a Twitter application that allows you to tweet your hotel queries to your followers. Once you tweet your hotel request, the followers that respond will be providing you with recommendations based on their experience in that particular destination. User-generated responses like this are worth their weight in gold since they are based on helping others make the best travel choice. And yes, even hoteliers can respond to your tweet if they feel their accommodations meet all of your criteria. They may also be inclined to offer you discounts and bargains as a result of finding them on Twitter. In interviewing Ajit Narayan, Promotion Manager for Twihotels, he asserts ” that an application such as can facilitate the interaction between all parties.”

Details for submissions include country, city, hotel category, check-in date, check-out date, rooms required, number of adults and children accompanying you.Once you submit a request, your tweet will immediately be added to your time-line for all of your followers to see and respond to. Twihotels also includes a search feature on the site. To discover relevant hotel queries, you can do a specific keyword search or you can also opt for advanced search that provides drop down results based on country and city names. You can also search on Twitter as well or by visiting Twihotels’ Twitter account page.

Social Media sites on Twitter are another means of obtaining non-commercialized information and updates about hotels, travel and destinations. For other Twitter accounts that specialize in social media in the travel industry, check out INN Social Media and AllTravelSites. Both of these sites include blogs, directories and up-to-date commentary about hotels doing the best job on Twitter. is another innovative Twitter application created by MapXL Inc, a division of Compare Infobase Limited that has incubated other successful web projects such as,, and

There you are then Tweet your hotel requirement now! The picture? I couldn’t find a nice one of Twihotels but I liked this!


Richard Downey & Family

I first met Richard Downey in 1979. He’s pictured above with his wife Anne, and daughters Jenny and Katherine, enjoying the poolside at Chanters Lodge last weekend. I was General Manager of Ridgeway Hotel in 1979, (now Southern Sun Ridgeway) and one of the first things that happened after I’d taken up my new appointment was that our Chief Accountant, John Fletcher resigned to take up a similar post at the Pamodzi Hotel, now Taj Pamodzi, across the road! As this was roughly a month before the famous, and for us huge, Commonwealth Conference held in Lusaka that year (which incidentally decided the independence of then Southern Rhodesia) it was a crisis. Luckily we were able to recruit Richard, then working for Deloitte, Haskins and Sells on the Copperbelt. Richard held the appointment for about 3 years before returning to UK to further his career.

So, having not seen Richard for about 10 years since his last visit to Zambia, I was delighted to receive an accommodation request for a three night booking at Chanters Lodge for him and his family for last weekend. At the time we confirmed the reservation we also confirmed that he, and at least one other member of his family, would guest on the Chanters Lodge Experience with the DJMJ Ingredient ft Soulchild, our regular sponsored Sunday night radio show which airs at 20.00 hrs every Sunday on Zambezi Radio 107.5 fm – ‘Let The Waves Flow’. Richard duly appeared last Sunday with daughter Jenny and it was a super occasion.

“Why did you first arrive in Zambia?” DJMJ wanted to know, and Richard explained that he’d first come to take up an appointment with Deloitte Touche on the Copperbelt in 1975. He’d been planning to return to UK in 1979 when the call came about a possible appointment at the Ridgeway, and thus he’d taken up his first accountant’s job in industry as opposed to the ‘profession’. In the end he’d been happy to stay in Zambia because he’d met his wife Anne through his job at the Ridgeway. Anne’s also a CA and had been working for Deloittes in Lusaka when they met.

Richard explained to listeners that when he’d first gone back to UK, he’d taken up an appointment with Anchor Hotels, after which he moved on to work for the Harvesters chain, helping to hugely multiply their number of pub and grill outlets. Currently he was working for Balls Bros. “Did he have regrets about leaving Africa?” we asked, and he replied that although he missed Africa he felt he’d made the right career decision. He added that he’d love to return one day and ‘put something back into Zambia’. We hope he does.

Daughter Jenny was in good form. “How old are you?” “13”. “Where do you go to school?” “Surbiton High School” “Have you got a boyfriend?” “No!” Followed by giggles! “What have you done since you arrived in Livingstone?” We asked her, and she explained that she’d been all the way down to the Boiling Pot when they’d visited Victoria Falls and ended up having to be carried across a stream. They’d also been on a brilliant game drive in the Mosi-o-Tunya National Park that afternoon with Bwaato Adventures, and had seen loads of different animals including elephant, buffalo and impala. What else had the family planned for their short stay in Livingstone? A half day canoeing/dinner cruise combo for the following day which Jenny was looking forward to, and thereafter they were off to Luangwa Valley and to the Lower Zambezi.

The music on the show was right up to date and super as usual. To give Richard and Jenny a flavor of the latest Zambian music we played two tracks from Haamoba – ‘Tizakondana’ meaning ‘we’ll take care of each other for ever and ever’ and ‘Mooye’ which is Chitonga apparently meaning ‘woman’ or ‘he’s found a girl’. As usual there was debate about the precise meaning of the songs… ‘Room Service’ by Pitbull for all the hoteliers, and ‘Beat Again’ the track from JLS that had taken the UK charts by storm the previous week and is the current UK number one, both featured. Now that surprised young Jenny! Old and current favorite tracks of mine were both on the playlist. ‘You Saw The Whole Of The Moon’ by Waterboys from the 80’s and ‘She Is A Bad Mamma Jamma’ by Carl Carlton a great fresh number. “What’s a Mamma Jamma?” I wanted to know. “A hot black girl” replied Milimo quick as a flash! I’ll take his word for it and the Urban Dictionary link there shows he was right!

We had an extra prize on offer this week – a brilliant Barak Obama T shirt sent from the States by Shel And Claire Weissman, previous guests on the show and we simply asked listeners to text us the name of the President of the US – you can imagine the response! We gave away the standard dinner for two as well, for the first person to text us the country that Richard and Jenny live in. That prize was quickly won as well. It was great to catch up with old times “Were you at the Ridgeway when Richard used to sing?” DJMJ asked Richard Downey “No” was the reply – “I didn’t know that he could!” “We’ve never heard him either” was Milimo’s helpful answer!


Boom Time For Gary, Indiana?

This piece from Caryn Eve Murray in HotelInteractive will interest all Michael Jackson fans:

Gary, Indiana counts its Majestic Star Casino & Hotel, its SouthShore RailCats baseball team and even the nearby Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore among the biggest drawing cards in this struggling former steel town. But nothing, perhaps, could be bigger in Gary these days than one modest house in the heart of the city: The childhood home of Michael Jackson, whose sudden death last week after cardiac arrest turned the small frame structure, within hours, into a towering magnet for a gathering of the grief-stricken Jackson faithful. They arrived there mostly from homes only a short traveling distance away – far removed by hundreds of miles from the California mansion where their idol had fallen.

But if local officials have their way, many more hundreds, if not thousands, may soon want to go the distance to get to Gary. They see Jackson’s family home, and the two nearby schools the Jackson siblings attended – Garnett Elementary School and Roosevelt High School – as the epicenter of a collection of Jackson attractions paying homage to a beloved native son. The idea is nothing new, but this sudden and sad turn of events may give it a new impetus to grow. “Gary is the hometown where it all started,” said Curt Brantingham, public relations manager of the Indiana Office of Tourism. “Any tourism there would have to be something compelling to draw people, not just once but multiple times, something of such interest that it would have a wide appeal.”

But with Gary lacking the glamour and notoriety of Jackson’s high-profile Neverland Ranch in California, Brantingham said, “it is hard to speculate.” It is, however, not so hard for Gary’s Mayor Rudy Clay and members of the Gary Indiana Chamber of Commerce, who have lived for quite some time with the as-yet unrealized possibilities of honoring Jackson through a variety of appropriate attractions, even years before the pop star’s untimely death at the age of 50. Over the years, there has been talk of a museum, a monument – and a performing arts center, with the Jackson family involved in these discussions, even with previous administrations, said Lalosa Burns, Clay’s press secretary.

“We have thousands of hotel rooms in the immediate vicinity,” she said, most notably in Merrillville. “If people do make this an attraction and come and stay we can accommodate them and we would be happy to help.” The city’s location just southeast of Chicago makes it easy enough to get to, with access to Chicago’s airports and its proximity to Interstate 80 and 94. “This is the most traveled highway in the country, so we get a bit of traffic through here anyway,” said Chuck Hughes, executive director of Gary’s Chamber of Commerce.

Other than a beautiful lakefront, “we don’t have the greatest tourist attractions for people,” said Hughes. Still, there is potential, he said. “Invariably when people come, for whatever reason they come, they all ask and want to see Michael Jackson’s boyhood home. “Everybody is still in shock,” said Hughes. “We want to pay tribute. We know that he is gone. I would imagine in Gary and all over the world the wheels are turning in people’s heads, public officials, everyone wants to do something.”

Certainly the idea of a museum, incorporating Jackson’s personal and musical history, remains strong, as does a performing arts center, he said. But whether it gets off the drawing board in Gary, or elsewhere, is still unknown. Hughes, who served Gary as a councilman-at-large for many years, remembers when it almost seemed a brick-and-mortar possibility, even 10 or 15 years ago. “The project would have been so huge. But that was prior to all his problems,” he said. Had those troubles never surfaced, he said, “who knows what would have transpired?


Zambia Tourism Awards 2009

I originally heard about these awards from Best of Zambia, rapidly becoming my source of all worthwhile information about the tourism business in this country via Twitter. But this post is from John Chola:

“An initiative designed to promote and reward excellence in tourism operations has been launched in Zambia. The initiative was also aimed at being recognised as a prestigious event hence attracting both public and industry-wide support and extensive media coverage.

Launching the initiative on Tuesday at Lusaka’s Southern Sun Ridgeway, the hotel’s general manager Adrian Penny said the initiative presented a high profile opportunity to showcase the best tourism operators in Zambia. Mr Penny said the Zambia Tourism Awards would motivate stakeholders to continue upgrading services in order to become globally competitive, inspire stakeholders to contribute to the development of the tourism industry in Zambia and help promote Zambian tourism to domestic and international markets.

He said that the initiative would recognise and ward categories such as best safari accommodation, best hotel, best guesthouse, best lodge and best back packer facilities. Operators offering camping site and Caravan Park, heritage and culture tourism sports, clean and green as well as community tourism would be awarded accordingly. “Other award categories included the best travel and tour operator, the best restaurant or catering service, the best tourism transport award, the best in tourism promotion and the guide of the year Award,” said Penny adding: “we also have awards for the best in adventure tourism, best entrepreneur award, tourism facilitation and the Zambia tourism special”.

The awards would be open to all Zambia-based tourism operators and application had been restricted to online participants. Mr Penny encouraged businesses and the public to take part through a website “Just visit and click the Tourism Awards button on the top of the page between 1st July 2009 and 15th August 2009 to participate,” Mr Penny said.

There would be site visits commence in September and October 2009 while winners would be announced at the high profile awards night slated for November 2009 in Livingstone. Mr Penny said that the 2009 Zambia Tourism Awards were a public-private sector partnership initiated by the public sector through the SEED Project under the Ministry of Tourism, Environment & Natural Resources and co-organised with the Tourism Council of Zambia.

He said that the initiative was also supported by private sector agencies such as The Best of Zambia, Capacity Building for Private Sector Development, Southern Sun Ridgeway and Radio Phoenix. The initiators of the Zambia Tourism Awards encouraged more support from the private sector towards sponsorship of different awards, marketing and promotion of the event.

Meanwhile, one of the initiators Joseph Brown said that in order to encourage Zambians to sample the country’s tourism most operators had introduced special rates. Mr Brown said Zambians visiting tourist resorts around the country would be charged a special rate different from those paid by foreign tourists.”

And would I have a strong objection if you went straight from reading this to nominating Chanters Lodge in the best Guest House category? Um, no! No objection at all!

Nice to see my old hotel The Ridgeway in Lusaka right up there as a sponsor too! The picture? Victoria Falls, an automatic winner in every category!


More From Mustapha’s Place

The latest from this awesome tropical paradise. Talk about mouth watering!

“We have a new chef now at Mustapha’s Place, and we are going to be doing Thai dishes such as crab and coconut cakes, hot and sour crispy squid and lime salad, steamed fish with lemongrass and fried fish with chilli and tamarind as well as classics such as jumbo prawns in red curry paste and massaman chicken curry. We will still be serving an array of Swahili classics as well.

We are also going to be launching our new Casuarina treetop spa shortly (mid-July) and also check out our hotel blog for travel pieces on undiscovered Zanzibar, such as the new Kiwengwa-Pongwe forest reserve, the old village of Unguja Ukuu and the Jambiani cultural village tour.”

How nice is that?!I seriously want to spend time there, sleep and eat!


Blogs For Hotels

I’ve been blogging from Chanters Lodge for more than 3 years, but have only recently discovered the marketing possibilities of sites like Twitter and Facebook. This piece from Caryn Eve Murray on HotelInteractive interested me as it seems opposite from the way I’ve been going! Anyway, this is what she says:

“It is no longer sufficient for hotels to have a presence on Twitter, Facebook and MySpace, three popular but somewhat different means of social networking. Now some hospitality scribes have begun making dutiful entries online, “Dear Diary” style. But in this case their diary is not just an open book but – in keeping with the computer age – an open blog.

Formerly viewed largely as a vehicle for individuals’ indulgent self-absorption or revelations, blogs are now maturing as the next big marketing tool in the social networking portfolio.The call to blog was so strong, in fact, for Embassy Suites that earlier this year the Hilton brand took its pre-existing Web site,, and gave it a makeover. debuted in blog format this past spring, harnessing the talents of freelance bloggers who, each in their own way, address work-life issues that often challenge Embassy Suites’ business travelers: fitness and health, food, family life, managing stress and travel strategies.

“The perception has been in the past, and rightly so, 20 percent of the people on blogs account for 80 percent of the content”, said John Lee, vice president of marketing for Embassy Suites. “They were always talking about themselves and there wasn’t much real content folks could really use. We see that changing. And if it is managed correctly, we can see a lot of benefit.” Having third-party experts “gives the brand a little credibility, some third-party endorsement. It is not that Embassy Suites is saying you should be doing this. It is people like Jane and Michael Stern [the authors of ‘Roadfood’] who are updating the content for us.”

Most importantly, said Lee, “we don’t try to sell anyone anything. They are smarter than that. If they have a relationship with the brand because of this cool Web site, the bookings will take care of themselves. If we can grow share of heart, share of wallet will follow.” Blogs are, for the most part, still uncharted territory in the hospitality industry, even though they predate the now-well-trod other social media now crammed with hotels and motels among their ranks. Unlike the realtime interactivity of Twitter, blogs can offer shelf (or screen) life, with the posts archiving for reference again later.

“There are more or less only a handful of blogs from hotels,” said Kent Lewis, whose Anvil Media is the marketing consultant for the Provenance group of boutique hotels. Marriott International’s chairman and CEO Bill Marriott was something of a pioneer when he launched his interactive blog about two years ago, said Lewis, “and then only the big guys were the ones doing it.” But Provenance was already getting its blog act together offline with the goal of establishing a blog foothold for three of the brand’s five properties.

In Nashville, the Hotel Preston has been blogging its heart out since the autumn of 2007. “The Sounding Board” is a music-centric collection of posts. “It is what is unique to the vibe of the Preston,” said Lewis. The blog embraces the Grand Ole Opry, the CMA Music Festival and the Country Music Hall of Fame, and mixes its posts with specifics about the Preston, a hotel in the center of that music mix. “You’re talking about adding value to the community,” said Lewis. “We treat it like a publication, somewhere between news stories and anecdotes, fun things, interesting things.”

Good writing has a particularly long history at the Newagen Seaside Inn near Maine’s Boothbay Harbor. Jason Schlosser, innkeeper, is quick to point out that writer and ecologist Rachel Carson was a summer guest there in the 1960s, and wrote portions of her landmark works, “Silent Spring” and “The Edge of the Sea”, while seeking respite and inspiration on the Maine coast. “We are committed to this process,” said Schlosser, who said the blog went online 18 months ago. It now boasts videos and photos (some sent in by guests) and lots of tips about vacation-planning, wedding-planning and sightseeing, in Maine and in general.

The inn, then, is a starting point for the blog, rather than an endpoint. “And it is continuing to evolve. I don’t know if we have arrived yet.”

Here here! The picture? Nashville, Tennessee


Mr Piano Man

Nope, not my weekly review of our radio show The Chanters Lodge experience with the Milli Jam Ingredient as you might have thought, (you’ll have to wait until tomorrow for that), but a nice piece from Hotel Chatter about an hotel in Colorado Springs! Mind you ‘Mr Piano Man’ by Brandy, from her latest wonderful, album ‘Human’ is one of my favourites at the moment, and of course that’s her fabulous photo! Here’s the piece!

“We’re staying at The Broadmoor in Colorado Springs this weekend to attend BBQ University with grill guru Steven Raichlen. The reasons why we love The Broadmoor are too plentiful to list, but beyond spa-ing and shopping (we hear there are 75%-off sales at several of the boutiques), we love to make the on-property eating and drinking rounds.

The super fancy (yet charmingly old-school) Five-Diamond Penrose School is fabulous for special occasions. We swoon for the cocktails at the super hip Adam Tihany-designed Summit Lounge. But our guilty pleasure is cozying up to the piano at the Golden Bee with an ice cold, locally brewed beer.

The Golden Bee is a 19th century pub (on the verge of its big 5-0 birthday) that was picked up and transplanted from England. Every night, resident ragtime piano player Bud Kruezer hammers away at the piano while pub-grubbing guests down yards of beer and sing along with the songbooks. The vibe is convivial, even more so as the beer flows and the night goes on. Most requested songs include Sweet Caroline, Margaritaville, and, of course, Piano Man.

We admit, it does sound hokey, but until you’ve downed a yard a beer and gotten into a brave, sing-a-long kind of spirit, you can’t imagine just how much fun the Golden Bee can be. We honed our non-American Idol-worthy singing skills a few weeks ago doing karaoke in Juneau, AK and can hardly wait to bust out a few songs tonight.”


Mustaphas Place, Zanzibar

“Beam me up Scotty!”

Surprising what you find on the internet. I came across Mustaphas in Zanzibar on Twitter. I was having a lousy Friday at Chanters Lodge, which got no better as it went along, and in what HotelChatter might call a ‘cubicle moment’ I wanted to go to Zanzibar immediately! Here’s all about it:

“The rooms at Mustapha’s are one-of-a-kind. Designed organically by Mustapha, Culture and their friends, they vary from smaller bandas with access to quirky (and nearby) shared bathrooms to larger bungalows with their own bathrooms. From the African stylings of the Round Room, to the jungle charm of the Treetop Room, there is a room for everyone.

Treetop Room – nestling up high, this room built with wooden poles is airy and charming, as well as being a bargain.

Green Room – for those who prefer to stay closer to the ground, the green room is a comfortable and affordable option.

Yellow Room – this bigger room is good for those with children, or small groups travelling together on a budget.

Swiss Banda – a sizeable and characterful bungalow with space for four people, but also good for couples wanting a bit of space

Jacuzze – opposite the bar, this bungalow is comfortable and charming – good for couples but can sleep more if necessary.

Africa House – also known as “Honeymoon”, this bungalow is slightly tucked away from the rest, so good for romantics, or families with children.

Yes, we’ll have Africa House please!

Prices for the rooms at Mustapha’s are low compared to most hotels on the island and you get access to the same stunning beach and beautiful plant life as many expensive luxury hotels, but with a more laidback vibe.

Just take me there – not but!


Food & Beverage

This (shortened piece) from Beth Kormanik at interested me, click the link for the whole article. I’ve commented below each paragraph in bold italics on how I think the piece reflects our situation at Chanters Lodge, Livingstone.

“During a recession, as the truism goes, bar sales go up. But could a properly priced beer, drive room sales at full-service hotels, too? That’s the belief of Michael George, president and CEO Crescent Hotels & Resorts, which owns, operates and manages hotels for institutional investors. In his experience, bar business is up “substantially,” especially at full-service hotels that also have a nice atmosphere and an attractive staff.”

We have a nice atmosphere, reasonably priced beer and attractive staff but our bar sales are static. Would we be more profitable if we just offered bed and breakfast? I often ask myself, and how would that effect our Guests.

“One of the simplest things we did to drive cash flow was to properly set our beer prices,” he said. “Properly priced Bud moves rooms.”

We are about to ‘adjust’ all our food and beverage prices in view of increased costs. What constitutes ‘properly priced’? I wonder.

Thomas Edward Middleton, Jr., a senior vice president at Hilton Hotels Corporation, said guests are eating more meals outside their hotels and that the F&B spend across the Hilton brand is down as much as 50 percent. Hilton’s ideas to recapture guest F&B spend include bringing in celebrity chefs, well-known concepts and menus that feature fresh, simple and healthy foods. They also are outsourcing. “It’s always amazed me, in the hotel business all companies struggle with F&B,” he said. “The best thing we’ve come up with is third-party leases. It’s very difficult to lose with third-party leases.”

Now where would we find celebrity chefs and/or a third party lease in Livingstone….? We do offer fresh, simple and fairly healthy foods but have to accept that lots of tourists want to experience the restaurants that Livingstone has to offer. Attracting outsiders to eat here seems more and more difficult.

But George argued that food and beverage outlets should not be considered an “evil necessity” to outsource. He said Crescent operates all of its own F&B outlets and they add a crucial edge over select-service hotels. “From a food component, the point of being full service is to be convenient at a good price,” he said. “Put the focus on it. The guests are looking for it.”

Sometimes our bar and restaurant seem to be an ‘evil necessity’ at other times great fun and good earners! It largely depends on the Guests we have staying.

“Wyndham Hotels and Resorts President Jeff Wagoner said the key is to be flexible and match the right food concept for every hotel. One hotel recently was asked to implement a “grab and go” feature, which normally is the hallmark of select-service properties. This particular hotel was not in a commercial area that would attract walk-by traffic from the neighborhood and its restaurant was suffering. “You don’t want to force it and have restaurant where you’re not going to have profit,” Wagoner said.”

Our menu evolves to reflect local cuisine and the most popular of our dishes on offer with timely innovation too.

“The old full service generic hotel direction is a wave of the past, like Top 40 radio,” she said. “We’re in the iPod generation. Everything is customized and focused on the future. We have to be in tune with our consumer and how they’re changing. The chains that understand that and innovate as times change are the ones that will succeed.”

Radio’s still popular in these parts (thank goodness), but in my car? Mp3!
The picture’s of part of our restaurant at Chanters Lodge.

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