Food & Beverage


This (shortened piece) from Beth Kormanik at HotelInteractive.com 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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Helenor Webb in Livingstone


As promised here’s a picture that does include Tamara Webb’s mum Helenor. Left to right Denise Anderson, Tamara and Helenor just after they’d arrived to take up their accommodation reservation at Chanters Lodge Livingstone. They’d arrived by the overnight Intercape Bus from Windhoek, Namibia, were they tired? “No, Richard, we’re hungry!” They said in unison! So we fed them!

The ladies appeared on the latest edition of The Chanters Lodge Experience with the Milli Jam Ingredient last Sunday night on Zambezi Radio 107.5 fm and they laughed, danced and sang their way through an edition of the show right up there with the very best we’ve produced in the past 19 months. They loved ‘Believe It Or Not’ the number with which Milli Jam closes our show! Theme from Greatest American Hero. Check yesterday’s blog post for the whole story.

It’s thanks to them and thanks to everyone in Livingstone and surrounding districts who listen to the show!

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Helenor & Tamara Webb with Denise Anderson


“You see, when I was talking to President Obama last week….” Helenor Webb (not in the ‘gang’ picture above – I’ll post a photo of ‘mum’ tomorrow) started to say….. “What!” we all yelled at once! It was true! Helenor went on to explain that the previous week she’d taken part in a conference call with the US President. He’d spoken from Air Force One, to a group of supporters about the US Medicare system. Helenor’s roots are in Belize, she’s an Obama supporter, and has been involved in the Medicare reform issue since she retired last year from her job with Ticketmaster. Milli Jam and George Soulchild’s eyes were on stalks!

Helenor and daughter Tamara are visiting Zambia with friend Denise Anderson and were kind enough to Guest on the latest edition of the Chanters Lodge Experience with the Milli Jam Ingredient, the radio show we sponsor every Sunday night on Zambezi Radio 107.5 fm, Livingstone’s best loved local radio station, despite therefore missing the sight of the famous lunar rainbow over Victoria Falls on the night of a full moon! “Shame!” I hear you cry.

“What sort of company is Ticketmaster?” Milli Jam wanted to know, and Helenor went on to explain that the company sold tickets for events and shows. “Did you get tickets to see shows yourself during your 18 years’ service?” We asked. “You bet” said Helenor “the best two shows I ever saw were Tina Turner and Janet Jackson – I had a box seat!” Milli Jam and George Soulchild (on technical) were agog again! “Milimo’s been in love with Janet Jackson for years” I commented, turning to him “haven’t you?” “I like Janet Jackson” he admitted shyly!

We made a mistake. We played ‘Macarena’ by Los Del Rio. What happened? These raucous American ladies, who of course were guesting on the show because they had accommodation reserved at, and were staying with us at Chanters Lodge, got up and danced. I had a strong suspicion people were dancing all over Livingstone to this great number! Tamara and her mum had all the moves!

Tamara’s on a six month volunteer programme in Khorixas, Namibia, some 4 hours from Windhoek. She’s working with the Namibian Ministry of Education through Worldteach, administering classes for students of all ages learning Maths and Science on a computer programme – Plato. Helenor and Denise are visiting her from the States. Denise hails originally from Guyana and is an Adoption Social Worker with Montgomery County in Maryland. “How did you get from Windhoek to Livingstone?” Milli Jam wanted to know. “On the Intercape bus” they replied “and we’re gonna make sure we buy blankets for the return journey – we were very cold! Other passengers looked at us quite pitifully!”

“How did you choose Chanters Lodge?” Was the next question. “By surfing the internet and checking with Lonely Planet” Tamara replied. “Pleased with your choice?” Asked Milimo. The girls all agreed that they were. Apart from ‘Macarena’ we played ‘Missing You’ by Black Eyed Peas a great track from their new album. ‘Dance With My Father Again’ that wonderful number by the late great Luther Vandross went down well, and our American visitors enjoyed hearing two local numbers – ‘Masese’ by Tommy D (a number for his boss meaning ‘I work hard but you pay peanuts, pay me what I deserve!’) And ‘Kokoliko’ by Tobby Zambian (?) meaning ‘we’re gonna party til dawn’. The Chanters Girls were specifically instructed by me on radio to ignore the lyrics of both these two songs!

“Where would you ladies like to be and what would you like to be doing ten years from now?” Milimo wanted to know. Denise replied that she’d like to be raising a family and still helping other chidren. Milli Jam asked her if it was true she’d attended Barak Obama’s inauguration in Washington last January. “Yes”, Denise replied “along with millions of other people”. “What was it like to be there?” “Amazing!” was Denise’s one word answer. I bet it was too!

Tamara also said she’d like to be raising her own family ten years from now and helping other children too. Mum? Helenor would like to see Obama’s Medicare plan through to fruition. “Where’s your husband?” Milli Jam asked Helenor and she explained that he was still working but would be visiting Tamara in Namibia later. “And yours?” Milli Jam turned to Denise. More hoots of laughter. “I’m single” she eventually replied. “Single fit to mingle” murmered Milimo. “Is it true your boyfriend’s working in Iraq?” Milli Jam asked Tamara. “Yes” she replied “he’s a radio broadcaster over there”. “Is it serious?” “Very!” “Isn’t love at a distance rather difficult?” pursued Milimo. “Yes it’s very difficult and sad” replied Tamara giggling! “Do you have political ambitions?” I asked Tamara, taking a guess. Good one, she does!

The ladies talked of their sunset cruise on the Zambezi that day, their excitement about riding elephants on a safari lined up for the following day, and a sense of anticipation about their trip to Botswana for a one day safari in the Chobe National Park on Tuesday. In between times Helenor had enjoyed a church service at St Andrew’s anglican church in Livingstone and the ladies had loved the Livingstone Museum!

The photo? Tamara Webb, me, Milli Jam, Denise and George Soulchild, left to right.
Great show! Fabulous guests, super music! We gave away a dinner for two with drinks, as a prize. Some people texted us what they thought would be the answer to the question before we’d asked it! So we changed the question, and asked them what country Tamara’s working in! Namibia! Replied Irvin and won! Honestly, what some people, (including radio presenters), will do for free food!

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Google Wave


This from the BBC:

“Industry experts have given a broadly positive reaction to Google Wave. Still in development, Google Wave is a browser-based tool that mixes e-mail, with Instant Messaging and real-time online collaboration elements. Harry McCracken, of Technologizer.com, wrote: “It’s one of the most ambitious services that Google or anyone else has cooked up”. Google Wave is currently only open to developers interested in building applications for the tool.

Google Wave co-creator Lars Rasmussen wrote on the official Google blog: “A wave is equal parts conversation and document, where people can communicate and work together with richly formatted text, photos, videos, maps, and more. “In Google Wave you create a wave and add people to it. Everyone on your wave can use richly formatted text, photos, gadgets, and even feeds from other sources on the web. They can insert a reply or edit the wave directly.

“It’s concurrent rich-text editing, where you see on your screen nearly instantly what your fellow collaborators are typing in your wave.” The technology has been described as e-mail for the 21st Century, a rival to Twitter and to Microsoft’s collaboration software, Sharepoint. Jordan Golson, writer for GigaOm.com, said Google had a poor track record of making a business out of any of its products, other than search. “Maybe it will work. Maybe Wave will take over the world. But, with the notable exceptions of Gmail and search ads, Google has a poor track record with product launches. It is really, really good at vanity exercises, though.”

MG Sieglar, a reporter for Techcrunch, said the tool “drips with ambition”. He wrote: “Wave offers a very sleek and easy way to navigate and participate in communication on the web that makes both e-mail and instant messaging look stale.” The announcement of Wave, together with the development of tools like Twitter and Friend Feed, point to the genesis of the real-time web, in which communication, search, collaboration, and the bridge between offline and online blurs into a contemporaneous mix.

Ben Parr, from Mashable.com, who tested a preview of Google Wave, said: “Our initial impression of Google Wave is a very positive one. “It’s already got certain aspects, like navigation, absolutely right. With some great third-party apps and greater customization, Google Wave could actually match its hype.”

More learning from the look of it!

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Rafting’s Back!


High water white water rafting has returned to the Zambezi below Victoria Falls. Check this e mail we received from Safpar:

“We’re very excited to be able to announce that the river levels have dropped sufficiently for us to reopen white water rafting from this Saturday, 6th June. The trips will be running on “high water”, initially from rapids 14 – 25 and shortly after that (once the water levels have dropped further) from rapids 10 – 25.

At rapid 25, all clients will get the lift out of the gorge where our truck will be waiting for them with soft drinks and beers, they will then be driven back to Zambezi Waterfront for a well deserved meal and to watch the video of their day’s trip before being transferred back to their accommodation.”

So there you are, if you’ve reserved accommodation at Chanters Lodge and would like to make a rafting reservation, let me know!

The picture? My son Jan and wife Jo doing it in 2006!

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Blog


Gosh! It’s 3 years to the day this bright, sunny, fresh Livingstone Saturday morning that I started to blog. Time flies! I remember the day I first tried blogging in June 2006. I’ve always liked writing and blogging seemed a good way to start. I’d looked at a lot of different blog sites before finding Yahoo 360 which was so simple to use for a technophobe like me! My first blog was about the bathroom in room 8 at Chanters Lodge, Livingstone, with which we were having plenty of problems as we tried to complete our 3 roomed extension that year. ‘Bog or blog’, was, I believe somewhere in the title of that first one! I was inordinately proud of myself for being able to publish my first blog with a photo (lousy quality admittedly taken with a subsequently stolen Motorola camera phone) without any assistance from anyone. Edward, my eldest son, a technocrat, was delighted with, and I believe, not a little surprised by my efforts!

3 years later where are we? Well, I’ve posted 1082 blogs, and had 375,746 page views which works out at an average of 343.15 page views per day! A lot of work and a lot of reading. Sometime during these 3 years Ed worked out how to upload the blog from Yahoo 360 on to our main Chanters Lodge site and this really helped expand the readership and to market Chanters Lodge. You’d be surprised how quickly Google finds http://www.chanters-livingstone.com/blog.cfm these days!

(But Google does not Chanters Lodge quickly when you Google ‘accommodation Livingstone’ or ‘lodges Livingstone’ for that matter. I don’t understand Google and that’s a fact. More of that soon.)

What have I blogged about in these 3 years? All manner of different things, you can find more or less the whole list here thanks to Ed who archived the work! But, really, the blog has been about what I said I would write about at the start, ‘a diary of happenings at Chanters Lodge, Livingstone, Zambia with reflections on Zambia and personal matters too’.

The future. Well, there’s no more Yahoo 360 – they’ve redesigned their blog system so that you can’t upload your own photos – very stupid in my opinion but they probably have their reasons. I’m in the process of shifting to Blogger, which seems fine, and I guess the Yahoo 360 work will stay on the net for all to see if and when they wish. The Blogger site will upload to the Chanters site as the Yahoo 360 did. The future of blogging? I don’t know. With Facebook and Twitter and other stuff coming at us thick and fast who knows where the internet and where we’ll be in future?

Thanks to anyone and everyone who’s taken an interest in the past and please keep on doing so in the future! From tomorrow we’ll be posting on Blogger only. The picture? Ireen and I in 2006 – boy! I lost a lot of weight since then!

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The Lions of Livingstone

We received this update recently from Safpar who operate the Lion Encounter here in Livingstone. Lots of Guests with accommodation provided by Chanters Lodge who come to Livingstone mainly to see the mighty Victoria Falls have also enjoyed this experience during their visit, and there’s a picture of 3 ladies from Perth, Western Australia, doing exactly that! Here’s the piece:

“May has been our busiest month so far with 465 clients visiting Lion Encounter. During the end of May a South African fencing team arrived in Livingstone to start pegging the fences for our first Zambian Release site – Stage 2. This is extremely exciting for all of us involved, the release site is in preparation for the release of the lions our clients are walking!! The research team have been very busy this month with the elephant research – as elephants start flocking to the thorntree area – proving to be a very interesting addition to the lion walks!!

Walking Sets
Temi and Tswana – Temi and Tswana’s confidence is building all the time. The two have regularly been seen stalking the odd impala or – as their last stalking attempt shows no fear – a giraffe!! These two are far too small to get anywhere near, but its all good practice. Temi and Tswana approach 8 months on the 6th of July, little do they know that their feeding will change from every 2 days to every 3. Temi and Tswana’s age now means that no person will be allowed in the enclosure with the cubs.

Kela, Kwandi and Loma
The largest of our walking lions, Kela and Kwandi – now 13 months, and Loma – now 1 year old, continue to provide us with much entertainment on their walks. During May all three showed great hunting potential by jumping on the back of a Zebra – who promptly showed them where to go with a swift kick! As the river is now getting lower the cubs can go back to doing what they love – hanging out in the water!! Kela and Kwandi love water (a rare but not unheard of trait in lions), and, as the river rose over the rainy season the water has been too high and strong for a quick dip, so they are now looking forward to cooling off in the Zambezi! Obviously, our team of scouts and lion handlers are on careful watch for those crocs!!

Rundi and Rusha
Rundi and Rusha approach 10 months at the start of June, and are enjoying the Mosi Ou Tunya National Park. Rusha, a very independent lion still enjoys her own company, whilst Rundi is quite happy to lay back and receive a belly scratch from us mere humans!

Leya, Zulu and Toka
Our only 2 males, Toka, who celebrated his 1st birthday mid May, and Zulu just 10 months provide a different dynamic to this group. Toka, a firm favourite is as dopey and loveable as ever, enjoying human company, but is quick to end a cuddle if the chance of chasing those pesky impala’s arises! Zulu and Leya are much quieter, with shy personalities – Leya however is growing more confident every day and is starting to realise the benefit of the human touch – ear scratches!! Zulu’s innocent face and dark brown eyes captures hearts daily, and is often seen enjoying his favourite pastime – sucking the other cub’s ears!!
Great stuff – if you like that sort of thing!

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A Terrible Meeting


I’ve blogged before about Zesco and Kafue weed – now they come togther in an unholy dark meeting! And, it’s not just the mines and industry that are getting increased load shedding, at Chanters Lodge we’ve experienced this too, we’re just happy to have our stand by generator! Check this piece from Reuters.

Zambia’s state-run power utility is rationing electricity to its vital copper mines because a water weed, introduced from Brazil in the 1990s as a flower, has blocked flows into the biggest hydro power dam. The southern African country, the continent’s largest copper producer, is also rationing power supply to manufacturers while domestic users have been cut off and traffic disrupted by the failure of lights, a company official said on Tuesday.

The utility company Zesco Ltd.’s spokeswoman, Lucy Zimba, said the aquatic weeds had choked the flow of water into a dam at Kafue Gorge power station, forcing it to halt some generation units and cutting 360 megawatts of Kafue’s 990 MW capacity. Zambia has a total generation capacity of 1,600 MW. “We have had 360 megawatts of power out of our system since May 30 and this has caused major disruptions. It has affected the mines (and) other industries,” Zimba told Reuters.

“We are also carrying out further investigations to see whether it is only the weeds that have caused this little flow of water,” she added. Zambia’s power supply has been affected by the plant, known as Kafue weed, over the past 10 years. Energy officials say a Zambian woman traveling from Brazil in the early 1990s introduced the weed, thinking it was a flower, and grew it near the river, causing a recurring problem.

Zimba said the utility was working to remove the exotic plant from the Kafue River.
Copperbelt Energy Company (CEC), which buys electric power from Zesco and sells to nearly all copper mines in Zambia, said the utility had capped power supply to mines at 430 MW. CEC’s Chairman Hanson Sindowe could not immediately say whether the mines would reduce production due to the power cuts.

“Zesco Ltd., has informed us that we cannot take more than 430 megawatts (power) at the moment and this has meant reducing supply to the mines,” Sindowe told Reuters. Officials say Zambia copper mines consumed 530 MW during peak production before new mines started operations this year. Sindowe said, however, that the impact of the power reduction on copper output would be moderated because some mines had also suspended or reduced output due to the effects of the global financial crisis.”

Staggering!

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