It's been a busy few weeks for me but rather be busy that sit around doing nothing I suppose, while doing work I love listening to music and one of my favourite podcasts is Tiesto's Club Life. In one of his latest episodes one song caught my intention and I immediately took a liking to it. After searching the track listing I found out this song was done by MoTi, a dutch DJ who's signed onto Tiesto's label, Musical Freedom, after more digging I found out the song was actually produced from a sample used from legendary South African Jazz maestro Hugh Masekela! How's that for a coincidence? Well it could be a coincidence or it could be the inner South African relating to the beats from another of our great nation, but that is a bit far fetched. Here's the song to kick off your week!
Sunday, March 9, 2014
Thursday, March 6, 2014
When one thinks of BMW as a brand, it's always performance cars that come to mind first, hence when this particular model was launched, many were surprised that the German manufacturer has decided to dabble into this sector of the auto-mobile range. MPV or multi-purpose vehicles have become more and more popular over the years, whether its a couple starting a family that need that extra space or small business owners that require a small run around but need versatility in terms of loading space. Whatever the case maybe, there is a space in the market for such a car and it would be stupid for any manufacturer not to take advantage of this.
In the past year, we witnessed BMW flood the market with various models, the range has expanded tremendously giving the prospective buyer so many options to choose from. With the launch of the 2 series Active Tourer, it plugs in the void that was missing for BMW in that particular segment, so right now there can't be a person who says they cannot find a particular model that suits their needs. Why though? There are others to serve that purpose, well with Mercedes Benz, they released their B-Class back in 2005 as a "compact luxury car" in other words, a luxury MPV. Sales of the vehicle speaks for itself and with their new model that hit the road in the past year, you're seeing a lot more of them on the road so it only made sense that BMW took advantage of this and gave their clients an option to get something similar if needed.
The car is the first from their stable to have front wheel drive, but as BMW say it is a "sophisticated front wheel drive system which delivers the degree of driver engagement expected of the brands models", in other words, it maybe a front wheel drive car but it still feels the same as driving any other car from their line up. The model will be made available in 3 and 4 cylinder engine options, with a claimed combined fuel consumption of between 6-4.1 litres to a 100km. Which is pretty good but buyers of this car would be using it as a run around car so that means lots of short trips, it will be interesting to see how the car copes on that end, but we'll just have to wait till we get one to test ourselves.
They have done a good job with the design, when making compact cars such as these, it is very hard to make them good looking but BMW got it right with this one. Giving it that sporty look but still being practical at the same time and for the guys, there will be a M Sport kit available for this car just in case you want it to look more menacing on the road.
The interior is nothing less than what you expect, baring the same characteristics from its brother the 2 series coupe, the cockpit seems fully equipped with everything you need and I'm sure if it isn't, it will be on the optional extra list. The car seems pretty spacious but with the extra height you'd expect that to be a given but where the magic happens is at the back. The 3 individual seats are all able to fold down completely to extend the boot capacity from 468 to 1,510 liters! That is huge! Woman will already love this car for all the shopping bags they can get in it.
The car will be available in South Africa from October 2014, at present the price isn't known but it shouldn't be too much more than the 2 Series coupe. It's good to see BMW attacking all sectors of the market in terms of its model range because you would get those die hard fans of the brand that needed something like this but in the past never had the option so had to settle for other manufactures. This could be the birth of the coolest soccer mom car around.
Tuesday, March 4, 2014
I'm going to start off by saying that I'm not a food critic but I do like good food and Spiga D'oro, otherwise simply known as Spiga to many of their patrons is sort of an institution of good Italian food in Durban. If you follow me on twitter, you would know this is one of my favourite places to have a meal with friends, in fact we regard ourselves as "Spiga Royalty" since almost everyone that works there knows us (and are probably tired of seeing our faces). The restaurant is synonymous to the Florida Road district and one can say it is a landmark of such for the area, hence when I got an invite to attend a special dinner at the new branch in Durban North, it did feel a bit strange to head out to my favourite Italian eatery but in an opposite direction to the vibrant night life and buzz that goes along with that part of Morningside.
The new branch as stated before is located in Durban North on Mackuertan Avenue, it is also quite a popular spot for the area with many other restaurants and bars located on the strip but unlike Florida Road which tends to attract the, younger crowd, this part of town is a tad bit more laid back and easy with the more middle aged/ family people. The first thing I noticed when I entered the new restaurant was the amount of space there was compared to the original branch, granted on Florida Road they are tight for space, given the design of the structure they're in but with this new establishment, the open design is very welcomed and the the roof with exposed trusses giving the spot a greater volume which adds to the roominess.
The menu's are more or less the same as the other branch which has everyone's favourites but after chatting to owner Marco Santoniccolo, he explained to us the broader scheme of things. They have installed a wood fire over, in which they intend of doing daily meal specials such as oven cooked meat dishes apart from oven baked pizza's and pasta's. They also plan on catering for every part of the day with proposed coffee bar/ bakery that opens in the early mornings to serve the early risers, coffee and a selection of the favourite breads or pastries. A little later in the day the sandwich bar opens that will serve a wide variety of sandwiches and rolls. At 11am the main restaurant will open for business for sit in dinning, there are a licensed alcohol vendor and have a fully stocked bar which serve Heineken on tap!
The purpose for our invite was to give honest feedback on the premises, during our time there, the one thing that stood out for me was how relaxed the atmosphere was. We're so used to the fast paced and loud hustle that goes along with Florida Road, this dinning experience on the other hand was so peaceful that one didn't have to raise their voice during conversation. But getting back to the important part, the food! We indulged on a full 3 course meal of starter bruschetta, a wonderful seafood marinara pizza and chocolate volcano for dessert. All bearing the same standards that one associates with Spiga D'oro to go along with the same friendly service that we are accustomed to.
On the whole, the place has potential to make itself a landmark of the area like its sister branch has done in Morningside. It's a different concept but still offers the same great food and service but with a more family orientated atmosphere. I'd like to thank Marco, Sergio, Karla and the team for the invite and wish them everything of the best for the new premises, we'll be sure to frequent this one as well so the new staff can get to know the members of the "Spiga Royalty" ;)
Monday, March 3, 2014
Martin Garrix seems to be the hottest thing in EDM at the moment and it seems the kid can't do any wrong as he produces hit after hit. His latest offering Helicopter was released last week on Beatport and is already surging up the charts. When he was down at Ultra SA, Tiesto played this song during his set with him and Martin both on the decks waving the SA flag. He has a competition running on youtube for fans to send in video's of themselves doing the helicopter and winners video's will be used in the actual music video. Pretty cool hey? Well for now, lets enjoy the song.
Thursday, February 27, 2014
It's probably the most anticipated issue of the Sports Illustrated magazine and with good reason to. Every year guys and girls (I think they actually look at the swimwear) look forward to the swimsuit edition, to see the bevy of beauty's beauties from around the world, photographed in the most exotic locations, wearing the sexiest of swimwear...well in some of the pictures, they aren't wearing anything at all! It's all done in good taste and that's what makes this issue so popular. Like I said they use girls not only from the USA but around the world. South Africa has had it's fair share of features, from Dominique Piek, Genevieve Morton and making her debut last year,Natasha Barnard. This years issues sees another South African stunner crack the rookie list in Lauren Mellor.
Facebook: Genevieve Morton
This years issue see's Genevieve make her appearance for the 5th time. The B4 - Benoni born blonde bombshell, made her first appearance back in 2010 as a rookie and has since featured in every years issue since. She just oozes sex appeal and is your typical girl next door. She's fun to follow on twitter and has the best instagram account by far! Here are some pictures from her shoot in this years issue.
Facebook: Natasha Barnard
Success seems to follow her where ever she goes and I'm glad because she deserves every bit of it! My good F1 and Golf twitter compadre was born and raised in Witbank Mpumalanga, a proper boere meisie turned superstar. She made a move to Cape Town where she did embark on some modelling but her big break came when she was crowned the face of Wonderbra SA. From there she went on to model for Guess international and thereafter made her debut for Sports Illustrated International in 2013. Her side hobby besides watching F1 and Golf, is wildlife photography, she's got an eye for it and most, if not all her images are truly amazing. It shows that even though she's making it big time in the USA, her heart is still in South Africa.
Facebook: Lauren Mellor
Rookie of the year: VOTE HERE
I'll be honest, I didn't even know the Johannesburg born Mellor was featured this year until Genevieve pointed it out to me last week. Lauren appeared in many local publications such as Top Billing Magazine and FHM before moving to Germany where her career took off. She did a lot of shoots for retail outlets in Europe and England before getting her break as a rookie in this years Swimsuit 2014 issue. She's one of the few that have posed bare in body paint and is in the running for Rookie of the year. So get your votes in for her!
Tuesday, February 25, 2014
Upon my recent visit to Johannesburg for Ultra SA, I was invited to stay at Tsogo Sun's Gold Reef City Theme Park hotel, even though it would be my first time back at Gold Reef City in nearly a decade I always had fond memories of the place from my childhood. First thing that surprised me is how it has grown! Well there's a funny story to that, I actually went to the wrong hotel when I arrived, you see there are two parts to Gold Reef City, the Theme Park and the Casino, both of which have their own hotel. In my defence it was quite late, never the less, the friendly staff at Casino Hotel pointed me in the right direction which wasn't a major issue seeing that the Theme Park is just across the road.
Once I got my bearings straight and eventually made it to the right hotel, I found it odd that I had to walk from the parking lot through part of the park in order to get to the hotel but it was dark and I just wanted to get checked in. Once everything was in order, I was handed my room key and seeing that my room was located on the first floor I asked the reception where the lifts were, bemused he looked back and said "your room isn't here".... well then where the hell is it? Just then the porter arrived to take my luggage and escorted me to his golf cart, once outside it all made sense to me.
The hotel is located in part of the theme park called the village, the theme as Tsogo Sun put it, "an authentic turn of the century mining town" which I thought was pretty cool. The hotel has 75 luxurious rooms, all of which are spread out in this mini town and located in the many apartment styled blocks with some containing conference facilities at ground level. It's a total break away from the norm of hotels that we've become so accustomed to. Obviously the people who would stay here are mainly tourists so they would take time to appreciate the great detail they went into ensuring their guests have an authentic experience.
The room I had came fully equipped with everything one needs, a TV with most of the DSTV channels, air-conditioning which was a must as temperatures were quite high that weekend, an electronic safe to keep my valuables, bathroom with a tub/ shower combo and the basic tea/ coffee stand. Since it was Valentines weekend, the beds were decorated with rose petals and a chocolate was placed on the pillow, sweet but I unfortunately I was on my own but at least I got a free chocolate from it.
It was late and I was tired but time was short and I wanted to see the Casino part of the City, being situated on the other end of the park, it would be a far walk but a quick call to reception to arrange an in house taxi and I was transported free of charge to the Casino entrance. The casino has a number of eateries, including a food court with local favourites. The kiddies entertainment area was abuzz and the casino was pumping, after enjoying a few spins on the roulette table, it was time to call it quits and retire back to my room.
Now with the hotel theme being a small town, breakfast wasn't served on the ground floor but rather at one of the restaurants, Bunny's. There I was blown away with the variety at the breakfast buffet. From fruits, cereals, cheese platters to your hot foods of eggs done which ever way you wanted and a range of meats for your fancy. The bread table was equally impressive but what caught my eye was the smoothie station, pick your ingredients and in a jiff it is blended into your drink. Another shocker was the waffle station, who doesn't like waffles?! topped with whipped cream and syrup, it went down a treat with many of the guests, including myself.
A quick stroll around town to digest breakfast and I found that Bunny's was not the only place guests could visit in the hotel complex, there were many other small vendors from a chocolatier to wors rolls stand, 4D theatre and many others situated in the theme park itself. Each guest staying at the Theme Park Hotel get free entrance to the rides and other parts of the park. For the daring there's the high speed topsy turvy roller-coasters like the Anaconda but if you're a big baby like me then maybe something mellow like the Jozi Express would suit you better. The place isn't just about rides, gambling and food as there are many educational things one can do as well. There are tours that show you how gold is mined and produced and the newly built Apartheid Museum is a must for all South Africans.
It's a pity that my stay was a short one as I never did get to explore the park fully but I would recommend it to any family wanting a break from the stressful reality of life. It's just a stones throw away from the hustle and bustle of Johannesburg but once in there you feel totally secluded from the outside world. Its an ideal place to spend a weekend and enjoy the entertainment facilities that are on offer which will no doubt result in hours of fun with the family. The friendly staff are always willing to assist, whether you require help to your room or to be transported around the facility. I definitely will be paying Gold Reef City more visits in the future, maybe by then I'd stop being a little girl and try my hand at the more faster rides!
Sunday, February 23, 2014
It's been over a week since Ultra and South Africa is still suffering from withdrawal symptoms but fear not, we still here to bring you the hottest in EDM every Monday. Today's featured song is one that will confuse you because it's an edited version of the rework by the artist who made the original song. See what I mean? Tiesto released Traffic in 2003 on his album "Just Be". Its always been one of his most iconic tracks, Twoloud have been granted permission to do the offical remake. Tiesto claims, they are one of the fastest up coming talents in EDM, which is sort of bias since they are signed to his label Musical Freedom but hey, the man knows his stuff so when he says they're good, I trust him and if I had to judge them by this track, they've done a damn fine job of it!
Thursday, February 20, 2014
It's no secret that slowly but surely Durban is taking its reign back as the best holiday destination for locals in South Africa. We have the best beaches in the country with world class promenades to suit, we have a variety of shopping malls catering for everyone's tastes and our selection of eateries is forever increasing. One thing Durban has lacked though is good quality affordable accommodation but with the recent development of Suncoast Hotel and Towers, along with the upgrade and refurbishment of the Tsogo Sun Elangeni and Maharani hotels, things are changing for the better.
As you may recall I attended a special social media dinner at the Elangeni late last year to celebrate the completion of the refurb, the Panorama bar and pool deck offered splendid views of the Durban coast line but during that dinner I asked Tsogo Sun's social media manager about the old Raffles club that used to be at the top floor of the Maharani, her words to me at the time were "wait and see". Well wait I did and 2 weeks ago I received a personal invitation to the grand opening of 'Sky Venue'. Pretty appropriate name seeing that it is situated on the 31st floor off the Maharani Hotel. It offers unrivalled views of the coast and city, ideal venue to kick back and relax with a cocktail or dance the night away over looking the city lights.
With that in mind, that is exactly what Tsogo Sun did, they turned the old night club into a multi-purpose venue with custom lighting and sound to adapt to any of the offering environments. It could be a bar, a club, a theatre, a venue for what you please. One the opening night it showcased it's versatilely to the T. There was an arrivals area, a stage for the MC and performers, dance floor, most of the area was taken up by the multi station buffet showcasing the SSEM's specialities from the various restaurants. Druma, had a sushi bar with a variety of the seafood delicacy, the Grill Jichana had succulent rack of roast lamb with condiments to suite and no Durban event is complete without curry, with the curry bar of Vigour & Verve offering scrumptious currys and condiments that left people coming for more and more.
The event kicked off with a few words from the gorgeous master of ceremonies, Jeannie D of Top Billing fame, followed by a talk from Tsogo Sun CEO Marcel Von Aulock who gave the guests an insight into the hotel groups influx of investment into their Durban assets. The revamp of the Durban beach promenade had a major role in them reinvesting into Durban, with the refurb of SSEM complete now with the opening of Sky, he made mention of the next phase of work to be done by the chain. This includes upgrades to the Garden Court Hotel which is almost done and a major refurbishment of one of Durban's most iconic hotels, Marine Parade but the big daddy had to be the 1.8 Billion Rand extension to Suncoast Casino which includes shopping mall complex, multilevel parking, more hotel rooms and a roof top aquatics park. Turning the already vibrant landmark into a world class resort.
After the formalities, guests were treated to an exhibition of the human form by guest performers from Madam Zingara there after were entertained by Sterling EQ, who are an award winning instrumental pop band made up by 3 beautiful young ladies. The rest of the evening was left to guest being able to mingle and to chat to personnel from Tsogo Sun. The bar at Sky has a hosts of alochol to satisfy any thirst, couple this with the view of the Durban night sky, it was a wonderful evening.
Tsogo Sun have shown that they mean business with their plans for Durban which speaks volumes for the city. Now with Sky opened, it gives guests another option to visit on a night out in the town, yes it is open to everyone and anyone provided it isn't booked out for a private function, it's just a pity that the famous outside lift had to be removed due to modern health and safety rules but the eye catching LED display more than makes up for it. I foresee many visits to the establishments, especially to showcase it to out of town guest and let the view and service to the talking. See you at Sky Venue soon!