The venue: Spier Estate, Stellenbosch

  • CS Forum 2010 in Paris and CS Forum 2011 in London set a pretty high standard, so we had no choice but to find another amazing venue for CS Forum 2012. That’s just one of the reasons the international content strategy conference is heading to a wine farm this year.

    The award-winning Spier Wine Estate is situated on the beautiful and world-famous Stellenbosch wine route. Spier’s conference facilities include a 450-seater auditorium, 3 large breakaway rooms, and a number of smaller meeting rooms filled with antique Cape furniture, artwork and barrel-loads of character.

    Wine barrels at Spier

    Location, location, location

    The conference centre also just happens to sit right next to the Eerste River, a boulder-roll from the Helderberg Mountains. If the weather plays along, we’ll be eating lunch outdoors on the oak-shaded terrace. Just watch out for the squirrels, though – they like buffet lunches too.

    The estate’s close proximity to the airport (Cape Town International is roughly 20 minutes away) means you won’t have to do too much travelling to reach the venue and get settled. If you decide to stay on site (and we recommend that you do), you can check into the 4-star Spier Hotel and catch up on mail and other business-type stuff right away.

    Things to do and see at Spier

    Eerste RiverBetween conference sessions, you’ll probably want to make time for a spot of wine tasting, and maybe a massage at the Camelot Spa.

    For the more energetic content strategists among us (you know exactly who you are), there are plenty of walking trails along the riverbank and all around the estate. There’s even a guided Segway tour through the vineyards.

    What about art and culture? Yup, we’ve got that covered too. When you’ve finished checking out all the historic buildings on the estate and gazing at the local artworks at the hotel and Manor House, head over to the Spier craft market and pick up a few authentic souvenirs. If history fascinates you, take the Gables Audio Walk, a fictional account of life on a Cape wine farm in the early part of the 19th century.

    And seriously, if all of this still sounds too much like hard work, then just grab your Kindle and spend a couple of hours reading under the trees. No judgement here.

    Spier Hotel at nightIf you’re coming from out of town – and especially if you’re coming from overseas – we strongly recommend that you stay on site at the 4-star Spier Hotel. Most of the evening activities will take place at various venues on the estate, and the optional tours and activities we’re planning for the day after the conference will leave from Spier as well.

    Spier Hotel

    We’ve negotiated a discounted rate for CS Forum 2012 delegates. To book your room, email the hotel and quote the following BID number: 679811.

    Please book early to avoid disappointment, as there are a limited number of rooms available.

    The hotel is arranged in a Mediterranean village-style layout. Rooms are grouped together in a number of double-storey buildings, surrounding 6 private courtyards, each with its own swimming pool. There’s also a larger communal swimming pool next to the hotel’s restaurant and bar.

    All rooms have en-suite bathrooms (with a separate bath and shower), satellite TV, air conditioning, electronic door locks, hairdryers, tea- and coffee-making facilities, in-room safes and wi-fi access. The rooms are spacious, and beautifully furnished.

    The special CS Forum accommodation rate starts at R1,050 per room, and includes a full buffet breakfast each morning.

    Find out more on the Spier website or contact them via email.

    Protea Hotel Stellenbosch

    If Spier is fully booked, we recommend the Protea Hotel Stellenbosch. It’s just a hop, skip and a jump from Spier, so you won’t be too far away from the conference venue.

    The hotel offers free wi-fi, 2 restaurants and bars, satellite TV, a swimming pool, on-site parking, and disabled facilities.

    You can check room availability and book online on the Protea Hotels website or email them for more information.

    We’re not going to delve into the Mother City’s rich heritage here; there’s a Wikipedia page for that. And frankly, it would be a lot easier to write about what you can’t do in Cape Town than about what you can. But we don’t like to back down from a challenge, so we’ll give it a go. Here are a few ideas.

    Taking the cable car up Table Mountain

    Go up Table Mountain

    This one’s non-negotiable. Take the cable car to the top of the mountain and take in some of the best views of the city and peninsula. There is a network of walking trails on top of the mountain, so you can get a close-up view of our famous fynbos, and you might even spot a dassie. (Don’t get too close, though – those cute faces hide a lot of anger.) If the cable car sounds too easy, you can always hike up instead. And abseil back down.

    Talk to the animals

    You like animals? Oh boy, are you in for a treat. We have a lot of them. Here are a few of the places where you can see them:

    Penguin at Boulders Beach

    Take a trip along the wine route

    Long Street at night

    Stellenbosch is the oldest wine route in South Africa, with close to 200 wine and grape producers. That’s a lot of tasting. And where there’s good wine, good food isn’t too far behind. Most wine farms on the route also have restaurants serving up picnics and a mélange of continental, African and traditional Cape cuisine.

    Get rid of excess energy

    Those who prefer activities that involve the release of massive amounts of adrenaline are well catered for. Cape Town and its surrounding areas are suited to extreme activities like shark cage diving, tandem skydiving and paragliding, and quad-biking or sand-boarding on the dunes.

    Clifton 4th Beach

    Reached the end of the day and still have too much energy? There is no shortage of live music, theatres, clubs and bars in Cape Town. Visit Cape Town Magazine to keep track of what’s on.

    Chill out

    Above all, Capetonians have a well-deserved reputation for being excellent at relaxing. Don’t fight it. Instead, have a picnic at the lovely Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens, then head to one of our beautiful beaches for a rest, and finally, end the day with sushi and sundowners in Camps Bay. That’s living like a local.

    Flying in from overseas

    Unless you have a whole bunch of airmiles just begging to be used up, your first stop should probably be Kayak or Hipmunk. Both sites will show you the cheapest flights available for your route, sorted according to various criteria.

    If you’re flying in from a far-flung destination (the US or Australia, for instance), we recommend that you give yourself at least one full day before the conference to rest and recover from jet-lag. If you’re coming from Europe, and flying a fairly direct route, this shouldn’t be an issue. Take the extra day anyway, though – just use it for sightseeing!

    Getting to your hotel from the airport

    Cape Town International Airport is approximately 25 minutes from Spier and the Protea Hotel. On-site travel concierge services are available at both hotels for transfers to and from Cape Town International Airport.

    Another option is to make use of one of the shuttle and taxi services operating from the airport to Spier and the Protea Hotel. You’ll also find several car rental agencies at the airport, if you’d prefer to drive yourself.

    We’ve created a handy map, showing the route from Cape Town International Airport to Spier Estate, as well as a bunch of interesting places you might want to visit during your stay in Cape Town.

    Getting to Spier from elsewhere in Cape Town

    Take the N2 heading towards Somerset West, and continue past the airport. Take Exit 33 (Baden Powell Drive, or the R310) and turn left towards Stellenbosch. Continue for about 9km along this road until you see the entrance to Spier on your right. Follow the signs to the conference centre.

    View in larger map