by Ron Swilling
Imagine white marquees in a landscape of desert dunes and shimmering bamboo lanterns.
The task of imagining is the work of Willie van Wyk from Africa Leisure Travel, whose engaging logo is ‘Experience your Expectations’.
Africa Leisure Travel offers destination management as the cream of its products list. It also provides transfers to the airport and hotels, takes day tours to Cape Cross and the Moon Landscape, and acts as an agent for Europcar.
Destination management involves organising a group’s itinerary, including everything from airport transfers and hotel accommodation to activities. One of the evenings is reserved for the Africa Leisure Travel speciality, a desert dinner function among the dunes, in the Swakop River or on the beach. This is also available as a function on its own, ideal for weddings, celebrations, prize-giving events, year-end functions, special birthdays, anniversaries and as an exciting and memorable option for tour groups instead of just another restaurant supper.
The desert dinner includes white marquees, carpets, chairs, tablecloths, food, a bar, electricity and toilet facilities. To make the desert dinner a truly special affair, Willie offers interesting and exotic options, such as camels, belly dancers, marimba bands, drums, snake charmers and fire spinners. Large spotlights light up the dunes and all the tents are open in the front for guests to feel the atmosphere of their surroundings.
The wow experience
Willie’s experience with destination management began with Afro Ventures, where he worked first as a tour guide and then in management, gaining experience with the desert dinner functions that were arranged in conjunction with the Swakopmund Hotel. As Swakopmund started to pick up as a destination for incentive groups and small conferences, Afro Ventures became involved in event management, organising weekends for groups that arrived for leisure and work. In 2001, when the company moved back to Windhoek, Willie decided to take over where it had left off, continuing to offer desert dinners and event management in the coastal town.
Willie says Africa Leisure Travel is flexible and can set up anywhere from Halali in Etosha to Sesriem at the entrance to Sossusvlei. He says a special event should be like a puzzle. You can put in as many pieces as you want, whether a sundowner at the Moon Landscape with skydivers descending to offer ice-cold champagne or a surprise lunch in the desert. He says when guests arrive in the late afternoon to an exquisite destination with white marquees set up, a fire burning, lanterns sparkling and the desert lit up, “It can only have a wow effect!”
This article appeared in the June/July ‘10 edition of Travel News Namibia.