HOTEL OF THE MONTH
Blitzbok coach Neil Powell tells us where his exciting job has taken him, plus where he hangs out in Cape Town
You have friends coming to Cape Town. Where would you recommend they stay? In your travels, what place has really stood out? And your favourite city?
The day I set foot in Rome, I knew I wanted to take my wife there (which I later did). It has an amazing atmosphere and it’s a pretty city. There is something about the history – the Colosseum, the Vatican City – that feels like you’re reliving the past. The Southern Sun Waterfront. The great thing about it is the friendly staff – they really go the extra mile to make it as comfortable as possible. Also, it’s close to most of the city’s tourist attractions – Table Mountain, the Waterfront and the beach. It’s in the perfect spot. There is something about Dubai that’s vastly different to what I’m used to. It’s the desert, the different culture, and also how they focus on entertainment to keep people busy. Usually when you think of a desert, you think of how there’s nothing to do.
What is your travel philosophy?
Get out of the hotel and see what’s out there. It’s good to take time, even a half day on a work trip, to explore a city. What’s key for me is to do a bit of homework so you don’t waste time, plus you want to understand, for example, what the Colosseum is about or what the Vatican City symbolises.
Your fondest childhood travel memory?
Holidays in Swakopmund, Namibia – the whole extended family went camping. We enjoyed fishing and spending time with each other, especially because we didn’t see each other often. I was 10 years old and that holiday still stands out for me. We still camp and go game fishing every other December in Cape Vidal with my in-laws. I wish I could take my boys camping a lot more.
What inspires you?
What motivates me every day are the young men I am working with. It’s not just the opportunity to make them better players but also a chance to instil values in them.
You’re a former Blitzbok captain. What wisdom can you pass on to the team now?
It’s a special time for them to be able to tour the world and get paid for it! I always tell them to grab the opportunity and go sightseeing. Time goes very fast and before they realise, their Sevens career will be over and they would have missed the chance to get to know cities such as Sydney, Hong Kong and Dubai.
What are you looking forward to this Sevens Rugby season?
We need to take that extra step to get to the number-one spot. We’ve been second three times in a row now. There’s still a bit of prestige about winning the overall Sevens series in 2008/9, as we had never done it before. That was the start of the Boks Sevens changing into a more professional setup. We’ve never won in Hong Kong, so the goal will be to win that prestigious tournament for the first time – and be number one at the end of the World Series.
Do you and your family get to travel much?
I’m away from home often, so after coming back from a tournament I take my family away for two days. It’s important to have them around me – they make life special. I just spend time with them, no meetings, no phone calls, and give them my full attention. We like to try a different place every time, so we’ve been to KolKol near Bot River, to the Hemel-en-Aarde Valley and Hermanus, up to Langebaan and Velddrif, to Robertson and Montagu. We love the Western Cape because it’s so diverse. We also enjoy going to Mossel Bay out of season.
What’s next on your travel bucket list?
My wife has a thing for Switzerland – the snow, the log cabins and being somewhere in the mountains.