Wet and Wild winter

South African travellers' winter secrets survey

South Africans are a bundle of contradictions and quirks – especially when they’re in the grip of Jack Frost who freezes the interior of the country and delivers intermittent deluges to much of the coast.

What are our favourite winter warmers, what do we sleep in, what’s our comfort food and where do we like to go when any mammals with sense are hibernating the cold nights and days away?

The Protea Hospitality Group has conducted an online GUEST survey with hundreds of respondents, who gave us a sneak peek into South Africa’s winter world – with some very surprising results!

The first is that contrary to popular belief, we aren’t a bunch of die hard drinkers. In fact, when offered a choice of hot chocolate or hot toddy, an overwhelming 85% chose hot chocolate.

And when offered the choice between a warm bath and a glass of wine, the warm bath won over more than 60% of respondents.

So if our travellers aren’t big on alcohol, what do they do like?

Food-wise, nearly 57% prefer a steaming bowl of soup over a hearty stew and unsurprisingly considering the current temperature, more than 75% would opt for hot, sticky malva pudding over ice-cream. Pancakes also win hands down over vetkoek with a 70%-30% split.

Winter clearly brings out nostalgia in most of us too, because 60% would rather dunk an old-fashioned rusk in their coffee than the more très chic option of biscotti.

And we certainly do appreciate our creature comforts when the temperature plummets. Some 55% want to luxuriate in a bubble bath rather than take a quick shower, 53% love snuggling in flannel jammies rather than sleeping in a T-shirt and 65% would opt for a doek rather than a swirlkous.

But while we might want to pile on the layers to keep warm, we’re not averse to taking them off if you believe more than 52% of respondents, who say that they’d rather get jiggy wearing lacy stockings than anything else!

From a travel perspective, would most people prefer to potter at home or head for the proverbial hills?

According to the survey results, 55% of respondents think the hills, or “crisp mountain air”, is more desirable in winter than the stormy ocean, although in a slight contradiction more than 75% would prefer Cape Town’s rain to Jozi’s frost!

So in summary (but not yet summery), what do we like to do in winter?

We like to go away for weekends, we love the mountains and the sea, we love roaring log fires far more than heaters, we don’t mind stripping down to lacy stockings if the circumstances are right and we definitely love to eat.

Which brings us neatly to the final question: “weight up or weight down”? Nearly 65% of those surveyed said “weight down”, which considering the pancakes, malva pudding and rusks should probably be taken with a large pinch of salt – or sugar!

Protea Hotel Group Infographic

Protea Hotel Group Infographic - Click to enlarge