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The Ukajede Foundation gets a much needed boost from Birchwood

They say that if you give a man a fish you feed him for a day, but if you teach a man to fish you feed him for a lifetime. This is an attitude that the Ukajede Foundation will be able to put into practice with the donation of a brand new soap making machine. The machine will be used as part of a soap recycling initiative called Soap for Hope. The initiative uses discarded soap from hotels to make new bars of soap, which are then sold to those in need. The initiative comes as part of a partnership between the Birchwood Hotel, Equipro, Sealed Air and the Ukajede Foundation. The donated machine was officially handed over earlier last month, making it only the second of its kind in South Africa. The machine will operate out of the hotel, under the supervision of assigned Ukajede coordinator, Thembi Ntuli. It takes a mere seven minutes to cold -press produce a single soap bar, and once it is set up (and once the Ukajede community volunteers have been trained to use it) it will go into production. All proceeds wi ...

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Fire at the Birchwood Hotel & O.R Tambo Conference Centre

CEO, Lindiwe Sangweni-Siddo has confirmed that a fire broke out at the Birchwood Hotel & OR Tambo Conferencing Centre and a total of seven (7) rooms in one of the blocks undergoing renovations on Friday night were damaged.

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This speech by Jim Carrey is surprisingly profound

“You can fail at what you don’t want, so you might as well take a chance on doing what you love.” This is one of the pearls of wisdom imparted by none other than veteran comedian Jim Carrey, when he recently received an invitation to deliver the Commencement Address to 2014’s Graduating Class from Maharishi University of Management this past May. The speech is worth watching in full, and you can find it right here:


What makes for a great conference speech? Take our poll today!

  Ever since the advent of the TED talk, speeches have reentered the spotlight, and focus is again returning to what exactly makes a speech great. In today’s information overloaded era, people have less time and attention to spare. Nowhere is this more evident than in the conference speech. As a top conferencing venue in South Africa, the Birchwood Hotel has seen its fair share of talks on just about every talk imaginable, but we want to know what you think. What makes for a great conference speech? Take our poll below and be sure to check back for the answers next week! What makes for a great conference speech? A speaker with an unusual topic A speaker with a sense of humour A speaker who sticks to the time limit ...

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Getting to know Mafikizolo

With Friday’s Oude Meester "Ekurhuleni Comes Alive" Jazz Evening completely sold out, there is little left for lucky ticket holders to do but spend more time getting to know the headlining act, Mafikizolo, as well as supporting artists Mankie Makopa, Throwback and Thapang ER. After all, it just won’t do for you to not sing along when the time comes! Mafikizolo aren’t newcomers to the local music scene – they are just returning from a two year break with their seventh album, called Six Mabone - a classic car of the 60s. This should give you a hit of the bluesy big band hits performed by the band – all, of course, with a vibrant African twist. Not only do does the band sing the part, but they dress the part too. With suspenders and pearls in abundance, you can look forward to trip back in time this Friday. Until then, here are some songs to tide you over!


This TED Talk will change the way you hold your conferences

TED talks are famous the world over for curating the ideas of the world’s brightest thinkers and doers into simple speeches accessible to the public. The TED blog recently revealed some of its most powerful and most watched speeches of all time, and one of these was delivered by Nilofer Merchant. Merchant has been specializing in growing business for 20 years for companies such as Apple, Logitech, Symantec, HP, and Yahoo. She also authored the book "11 Rules for Creating Value in the #SocialEra", which was chosen by Fast Company as one of the Best Business Books of 2012. In a 2013 TED speech, she offered advice that could radically affect the way people hold meetings in hotel conference venues. The speech suggests that we move away from the traditional conference setup of an audience and presenter, to one where we all sit less and do more. She warns, “What you're doing, right now…is killing you…Nowadays people are sitting 9.3 hours a day, which is more than we're sleeping. Si ...

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Tips on holding a conference

Your company is holding a conference. Are you prepared for exactly what it involves, and what is needed to hold one? An article in the Telegraph’s Festival of Business SME Masterclasses outlines several points that people need to pay attention to in order to hold a successful conference. Some are big and some are small, but all are equally important. The first thing to remember is that a conference needs to have adequate air conditioning, balanced to ensure delegates are not too hot or too cold, and taking into consideration the season. Your conference should have a facilitator, in order to ensure all activities run according to schedule and not over or under time. If you are providing delegates with name badges, ensure that they don’t attach to the person with a safety pin – most people dislike these, as they damage clothing. A great conference venue should have good cellphone reception that allows delegates to send and receive messages without having to leave the venue. Ensure that al ...

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How well do you know South African Whisky?

  Visitors to the Birchwood Hotel will not only be astounded by the conference centre, hotel and reception venue facilities – especially after visiting One Twenty Restaurant, where they will no doubt be blown away by the array of whisky on display. Fewer people may be aware that not all of these are international – some, in fact, were conceived and created right here in South Africa. If that wasn’t enough, some of these local names have gone on to scoop top honours in international awards.  South Africa’s first single grain whisky, Bain’s Cape Mountain Whisky, was names the World’s Best Grain Whisky at the annual Whisky Magazine’s World Whisky Awards last year, beating out veterans of the industry from Ireland, Scotland and the USA – a sign of future growth in the local industry. This was reinforced by comments made by the brands distiller, Jeff Green, who on winning emphasised, “This isn't just a win for Bain's Cape Mountain Whisky but for ...

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A conference with a difference

Struggling with ideas for your next conference? Wondering how to break through the clutter and get through to your delegates? You may want to take tips from C2MTL. C2MTL, or (Commerce and Creativity Montreal) calls itself a business conference “somewhere between genius and insanity”, which has been described by others as a “blend between Burning Man and TED”. It takes place in Canada, and is jointly held by advertising agency Sid Lee and Cirque du Soleil. Started just two years ago, the three day conference is attended by close to 4000 people, many of whom have attended before, and boasts key note speakers such as Abigail Posner, Google’s head of strategy, James Cameron, Nobel Laureate Muhammad Yunus, Chelsea Clinton and Kevin Spacey. What makes this conference so different though, is less who attends it and more why they attend it. Attendees are encouraged to engage in the so called creative ecosystem by “humanising digital”, participating in “commando net ...

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Dos and Don’ts of a great Wedding Toast

Wedding bells are in the air, and you’ve known the future groom or bride to be well enough for them to ask you to deliver a toast or speech at their wedding. If they’ve chosen a great venue with great food, such as that offered by Birchwood Hotel, you know that you’ll already be addressing a group of comfortable, well fed and receptive wedding guests. And as we all know, happy guests are more likely to laugh at your jokes about the bride’s awkward phase in high school or the groom’s penchant for online gaming. If think you may be facing a slightly tougher crowd, you may be in for an uphill battle. There’s no need to panic though, as sometimes you can learn from other’s mistakes to avoid making your own. According to an article from CNN, there are a few pointers you can follow to make sure your speech will be spoken about for years to come. Casual slang and swearing are best avoided, as well as sharing any potentially embarrassing, drunken tales best kept in the past ...

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