EUROPEAN revellers have rented a lavish castle on a private beach – for R90740 a night, or R3780 an hour – to celebrate the festive season in South Africa.
They and scores of other wealthy foreigners have shrugged off the global economic slowdown and are splashing out on the country’s most exclusive holiday destinations.
Topping the list of prime destinations is a castle near Knysna, advertised as suitable for up to six guests.
It is perched on a forested cliff flanking the Noetzie River and comes fully equipped with a butler and a gym. It is fully booked over Christmas and New Year.
Guests at Pezula Private Castle are promised luxury throughout, with freshly prepared meals and a well- stocked bar.
Reservations manager Natalie Bright said that guests were mostly fromEurope.
An eight-storey castle with sweeping views over Clifton’s beaches in Cape Town comes at a price tag of R40 000 a night.
A couple from Europe have booked it for the whole of January, parting with around R1.2-million.
They will be whisked around in a chauffeured vintage Jaguar, Ferrari or Land Rover, and can cavort in a swimming pool that resembles a mountain stream. The castle has five ensuite bedrooms, a library, a wine cellar and two baby grand pianos.
Owner and entrepreneur Hugo Jankowitz said: “Here you pay for exclusivity and privacy. You don’t see people, and people don’t see you.”
Gesturing at a French grandfather clock from the 18th century, he said: “I have travelled extensively and collected these artifacts and furniture from around the world.”
The home comes complete with the services of butler, Hester Linka, who graduated from the South African Butler Academy. She specialises in preparing vegan food, but said her most favoured dish was leg of lamb with roast potatoes and Mediterranean vegetables.
Odette Maartens of Cape Town’s luxury real estate rental agency Denise Dogon Rentals said business was booming.
“We didn’t see this much business last December. It’s mostly from Europe -England, Italy, Holland, Germany and Spain. We’ve also had some tourists from Australia and the US.”
The agency has 950 villas available, of which a five-bedroom Llandudno seaside villa has been snapped up at R14 000 a night. A Clifton bungalow is fetching R18 000 a night and a six-bedroom villa in Camps Bay R14 000.
Meanwhile, well-heeled guests are paying R45 000 a night to stay in the presidential suite of the five-star Fairmont Zimbali Resort, nearDurban.
Mike Jackson, hotelier and vice-chairman of Fedhasa East Coast, said he anticipated a “great festive season” for Durban. “Our hotels are fully booked until December 10 with the climate change conference, and, after that, bookings are looking strong too.”
Simbambili Game Lodge , the most exclusive digs at the Thornybush Private Game Reserve skirting the Kruger Park, is booked out at R11 000 per couple a night. “Two out of three lodges are fully booked over Christmas and the New Year,” said reservations consultant Lisa Janse.
In the Eastern Cape, at the Shamwari Game Reserve’s Eagles Crag Lodge, couples are paying R9 400 a night.