Themed hotels and restaurants can offer people an alternative and fantastic experience and can be quite popular among tourists when done tastefully. But Shanty Town is possibly one of the most tasteless and insensitive themed resort ever created.
Located near Bloemfontein in South Africa, the slum-themed luxury resort operated by Emoya Luxury Hotel and Spa looks like a slum – but only from the outside. The resort consist of a dozen shacks made from scrap wood and corrugated metal, but is equipped with conveniences such as running water, electricity, geysers, and even under-floor heating and wireless Internet access. To make the stay a bit more authentic, the operators have installed paraffin lamps, candles and battery-operated radios, as well as the famous long-drop toilet. Boarders are encouraged to heat water in outdoor fires and take part in a communal fire pit surrounded by chairs made of rubber tires.
One night in the shanty town costs about $82, a little less than half the average monthly salary of a South African and more than most slum dwellers can ever dream of making in a month. The themed resort has drawn flak from all around with critics using strong words such as “offensive”, “insensitive”, “tasteless” and “vulgar”. American political satirist Stephen Colbert has called it “poverty porn.” But according to its owner, Shanty Town was simply filling a gap in the market.
"Regular overseas visitors suggested that they would like to sleep in a real shanty rather than just seeing them from a tour bus, as you would in Soweto and Cape Town," Buks Westraad explained. "And that is where the idea was born -- to start a small township with its own shebeen which would be Emoya's own unique, themed hotel.
"We believe we've taken something with a negative connotation and turned it into something positive, which reflects the ingenuity of our South African people."
The company states on its website:
A Shanty usually consists of old corrugated iron sheets or any other waterproof material which is constructed in such a way to form a small "house" or shelter where they make a normal living. A paraffin lamp, candles, a battery operated radio, an outside toilet (also referred to as a long drop) and a drum where they make fire for cooking is normally part of this lifestyle.
Now you can experience staying in a Shanty within the safe environment of a private game reserve. This is the only Shanty Town in the world equipped with under-floor heating and wireless internet access!
The Shanty Town is ideal for team building, braais, fancy theme parties and an experience of a lifetime. Accommodates up to 52 guests. Our Shantys are completely safe and child friendly.
Subscribe to our Newsletter and get articles like this delivered straight to your inbox