Sun Dec 04 12:13:57 CAT 2016

Wealthy visitors' mega World Cup splash out

ZANDILE MBABELA | 2010-05-30 23:09:18.00 Comments

Armoured vehicles, private jets and R50000-a-day mansions are just some of the enticements on offer to the world's wealthiest travellers coming to South Africa for the World Cup.

Though some accommodation providers are battling to secure bookings after Match, the Fifa-appointed hospitality service provider, left them in the lurch last week, top-end concierge companies are "substantially" booked for the duration of the tournament.

Quintessentially, whose clients include a "balanced mixture of local and international tourists", has organised armoured vehicles to transport its clients on tours of townships and between their hotels and stadiums.

When not in these specially converted 4x4s - hired for R3600 or more a day - they will be travelling by chartered planes, at a cost of about R1.8-million for a return trip for 18 passengers between Nelspruit and Johannesburg.

Marketing manager Ingrid Pearce said that if a client wanted a bodyguard, and some have asked for one, "that's an extra R4250 for 12 hours".

"We can't reveal the exact visitor numbers, but it's going to be big and most of them are staying for the duration of the World Cup," said Pearce.

There was no room for cancellations because the company's policy was "100% non-refundable deposits".

The Sunday Times reported in November that the international high-rollers attending the tournament will include the Russian billionaire and Chelsea football club owner Roman Abramovich, Indian steel magnate Lakshmi Mittal, Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen and multi-billionaire Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan.

Ambramovich, who reportedly rented a high-security Johannesburg home and an apartment in Cape Town, booked a berth at Cape Town's harbour for his 170m, R3.3-billion yacht, Eclipse.

The Desk concierge company's managing director, Carole Day, said the company had booked more than 100 overseas visitors.

The shortest stay was two weeks, but most guests will stay for the full five weeks of the event.

"Most of our clients will be based in Cape Town and will commute [to soccer matches and local tours] from there," she said.

Guests will be staying in luxury villas that cost between R30000 and R50000 a day. The seven-bedroom villas have a large entertainment area, cleaning staff, 24-hour security personnel, chefs and butlers.

Visitors can bring their own chefs and nannies, but these can also be provided on request.

"We took the decision not to rent properties at ridiculously high prices because we didn't want to exploit out visitors," said Day.

She said their high-earning visitors did not make any "absurd requests".

"We will do anything for our clients, as long as it is legal," she joked.

Each villa has a luxury 4x4 vehicle and private planes are on offer from R200000 a return trip.

"One guest asked for a Bentley, for which he will pay R15000 a day," she said.

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