Hotel guests turfed out for Brics brass
Brics delegates prefer their own furniture, food, and even fridges
Furniture, private chefs and even water were shipped into five-star hotels in Johannesburg this week, as regular guests were turfed out to make way for Brics presidents and their delegations.
Security was tightest at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Rosebank, where Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan stayed in the 190m² presidential suite.
South African police set up body scanners at two entrances, and the only people allowed access to Erdogan were his Turkish catering and security teams.
"The hotel was on lockdown until he was escorted by his security team to the presidential suite," a staff member said, adding that they got much closer to other members of the Turkish delegation.Erdogan arrived and left in a fleet of left-hand drive Mercedes-Benz limousines amid "extraordinary" security."We enjoyed serving the Turks, who love their stomachs," said a staff member. "They were feasting on fish and Greek salad every day when they came back from Brics until well after 11pm, when we had to inform them we are closing."
The Turks were invited by the Brics group.
Less thrilled about the Turkish presence were regular guests in the Hyatt's 244 rooms, who were moved to the nearby Holiday Inn.
"It is uncalled for that the hotel prioritises visitors at the expense of regular guests. We stayed there for a reason, not at the Holiday Inn where we now find ourselves," said one.
Russian President Vladimir Putin, who stayed at the Westcliff Hotel, was spotted at the Hyatt on Friday morning as he was leaving.An insider at the Michelangelo Hotel in Sandton confirmed that its 242 rooms had also been cleared, this time for President Xi Jinping and the Chinese delegation.
"For the president, they brought their own furniture and took everything else out. They brought their own food. They used our restaurant but they have their own personal chefs and used our waiters," the staff member said.Another hotel employee said the Chinese went as far as bringing their own cooldrinks and water.
"There was a guard for the refrigerator. They just open it if someone wants food. But they also have their own chef who cooks what they want. They are very strict people. I've never seen anything like this."
Xi is believed to have brought his own chair and microphone, which were carried around during the official business at the Sandton Convention Centre.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi had the run of the 246-room Palazzo at Montecasino, where the 168m² presidential suite costs at least R48,000 a night.
An employee said: "They brought their own chefs to cook for them, but ... they were served by our staff, our waiters."
Another staff member said he had not seen any signs of excess.
President Michel Temer of Brazil and his entourage stayed at the Radisson Blu Hotel in Sandton.