Stars shine at eco indaba

27 November 2011 - 03:31 By SUBASHNI NAIDOO
Princess Charlene of Monaco will attend COP17 Picture: GETTY IMAGES
Princess Charlene of Monaco will attend COP17 Picture: GETTY IMAGES

DURBAN'S five-star hotels are rolling out the "green" carpet ahead of the UN climate change summit as celebs jet in for the world's largest annual eco junket.

Umhlanga's Oyster Box Hotel - the new playground of the international jet set - will again play host to Monaco's Prince Albert and his South African wife, Charlene Wittstock, and, it is whispered, Hollywood stars Angelina Jolie and Leonardo DiCaprio .

The two stars are expected to arrive in the city next Sunday. It is understood "discreet" reservations were made for them.

The Monaco royals threw a lavish cocktail bash at the hotel in July to celebrate their wedding.

Wittstock has apparently reserved the Buthelezi suite, which is usually priced at between R8630 and R11890 a night. Billionaire businessman Richard Branson has apparently booked into the presidential suite, at R50000 a night.

The city's other top hotels - the Beverly Hills and Hilton - are the likely venues for former US vice-president Al Gore, New York mayor Michael Bloomberg, former California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and a number of heads of state attending the 17th Conference of Parties (COP17), which will run from tomorrow to December 9.

The Oyster Box has previously hosted princes William and Harry and Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini. General manager Wayne Coetzer refused to comment on the guest list.

Jolie, a UN High Commission for Refugees ambassador, founded the Education Partnership for Children of Conflict, which funds programmes for children affected by disasters.

DiCaprio is known for his outspoken stand on climate change.

No special flight arrangements have been made for celebrities, who are expected to arrive on regular flights.

But Airports Company South Africa's Collin Naidoo said private security measures would be in place for heads of state.

Security will be beefed up around the Oyster Box, Beverly Hills and Hilton.

Durban's eThekwini council speaker, Logie Naidoo, who attended COP16 in Cancun, Mexico, last year, said: "We have an estimated 35000 delegates from all walks of life attending this event, from Greenpeace activists and billionaires to celebrities, which has created a special buzz in the city and keeps us on the international radar."

Some hoteliers are saying the event has dwarfed the 2010 World Cup in terms of revenue.

Warren Ozard, operations manager of the Federation of Hospitality Associations of Southern Africa, said every reputable hotel, bed-and-breakfast and guesthouse was booked out.

Southern Sun Elangeni Hotel general manager Mike Jackson said revenue had virtually doubled compared with last year's football showpiece.