Wouldn’t it be nice to finally get away from it all and live like a poor person? Now, you finally can. The Emoya Luxury Hotel & Spa’s “Shanty Town” offers all of the fun of living in poverty without actually subjecting its guests to horrible conditions.
As the hotel’s own website explains, millions of people in South Africa live in actual shanties. For $82 per night (roughly equivalent to two weeks pay for the average South African), visitors of the hotel can experience shanty life “within the safe environment of a private game reserve”… or in other words, without actually having to see real poverty firsthand. For some reason, that has a tendency to make people sad.
Fortunately, the accommodations aren’t actually dilapidated; instead they appear charmingly quaint and rustic. Since the site is part of a luxury hotel brand, the shacks still provide:
- catered breakfast!
- private shower!
- wireless internet!
You know, all of the creature comforts that people who live in legitimate shanties will probably never experience.
The closest guests may come to roughing it is when asked to heat up their own water outdoors over a fire. Funny how what millions of others must do for survival has been turned into just another hotel ritual akin to walking down the hall to the ice machine.
While Emoya recommends its Shanty facilities for “team building” and “fancy theme parties,” I’d like to recommend the hotel to… nobody. It’s offensive to turn the less fortunate’s hardships into a relaxing getaway.
What is it with the wealthy’s obsession of dabbling in poverty as some sort of diversion? There is also a business in Seattle that purports to let its customers know what it’s like to be a homeless person – for just $2,000! Additionally, a couple of years ago a firm responsible for foreclosing on many homeowners celebrated Halloween by dressing up as homeless people to ridicule the families whose lives they helped ruin. What a fun party theme!
For a large portion of the world, poverty is not a “vacation.” Unlike the guests of this hotel, poor people have no other choice but to stay in substandard housing and definitely can’t just “check out” when they’re ready to return to plusher accommodations.
It’d be one thing if the hotel provided even a semi-authentic shantytown experience like the facilities’ promotional materials suggest. However, by choosing to glamorize poverty, it does a severe disservice. When people leave Shanty Town having had a good time, they don’t come away with a renewed commitment to stomping out economic inequality.
Photo Credit: Emoya Luxury Hotel & Spa