Luxury Hotel Builds Poverty-Themed Site for Rich Vacationers

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:

  • electricity!
  • heating!
  • catered breakfast!
  • toilets!
  • 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


Jane R.
Jane R4 years ago

This is ridiculous. Why don't the rich just give money to help the less fortunate? If they really want to experience how the poor live all they have to do is camp out in their backyard in a tent, cook their own food on an open fire pit, do without a warm soft bed, no maids or cooks, no air conditioners or central heat, no television, no phones etc. Then they would really know what it's like to be poor.

Ruth Ann W.
Ruth Ann W5 years ago

Truly unbelievable. Bordering on psychotic.

Beth B.
Beth B5 years ago

I have heard one say, they can't wait until they can have their house all to themselves. Now the house is big dark and cold and empty.

krysta I.
Past Member 5 years ago

Talk about adding salt to a wound...poverty as a novelty. Wouldn't it be a hoot if actual poverty stricken people took over the rich people's lives while they were on vaca to slumville? It would make a good movie maybe.

Gysele van Santen

just No.

Michael H.
Mike H5 years ago

I think I'm gonna hurl.

Isabella Linde
Isabella L5 years ago

i couldn't believe and it is not even in america or europe, no, it is here in south africa, how stupid is that, makes me sick.

Veerle D.
Veerle D5 years ago

For those who came up with this idea for a hotel like that I'd say : I hope a lot of rich people will be disgusted as well, rethink this concept and give the people who's misery they're exploiting an actual vacation in these resorts, or even better in a normal resort of the same chain. At least like that a good thing: sensibilisation, might still come of this...

Veerle D.
Veerle D5 years ago

Instead of going to such hotels and paying these sums of money for a fake thing, they'd better go to the real shantis to experience it without actually staying and give their money to improve these people's conditions. But that would be too real and not something to boast about to your rich neighbours when you come home probably...

Joseph E Fasciani

Only humans can do such bizarre things as this. What can the point possibly be? Too weird, really.