Rent a palace for a king's ransom

2013-11-03 14:01

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These spectacular Cape Town holiday homes will set you back R150?000 a night.

Welcome to South Africa’s most opulent holiday house.

It comes complete with nude mosaic murals and violet velvet wallpaper, and costs R155?000 a night.

Enigma House sprawls over 7?000m² in a pine forest overlooking Camps Bay on the foothills of Table Mountain.

Four mansions were demolished to make place for the estate, which was built and decorated with art and furniture from around the world, collected by the owner, German businessman Francis Schnetzler.

Schnetzler’s Czech wife, Veronika Schnetzlerova, is a former stripper, but retired from the adult-entertainment business when they married.

Still, Enigma House is a shrine to her past, with several naked portraits and murals of her in the lobby, the main bedroom and around the pool.

Enigma House, completed in 2011, is for sale for a whopping R300 million.

But it is also available to rent to “high-net-worth individuals”, such as A-list performers, chief executives and royal families, for R155 000 a day over the festive season.

But don’t think you can spend just one night – a minimum stay is five days.

Sotheby’s International Realty spokesperson Harry Phillips, who is renting the house out to the super-rich, said the property was not the only one carrying such an eye-watering price tag.

They have 30 others for rent along Cape Town’s Atlantic seaboard, which are usually full over December and have a 90% occupancy rate for the rest of the summer.

The prices vary.

“You can get one-bedroom apartments from R1?500 a night all the way up to R20?000 for luxury villas.

“These prices can easily triple, or more, over Christmas and New Year. There are also a small but growing number of superpremium homes drawing prices of R100 000 a night.”

Another in the R150 000-a-night category is just up the road from Enigma House.

Pentagon, in Nettleton Road, overlooks the Clifton beaches and is slightly more affordable at R152 500 a day over the festive season.

The five-bedroom villa was designed by the area’s en vogue architect, Stefan Antoni, and features his signature clean lines, glass façades and sea-facing infinity pool.

Clearly there is a market for such decadence. “Pentagon is booked over December, for sure,” said Keegan Lewis of D&G rentals.

Phillips said most of the holiday-makers hiring the high-end homes were foreigners, particularly from the US, UK and Germany.

“There are also increasing numbers from across Africa and there are always a fair few Johannesburg swallows,” he said.

City Press took a tour of Enigma House this week, with its four bedrooms, two-bedroom studio, koi fish ponds and a stretch of veld carefully manicured to resemble a French meadow.

Included in the rental is a staff of five, including manager Louis Brink, a supervisor, a cook, a gardener and a general handyman.

Its “Versace-style pool” is described as “the most glamorous and sexy pool in the western hemisphere”.

The front reception rooms have large windows and feature deep-purple, velvet-textured wallpaper by Zuber & Cie in Paris, as well as gilded bronze door handles from Argentina, and antique lamps embellished with beads and tassles that were handmade in California in the US.

Besides a sound system that has been carefully calibrated to play all over the house and garden, the house has been fitted with “climate control” technology imported from Japan.

A massage room has three light settings: “romance, sexy and nightlife”, and there is a 3-D cinema with deep sofas and settees, and walls covered in frescoes of seductive women.

Brink, who took City Press on the tour, pointed out jewel-encrusted wine glasses by Versace, priced at R5?000 each, and a classical white 1860 marble statue called The Greek Slave, worth R4.5 million, which was carried into the house by 14 men.

City Press joined Schnetzler in a small gold elevator that travels between the three levels of the house.

“Yes, I collected these from around the world.

“For example, the columns on the patio used to form part of a palace in India,” he said.

Schnetzler and his wife own properties around the world and spent most of last year living on the Spanish island of Ibiza.

The couple has twin baby girls aged two.

During City Press’ visit, Veronika kept out of sight as she was tending to their young daughters.

Brink said he could not divulge any details of guests who had stayed there in the past, but said the property had been a popular location for film and commercial shoots.

Schnetzler has declined four offers to buy Enigma House because they were all below his asking price.

Asked why the property was up for sale after all the effort that had been put into it, Brink shrugged: “Well, it was a project and now it’s been completed.”

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