Fancy a holiday? It’ll cost a kingdom

2013-12-08 14:00

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Unusual accommodation is attracting those with money to burn this Christmas

Revellers with a taste for the unusual are forking out small fortunes to rent castles around South Africa over Christmas.

Heated marble floors, turrets and views fit for royalty are up for grabs – at price tags of up to R91?000 a day.

Near Knysna at the Noetzie River on the Garden Route, the Pezula Castle – which can sleep six adults – could be all yours for that hefty sum.

The whopping price includes breakfast, but a minimum stay of three nights is required.

The castle is perched on a forested cliff and comes complete with its own private beach and heated marble floors.

A booking agent said it is occupied until mid-January.

In Cape Town, “The Castle” on Clifton’s most exclusive street, Nettleton Road, is available at R42?000 a day.

The building towers eight storeys high and boasts five en suite bedrooms, two baby grand pianos, a library, a wine cellar, and a koi fishpond, spread out over three plots overlooking the Atlantic ocean.

The property’s owner, computer scientist Hugo Jankowitz, furnished it with collectables from across the world, including Irma Stern paintings and two Chinese terracotta warrior replicas that guard the entrance.

The Castle on Clifton’s Nettleton Road, Cape Town, is available for R42?000 a day.

“The place is like a museum, practically. I mean, there’s even a hat that used to belong to Joseph Stalin,” said Keegan Lewis of Dogon Rentals.

Just outside Clarens in Free State, Rapunzel’s Tower juts among thorn trees and small pathways in the Maluti Mountains. The fairytale castle, built by Manie van Schalkwyk 10 years ago, sleeps four people in fantasy beds of elaborately chiselled wood, at R1?000 per person per night.

“Guests can barbecue in the ‘Chamber of Angels’” while watching the sun slowly disappear behind the mountains”, said Van Schalkwyk.

He added that a Joburg family has booked the castle over Christmas and that a couple from Cologne in Germany has a booking early in January.

Rapunzel’s Tower just outside Clarens, Free State. Picture: Manie van Schalkwyk

Meanwhile, local travel experts said South Africans were bucking the “staycation” trend in favour of regional destinations.

Nick Paul of local agency Travelstart noted a move away from last year’s recession-induced “staycations”, with a 30% increase in travel sales.

He said they have seen a surge in regional African travel – with Mauritius, Mozambique, Zanzibar and Botswana’s Okavango Delta proving hot summer destinations.

Paul said international destinations of choice were Thailand, London in the UK and Paris in France, with Munich in Germany offering a popular gateway to the Alps for skiing.

“We’ve especially seen that airlines have been adding flights to the intra-African network,” he said.

He added that regional carrier SA Express upped its flight capacity to destinations including Harare in Zimbabwe; Windhoek in Namibia; and Maun, near Botswana’s Okavango Delta.

In November, SAA announced that it was cutting Buenos Aires in Argentina from its international route network, adding regional destinations like Kinshasa in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ndola in Zambia and Dar es Salaam in Tanzania instead.

Earlier this month, budget airline Mango announced it was upping its flight schedule from Joburg to Zanzibar, while Air Mauritius also announced added flights from Durban to Mauritius to cope with demand.

“So, while many travellers may not be venturing as far afield this year, there are definitely many more booking summer travel,” said Paul.

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