Top Bloem suburbs to cash in on Mangaung

2012-11-10 18:56

Owners renting out property for up to R30 000 a day

Homeowners in exclusive Bloemfontein suburbs will be raking in the cash during the ANC’s elective conference next month, some renting out their homes for tens of thousands of rands a day.

As Cabinet ministers, MECs and other senior party members try to remain separate from the madding crowds at university residences and hotels across the city, some are paying a premium for peace.

Owners in the new Woodlands Estate, about 15km from the University of the Free State where the conference will be held, are charging up to R30 000 a day.

Their large, double-storey houses have swimming pools and are situated in a high-security residential development where the entrance gate pin code changes daily.

Accommodation consultant Sharon Bell said she had 12 multimillion-rand houses from Woodlands and nearby Heuwelsig, an established old-money neighbourhood, for hire.

The homeowners will be out of town on holiday at the time and she has been fielding many enquiries from party officials wanting to rent them.

During the ANC centenery celebrations in Mangaung in January, all the top houses on her books were rented out to senior party leaders, whom she declined to name.

Bell said top delegates prefer to stay in houses because they have access to an entire house, a swimming pool and other features, with the bonus of privacy.

“They can also determine the number of guests to be invited to stay with them,” she said, adding that these could include bodyguards.

For R30 000 a day, the delegates will get a “light breakfast” and full-time domestic staff.

Accommodation prices in Bloemfontein over December are at a premium, with only a limited number of hotels and guesthouses available for not only the politicians, but national and international media.

A standard double room in a city guesthouse is going for up to R3 000 a night.

Khotso Thole from Free State Tourism said several hotels and guesthouses had been fully booked for months now.

“People want to stay in Bloemfontein, where the action is going to be, and not in surrounding areas,” he said.

Thole said they were concerned that owners of some establishments were hiking their rates for big events.

Bell said an ANC group she was accommodating from one of the provinces opted to rent an entire guesthouse, including the kitchen, on the outskirts of the city for six days.

“They are bringing their own chef and requested a marquee tent to be put up,” she said.

Another couple, she said, chose a two-bedroom house in Heuwelsig that was costing them R6 000 a day.

“The house is smaller than the ones in Woodlands, but boasts a swimming pool and a trampoline,” she said.

Qondile Khedama, Mangaung Metro spokesperson, said the municipality had received several complaints from people he declined to name about the inflated accommodation prices in Bloemfontein.

“As a city we are very worried about this and we urged most product owners not to inflate their prices,” he said.

Khedama said guesthouses and hotel owners must remember their service adds to the reputation of the city.
“We want people who are attending these big events to return to explore the city and the province,” he said.

“We also asked residents who received hospitality training before the ANC’s centenary celebration to open up their houses for people who are stranded.”

Nancy de Sousa, president of the Mangaung Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said the organisation did not foresee that local businesses would rake in thousands of rands more than usual.

“Only a select few made money during the centenary celebrations in January. Even the centenary cakes were supplied by a company from Johannesburg,” she said.

De Sousa said there were many problems and many mistakes had been made.

“In fact, it was a semi-disaster and if the December conference is going to be handled in the same way, then local businesses are not going to gain much.”

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