It's estimated that one in eight people worldwide live in so-called slums, which, in some cities, makes visiting these informally maintained neighbourhoods unavoidable. Although controversial, the practice of "slum tourism" has become a popular way for tourists to engage with poverty on a personal level. But why go visit an actual slum when you can simply stay at a luxury resort that looks like a slum?
The Emoya Luxury Hotel and Spa near Bloemfontein, South Africa offers Shanty Town, a dozen shacks made from scrap wood and corrugated metal that it thinks is the perfect setting for your next corporate retreat or wedding anniversary. The resort has gone to great lengths to recreate the joys of slum living without the nuisances of crime, disease, or poor sanitation: "Now you can experience staying in a Shanty within the safe environment of a private game reserve. This is the only Shanty Town in the world equipped with under-floor heating and wireless internet access!"
For those of you worried that the presence of heating and wi-fi might not make for an authentic slum experience, don't worry! Shanty Town has made it more realistic for you by installing a "famous 'long-drop' outside toilet" and encouraging guests to heat water in outdoor fires. By burning toxic, life expectancy-lowering trash, I hope!
The rooms will set you back about $US82 a night, which some have noted is a half month's salary for the average South African.
Reviews on Trip Advisor were mixed. While one guest praised it as a "real experience," and even enjoyed a barbecue under the stars at their shack, another cautioned that slums do not offer good value: "Do not even consider staying in the Shanty Town. For the price you can stay in a luxury bed and breakfast establishment. An average caravan park with chalets will have the same experience." [This Is Africa via Urbanphoto]