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South Africa's 'slum-themed' luxury hotel slammed worldwide

By Frances Cha, CNN
December 6, 2013 -- Updated 1009 GMT (1809 HKT)
At this controversial South Africa hotel, guests stay in a re-creation of the shacks inhabited by the poor. Each shanty sleeps four and goes for $82 per night. At this controversial South Africa hotel, guests stay in a re-creation of the shacks inhabited by the poor. Each shanty sleeps four and goes for $82 per night.
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'Luxury Shanty Town,' South Africa
'Full African Experience'
Themed living
Private game reserve
Donkey geysers and long drops
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STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Emoya Luxury Hotel offers "the only Shanty Town in the world with under-floor heating and wireless Internet access"
  • Hotel re-creates millions of shacks of South Africa's poor
  • Media response has been incredulity and outrage

(CNN) -- Emoya Luxury Hotel in Bloemfontein, South Africa, has been all over the blogosphere in recent weeks.

But the exposure might not be the type that the "unique accommodation experience" had bargained for.

Gizmodo called the hotel "A Fake Slum for Luxury Tourists Who Don't Want to See Real Poverty."

Steven Colbert coined the word "glumming" -- glamorous slumming -- in his on-air dressing down.

Christiane Amanpour examined it in the context of "poorism," or poverty tourism.

The hotel does sound like something out of a Saturday Night Live sketch.

At Emoya's Shanty Town, guests stay in a re-creation of an "informal settlement" -- shacks made of corrugated iron sheets.

Is poverty the new luxury?

"Millions of people are living in informal settlements across South Africa," reads the Shanty Town homepage.

"Now you can experience staying in a Shanty within the safe environment of a private game reserve," continues the website.

"This is the only Shanty Town in the world equipped with under-floor heating and wireless internet access!"

Read: Underwater hotel room opens on remote African island

Each shanty in the "town" goes for 850 South African rand ($82) a night, sleeps four people and has electricity and running water.

In a clumsy play for verisimilitude, rooms are equipped with donkey geysers (water heaters) and long drops (outdoor toilets).

Scorn and outrage

The hotel promises to deliver "the full African Experience."

The concept hotel launched in March, according to the Emoya Estate's Facebook page, but the backlash is recent.

"What were the creators of this thinking?" wrote commenter Whitney Trotta on the hotel's Facebook page on December 4.

"Have they ever seen poverty? Or lived in it? This is such a slap in the face to anyone who actually lives in a shanty town. Emoya Hotel & Spa you should explain yourselves. You are getting a horrible reputation worldwide for this."

Emoya Hotel declined CNN requests for an interview or official comment for this story.

Read: 10 things to know before visiting South Africa

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