Luxury resort offers tourists authentic slum experience

Getting bored with your typical 4-star luxury vacation? Who needs a soaking tub and Egyptian cotton sheets when you can live like an impoverished villager in a South African slum.

Emoya Luxury Hotel & Spa is now offering tourists the chance to stay in their Shanty Town – an artfully designed mini-slum located on its Bloemfontein property.

Accommodating 52 guests, the buildings are made of corrugated iron sheets and feature outdoor drum fires.

“Experience a unique stay at our Shanty Town (Mkukhu Village / Shack Village) where you have to use the famous ‘long-drop’ outside toilet and make your own fire for hot water in the traditional ‘donkey,’” boasts the description on Emoya’s website.

A night’s stay will set you back only $83 for a family of four; the property also boasts under-floor heating, bathrooms with showers and wireless Internet.

Wi-Fi? Thank goodness.

Tourists can prepare their own meals on an outdoor braai (a traditional South African barbecue located in many townships) without the pesky fear of being robbed or worse. Other amenities include a battery-powered radio and a paraffin lamp. If things get a little too real, guests can take a quick trip over to the spa at the Emoya Resort for a custom massage treatment. After all, just pretending to be poor is stressful.

While Emoya's souped-up slum offerings may seem like a practical joke, the truth behind it is more alarming. As global poverty levels soar, the proliferation of makeshift villages has exploded on the outskirts of major cities. The United Nations estimates that almost 1 billion people live in slums; in some urban areas, slums account for nearly 50 percent of the city population.

Poverty tourism is nothing new, but the Shanty Town is one of the few worldwide locations that let travelers experience how the other half lives. And Emoya is confident that its slum experience is truly one of the best. “The Shanty Town is ideal for team building, braais, fancy theme parties and an experience of a lifetime,” the website says. “Our Shantys are completely safe and child friendly.”

So if Favela tours in Brazil or a day trip through New Dehli’s infamous slums does not suffice, this resort may be just the place for your next family vacation.

Roughing it? No thanks, let’s just pretend.