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Apart from Louis Vuitton and Burberry, the branded luxury boutiques such as Gucci, Jimmy Choo, Paul Smith and Gerard Darel along the Platinum Mile are all franchises. “The luxury houses are still being cautious, and understandably so. It’s a new market, and as with all emerging markets, there are enormous risks and enormous rewards,” he said.
According to a report on the luxury market released by SALA late last year, South Africa very well could be “a new frontier for luxury.” The glaring economic disparity among the classes notwithstanding, Piers Schmidt, chairman of SALA, said the country has “one of the fastest-growing emerging middle classes in the world.” He cited the World Wealth Report published by Merrill Lynch and Capgemini in July, which stated, “South Africa is home to nearly 51,000 dollar millionaires and they represent more than 50 percent of all the millionaires in Africa.”
The luxury retail sector may still be in the stages of infancy, but luxury hotels and restaurants are booming. In the Cape Winelands alone, from Franschhoek to Stellenbosch to Constantia, one can reel from hotel to vineyard to restaurant fully sated with great wines and exceptional cuisine.
And every month, it seems, a new hotel flings its doors open, from boutique hotels like Ellerman House and The Dockhouse to the new Taj in downtown Cape Town in the renovated headquarters of the African Reserve Bank and Temple Chambers and the Adam Tihany-designed One&Only Cape Town, which features the only Nobu restaurant on the continent, not to mention Gordon Ramsay’s Maze. And the spa is set on its own island.
“The spa scene in Cape Town is truly extraordinary,” remarked French hotelier Gerard Sintes. “The quality of spa treatments on offer and the service delivery is excellent, particularly at the high end of the market.
“With the World Cup, more and more people will be sampling what Cape Town has to offer,” he said. For many of the estimated 350,000 visitors coming, Cape Town will be their point of entry and departure. “And it has the advantage over Johannesburg as being perceived to be safer in terms of security,” added Sintes.
As Sepp Blatter, the president of FIFA, the football world’s governing body, said, addressing security concerns — South Africa is plagued by alarming rates of violent crime, including murder and rape: “Security is a matter for the government, and we have received adequate guarantees in this regard, so there is no reason to have any doubts. The FIFA World Cup is about enjoyment, and I am convinced we will have a wonderful festival in South Africa.”
David and Victoria Beckham seem to agree. Though the soccer star will not join his English teammates on the field due to an injury to his Achilles tendon that will keep him out of action for six months, the Beckhams definitely will be in South Africa for the tournament. After all, the two have reportedly bought and furnished their own Cape Town pad, just in time for the World Cup.