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Sheraton Pretoria-Price Gouging Customers for the World Cup

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West Hollywood...
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Sheraton Pretoria-Price Gouging Customers for the World Cup

I have the great fortune of being able to go to the World Cup and as a Starwood Preferred Guest Member who has held multiple, large global meetings with Starwood Properties, when I needed a hotel for the World Cup, I turned to Starwood yet again.

Unfortunately, the story doesn't go the way I would like it and nor will it for any individual attempting to book rooms here for the World Cup. It is widely known that all airlines and hotels and excursions have been marked up considerably. Everything is about 3x the normal price and I expected that of the Sheraton Pretoria whose normal room rates fall to around $130USD/night double occupancy. When I contacted Starwood reservations, I was informed the hotel had no availability during the dates I requested but not being deterred as I know FIFA has chosen the organization MATCH to offer packages and they snapped up 80% of all available hotels and B&Bs. I learned that contacting hotels directly offered the opportunity to get around this and my friend and I were successful with this in Cape Town--where we paid about 3x the average room rate. So I emailed the Sheraton Pretoria directly and immediately received a response confirming availability and a rate in Euros. All other properties and agents are offering in ZAR or USD so I thought this was unusual...and even more so when I saw the price tag. 500EUR per night with a 150EUR add'l charge for the second person in a room with 2 twin beds. WHAT?!?!?!? $915 USD a night?!?!?! I live in NYC where hotels come at a premium normally not to mention when there is an event occuring and even then, $915USD a night gets you a MUCH nicer hotel room than what the Sheraton had to offer in an area which is noted for the crime, even in the daytime.

Not to be persuaded, I thought this might be a local tactic to rake in some extra bucks so I contacted Corporate Customer Care at Starwood. They also stated no availability but upon my persistence, contacted the hotel themselves. They were told by the Sheraton Pretoria--guess!! No availability. This started what I like to call my war with the Sheraton. I have pursued this with customer service in detail with all of my issues--disconnect between the local property and what they tell individuals vs. their corporate contacts and the exorbitant pricing. What I got in response was a--thank you for your email, we are glad that your issue is resolved and that you were able to secure reservations at a rate that was desirable. Again, WHAT??? Still not letting it go, I responded clarifying yet again that I had not booked and nothing was resolved. This led to responses from the Sheraton Pretoria GM stating that this rate structure had been posted for 2 years and that they had no issues--in fact they were largely booked. This was in response to my query if they were trying to exclude all but the financially elite. At this point, I still have no room in the Pretoria or Jo'burg area for the matches we will be seeing but that won't encourage me to pay their outrageous prices.

So my questions is--Has anyone here booked for the World Cup and received these same rates?? Perhaps this is the norm in the Pretoria area to increase prices by 8-9 times the norm but it isn't what we have found elsewhere in SA for our World Cup travels.

Cape Town
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1. Re: Sheraton Pretoria-Price Gouging Customers for the World Cup

This issue seems to be a Starwood Corporation responsibility, although you seem to have taken it up with them and they have thrown it back to the Hotel locally. I can't see a decision like this being made by the local hotel magement. Certainly MATCH will have taken the whole hotel, as with all big corporate group hotels. Although in the past week they have released a big block of room nights (around 450,000) back to the establishments to allow them to set their own prices. However these seem mainly to be small guesthous and B&B operators.

To see what the real up to date situation is on World Cup bookings suggest that you go to the TA World Cup 2010 Forum. Go to the "Forums Home" link at the top of your post and then click the link to "World Cup 2010".

There is still a lot of pretty normal priced accommodation available in small owner operated accommodation. I was looking yesterday at a place at Hartbeesport, a lovely resort on a large lake and near some game parks, which is very centrally situated as a WC base. It is just over 40km from Pretoria. Nearly all freeway and 30mins drive. You can drive to Rustenberg in 45mins and you can get to the Joburg ring motorways in around about 45 mins - although how long it takes you to get to the grounds from there leaves you in the lap of the traffic.

Best of all, it is only 30 mins, on quite traffic free roads, to Lanseria Airport with direct (and CHEAP) flights to Cape Town and Durban. Also being a small airport you can be through the airport for departure in probably 45 mins and for arrival in 15.

So this place was a lodge with double room with bathroom and bed and light breakfast for two people for USD 95 per night (total not per person) with availability still on lots of WC dates.

http://www.larochellelodge.com/

Definitely not a Sheraton but the sort of place some people would prefer, where you can walk down to the lake in the country air in the evening and relax on the lake in between matches.

Edited: 6:06 pm, February 03, 2010
Davenport, Iowa
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2. Re: Sheraton Pretoria-Price Gouging Customers for the World Cup

I think most people in this forum found the price gauging by Thiefa & their cronies to be despicable. Thankfully, upon doing some research I was able to find reasonable accommodation in the Joburg area. Most places seem to be around 2000Rand per night for double availability, but with some digging you can find some places that are much cheaper, especially if you do not mind staying in the outskirts. For example I was able to find accommodation for my Polokwane match at Bramasole at pretty much their normal rates, the place is just 60km away. So, dig & research around, I am sure you will find plenty of availability and some wonderful places, without having to hand over your 1st born child.

Tempe, Arizona
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for South Africa, Sabi Sand Game Reserve
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3. Re: Sheraton Pretoria-Price Gouging Customers for the World Cup

I don't like to add comment about something when I don't know all the details.. but perhaps the poster's complaints and correspondence should be directed to the Protea corporate side. This is the company that actually runs the hotel. And it is possible that someone else, another company, actually owns the hotel and might be calling the shots on WC2010 pricing.

Dave Patterson - Owner, The Africa Safari

West Hollywood...
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4. Re: Sheraton Pretoria-Price Gouging Customers for the World Cup

Oh trust me, I took this up with Starwood Corporate directly (I have planned over 20 large scale global meetings based in their hotels over the past few years, one even in Cape Town at the Arabella) and I was appalled at the pricing. I truly saw this as a corporate issue. I called Corporate and they confirmed no availability at the hotel. Upon further insistence, they called the hotel directly with me online and were informed that they had no rooms available on the dates I requested. At that point, I forwarded the email from the Sheraton Pretoria offering me those dates at $915/night to corporate. I got bounced around a bit further and I guess my queries/objections got sent to the GM at the Sheraton Pretoria. The GM Joerg Limper responded to my queries/objection and stated that these rates were 'in line with the rest of the market" that their rate structure had been 'posted' for last two years. He, however, did not respond to my queries regarding why Starwood Corporate/central reservations , yet he could offer to me at $915/night nor did he address my provision of rates from other similar establishments that were not so exorbitant.

Regardless of whether the hotel locally is responsible for the rates, my issue exists with the corporation because they should be able to enforce fair market value pricing on their hotel chains. Their customer service in this situation didn't live up to prior experience and that certainly will guide future decisions for meeting placement--there are many large chains around the world that can accommodate 200-500 attendees easily. Their loss, certainly not mine. The good news is that for this trip, I stepped away from the 'easy' choice of accommodation and will certainly have a better experience locally at a B&B, guesthouse or lodge if I can just square that away!

Any knowledge regarding Buffalo Thorn Lodge? We are thinking of staying there for 3 nights and driving to matches in Pretoria and Rustenburg from the lodge. The only trouble is we need a one night stay in Jo'burg on June 28th for the match and our flight leaves the next day--I seem to have trouble finding places who will accept a one night stay...

West Hollywood...
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5. Re: Sheraton Pretoria-Price Gouging Customers for the World Cup

Dave--thanks for the tip on Protea--I will check that out next as it seems Starwood Corporate has washed their hands of this...I no longer want a room but I do feel like the pricing is rather despicable.

Tempe, Arizona
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6. Re: Sheraton Pretoria-Price Gouging Customers for the World Cup

Well - the rate is preposterous. No sane person would sit at a rate-setting meeting, and say, "well $900+ for a normal room sounds about right to me".. Whoever decided that is not a hotelier, but the wrong person given too much authority,,.

Want to feel better? I've stayed in that hotel, It is not 5-star..

Lusaka, Zambia
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7. Re: Sheraton Pretoria-Price Gouging Customers for the World Cup

Check this link out its got plenty of places you can stay around pretoria

wheretostay.co.za/g/…pretoria.php

I hope you find what you are looking for, I have to admit a lot of the big companies there seem to think they can get away with such practices. This only ruins their reputations. I guess the only reason they can do this is because the country is almost a monopoly where a few companies control and run almost everything.

Telkom is the only telecommunications provider, so they can charge whatever they want. The first airport I have been to where you have to pay to use internet is in South Africa, I was surprised its always free at other airports.

Los Angeles, CA
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8. Re: Sheraton Pretoria-Price Gouging Customers for the World Cup

Virtually every hotel I’ve looked at on-line is charging well over 100% more during the World Cup than the rates listed on their websites. Many are charging 4 times their normal rates.

It really has soured me on the prospect of visiting South Africa. I think the long term effect on S.A. tourism and commerce will be extremely negative.

I attended both Germany 2006 and Korea 2002 and I can tell you from first hand experience that South Africa is outrageously out of line.

Los Angeles, CA
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9. Re: Sheraton Pretoria-Price Gouging Customers for the World Cup

Virtually every hotel I’ve looked at on-line is charging well over 100% more during the World Cup than the rates listed on their websites. Many are charging 4 times their normal rates.

It really has soured me on the prospect of visiting South Africa. I think the long term effect on S.A. tourism and commerce will be extremely negative.

I went to both Germany 2006 and Korea 2002 and can assure you that South Africa is horribly out of line.

Davenport, Iowa
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10. Re: Sheraton Pretoria-Price Gouging Customers for the World Cup

Stop looking at Hotels and look at B&B's, everything i have found has been reasonable, you just have to dig.