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.