Luxury Johannesburg Hotels Tell Guests to Leave for VIPs

Luxury hotels in Johannesburg’s Sandton neighborhood have asked guests to vacate their rooms for foreign dignitaries attending Nelson Mandela’s funeral and memorial service.

The Radisson Blu hotel, located opposite the Gautrain station in the city’s commercial center, wrote to “valued clients” to tell them that their booking will be canceled, according to a letter seen by Bloomberg News.

“We will need to release your booking with us,” the hotelier said in a letter to customers. “There is no accommodation available in the area due to all the foreign dignitaries that will occupy the various properties and security in the area will not allow for corporate travel.”

Current and former presidents of the U.S., France and Brazil will fly to South Africa to pay tribute to Mandela, the country’s first black president who died at his home in Johannesburg on Dec. 5. South Africa will expand tomorrow’s memorial service to cater for at least 200,000 people, with three additional sports facilities screening the service taking place at the city’s FNB Stadium.

“We have seen a significant increase in demand on this sad occasion and we endeavor to accommodate as many guests as possible,” Priya Naidoo, a spokeswoman for Tsogo Sun Holdings Ltd., South Africa’s biggest hotel group, said in an e-mailed response to questions. “We aren’t accepting any new bookings for this period. However all channels will reopen on Monday and guests are advised to contact the hotels directly.”

9,000 Mourners

The Michelangelo, a 242-room 5-star hotel in Sandton owned by Legacy Hotels & Resorts, is fully booked today and tomorrow, Reservations Manager Elmarie Fritz said in a phone interview. “We have sold out rooms that we had. There is quite a number of requests,” she said.

The U.K.’s Prince Charles will attend Mandela’s funeral, while 13 heads of African countries, including Nigeria’s Goodluck Jonathan, are making the journey. About 9,000 mourners are expected to attend Mandela’s Dec. 15 funeral in Qunu, about 900 kilometers (560 miles) southwest of Johannesburg, according to the government.

Before it's here, it's on the Bloomberg Terminal.