Star Travel writer Adrian Brijbassi continues his blog posts from South Africa with a look at a terrific hotel you can use if you feel like taking in the World Cup, which starts in just a few weeks.
Want to catch the World Cup while staying in a world-class environment?
If so, Cape Grace may be the answer for you. One of South Africa’s finest hotels still has rooms available during the Group Stage of the World Cup, which begins June 11. Cape Grace, which has hosted luminaries such as Bill and Hillary Clinton, Oprah Winfrey and Matt Damon, sits on the waterfront of South Africa’s most popular tourist city and is a 10-minute drive or 25-minute walk to newly built, 69,000-seat Cape Town Stadium.
General manager Nigel Pace said the hotel is booked during the first week of July when the tournament’s quarterfinal and semifinal games will be played. But rooms are available, starting at around 6,000 rand ($818 Canadian), for games that will be held in the first round of the tournament. Cape Town will host games featuring England and the Netherlands, among other European powers.
Although the Group Stage games are sold out, they are available through online resellers and packages may be purchased that include tickets and accommodation to a choice of hotels.
More than 900 five-star hotel rooms have been added in Cape Town in the lead-up to the world’s most watched sporting event. Pace said there may have been over-enthusiasm for the tournament from property owners who rushed to build on the waterfront.
You’ll be reading more about Cape Grace and Cape Town in the Toronto Star in the coming weeks as we really ramp up our World Cup coverage.
In the meantime, with six weeks to go before the kickoff on June 11, anticipation is building and nerves are twitching. Here’s a look at what else is making World Cup news:
Reports: No Mandela at World Cup
Nelson Mandela’s grandson said on Thursday that the father of the new South Africa will not be on hand during the opening ceremonies of the World Cup. The 91-year-old Mandela is having health issues because of old age and has made only rare public appearances in recent years.
“My grandfather at this age is very elderly and we are not trying to intensify his program. He’s said he would prefer to be at home,” Mandla Mandela said.
Nelson Mandela may indeed end up watching the games at home, but South Africans will still cling to hope of an appearance by their former president during the tournament. An avid sports fan, Mandela lent his support to bringing the World Cup to Africa for the first time.
Bryan Adams among music stars
Vancouver rocker Bryan Adams, who was part of the 2010 Winter Olympics opening ceremonies, will perform at the closing concert of the World Cup on July 9 – two days before the final match – in Johannesburg. Adams and Andrea Botecelli were confirmed as the musical stars.
On June 10, Alicia Keys, Shakira and the Black Eyed Peas will perform at Orlando Stadium in Soweto during the opening ceremony on the eve of the games.
Airports: out with old, in with new
One of the amazing achievements of the World Cup preparations has been the renovation and construction of airports. About $1 billion has been spent on King Shaka International alone. The new airport that serves the Durban area will open Sunday and its official unveiling, with South African President Jacob Zuma presiding, will take place a week later. Durban International Airport will be used during the World Cup before being decommissioned.
The South African national team, nicknamed Bafana Bafana (or “boys, boys” in Nguni), did what it had to do against Jamaica, winning 2-0 in an exhibition game on Wednesday night in Offenbach Am Main, Germany. The victory near Frankfurt eased concerns after a disappointing scoreless draw against North Korea last week. South Africa (No. 88) and North Korea (No. 105) are the two lowest-ranked teams in the World Cup.