They’re more commonly seen being towed along the nation’s roads or sitting solidly in trailer parks.
But, according to a report in the Sandusky Ohio Register, seven Ohio-built Airstreams have crossed the Atlantic and are parked on top of the Grand Daddy hotel in South Africa. They’re now being billed as the world’s first penthouse caravan park, a piece of Americana.
The gleaming vintage caravans were hoisted onto the roof of the four-story building in Cape Town by businessman Jody Aufrichtig, who had to close the main street to allow the crane to lift them into position.
When it opens, guests may choose between different-sized units boasting downtown views of Table Mountain, the Atlantic Ocean and the famous V&A Waterfront. They can take a drink from the rooftop bar, view a film in an outside cinema and even collect post from their own U.S.-style mail box.
Each two-bed trailer is decorated in distinctive themes by local artists. Among the themes are the Ballad of John and Yoko, featuring a giant bed and musical instruments; a polka dot design that creates optical illusions; Goldilocks and the Three Bears, with a largely wooden interior and a bunk bed for baby bear.
There’s also a trailer called the “Love of Lace” which is designed in plush upholstery and draped fabrics mostly in pink.
The seven Airstreams have been bolted to the floor and will be surrounded by decking.
Aufrichtig, 35, spent $160,000 on the seven trailers that range from 1959 to 1981 models. He bought one on eBay from Florida, another one from a Cape Town trailer park and the remaining five from Helena, Ohio’s P&S Trailers.
“I arrived in northern Ohio and spoke to a few people, and they directed me to a little place called Helena, near Sandusky,” Aufrichtig said. “We went to this farm where they had 10 Airstreams … I ended up buying five of them – it was a real stroke of luck, because I didn’t want to spend time driving around.”
He then spent months dealing with paperwork and suffered 17 rejections for import permits before they were allowed in and he could begin arrangements to hoist them on top of the Grand Daddy Hotel in central Cape Town.
Steve Ruth, one of two brothers who manage the family-owned P&S in Helena, said the experience of having his Airstreams on the roof of a South African hotel is pretty wild.
“It’s innovative to come up with this idea,” he said. “I’ve never heard of anything like it before.”