Germany fought off a number of other nations to secure a no-expense-spared hotel complex for its World Cup squad. Safety, exclusivity and at-altitude training facilities are guaranteed.
Germany had stiff competition for its World Cup base
The five-star Velmore Grande Hotel will be Germany's base for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. The upscale complex is located in Centurio, in the Gauteng Province in the north-east of the country.
"The German camp is a very beautiful hotel. Its located near Pretoria - not in the urban center, but out in the countryside," said German Football Federation (DFB) treasurer Horst R. Schmidt. Johannesburg, where the German team is scheduled to play its third group game, is also within comfortable travelling distance.
Its easily-accessible location was one of the reasons the resort was in-demand among World Cup squads. "There was a struggle for this hotel between numerous nations," said German head coach Joachim Loew. "Thankfully we got in there early, and are very grateful to have it as our base camp."
Players will all have a room with a view
The complex is around 1,000 meters above sea level, an advantage which will allow the players to adjust to exercising at altitude, where the air is thinner and it is therefore more difficult to breathe. Soccer City Stadium, where they play Ghana on June 23, is at an altitude of around 1,750 meters.
If Germany qualifies in top spot from Group D - and it is favored to do so - then they would again play at altitude, in Bloemfontein, in the second round. To fly to their first two group games, in Durban and Port Elizabeth, Germany doesn't have far to go to get to the airport - they've been given permission to use a military airfield just 10 kilometers (six miles) away.
Security high on the agenda
"There is exclusivity and safety," stressed the Velmore Grande's manager Heinz Mulder of his hotel's credentials.
Heinz Mulder, manager of the Velmore Grande Hotel
All areas of the hotel, including the swimming pool, spa facilities and restaurants, are completely enclosed to allow the players to prepare without the worries of photographers or autograph-hunters."
And the Germany squad will be able to count on personal service from hotel staff, said Mulder. "We will study the whole team so we are clear over the personnel, who is who." Staff have also been offered a German language course before their guests arrive.
The security of players, as well as fans, has been a hot topic in the lead-up to the first World Cup on the African continent. Reports saying Germany had been advised to stay elsewhere due to safety worries have been brushed off. But the players will have private security guards protecting them, even inside the hotel.
Until recently, the complex had lacked adequate soccer training facilities to host an international squad. But the hotel invested around 80 million rand, or 8 million euros, in an extension to the grounds, which includes a pristine new pitch.
The German Soccer Association has given it the thumbs-up. "As I see it, the German team will have a top notch training ground to complete their preparation," said DFB treasurer Schmidt.
Plenty of distractions to avoid cabin fever
The squad hope to balance preparation and relaxation
Team manager Oliver Bierhoff will be devising a special activity program to stop the players from getting cabin fever during what is, potentially, over a month in a secluded resort.
"It's always good for the players to travel, to have some variety and to get out of the hotel," said the former German international striker.
Loew had insisted on allowing the players to spend time with their families. "We have reserved a hotel near our camp for the wives, friends and children of players to stay in," said the national coach.
Yet the players' recreational outings and visits with family will not be allowed to steal focus from the task at hand. "They're here for a reason - they want to win the World Cup," said hotel manager Mulder. "It's is not a holiday, but a job to be done."
The staff are proud to host Loew's team, Mulder was quick to assert, adding that while they are pulling, first and foremost, for South Africa, they all have settled on the team they tip to win. The new World Cup champions: "will certainly be the German team."
Author: Arnulf Boettcher / tms
Editor: Matt Hermann