Hundreds of chambermaids, doormen and cocktail waiters have been flown to Davos to cater to every whim of world leaders, business executives and the super-rich who will descend next week on the Swiss Alps town for the annual World Economic Forum (WEF) celebration of capitalism.
While WEF guests, including Theresa May, Chinese leader Xi Jinping and South African president Jacob Zuma, will spend their nights in some of the world’s most luxurious hotel suites, the staff brought in to serve them will be sleeping up to five to a room in bunk beds.
The manager of the fanciest hotel in Davos – the Grandhotel Belvédère – said he had flown in 200 extra staff to work in shifts around the clock during the annual jamboree of the rich and powerful. “We normally have about 100 employees, but this week we have 300 to help us out,” Thomas Kleber, general manager of the Belvédère, said.
Kleber said the extra staff have been flown in from partner hotels across the world to help out during the Belvédère’s busiest week of the year, but because the whole of Davos is packed out with forum visitors there isn’t much space to accommodate the additional workers.
“We have a staff house, but at this time of the year it is getting cosy,” he explained. “We do have some different places with four or five people in one room. We have set up high beds with one sleeping on top and one underneath.”
Despite the contrasting sleeping arrangements, a key theme of this year’s conference will be rising inequality, which the WEF has warned is the biggest problem facing the world. The forum said the growing gap between rich and poor, which it said had helped trigger the UK’s Brexit vote and Donald Trump’s presidential victory, had led the west to “a tipping point and might now embark on a period of deglobalisation”.