Hotel water at £26 a bottle ‘puts focus on Third World problems’

Christian Aid has highlighted issues in finding clean water in many poor areas around the world
Christian Aid has highlighted issues in finding clean water in many poor areas around the world

Earlier this week a new luxury water menu was revealed at Belfast’s Merchant Hotel.

Thirteen premium brands of water were unveiled as being among the “purest” waters on earth.

The most expensive beverage on the list is one costing a staggering £26.45.

And the company has appointed two “water butlers” to serve it to their wealthy customers.

However, the chief executive of Christian Aid said the reports surrounding the new menu have highlighted issues surrounding water and its consumption across the globe.

Rosamond Bennett is asking patrons to consider the impact £26.45 could have on Third World villages desperately in need of disease-free water or how it could contribute to countries in crisis around the world.

She said: “I have no issues with how people spend their money, it is their own money after all, but I think we all need to challenge ourselves more about how we use our money.

“We are so fortunate to live in a country where water is free, it is accessible and yet are there really people out there prepared to pay £26 for a bottle of ‘luxury’ water?

“Unfortunately we are living in a world of growing inequality with ‘luxury’ water selling for £26 a bottle in one country and in another that amount of money is providing a temporary home to a family of five.”

Ms Bennett said that she felt the high-price premium water brands on offer were an “unnecessary extravagance” and revealed she found looking at reports about the new menu “upsetting”.

“The people I work with are just desperate for water that is clear,” she said, adding: “When I took this job I went to see some of the charity’s work in poverty-stricken areas.

“When I came back I gave up shopping for things for myself for a year because I couldn’t justify spending money on things I didn’t need at the time.

“Water itself is a luxury to so many people living in poverty, getting access to it is arduous and it is the women and children who bear the brunt of it.

“More than half the world are living in poverty and we are seeing the growing inequalities of the rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer, it’s getting increasingly hard to reconcile.”

At the Merchant Hotel’s premium water menu launch general manager Gavin Carroll said: “The ethos behind the new water menu is to allow our guests to have the chance and choice to curate their own bespoke food and beverage experience.”

The waters at the hotel are being supplied by Aqua Amore, a specialist in sourcing premium waters from around the world.

Their managing director Michael Tanousis said diners at a five-star restaurant wanted to indulge in different experiences to those on offer at other food outlets.

But Ms Bennett pointed out that throughout the world a drink of clean water can be a struggle to find.

She said: “In the aftermath of a disaster one of the key things, above all else, is the provision of clean water for victims.

“Water tablets more often than not become the first thing that is needed in a crisis situation throughout the world.

“Not only that but in some countries like the Democratic Republic of Congo, going for water brings horrendous personal risk of sexual abuse and rape.

“For every three women going to collect water, one of them will be raped.”

To make a donation to Christian Aid log on to www.christianaid.org.uk.