Unable to get a room at the Rio Olympics? Worry not, the Villa Reggia has beds — oh, and sex chairs and an S&M cage.
With 500,000 tourists expected to flood Rio de Janeiro for the Games starting on Aug. 5, Brazil’s second-biggest city is bending over backward to make sure there is enough lodging.
Hotel capacity has been massively expanded, Airbnb participants are looking to seize the moment, and small businesses in the impoverished, but often spectacularly located, favela neighborhoods hope for a payday.
The city’s infamous by-the-hour “love hotels” are also up for the party.
About 5,000 rooms from the network have been made available at prices a seductive 70 percent less than in traditional establishments, according to Association of Rio Love Hotels vice president Antonio Cerqueira.
“The love hotels are keeping their same tariffs for 12 hours [about US$100 to US$375],” Cerqueira said.
The round beds and ceiling mirrors have made way for regular hotel furniture — but if guests want to mount their own sexual Olympics, Cerqueira said his own hotel, the Villa Reggia in the recently refurbished port area, can help.
The golden themed Versailles Suite and the Hollywood Suite offer glamor, while for something more exotic there is a Japanese Suite and the Sadomasochism Suite complete with black walls, a leather studded bed, chains and a cage.
“They will be available to tourists,” Cerqueira said. “My hotel will be full during the Olympics.”
Rio’s objective was to have 62,000 rooms ready, up from 30,000 at the time when Rio won the hosting rights to the Olympics in 2009.
Rio Hotels Association president Alfredo Lopes said that target has been missed, with only 56,500 rooms available, and some people fear it is not sufficient.
The US Department of State has told US visitors to expect “severe shortages of hotel rooms.”
However, for an industry in a city pounded by Brazil’s deep recession and Zika virus fears, the Olympics come as a welcome economic shot in the arm.
“Occupancy is already very high, at about 88 percent, and it is expected to peak for the opening ceremony at the Maracana Stadium,” Lopes said.
Hotels had a “negative period” because of fears over Zika, a mosquito-transmitted virus that can cause birth defects if pregnant women are infected, Lopes said.
“We knew that now, with [the southern hemisphere] winter when there are no more mosquitos, things would get better,” he said.
More adventurous tourists can look for hotels in favelas where the steep walk up narrow streets and the higher risk of violence are compensated by great views and the chance to see authentic Rio life.
“When you climb up and see the little houses, that and the people here make you a bit nervous, but by the next day, you are feeling completely at home,” said Marcelo Luis Pirelli, a 48-year-old Argentine traveler staying at the Green Culture Hostel in Chapeu Mangueira favela.
There are 37 rooms, but the cost of about US$55 per person reflects the abrupt price hikes typical in Rio during big events like the Olympics.
Hostel owner Pablo Andres Gomez, a Chilean, said business is not as good as it was during the 2014 FIFA World Cup.
“That is due to all the bad news coming out in the media on Zika, violence, and the economic and political crises,” Gomez said.
Those economic hard times have prompted many Rio residents to try and earn something extra by joining Airbnb.
The network has formed a partnership with the Rio Olympic organizing committee and has confirmed 55,000 reservations in private apartments.
“Airbnb is rising as an option to top up residents’ income and also to attract foreigners to visit the country,” said Leonardo Tristao, head of Airbnb in Brazil.
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