Mountain Cluster Hotels Make Progress -- On the Scene

(ATR) Hotel employees were doing everything possible to please guests at the Gornaya Karusel Level 960 village. 




(ATR) The towering cranes were gone, streets had been tidied, and hotel employees seemed to be doing everything possible to please newly arrived guests to the Gornaya Karusel Level 960 village.

Like other hotels in Sochi’s mountain cluster, accommodations in the Level 960 village – which is reached by cableway - have faced their share of difficulties, scrambling to open and become operational.

However, on Friday morning, it was evident that substantial progress in the small and scenic mountain village had been made.

On Thursday, the Swissotel welcomed its first 40 guests. Wi-fi has been strong in the lobby and the hotel’s liquor license is expected to be approved today. However, television and internet in rooms may take an extra day or two.

Come February 15, the hotel will reach capacity with 70 rooms booked.

"We are very excited that we finally opened. We have final touches going on, which takes a little more time, but we are really happy that we made it on time," hotel manager Oliver Kuhn said about the hotel’s opening just over 24 hours before the Opening Ceremony.

Rooms in a second building of the hotel are not yet ready for guests.

"It could have been easier," admits Sead Dizdarevic, chairman and co-CEO of CoSport/Jet SetSport, the world’s biggest packager of tickets and travel for the Olympic Games. He is referring to the efforts his company made to ready the Swissotel and other properties where some of his 10,000 clients will stay during the Sochi Olympics .

Dizdarevic says his company came to the aid of the Swissotel by helping finish preparations in the 70 rooms. That includes making beds, checking plumbing, installing wi-fi systems, and taking over food and beverage operations.

He says the tab for this extra level of preparation will cost his company several million dollars in labor and supplies.

"We have 80 people across three hotels," he says. Guests in Sochi should not expect "a London- or Vancouver-type of hospitality experience," but he says his firm is making sure all clients are happy with their freshly made lodgings.

Meanwhile, problems persist for media staying in the mountains or on the coast near the Olympic Park. In the mountains, a journalist from a U.S. newspaper was relocated to another hotel after dealing with an array problems of problems – including fire alarms going off frequently.

At the media village next to the Olympic Park, slumbering journalists were roused from their beds for a 5 a.m. fire alarm this week.

The internet is replete with blog posts about dubious conditions in these apartment blocks built for the Games. Brown water pouring out of bathroom taps, exposed wiring, elevators not functioning, and an empty vodka bottle in the drawer of the nightstand are among the complaints. At least nobody has opened the door to another WC outfitted with the twin toilets discovered a few weeks ago at the biathlon venue in the mountains.

Dozens of guests in the media village have had to wait hours into the night after their arrival in Sochi to get a room that’s ready for them.

Dizdarevic says all visitors to Sochi should pack a bit of patience.

The journalist relocated to another hotel in the mountain cluster- also unfinished – seems to be following that advice.

"It’s still under construction, but they’re really sweet and trying so hard to accommodate us," she saidabout her new accommodations.

"Every morning I ask if there is wi-fi yet, and they say ‘maybe today’ and I want to believe them.

"I have hot water, a soft bed, and electricity, so I’m ok," she said. "It could be worse – it’s not a terrible job having to walk to work, looking at the snow-covered Caucasus Mountains every day."

Journalists at the Rixos Krasnaya Polyana have been pleased with their accommodations, one posting a photo of her opulent room on Facebook, admitting she felt somewhat guilty in lieu of her colleague’s problems.

Alisa Lachinyan, a Moscow native working for French Television, checked into Hotel Solis two nights ago and is becoming more satisfied with her accommodations on a daily basis.

"The hoteliers are very friendly and speak English, which is not the case with everybody around here," said Lachinyan during the short gondola ride down from Level 960 to the Gornaya Karusel base.

"It’s a new hotel and there are still some things to improve like breakfast and other services," Lachinyan said. "It’s making progress though. Two days ago, I didn’t have cream and shampoo, but now I do, so I’m happy about that."

"I think, next year, it will be a very nice hotel for anybody who comes here to ski and snowboard.

"And there is no photo of Putin in my bedroom," she joked.

Written by Brian Pinelliin Krasnaya Polyana and Ed Hula at the Olympic Village.

20 Years at #1: Your best source of news about the Olympics is, for subscribers only.