Rio contest offers a room with an Olympic view

AP News
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Posted: Apr 15, 2016 6:11 PM
Rio contest offers a room with an Olympic view

RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — Talk about a room with a view. Make that an Olympic view.

The room in question is the prize in a publicity event put on by Airbnb, a sponsor of the Rio de Janeiro Olympics.

The contest winner and guest will stay overnight next week in a converted VIP box in the Olympic Arena, which is holding a test event in gymnastics next week. It's also the venue for gymnastics when the games open in just under four months.

"In the (real) games we will not be able to do this because IOC will not open up for any promotion there," Airbnb manager for Brazil Leonardo Tristao told the Associated Press. "They'll be able to watch the event from their own room, and of course they will sleep there."

The room is both luxurious and spartan: it's painted gold with a fluffy bed, but has no toilet, no kitchen and little privacy. Tristao says there'll be curtains to guarantee a good night's sleep.

It's all a fair trade for getting to see behind the scenes and meet top gymnasts, including Brazilians Diego and Daniele Hypolito. The siblings will work out with their guests, who will also be involved in the gold-medal ceremony at the test event.

Airbnb has used this kind of promotion before, putting people up in Paris' Catacombs, and in 2014 holding a sleepover at the Maracana stadium in Rio, venue for the World Cup final.

"We are taking people to live a unique experience, which is to sleep in an Olympic venue and feel the whole atmosphere," Tristao said.

The stunt is also a way to drum up business during the Aug. 5-21 Olympics.

Tristao said the company has reservations during the Olympics for 30,000 guests from 94 countries. Brazilians are the largest group followed by Americans and Britons.

Between 300,000 and 500,000 foreign visitors are expected for the Olympics, and estimates vary widely.

Tristao said Airbnb sales were going "really well" despite the threat of the Zika virus. Rio organizers have reported lukewarm tickets sales, dampened by Brazil's severe recession and the political turmoil surrounding the impeachment of President Dilma Rousseff.

Tristao said Airbnb accommodation prices range from less than $100 per night to over $5,000.

So how much would someone pay to spend a night in an Olympic venue?

"I have no idea how much anyone would charge for this experience," Tristao said. "It's very unique."

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Stephen Wade on Twitter: http://twitter.com/StephenWadeAP . His work can be found at http://bigstory.ap.org/content/stephen-wade