On August 5, the Rio Summer Olympics will be exactly one year away. And if you want to be in Brazil when they happen, now’s the time to plan.
We contacted Martin Frankenberg, one of our Trusted Travel Experts for Brazil, to find out what you need to know about booking hotels and finding tickets—and what you need to avoid. Below, he gives us his advice for planning a trip to the Rio Olympics.
Rio has a surprisingly limited number of hotels, especially luxury hotels, so there is an absolute shortage of hotel rooms in the city. As a pre-condition for Rio winning the Olympics bid, the local government had to secure that almost 100 percent of the inventory would be offered to the IOC (International Olympic Committee) and their sponsors.
There are only two ways to get a hotel room:
•Through Authorized Ticket Resellers (ATRs) in your country
This is the official source through which travelers can book hotel and ticket packages. Bear in mind, however, that what’s available to the general public is mid-level accommodations, in three-star hotels and at very high prices, and tickets for secondary events. You won’t find premium tickets, or high-demand events such as the Opening Ceremony or many Gold Medal events, through this channel.
There are a few companies with “contacts” in the IOC or with corporate sponsors that have access to unused hotel inventory. Expect to pay very large markups if you go through these channels. As a rough price guideline, expect to pay these brokers between $1,500 and $ 3,000 per room per night in three- and four-star hotels, and more for five-star options. The two top hotels in Rio — the Copacabana Palace and the Fasano—are not available.
The solution is to rent an apartment or villa:
After a very successful World Cup, where many of our guests stayed in these accommodations, we have built a large portfolio of some of the best private homes in Rio. These range from well-located one-bedroom apartments to six-bedroom private estates for VVIPs. All have been meticulously inspected by us, and we will take care of all service for you during your stay.
Ticket purchases are available only through ATRs and brokers.
Every country has an Authorized Ticket Reseller (you can see the full list here), and they produce a ballot system where you can apply for tickets via the Internet. After a few days they will let you know if your application has been successful. In the US, the official ATR is CoSport and at this point, very few tickets are left. ATRs also sell hugely overpriced hotel-and-ticket packages and ticket-and–VIP hospitality packages, the details of which have yet to be released.
If you are looking for good tickets to premium events, your greatest chance is to find a reliable broker. Matueté cannot intermediate the purchase of tickets for you from brokers, but can introduce you to some that our clients have successfully used in the past, during the World Cup. The responsibility for purchasing tickets through them is entirely yours.
Traffic in Rio is notoriously bad. A lot is being done to improve the public transport of the city for the Olympics, but it’s impossible to say at this point if many of these will be completed on time. Here are some important points to consider:
• The Olympic venues are spread over a very large area, so plan the events you watch each day with this in mind. Avoid having to cross the city many times in a single day.
• Special car passes sold with premium tickets are the best way to avoid traffic jams, as these allow the pass holder to use the special ‘Olympic car lanes’ —expressways that link all the venues together. As of today, it is still unclear how/if these can be sourced.
• The public transport system will work very well to get from places like Ipanema and Copacabana to the Maracanã /Tijuca area. It is still unclear if the system that connects to Barra da Tijuca will be ready on time. Even so, the distances are very long.
• Don’t bother booking cars and guides now. The infrastructure of the city will be closer to completion in early 2016, when we and other travel providers will be able to make more specific recommendations.