It will be a tight squeeze for many of the 82,000 people expected to visit Calgary next February for the Winter Olympics. Almost a year before the Feb. 13 opening ceremonies, the socalled Olympic family—the Calgary Games organizing committee known as OCO, the International Olympic Committee (IOC), the Canadian Olympic Association (COA), other national Olympic organizations, corporate sponsors, media executives, VIPs and OCO-designated
VIPs—reserved the vast majority of the host city’s 2,000 first-class hotel rooms. Visitors not related to the “family” will end up paying first-class rates for second-class accommodations, renting rooms in local homes or renting entire houses. Explained OCO housing manager Ronald Sandrin-Litt: “We needed 15,000 rooms alone. And unfortunately, we will waste a lot of pillows. Most of the ocobooked rooms have two beds, but VIPs and top sponsors do not double up.”
The official Olympic group will take over the entire 400-room Palliser Hotel, IOC headquarters during the Games. The IOC, its member Olympic committees and international sports federations will occupy a total of 320 hotel rooms. Representatives of the 55 official Games sponsors and suppliers—who paid up to $87 million for rights to use various Olympic symbols—have reserved more than 3,000 rooms. Visiting heads of state, federal
politicians, foreign government officials and guests of OCO and the city of Calgary account for another 500 rooms. The Games’ arts festival organizers have also booked 500 rooms. And technical, security and computer staff will take up another 1,000 beds.
Despite the bonanza, not all hoteliers are happy with their Olympic deal. OCO reserved half the 387 rooms at the Skyline Hotel, which services the Calgary Convention Centre. But
the committee will not be using the convention facilities, which they booked for the entire month of February. Complained the Skyline’s general manager Richard Cochrane: “February, 1988, should be the creamiest month of the century. But we may be laying off banquet room staff. That banquet hall space was locked up by OCO and they are not using it.”
More than 2,600 athletes and key team officials will stay free of charge at Olympic villages on the University of Calgary campus and in Canmore, Alta., 100 km west of Calgary, site of the cross-country and biathlon events. Athletes in demonstration sports will be housed at the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology. About 3,500 media and television technicians are booked into two prefab villages built especially for the Games.
While hotel rooms will be scarce, a Calgary Tourist and Convention Bu-
reau program called HomeStay will provide rooms in OCO-approved Calgary homes for $50 per night. In addition, 1,780 Calgarians have made their houses available through the bureau’s rent-a-home program. Said the program’s assistant manager Myrene Hayes: “We’ve rented 300 homes. People can expect to pay about $2,500 for seven nights to sleep six to eight people.” Executive Accommodation Inc., one of two private firms aiming at the market’s top end, is offering one-bedroom units at $8,000 for 16 days.
Equally upscale are the special Games preserves of the sponsors and VIPS. The rich and famous will have access to a lounge at Canada Olympic Park where they may watch the ski jumping events in comfort. And Team Petroleum ’88—44 oil companies that provided OCO and the Olympic Trust with $5 million worth of goods and services—has exclusive use of the Executive Club at the Saddledome, site of hockey and figure skating events.
Parents of the Olympic athletes—those of Canadian Olympians will be flown to the Games by official sponsor Labatt Breweries Ltd.—will be boarded free of charge by more than 700 Calgary families. Said Robin MacNichol, co-ordinator of OCO’s volunteer program: “This has never been done before. Most teams have not been selected yet, but people are offering their homes and telling us they don’t care from which country the parents come.”
Some $12-a-night beds are not yet booked at the Calgary, Banff and Castle Mountain youth hostels, although OCO has reserved the 52-bed Ribbon Creek hostel at Mount Allan for Olympic alpine ski hill volunteers. But people preparing to wait for hotel room cancellations will have to pay. Last week a room that became available for the Games at Calgary’s Flamingo Motel was going for $180 a night—compared with the usual price of $32. Said manager Mohammad Jessa: “This isn’t price gouging. If the demand is there and people are willing, we should be able to sell the rooms.” Indeed, next February there will be no rooms at the Flamingo—or any other Calgary inn.
The story you want is part of the Maclean’s Archives. To access it, log in here or sign up for your free 30-day trial.
Experience anything and everything Maclean's has ever published — over 3,500 issues and 150,000 articles, images and advertisements — since 1905. Browse on your own, or explore our curated collections and timely recommendations.WATCH THIS VIDEO for highlights of everything the Maclean's Archives has to offer.