Olympics-Rio's 29th sport: building the perfect corporate 'dream house'
By Liana B. Baker
RIO DE JANEIRO Aug 22 (Reuters) - As the athletes strived for gold, the world's biggest companies engaged in their own sport during the Rio Olympics - outglamming each other with spectacular hospitality houses.
The opulent houses, with lavish pools, flowing bars and world-class chefs, are not new to Olympics hospitality. In Rio, however, they rose in prominence with a lack of high-class catering and facilities at the sporting venues.
Nike has two houses, one near Copacabana beach and another on a golf course. Under Armour has a penthouse in Copacabana with a pool, while Adidas is in an upscale local mall.
Nissan took over an entire hotel, renamed it "Nissan Kicks Hotel" and hosted rooftop parties until dawn.
Companies can spend years gutting and renovating buildings to create an "Olympic dream house," aiming to appeal to as many high-profile athletes and celebrities as possible so that corporate guests can mix among them.
"Hopping between houses is the 29th sport of the Games," says Thierry Borra, director of Olympic Games Management at Coca-Cola. There were, of course, 28 sports at Rio.
Take a typical night at the Omega house, set up in a stylish neighborhood across the street from Ipanema beach: the Olympics' official timekeeper threw a golf-themed party, covering the floors in green astroturf to look like a course.
Spanish golfer Sergio Garcia showed up, and the bar served Arnold Palmer inspired sweet-tea vodkas. The mom of a U.S. swimmer dropped by in flip-flops to check out the scene, while Brazilian socialites milled around. Continuación...