World Cup fever and football-themed hotels
World Cup fever and football-themed hotels
13 JUNE 2014 5:49 AM

With the World Cup underway, HNN’s intrepid London-based reporter gave me a much-needed football primer—and pointed out a few football-themed hotels along the way. 

Among the many benefits to having a reporter on the ground in the United Kingdom—aside from a constant stream of British colloquialisms and dry wit—is a ready-made resource for all things football (read: soccer).
Like most good Yanks, I couldn’t care less about the sport on any given calendar date. If the ball isn’t oblong and pointed on two ends, I have a difficult time maintaining interest. 
But every four years I find myself getting sucked up in the fervor surrounding the World Cup. Perhaps it’s the spectacle of the event. Perhaps it’s the patriotic pride evoked when I hear mentions of Team USA. Whatever the case, for this brief four-week period I consider myself a tried and true fan.
The problem, of course, is that I don’t know the difference between “parking the bus” and a “Panenka.” (Well, I do now after Googling “World Cup terms to know.”)
That’s where HNN’s favorite hooligan and London-based reporter Terence Baker steps in. As would any intrepid scribe, he actually sent me a bulleted list of key facts and figures to get me prepped for the tourney, which kicked off Thursday with Brazil beating Croatia 3-1, amid host-nation frenzy and a controversial penalty. I particularly enjoyed this nugget: 
  • Only eight nations have won the World Cup since the tournament began in 1930: Brazil (five times); Italy (four times); Germany (three times as West Germany); Argentina (twice); Uruguay (twice), and England, France, Spain (once each).
He didn’t stop there. Terence also found a hotel angle, God bless him. In addition to the swell of hotel rooms built to accommodate the crowds in Brazil, there’s also a handful of football-themed properties popping up around the globe. Among them:
  1. Hotel Football, Manchester, England. Close to Manchester United Football Club’s Old Trafford stadium, the hotel is the brainchild of two recent United players: Ryan Giggs and Gary Neville. The property is due to open with 138 rooms later this year, hopefully in time for the 2014/2015 Premiership season in England that begins in August.
  2. Amari Buriram United, Thailand. Onyx Hospitality Group opened its first football-themed hotel in Thailand in January. The hotel has 60 rooms and is part of the same complex as stadium Thunder Castle, where local team Buriram United play.
  3. Unnamed hotel and museum, Liverpool, England. Liverpool is set to honor Liverpool Football Club football manager Bill Shankly with a themed hotel and museum. Signature Living Hotel Limited plans to build the 250-room property in a vacant council building on Victoria Street in the heart of the city.
  4. Hotel Boca by Design Suites, San Telmo, Buenos Aires. The first football-themed property reputedly was the Hotel Boca Juniors in the San Telmo district of Buenos Aires, the capital of Argentina. The property is decked out in the Boca Juniors Football Club’s colors of blue and yellow (reputedly chosen based on the first ship coming up the harbor its founder saw after he decided to form the club; the ship was Swedish). The 85-room property pays homage to such stars as Diego Maradona, whose so-called “Hand of God” goal helped propel Argentina to a 2-to-1 victory over England in the 1986 World Cup. (The mere mention of this goal sends Terence into acute bouts of agony and depression.)
Not on the list is Real Madrid’s $1-billion football resort in Ras Al Khaimah, United Arab Emirates. The project was scrapped after Luxembourg-based organizer RAK Marjan Island Football defaulted on payments.
I guess not all football roads are paved with gold. 
Now on to the usual goodies …
What’s making me happy this week?
As if the above didn’t make it clear, the answer this week is simple: the World Cup. Let’s just hope Team USA makes it out of a difficult (or so Terence tells me) Group G. 
Stat of the week
120%: Increase in rate for the 12 World Cup host cities, according to a TripAdvisor analysis. Rio de Janeiro is the most expensive city among the 12 hosts, with hotel rates up 100% at $444.74.
Quote of the week
“There was a speculative newspaper article. We never comment on speculation.”
InterContinental Hotels Group’s Richard Solomons after he was asked during the NYU Investment Conference “Coffee talk” to confirm reports that IHG rebuffed a $10-billion takeover bid. 
So you’re not denying the report then, Richard? 
Reader comment of the week
“This guy is one of the smartest guys in the hotel business. Google him and see everything he is in charge of and how much money he pulls down. Big money deals earn high rewards. Everything he seems to touch turns to gold. Hilton & La Quinta are prime examples. Motel 6 is next.”
Reader “Anonymous” gushing over Blackstone’s Jonathan Gray, who outlined the firm’s investment strategy during a presentation at the NYU Investment Conference. 
Email Patrick Mayock or find him on Twitter.
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