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Brazil superstars will lap up luxury at World Cup

China Daily | Updated: 2018-03-06 09:26
A picture taken on Feb 27, 2018 shows a view of the five-star Swissotel Resort Sochi Kamelia hotel which was chosen to be Brazil's national football team's base camp hotel for the 2018 FIFA World Cup, in Sochi. [Photo/VCG]

SOCHI, Russia - Brazil's squad of superstars will spend the World Cup in the luxury of an exclusive beachfront hotel built by Joseph Stalin.

The five-star Swissotel Sochi Kamelia is a gated property hidden from fans and reporters by the Black Sea on one side and a lush private park with firs and palm trees on the other.

The entrance is protected by armed guards in combat fatigues. Guests in evening gowns and suits mingle on a marble terrace overlooking a cascading pool.

Jewels the size of small rocks are on sale near a waterfall in the lobby, and a blood-orange sunset illuminates the spacious rooms before giving way to the sparkle of crystal chandeliers.

Hotel manager Gregory Gregoriyev said he is sure the setting will be conducive to some great performances from the five-time world champion, adding: "We will do everything to make sure the team is happy and without a worry. We will help them win the World Cup."

Russia's warmest upscale resort is surrounded by snowcapped mountains that won Sochi the right to host the 2014 Winter Olympics and restored the luster to the city of 350,000.

It is President Vladimir Putin's preferred working vacation spot and an important summit venue for visiting heads of state.

That means Sochi has ample experience of organizing security, and Swissotel will make sure that excited fans do not get anywhere near players like Marcelo, Philippe Coutinho and, if he recovers from foot surgery in time, Neymar.

"Our hotel has no street access. The property is guarded and this will obviously be fortified with extra security during the World Cup," Gregoriyev said. "I think it will also be protected at the government level."

But what about those pesky reporters and the drones they use to sneak pictures of some of the world's top playeers?

"We are not going to shoot anything down, of course, but we will inform certain government (security) agencies that probably know how to fight these things," Gregoriyev said.

Brazil will fly 400 kilometers north to Rostov-on-Don on June 16 for its opening match against Switzerland.

Its second group game against Costa Rica will be 2,000 km away in Saint Petersburg, and its third, five days later against Serbia, will take it 1,300 km north to Moscow.

Travel is part of the Russian adventure for all 32 qualified teams, and Brazil coach Tite has clearly focused on giving his men the best treatment possible while away from the pitch.

The training ground is a five-minute walk from the hotel and the ride to the airport along Sochi's modern roads takes just 30 minutes.

Then there is Sochi's beach - something for which Russia is otherwise not particularly famous.

"Sochi's climate suits Brazil very well," Gregoriyev said.

Regular rooms have TV screens covering a good part of the wall while the suites are decorated with backlit artwork that gives them the futuristic feel of a spaceship.

The restaurant promises "Swiss-inspired European cuisine" and offers bottles of Moet & Chandon champagne for $650.

The kitchen will be tailored for Brazilian tastes and overseen by the team's official chef.

Gregoriyev's staff are also preparing to stock up on fruit, snacks and any other special requests made by the players and the coaches.

"They will obviously need what we consider to be fairly exotic fruit such as papaya and passion fruit," said the manager.

"But there is nothing we have not seen before."

Agence France-presse

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