In Russia, Sochi is preparing for its time in the spotlight. In a little over two years, the small city on the Black Sea will host the 2014 Olympic and Paralympic games, and will serve as a host city during the 2018 FIFA World Cup. And in less than two weeks, the city will host ski events for the Alpine World Cup.
Last week, the head of the organizing committee for the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics said that he had "no doubts" that all construction work will be finished on time despite delays at more than 70 projects. Dmitry Chernyshenko said that 87 percent of the infrastructure is already complete, according to ESPN, and that slowed construction works in the region would not affect the games because less than 15 percent of all building projects are directly related to the event.
Chernyshenko also said that Russia is using the Olympics as an accelerator for a major development of the Sochi and Krasnodar region—and, at least in the hospitality segment, that acceleration is already in play.
According to Russia Beyond the Headlines, Sochi's hotel capacity will be increased several times over to accommodate an expected extra 42,000 guests. Most of these will be three-star hotels, many of which will be converted to residential space after the Olympics. Back in May, according to RIA Novosti, President Dmitry Medvedev instructed state-owned company Kurorty Sevenovo Kavkaza (“North Caucasus Resorts” or KSK) to expand the tourism cluster by creating new resorts on the Caspian and Black Seas.
A new ski resort, Krasnaya Polyana, opened recently, just in time for the Alpine World Cup. Marriott International announced that it will open three new hotels in Sochi under franchise agreements negotiated through NBB Development CJSC. The three hotels will be managed by Interstate Management Services.
The hotels are the 150-room JW Marriott Sochi Golf Resort (expected to open early 2014), Russia’s first golf resort hotel in a resort destination; the 398-room Marriott Krasnaya Polyana Hotel (expected to open late 2013) (pictured), in the heart of the Olympic Media Village of Gornaya Karusel; and the 345-room Courtyard by Marriott Sochi Plaza Hotel (expected to open late 2013) in the center of Sochi.
In December, the Rezidor Hotel Group announced the Radisson Blu Resort & Congress Hotel, Sochi, which will have 500 rooms and is scheduled to open its doors in the first quarter of 2013, according to Property Magazine. The group already operates the Radisson Lazurnaya Hotel, Sochi. Signed projects under development include two ski resorts in nearby Rosa Khutor (Radisson and Park Inn by Radisson), and two Park Inn by Radisson hotels in the city center of Sochi.
And Renova-Stroygroup, part of the Renova investment holding, will invest $500 million in the construction of a multifunctional hotel complex in Imeretinskaya Valley, and that the project will be brought into operation in early summer 2013, according to Construction Russia. The complex is expected to have several three- and four-star hotels for 3,600 rooms. The complex will also include shopping centers, restaurants, a cinema, a water park park, a sports complex and a conference hall.
The Telegraph notes that Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has authorized the construction of four new resorts here, close to one another. In theory, the report says, they will one day be linked to form a Caucasian Trois Vallées of the East, with nearly 125 miles of pistes and superb off-piste opportunities. However, local politics is likely to play a role: the resorts have separate lift passes and rivalry is reportedly intense.
Ultimately, according to the plans of JSC "Resorts of the North Caucasu" published on Tourism-Review.com, South Russia will see five new world-class ski resorts by 2020. The resorts will offer their services to skiers in Lagonaki (Krasnodar Region, the Republic of Adygea), Arkhyz (Karachaevo-Cherkess Region), Elbrus-Bezengi (Kabardino-Balkar Region), Mamison (Republic of North Ossetia - Alania) and Matlas (Republic of Dagestan), reported Rbcdaily.ru. According to The Voice of Russia, the ski resorts will be built there in compliance with the international environmental regulations by 2020.
Sochi-Adler International Airport has flights to several cities, primarily to Moscow and St. Petersburg. While no major American carriers currently fly to the airport, airlines like Siberia, Aeroflot and Uzbekistan Airways offer daily flights (Siberia Airlines, in fact, offers three per day).