Wednesday, May 30, 2012
Go inside world's first soccer-themed hotel
By Karina Martinez-Carter Special to ESPN.com
BUENOS AIRES -- It was passion of the fans, or hinchas, of one of the world’s most famous soccer clubs -- along with $25 million and five years of work -- that built the world’s first soccer-themed hotel. The five-star Hotel Boca, dedicated to the scrappy Argentina Boca Juniors that reared soccer legend Diego Maradona, recently opened its rooms to guests in downtown Buenos Aires.
The hotel is part of the Design Suites group and is the handiwork of Uruguayan architect Carlos Ott. It reaches 17 stories and includes 85 rooms, a restaurant, bar and lounge area, gym, spa, indoor pool -- and of course, Boca Juniors gift shop.
Blue and golden yellow, the colors of the club, are present throughout the hotel, with a multistory art installation representing the confetti that rains down on fans during games hanging in the lobby area. Memorabilia from the Boca Museum is incorporated into small displays in the hotel, and every room door is decorated with a life-size painting of a famed Boca player. Each room, along with the expected amenities of a high-end hotel, is outfitted with an LCD television with one channel dedicated to the club.
Beginning in June, the Boca team will post up at the hotel before games, using conference rooms for pre-match meetings and catching shut-eye in the rooms.
Pablo Marchese, the hotel’s operations manager, said the target clientele is the Boca “fanatic,” as well as fans of soccer in general, plus anyone looking for a modern, high-end hotel in Buenos Aires. Though it is obvious in the décor that the point of inspiration in design and development was Boca Juniors, the hotel manages to be far from tacky, with the royal blue and dandelion yellow tame and incorporated here and there. Rooms contain only subdued Boca color accents, and proving that blue and yellow blood courses in one's veins does not feel necessary to enter and stay.
Staff can obtain tickets for guests to attend games, and Boca Juniors club members can receive a 20 percent discount on their stay. While the clientele is primarily transient, Marchese wants the hotel to serve a function for the non-guest Boca fan, too.
“We want the public to know it’s not necessary to stay at the hotel to be able to enter and use the public spaces,” he said. “Hotel Boca is the ideal place a fan could find … to share his passion.”