Brazil superstars to hit the beach for World Cup

Brazil’s squad of superstars will spend the World Cup in luxury staying at an exclusive beachfront hotel built by Stalin for the Communist Party elite in the “Soviet Riviera”.

Philippe Coutinho (left), Neymar, and Gabriel Jesus celebrate a goal against Argentina in a 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifier match.   -  Getty Images

Brazil’s squad of superstars will spend the World Cup in luxury staying at an exclusive beachfront hotel built by Stalin for the Communist Party elite in the “Soviet Riviera”.

The five-star Swisshotel 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 fatigues. Guests in evening gowns and bespoke 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 was sure the setting would be conducive to some great performances from the five-time world champions.

“We will do everything to make sure they leave happy and without a worry,” he told AFP.

“We will help them win the World Cup.”

- Government protection -

Russia’s warmest upscale resort is surrounded by snow-capped mountains that won Sochi the right to host the 2014 Winter Olympics and restored the lustre of its Soviet past 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 organising security and Swisshotel 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 football’s most famous performers?

“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 with a grin.

Brazil will fly 400 kilometres (250 miles) north for its opening match against Switzerland in Rostov-on-Don on June 16.

Its second group game against Costa Rica is 2,000 kilometres away in Saint Petersburg and its third five days later against Serbia will take them 1,300 kilometres 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 game.

The training ground is a five-minute walk away and the ride to the airport along Sochi’s modern roads takes 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.

Little except the outlines of the main building resembles the hotel that opened at the height of Stalin’s Great Purge of 1936-38 in which hundreds of thousands died.

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 USD 650 (535 euros).

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 and any other special requests made by the players and the coaching staff.

“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.”

  Dugout videos