SBD/August 9, 2012/Olympics

Burning Down The House: Strategies Differ On Country's Hospitality Houses In London

The Holland Heineken House is said to be one of the top party spots
The Holland Heineken House in London has “become one of the biggest draws on the Olympic party circuit,” and it “prides itself on being the most boisterous of dozens of national hospitality houses set up at London landmarks for the duration of the Games,” according to Davies & Addley of the GUARDIAN. The hospitality venues, “mostly established by individual countries' national Olympic committees (NOCs), are designed to showcase those countries and provide a base for the visiting teams.” But there is “a world of difference between Ireland's low-key hangout in a north London pub and Brazil's contemporary art at Somerset House, or, for instance, the hi-tech branding exercise that is the Sochi 2014 pavilion and the laid back charm of Africa Village.” Some countries, “such as Georgia, decided to eschew the limelight, keeping their NOC houses private and accessible only to delegates and special invitees.” Others, such as Serbia, have “kept the proceedings within their own embassies, thereby minimising cost.” The USA House, in the Royal College of Art, “operates on a high-security, invitation-only basis for anyone not an athlete, sponsor, official or staff member of the US team.” Members of the public “are able to access a shop, providing they are US citizens and have ID to prove it.” The massive Sochi.Park pavilion in Kensington Gardens “is a paean -- complete with ice rink -- to the Black Sea host city of the next winter Olympics, while the sophisticated Casa Brasil endeavours to use London 2012 as a publicity platform for Rio 2016.” With these aims in mind, it is “perhaps unsurprising that many NOCs have been anything but stingy with their hospitality houses, scrapping over prestigious venues such as Somerset House and giving the London events industry a huge cash injection” (GUARDIAN, 8/8). Meanwhile, up to 700 people yesterday were "evacuated from New Zealand's Olympics hospitality house after a fire." A gas canister "being used for a barbecue exploded" at the venue dubbed Kiwi House (PA, 8/8).

HOME AWAY FROM HOME: The P&G House was featured on this morning’s episode of NBC’s “Today,” with NBC’s Jenna Bush Hager noted it has become a "home away from home for the families of the 10,000 competing athletes during the Games.” Bush Hager was given a tour of the house by Roslyn Eaton, mother of U.S. decathlete Ashton Eaton. Bush Hager said, “How awesome is it that there’s a place like this that supports the moms.” Rosalyn Eaton said it is an "amazing place where we can get our laundry done and eat.” Bush Hager said the meals provided there take a "financial strain off the Olympic experience.” There also is a Gillette-sponsored “Mancave for dads, Team USA viewing party and even birthday celebrations.” Hager Bush: “A place of support for the families who have given so much” ("Today,” NBC, 8/9).
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