With the Winter Games in PyeongChang only 100 days away, the excitement around the Olympic sites is beginning to build. Winter is approaching in the Korean mountains and athletes from many countries are currently testing the venues in Korea.
The high-speed train connecting Seoul and the mountains is on track and will be opened on time. For some hotels it is a race against time to open shortly before the start of the Olympics.
The lack of accommodation has been in the spotlight for many months. Several National Olympic Committees, broadcasters and technical suppliers have found a home with Khaya, a private operator supplying accommodation at major sports events.
“The Who-is-who in the Olympic world will stay in our apartments”, says Khaya’s CEO Volkhard Bauer. “We are filling a much-needed gap by providing serviced apartments”.
Khaya specialises in converting apartments and houses into hotel-style accommodation.
The prime property, Sky Terra, offers 700 beds in the heart of the mountain cluster. Khaya furnished the building at its own expense, built a restaurant, a convenience store and even a gym.
“Our occupancy since June has been excellent”, reveals country manager Yeri Chun. “We took full advantage of offering brand-new apartments close to the most important mountain venues”. Many technical suppliers are staying at Sky Terra, from where they can walk to work.
During the Games, guests from USA, UK, Sweden, Germany, Japan and other winter sport nations will move into Sky Terra.
Khaya has sold over 60.000 room nights, making it the second biggest supplier of accommodation after the Organizing Committee, POCOG.
“I strongly believe that this is the future of global sports events”, says CEO Volkhard Bauer, “nothing has to be built for a once-off event. We are all about sustainability and finding creative solutions to unique challenges.”
Founded in South Africa ahead of the 2010 FIFA World Cup, Khaya has grown from strength to strength and is involved in most major sporting events, including the FIFA World Cup in
Russia, the Rugby World Cup in Japan and the 2020 Summer Games in Tokyo.
“Our clients know that we can deliver the same service level, whether for hotels or serviced apartments”, says COO Sebastian Schmidt. “We hire local experts and bring our extensive knowledge of events to the table. This combination makes us more flexible than our competitors”. Khaya already employs 50 staff in Korea, ramping up to 120 staff members during the Games.
The lack of accommodation in PyeongChang is worse than it was in Rio de Janeiro. “During the Summer Games we rented 500 apartments from private individuals opposite the Olympic Park. At this stage we already have 850 apartments on our books and it’s still three months to the event”, explains country manager Yeri Chun.
One challenge “lay” in finding the right mattresses for the apartments. “In Korea we like to sleep on the floor and our mattresses are very hard. Our CEO tested many mattresses before choosing one”, quips Yeri. Khaya is exchanging over 1000 mattresses for its Western clients, who prefer a softer touch.
Each kitchen had to be equipped. The Korean cuisine is famous for its Kimchi, as people eat a lot of rice and soup and