Here’s Why You Should Be Glad You’re Not in Sochi for the Olympics

Twitter is the new TripAdvisor, and in Sochi journalists are our hotel reviewers.

And the hotel experiences there are very, very bad.

(HT: rwoman on Milepoint)

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. A lot of this is ridiculous on the part of the hotels and Sochi. But there are also a few things that are more cultural.

    The not-flushing-the-toilet paper, for example, is something that was really common when I was living in Moscow. In fact, I did not even have a real toilet in my apartment and my roommate and I duct taped a toilet seat onto the “squat toilet”. A lot of public restrooms did not have toilet paper, and if you had to go, we always defaulted to finding a McDonalds.

  2. all the complaints in Sochi seem legit except for the no flushing of toilet paper. That’s a common thing in many lesser developed countries, and is due to their sewage treatment systems not being able to handle the solid material. Same thing is the norm in Brazil, which will host the 2016 summer olympics.

  3. Hmmm, so are you saying that when enough idiot tourists and media ignore the ‘don’t flush toliet paper’ sign that the sewage treatment plant will fail?

    I know the mayor is focused on keeping the gays out of town, but it seems that now instead of patrolling the closets he should start monitoring the bathroom stalls!

  4. The AIPS (Association Internationale De La Presse Sportive) Of which I am a member (lukily not having to go myself to the Games) send the following email out today:

    Dear Colleagues, The rush to finish the media hotels in Sochi continues, three days before the games opening. Some of the journalists already in Sochi had to spend the nights in freezing rooms as electricity and heating systems failed while in other hotels the promised wi-fi internet connection didn’t work. In some of the rooms nails and screws were still scattered on the floor evident of the rush to get them ready. Click here to read more from Maria Pia Beltran who will be covering the games in Sochi.
    Best Wishes,
    AIPS Media

  5. I experienced the not-flushing-the-toilet paper thing in Cyprus a couple of years ago. I was there for a week and never really got used to it. On my return, I COULDN’T WAIT TO GET TO LONDON to really “use” the bathroom! 🙂

  6. More drama by U.S. reporting. I must remember to pull the curtain down in the hotel next time I visit the #1 propaganda country U.S.A
    Can’t wait till you guys start chanting USA USA..kind of reminds me of Nazi Germany.

  7. I was just through the new china southern VIP lounge in guangzhou last month. they had the same no flushing toilet paper signs on all the toilets. i could not get used to that idea so i flushed it down.

  8. Yeah, I’ll echo some of the other comments: so far, these complaints seem a bit overplayed. I’ve encountered the “don’t flush the toilet paper” sign many times, and I don’t stay is hostels. I tend to think some of these sports reporters don’t get out in the world much.

    Honestly, I think the journalists will be fine in Sochi, as will all the official and sponsored guests. Its the tourists who will likely suffer. They’re always an afterthought to Olympic organizers, and Mr. Putin isn’t going to care whether they have a good time. I would expect these to be the “no fun” Olympics, which is why I did not consider attending. Add in the terrorist concerns, and it’s never been a better time to watch the Games on TV.

  9. Putin shouldn’t have hounded the gays out of town. Just imagine the US or European or Australian hospitality industry without the gays.

    And we gays wouldn’t have allowed those hideous curtains in the first place. You reap what you sow 🙂

  10. hobo13…that may explain those photos last week of the two toilet stalls. Suppose you’re suppose to make sure your “neighbour” doesn’t flush the toilet paper!

    What a horror show. So obscene. I’ve never been a fan of the Olympics fiasco, summer or winter, and this just shows the folly of the whole institution.

  11. Having spent three weeks in Russia, I would still call it a developing nation in many ways. But, the toilet paper issue is hardly worth a mention. I have been in so, so many countries where you need to use a bin for the paper that I would be hard pressed to recall them all. Indeed, the number where you do flush the paper is much smaller than where you do not. Of course, I think what this tells me is that while many people travel the world, they often stay in a sanitized, isolated world in five star hotels and don’t really get a chance to see how people really live.

  12. Or maybe we should be happy because it’s a horrible country with a pile of human rights violations larger than the human waste soiled toilet paper bins that apparently accumulate there.

  13. To the people saying that not flushing toilet paper is because of limited infrastructure: Russia spent $51 billion on preparing for the game. Almost everything there was just built. We aren’t talking about decades old plumbing.

  14. @TJ “..kind of reminds me of Nazi Germany”

    I think comparing Russia to Nazi Germany is quite an exaggeration. 😉

    Sure, they do send dissidents to prison on trumped up charges, occasionally disappear journalists who threaten to expose corruption, and harass gays. And the elections are rigged to make it appear that Putin always wins, and state assets are sold off to his KGB cronies at fire sale prices. But none of that compares with the Holocaust. Overall, Russia is a much nicer place to visit than North Korea.

  15. The comment about the gays in the hospitality industry wins! So true, for those of us who regularly stay in boutique hotels, where would the decor, food, and housekeeping standards be without the oversight of the gay male hotel manager?

  16. I spent yesterday LOLing at work while looking at all the journalists’ tweets.

    But when I saw the comment about not flushing the toilet paper my reaction was “He doesn’t travel much.” I too can’t list all the places where I’ve seen that.

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