By Jay Forte, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Despite a political quagmire and ailing economy in Brazil, in August 2016 the Olympic Games will be in Rio and the city is preparing to host the mega-event. While hotels will bear the brunt of travelers, the market for temporary apartments will also boom, and the city’s renters and real estate agencies are looking forward to seeing the Cidade Maravilhosa brimming.
In January this year, Embratur, Brazil’s Institute of Tourism, estimated that 350,000 to 500,000 foreign tourists will arrive in the city to enjoy the Games. During the World Cup, 471,000 foreigners came to Rio, as well as 415,000 Brazilians. There is no estimate yet for Brazilian spectators coming to Rio 2016.
Arnaud Bughon is co-founder of luxury real estate agency Rio Exclusive and shares a sense of the activity less than five months before the Games arrive. “The demand was very high straight after the new year period and then went quite during the Carnival period. Internationally market was slow during the first reports of the Zika Virsus, but now there is less speculation and the clients have returned.” Adding, “There is still availability but selling quickly, April and May will be very busy.”
Sven dos Santos of Rio-based rental company, Agênica Heidelberg describes that despite the negative headlines of late, “The demand for this event is still high. A lot of our properties are already booked. We have an occupation rate of 75 percent so far. Considering the fact that there are almost five months left until the start of the games, we are happy with the numbers so far.”
In terms of prices, even with the local economy in a tailspin and the real estate rental market in Rio dropping by twenty percent in the last year, Olympic travelers can expect prices similar to the 2014 World Cup. Sven dos Santos says, “The prices for Brazilians are comparable, maybe a little higher, than during the World Cup. But, most of the tourist will end up paying less, because the Brazilian currency BRL lost around seventy percent compared to the USD (U.S. dollars) since the World Cup.”
However on the high end of the market, many renters have fixed their prices to U.S. currency as Charlie Crocker, a British expatriate and owner of Van West Property in Rio explains. “A lot of the properties, especially at the higher end, are priced in dollars to mitigate against currency fluctuations. Those properties – typically more mid market – that are priced in [BRL$] reals have obviously become more affordable which we have been able to pass along to the client.”
Across all price points, availability will certainly be getting slim fast, and the plan-ahead travelers will want to move soon. Mr. dos Santos advises, “I suggest the traditional neighborhoods of Copacabana, Ipanema and Leblon. They are close to some Olympic places like Marina da Gloria, Copacabana Beach, Maracana Stadium and Lagoa.”
For those decidedly more interested in watching the games than experiencing the city, he also adds that, “From the Zona Sul (South Zone) it takes around one hour to [get to] the Olympic Village. For those, who want to stay closer, I suggest the neighborhood of Recreio.”
Mr. Crocker agrees that staying close to the traditional tourist areas in Rio makes sense for most, and says, “I would always recommend that someone stay in Zona Sul. The neighborhoods of Ipanema, Copacabana and Leblon are the most popular and to my mind the best places to stay. They have great beaches, excellent restaurants and fun bars. You do not really need a car to get around and when you do, taxies are cheap and easy to find.”
Vacationers and leisure travelers may also want to use agencies to limit any unfortunate surprises or scams. After the cost of the airfare and Olympic event tickets, pinching pennies on accommodations can lead to additional stress if the place is not what was advertised or expected. As Crocker says, “I would also suggest you go through a reputable or recommended agent to avoid complications.”