With the axeing of FIFA’s Racism Taskforce, the rumoured closing of the only recently opened FIFA Museum, and the ‘downgrading’ to the Park Hyatt Zurich for the FIFA Council, we thought we’d do a little fact check on hotel costs.

First, it must be said that the Park Hyatt is not really a downgrade. By way of comparison, the Park Hyatt base-level room and Lounge are pictured right; the Baur au Lac's base-level room, Lounge and Conservatory are pictured below left.

Admittedly, the FIFA Executive’s former hotel – which sprung to fame in May 2015 – the Baur au Lac is in the super-luxury category. However, the Park Hyatt is a Park Hyatt which means it’s the luxe brand to the Hyatt name. 

Was the Park Hyatt recommended to FIFA by their friends in Qatar? The fourth (and top) floor of the hotel is understood to be reserved exclusively by the Qatari Royal Family 365 days of the year. According to hotel sources, you can do that sort of thing when you own the hotel. 

Notwithstanding the possible recommendation, there’s little wonder the decision had to be made to move the FIFA Council.

It’s nothing to do with ‘bad karma’ over the May 2015 arrests or a reduction in status of FIFA’s preferred hotel. It’s also not so much about cost-cutting as cost minimisation in the face of all the big-spending promises of Gianni Infantino and the May Congress – including the bigger FIFA Council. 

Let’s take a look.

Obviously these rates are based on rack rates available online and not on negotiated rates. 

A deluxe room at the Baur au Lac, including breakfast, is CHF916 (about USD$930). FIFA insiders suggest that FIFA’s actual rate was closer to USD$700 excluding breakfast. 

The equivalent ‘base-level’ room in the Park Hyatt, excluding breakfast, is CHF680.

When you consider there are now 35 FIFA Council members who need to be accommodated (notwithstanding that not all will be there for the meeting this week), the saving by staying at the Park Hyatt compared with the Baur au Lac with 35 is in the vicinity of CHF8,260 per night. Incidentally, the cost of accommodating the former Executive Committee of 24 was actually CHF1,816/night less expensive based on these rates. 

There’s a couple of points to note here. 

The historic ‘service levels’ for FIFA VIPs was for two rooms each on the basis: one Suite and one Deluxe Room. For the President and the six vice-presidents, the two rooms were both suites.  

The Park Hyatt rate quote doesn’t include breakfast. The cost of that is probably pushing CHF50 per person which, assuming they all have it, brings the total nightly savings down to CHF6,500. 

However, despite their five stars and high costs, it turns out neither the Park Hyatt nor the Baur au Lac are the top-ranking hotel in Zurich according to Trip Advisor readers. They are #4 and #5 respectively. 

So which is the #1 ranked hotel?

It’s the Atlantis by Giardino (pictured below) located about 10 kilometres from FIFA House (4 kilometres from the Park Hyatt and Baur au Lac).

Referred to by Trip Advisor readers as ‘a hotel they couldn’t fault’, we checked out the price and found that FIFA could achieve even more savings by staying at this self-acclaimed ‘urban oasis’. 

The cost of a base-level room with breakfast, known as ‘Generous’ is CHF490. A total of 35 ‘Generous’ rooms would cost CHF17,150 giving FIFA an additional CHF8,400 in savings!

But there’s another option.

FIFA owns a hotel in Zurich. It’s called the Ascot (pictured below), just four kilometres from FIFA House and within walking distance of the Baur au Lac. 

It’s relatively small with only 42 rooms, which means the FIFA Council could have it all to themselves! (There is more capacity if service apartments are included). 

On that basis, the entire hotel at the base rate of CHF331 is CHF13,902 – more savings for FIFA of CHF11,648 per night. 

As FIFA actually owns the hotel, they may even be able to negotiate ‘mate’s rates’ as we call them in Australia. 😊 

Here’s the thing.

Considering the FIFA Council members are each likely to receive a minimum of USD$300,000 each for being a Council member, plus they receive first-class travel and a generous daily allowance in the vicinity of USD500/day when attending meetings or other FIFA events (eg. football matches that the rest of us pay for) plus another USD$250/day for their ‘companion’, we’re wondering why FIFA’s own hotel couldn’t be used for FIFA Council members?

It may not be the luxury they’re used to or which they think they deserve, but as they’re already costing football’s stakeholders at least USD$10,800,000 annually in fees alone, here’s a suggestion. 

  • FIFA meet the costs of staying at an ordinary business hotel consistent with normal business standards;
  • If FIFA Council members want to stay somewhere more in keeping with what they see as their status, they can pay the difference from their generous allowance.

Alternatively, they could actually do as new FIFA Council member, Evelina Christillin, suggests: do it for nothing (or at least a significantly reduced payment!); OR adopt the internal recommendations from FIFA staff that FIFA Council entitlements be reduced to no daily allowance for companions, business class instead of first class travel, no dedicated car, one room only and 4-or 5-star hotel. 

It will be yet another sign of just how ‘reformed’ the new FIFA Council is to see what they decide. 

Categories: Analysis | Football Business

fifa, fifa council, fifa hotels

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