Future historians will refer to 2014 as the year of sporting event sticker shock. Sochi started the trend by hosting the most expensive Winter Olympics in history. In June, Brazil will up the ante with the most expensive World Cup. Controversy, of course, surrounds the 2014 FIFA World Cup. During the June 2013 Confederations Cup, Brazilians took to the streets in protest. Government officials had promised the people of Brazil that the event would spark massive investment in the country's infrastructure. Brazilians imagined improved subways, highways, airports and ports but were misinformed. Most funds actually went towards state-of-the-art stadiums. Maracana Stadium's renovation poured salt on open wounds, by adding more luxury boxes and less general seating. Despite the possibility of crime and chaos at World Cup 2014, confirmed soccer fans wouldn't miss it. If you're going to go, these 10 extravagant ideas will help you go in style.
10 Book a VIP Concierge Package
Most World Cup package tours start at $10,000, not including airfare. Packages with Ludus Tours cost $90,000 per person, double occupancy. What makes them so special? Adam and Jessica Dailey founded Ludus Tours in 2003. The former athletes competed in the 2000 U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials. Their experiences gave them a clear understanding of the difficulties athlete's families face when booking travel to events. In other words, Adam and Jessica know their stuff. The 10-day, 9-night package includes lodging in five-star hotels, airport pick-up and private limo services to the matches and other destinations. Guests will attend exclusive VIP parties, including dinners at Rio's best restaurant. Other perks include a helicopter tour of Rio, tickets to three matches and a gift bag worth $1000.
9 Stay in the Palace
In 1923, Brazilian President Epitácio Pessoa asked hotelier, Octávio Guinle to construct a palatial hotel in Rio. Guinle hired French architect Joseph Gire, who modeled the Copacabana Palace on the luxury hotels of Nice and Cannes. Gire filled the hotel with chandeliers from Czechoslovakia, carpets from England and furniture from Sweden. Copacabana Palace evolved into the destination of choice for celebrities such as Albert Einstein, Nelson Mandela, Brigitte Bardot, Princess Di and Michael Jackson. The sixth floor of the Copacabana Palace houses seven penthouse suites and a private swimming pool. Penthouse guests luxuriate in exquisitely-furnished rooms, while enjoying personal butler service. Your butler can book your appointments at the hotel's exclusive spa and hair salon.
8 Fly First Class on TAM
In February 2014, TAM, Brazil's largest airline, announced they will add 750 domestic and 300 international flights for soccer fans wishing to visit during the World Cup. TAM recently made headlines when it joined the One World Program, leaving Star Alliance at the altar. Even more exciting is their new first-class cabin, which travel writers are calling the “living room in the sky.” The four-seat cabin features a couch, individual closets, a reading lamp, a dining table, cushions, a Nespresso coffee machine and a library filled with books. Other high-end amenities include an award-wining wine list, an entertainment system with a second screen and an e-reader with a selection of international magazines. Rituals, an upscale cosmetic company, created the free amenity kit. Round trip fares average at $5,763.
7 Arrange Luxury Transportation Services
After years of building an extensive travel and tourism resume, Andrew Harding moved his family from London to Rio de Janeiro, and founded Man in Rio, a concierge service. In an April interview, in 2013, Harding told Rio Times Online that the gap in the tourism industry inspired the creation of his company. Travel agencies can book travels, but once a person arrives in the country, they receive little or no support. The lack of hospitality services became even more apparent when a French sailing team complained about Brazil's lack of travel logistics support. Man in Rio offers that support. Perhaps that's why Conde Nast Traveler calls the company “the fabulous fixer.” Man in Rio offers a variety of luxury transportation services including private limos, yachts, helicopters or plane services.
6 Hire a Bodyguard
In 2012, Anderson Antunes of Forbes Magazine wrote that “minting new millionaires and billionaires every day.” Juliana Mello of The Brazil Business explains that this increased wealth has created a need for increased security measures. The Organization of American States notes that Brazil's Ministry of Justice registered 2,538 private security companies in 2006, and issued permits for 5,045 armored vehicles. Given the possibility of increased crime and political unrest, bodyguard services during the World Cup are both a luxury and a necessity.
5 Buy a Priceless Gift
In 1941, gemologist, Jules Roger Sauer founded Amsterdam Sauer, a Brazilian jewelry store. The company specializes in the finest gemstone jewelry, embellished with emeralds, aquamarines, imperial topazes and tourmalines. Its in-house gemological laboratories certify the value and quality of each unique piece of jewelry and Object d'Art; and their attention to detail made them a three-time winner of the prestigious De Beers Diamonds-International Awards. The store in Ipanema, Rio de Janeiro houses the Amsterdam Sauer Museum of Rare Minerals and Gemstones. This museum boasts over three thousand specimens, but their piece de resistance is a replica of the 19th century Imperial Crown of D. Pedro II.
4 Savor a Presidential Meal
Roberta Sudbrack spent a seven-year stint as executive chef in the kitchens of President Cardoso. After serving princes and heads of state, she decided to open her own restaurant. Sudbrack's establishment sits within Rio's affluent Zona Sul neighborhood, and often plays host to the city's most esteemed fashionistas. Her eight-course tasting menu costs $200. It changes each day, in accordance with what's available in the local markets. Diners Club featured Roberta Sudback in their World's Best 50 Restaurants Academy.
3 A Night Out in Barreto Londra
Wallpaper Magazine calls Baretto Londra, “The best hotel bar in the world.” A pillar of Rio's elite nightlife scene, this classy establishment draws a cross-section of Rio socialites and visiting celebrities. Located in the upscale Fasano Hotel, the bar pays homage to owner, Rogerio Fasano's favorite city; London. “Londra” is London in Italian, which explains the whimsical red, white and green British flags that decorate the walls. Fasano's great grandfather,Vittorio Fasano left Milan in 1902, and opened a restaurant in Brazil. In the years that followed, the Fasano restaurant business evolved into an international hotel empire.
2 Buy Brazilian Designer Swimwear
Given Brazil's beach culture, its abundance of beachwear designers is no surprise. Consider the Blue Man swimwear line. David Azulay founded the company in the 1970's. The now iconic side-tied bikini was his signature design.
Then, there's Lenny Niemeyer. Before she was crowned Bikini Queen of Brazil, she spent her days locked away in her garage, creating swimsuits from scraps of used cloth. She sold her creations to her friends and local fashion shops. Niemeyer eventually opened her own store on Ipanema. As her business expanded, she hired seamstresses from Rio's "favela" hillside slums: the same women who stitch the extravagant Carnival costumes. After seeing Niemeyer's collection in Vanity Fair, Nicole Kidman ordered some of her pieces. Other celebrity fans include Lady Gaga and Naomi Campbell.
1 Take a World Cup Widow Yoga Retreat
Many women share their husband's passion for football. Others, not so much. On the other hand, a week of yoga at a Brazilian beach resort sounds just fine. Marisa Paska, founder of Yoga Physique Rio, understands. That's why she's launched two yoga retreats; one in Rio and one in Buzios. The Rio retreat takes place in the Santa Teresa district. Prices include six nights lodging at the Hotel Santa Teresa, two daily yoga sessions, breakfast, dinner, airport pick-ups and optional side trips. Prices start at $2800 per person, double occupancy. The Buzio retreat takes place at Praia Geribá, Buzios, a favorite of actress Brigitte Bardot. This three-day retreat includes four yoga sessions, daily surf lessons, all meals, evening activities and airport pickups. Prices start at $2,000 per person double occupancy.