Posted by: janvozenilek | March 11, 2010

February 27, 2010 – Vancouver Olympic Winter Games

Day 18 – Had the morning off so I got caught up on the blog.

Last night Jiri told me a story about how him and Jakub went to a restaurant for lunch in Yaletown and once they received their bill, there was an automatic 18% gratuity added onto it.  Jirka asked for an explanation and the server said that it is their policy during the Olympics. Apparently only after he had to ask for a manager couple of times and the conversation got heated, did she offer to remove this fee.

We had the same experience at Fog n Suds near the start of the games.  I made some calls to other restaurants in the area just to inquire and Red Robins told me that they never charge an automatic gratuity, even with larger parties. That they leave it completely up to the guests. I thought that was pretty awesome.  Earls, on the other hand, started the Olympics with the same ‘automatic tip’ policy, but apparently due to numerous customer complaints, they dropped the idea after two days.   It is pretty sad to see how some businesses have been ‘milking’ the tourists in this way.

The experience in our Empire Landmark Hotel on Robson hasn’t been any different.  VANOC booked the entire hotel years ago, and then gave the rooms out to the various broadcasters for a rate of $180/night, with only the room included. No breakfast, no parking, no internet.   We looked after our own breakfast, but the parking was an extra $20 and internet was $10.

After some digging we found out that the value of these rooms during the Olympics were $450/night!!

Now the interesting part. I called the front desk and asked about their rates for next week, after the Olympics are over… the rate I was quoted was $85/night, INCLUDING breakfast.  And parking is only $10!! That is way more then double the regular price!!

Yes, business is business, but in my opinion, some of the immense amount of extra revenue these huge companies made off these games, should be now used to pay of the bill that we are all going to get in a few weeks, once they add it all up.

Late morning we headed to the IBC and then off to the Athletes Village, to pick up Martina Sáblíková and her coach Petr Novák, so that we could drive them to Granville Island, to meet up with Jakub Bazant and Jiri Bakala, where they were going to film one of their short vignettes with her.  We waited around for a bit and got a chance to see the area of Science World, which is where the Russian pavilion for the Sochi 2014 Winter games is.  We asked some of the people near the front of the giant lineup and they said that they had been waiting for 3 hours! Wow!!!

One of the Russian Olympic vehicles.

View of downtown Vancouver with BC Place Stadium and Canada Hockey Place (GM Place).

The Quebec house.

Another pin trader.

Local Athlete Village road access signage with the Main Street Sky Train station in the background.

The Olympic Village

Russian athletes

Once Martina and her coach came, we took them to Granville Island for the filming.

The timing was impeccable, as my friends Romana (& Milan Vana) and their daughter Daniella just happened to walk by and see us, so they were able to meet her.

Jakub Bazant and Jiri Bakala spent about 35 minutes with her filming around the island.

We drove them back to the Athletes Village, then to IBC and then headed to the Czech House, where we watched the Slovakia vs. Finland hockey game.   Along the way, I snapped a bunch of photos out of the car window.

One of the three cruise ships docked at Ballantyne Pier, where all the police officers are staying.

W2 Culture and Media House

Then we headed back downtown and bumped into the guys from the office in front of the hotel.  Tomas Jilek, Robert Zaruba, David Pospisil and Pavel Krizek in front of nice limo.

Then I drove over to visit my good  friends and clients, Maxine and Dave Whitehead and Hollie and Paaren Mihtla.  It was with these amazing folks that I spent a couple of weeks in Italy almost two summers ago, working on the Hermitguides travel films for Venice and Rome.  We haven’t seen each other in a long time, so it was wonderful to catch up and visit.

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