It may not have a second Olympics, yet, but at least the group organizing the push to bring the Winter Games back to Utah has a roof over its head. Maybe even a Red Roof.
The Salt Lake City-Utah Committee for the Games has secured more than 85% of the 24,000 hotel rooms it is required to have on hand if it hosts the 2030 or 2034 Olympics. The hotels range from The Grand America to a four-room bed-and-breakfast. And the footprint spans as far south as Nephi and as far north as Logan.
Some rooms are even in Wyoming.
John Sindelar, who helped negotiate room contracts for the 2002 Olympics, began putting out feelers as the Salt Lake City-Utah Committee’s accommodations adviser in 2021. He cast a wide net knowing that even if he secured every hotel room in Salt Lake County, which, according to Visit Salt Lake, numbers about 22,000, he still would be several thousand short.
Though he technically is looking to “buy” the rooms, he said he has to make a pitch to the hoteliers who may have visions of capitalizing on the hundreds of thousands of visitors the event will draw to the area.
“They all want to make money, so I couldn’t just sell them on Mom, apple pie and the Olympics,” he said. “I had to make sure that I had a good deal for them.”
The majority of the rooms, about 10,000, will house journalists. Others will be allocated to the International Olympic Committee, national Olympic committees, international sports federations and sponsors, among others. Each block of rooms is reserved for 33 nights, which includes the 17 nights of the Games plus 14 nights before and two nights after. The rate, Sindelar said, is roughly the average cost of the room plus a bump for inflation and an Olympic premium.
“The hotels will do well with the booking that we’re making,” Sindelar said, “but we’re not going to be gouging the stakeholders, the people who will be staying in them.”
Utah hasn’t officially been designated as the site of a future Olympics, but in November the IOC deemed it a preferred site for the 2034 Winter Games. Organizers from both Salt Lake City and France, the preferred candidate for 2030, are required to submit most of their paperwork — including accommodation contracts — by the end of this month. All government assurances must be in place by March. If both those deadlines are met, the IOC is expected to award the 2030 and 2034 Winter Games in July, just before the start of the Paris 2024 Olympics.
“We’re sufficiently along the way,” Sindelar said, “that we feel confident that this will not be an obstacle to being awarded the Games.”
Sindelar and his team have booked a variety of hotels in a variety of locations. They include Fairfield Inn, Holiday Inn Express and La Quinta Inn properties in Salt Lake and Davis counties as well as Hiltons, Marriotts and IHG-branded hotels in Salt Lake, Utah and Davis counties. Once it is built, they also intend to make use of more than a thousand rooms at The Point. So far, he said, no Red Roof Inns have been contracted.
Yet some who rent the committee’s rooms may be surprised to find themselves in an entirely different state.
The committee has contracted with two properties for a total of 106 rooms in Evanston, Wyoming. The city of about 12,000, perhaps best known locally as Utahns’ last chance to buy alcohol and lottery tickets before returning to their home state, is about 60 miles northeast of the two nearest venues: Utah Olympic Park in Kimball Junction and Park City Mountain. It is roughly an hour-and-a-half drive to most other venues, including Soldier Hollow in Midway, the site of Nordic skiing and biathlon, and the Ice Sheet in Ogden, where curling will likely take place.
Sindelar said he was tasked with locking in a wide variety of rooms, from opulent to economical. The Wyoming rooms, he said, fill a niche.
“They’re close, or at least not far, from Park City and the Soldier Hollow venue,” he said. “So while from Salt Lake it may be greater distance, it is less of a distance for the venues that are out in that direction.”
Though the IOC prefers sites cluster their venues and have lodging nearby, traveling that far to an event isn’t especially unusual. At the 2018 Summer Games in Rio de Janeiro, the 20-mile drive from the press center to Copacabana, where most beach and ocean sports were held, could take more than two hours in traffic. The distance between Milan and Cortina, the two hubs of Italy’s 2026 Winter Games, is 276 miles and can take more than six hours on a bus.
As for who will stay on the other side of the border, that is up to the IOC. Sindelar said the local committee will follow the Olympic governing body’s direction in determining which group gets the first choice of venues and which ones are last.
That matter won’t be settled for several years at least, though. And with some new properties likely to sprout up in the interim while others change hands, the accommodations Sindelar has contracted with now won’t necessarily be the same ones available when the Games begin.
“It’s already started to happen in terms of even some hotels that we signed up earlier in our process that have changed plans already,” he said. “We’ll have a more robust effort after we win the Games to manage and monitor that. ...
“Over the span of time, there’s more opportunity for changes to occur.”