February 03, 2010
You know, a one-time charter of a cruise ship to be used as a floating hotel for the Olympics seemed like such a great idea. I mean, what could possibly go wrong? Aside from expensive renovations, rapidly increasing expenses, and having to cut prices because no one was renting rooms, it was the perfect plan.
After spending more than $10 million to lease a ship, the Edmonton-based Newwest Travel has cancelled their plans to create a floating hotel near the Olympics. Since the promotion started last May, things have been bad. After initially offering basic rooms for $1,300 US, prices were slashed to $500. This didn't draw enough interest, so the cost of a room was again cut, this time down to $275. One sure-fire way to not make money is to accept only 20% of what you were expecting to receive in payments.
On top of that, in order to dock the ship/hotel close enough to the Olympics to make it an attractive location, significant renovations to a nearby industrial dock were necessary. As you can imagine, those weren't cheap. Add those to the expensive charter, cut rate rooms, and you have a delicious smoothie of bad financial planning.
It would be bad enough if it were just a bunch of people who are losing out on lodging, as hotels nearby are still available for pretty cheap. However, the closing of the ship will leave 54 Make-a-Wish Foundation affiliates scrambling for accomodations. Not awesome.
Of course, Newwest should have known their plan was doomed, considering it would have been called the "Olympic cruise ship hotel," which is nearly as silly of a name as "Hot Tub Time Machine."