Building a Resort on an Olympic Foundation

As it prepares to host the 2014 Winter Olympics, the beachfront Russian city of Sochi is hoping to become an attractive resort city. Money is flowing and development is under way, but some expect growing pains.
November 20, 2008, 8am PST | Nate Berg
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"In July 2007, Sochi, a Russian resort on the Black Sea, was awarded the 2014 Winter Olympics, and in the year since, bureaucrats and investors have flocked to the city. Sochi has long been a favorite recreation spot of Vladimir V. Putin, Russia's prime minister, and his promise to invest $12 billion of government money in developing the region played a large role in bringing the Winter Games to a faded Soviet-era beach town."

"The goal, Russian government officials insist, is not only to ready Sochi for the Olympics, but to transform the town into a Mediterranean-style tourist resort as well. A new international airport will open soon, and along the water, glass-fronted condominiums are popping up daily. As one local restaurant manager told me, 'The government wants to turn Sochi into its own little Monaco.'"

"Despite all the development, Sochi still feels like a kaleidoscopic version of Coney Island, all juiced up on lukewarm vodka and sunburned potbellies, and that can either be part of its charm or the one thing that keeps it from being a truly relaxing place to spend a few days."

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Published on Sunday, November 16, 2008 in The New York Times
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