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Rio's 'ghost hotels' stand hauntingly vacant ahead of World Cup

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Hotel Gloria, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (Credit: Stella Dauer/Flickr)
Hotel Gloria, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (Credit: Stella Dauer/Flickr)

In the years leading up to the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil, soccer's main event, numerous journalists and commentators questioned whether Rio de Janeiro would be able to effectively and safely host the competition. But putting aside concerns about how Rio deals with high rates of crime and the relocation of lower income residents, there's another issue facing the city as the contest draws near: a lack of hotel space for tourists, an estimated 1.5 million of whom are anticipated to flock to the city for the matches. The Washington Post highlights the soaring nightly rates for hotel rooms and a possible space shortage, juxtaposing them against three iconic "ghost hotels," big, beautiful buildings that have stood vacant and unfinished for years thanks to government red tape.

The modernist Gávea Tourist and Nacional, as well as the art deco Hotel Glória, were all built in the early to mid-20th century and could provide over 400 rooms to help meet the needs of the metropolis. But since their previous owners abandoned them years or decades ago, they've fallen into various states of almost post-apocalyptic disrepair, with the Gávea Tourist described as having creeping vines and bullet holes throughout its soaring concrete floors. Rio's government has provided $378 million to finance 10 hotels for the World Cup, but only five are expected to be ready in time for the games. Given the maze of bureaucratic hurdles that hotel owners have to cross before renovations can start, it's unlikely these three ghost hotels will be revived anytime soon.