Olympic deals for Vancouver, Canada? Not yet

Los Angeles Times Staff Writer

The world economy may be schussing down the fall line, but you would never know it from the price tags on lodging-and-ticket packages for the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, Canada, which start at more than $3,000 for two nights.

What’s a cost-conscious sports fan to do? Get creative, or wait it out. No one really knows how popular these Olympics will be and what the market will bear.

On the one hand, ticket demand is running about six times the rate for the 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin, Italy, said Jean-Paul Modde, president of CoSport, the official U.S. vendor in Far Hills, N.J.

On the other hand, CoSport’s hotel-ticket packages are still available, except for nearly sold-out opening ceremonies, Modde added.

In Vancouver, a company handling rentals of private homes and condos recently had logged fewer than 100 bookings for the Feb. 12-28, 2010, Games, said Blake MacKenzie, sales manager for EMR Vacation Rentals,

“Because of the economic downturn, I think people are waiting closer to the date,” he said.

Ready to strap on your skis for this one? You’ll find links to lodging suppliers on These have been vetted, to one degree or another, by tourism organizations and the Vancouver Organizing Committee, or VANOC, which oversees the Games.

A look at some choices:

Official packages: These are the only lodging options that come with event tickets, and only one company, CoSport,, is authorized to sell them in the U.S. Buyers get access to tickets “that no one else can get,” said Jacqui Murdoch, VANOC’s vice president for services and accommodation.

Total prices for two people range from about $3,800 for two nights to $18,000 for five nights, Modde said.

Why so expensive?

For one thing, Modde said, ticket prices are higher than for the Beijing Games last summer. But official Olympics packages are always pricey, I’ve found, and with only one authorized vendor in each country, there’s no competition.

Hotels: You may save by booking your hotel and event tickets separately. Although the ticket lottery has come and gone, Modde said he hopes to get more tickets to sell in the next few months.

The problem is that nearly two-thirds of the rooms in Vancouver and about 40% in Whistler, another venue, have been booked by VANOC for Olympics organizers, sponsors and CoSport packages. Many hoteliers are holding back remaining inventory for groups and loyal customers.

“I know of hotels downtown that are sitting on 100 rooms and hoping a group will take it,” Murdoch said of Vancouver.

In several calls to downtown Vancouver hotels, I failed to land a single room. More rooms should be released in coming months, probably at hefty premiums. The tourism website also has links to bed-and-breakfast inns.

Vacation rentals: You can book these now. Expect to pay about $400 a night for a one-bedroom condo and $650 for two bedrooms in downtown Vancouver, EMR’s MacKenzie said.

To pay less, leave downtown.

“The farther you go, the cheaper it gets,” he said.

Happily, Vancouver has good public transit. If you stay 10 to 15 miles away in a suburb such as New Westminster, about a half-hour train ride from downtown, you may pay less than $250 a night for a one-bedroom condo, according to MacKenzie.

Hostels: A thrifty option for people willing to share a bath. Hostelling International runs three in Vancouver and one in Whistler.

On the Canadian chapter’s website,, I recently found dorm beds for less than $35 a night and private rooms for less than $100 during the Olympics period at the Vancouver Downtown hostel. You must be a Hostelling International member ($28 per year for adults) to stay during the Games.

Cruise ship: At least one ship, Norwegian Cruise Line’s Norwegian Star, will dock in North Vancouver for the Games. Fares start around $500 per person per night, double occupancy.

With four in a cabin, you can average about $300 per person because extra guests pay less, said Dennis Laliberte, president of Newwest Special Projects,, in Edmonton, Canada, which handles the bookings. Still pricey, although fares cover meals, entertainment, activities and more.

For cheap, try the Norwegian Star’s pre-Games cruise from Los Angeles to Vancouver, which arrives Feb. 10. These fares recently started at $99 per person, double occupancy, for four nights, or about $25 per night.