This Dutch ensured that sleeping was not a problem at the Winter Games

Don Roelofs received the craziest requests from his customers.    Image Menno Pelser

Don Roelofs received the craziest requests from his customers.

Image Menno Pelser

From his office, situated opposite the Olympic village, Dutch entrepreneur Don Roelofs saw them all coming: first, the people of the organization, then the journalists, the sponsors, the reporters, the athletes and - last but not least - the families of athletes.

And they all have to sleep somewhere.

Roelofs (46), who was adopted from South Korea when he was three, worked as a tour operator in Seoul for years before he saw the gap in the market. He then devoted himself to the apartment rental around the Olympic area.

He was able to make his company KR H & E the largest accommodation agent of the Games. He helped 1,500 customers find a place to sleep: from Japanese art riders and American skiers to the family of a Dutch top skater. "We already have five gold and two silver," says Roelofs about the medals that "his" athletes have won.

Not all participants of the Games sleep in the Olympic village. Some athletes want to sleep in a separate place themselves, while for others there simply wasn't enough room. "Take top American skiers like Lindsey Vonn and Ted Ligety," says Roelofs. 'Those are big stars that each bring a complete guidance staff. They seek shelter themselves. "

Wholesale Customers

The IOC had seized the large hotels early on, but if you were creative, there was enough left over. Hotels, motels, holiday homes, student flats, private homes: everything that was suitable in terms of location and quality were rented by him. It was a matter of persistence to scout. "We drove through a back-end neighborhood to see if there was anything in between."

Some countries are wholesale customers - the Americans for example. It started with the demand for a complete five-star hotel ten minutes from the airport, where the athletes could rest a night after arrival. In Pyeongchang, they wanted an extra quarantine room in every ten rooms, if someone got sick.

Another thing: the Americans want to cook during the Games themselves, to prevent any risk of contamination. Roelofs rented two restaurants for it. 4,000 meals were prepared there daily.

They received the craziest requests. A TV channel wanted a studio on a spot overlooking the Olympic Park in Gangneung. He walked over the roofs for days to find the perfectly located flat roof.

The rental yielded good money, but it also gave the necessary care. "We sometimes had to take substantial risks," says Roelofs. "Renting a hotel anyway, while the customer had not yet signed. If it goes wrong, you lie in your hole. "

There was no evidence of a room shortage, as was feared in the run-up to the Games, during the tournament, the Dutch says. Many landlords initially asked too much because they were 'blinded by money'. Some owners asked 500 euros per night for a room without cleaning or breakfast, says Boxman. "It is a bit odd with the psyche of a community if millions of euros flow in in such a short time."

Translated from original post on de Volkskrant: [Link]

Don Roelofs