U.S. soccer excitement rang from Seattle to South Beach (and every watch party anywhere in between) during the 2014 World Cup. This year, sadly, Americans only netted a fraction of that enthusiasm since the national team failed to qualify for the tournament. But even without the red, white and blue’s presence, the global party will go on.
“The World Cup is certainly the biggest sport celebration in the world, attracting massive TV viewership and online conversation and particularly in countries with teams in the heat of competition,” says Philippe Moggio, general secretary of the Confederation of North, Central America and Caribbean Association Football (CONCACAF).
“If [U.S.] fans are looking for another team to root for, two Central American countries — Panama and Costa Rica — not only made the World Cup, but their appearance is the culmination of two compelling underdog stories years in the making,” Moggio says.
Fans from the two countries, as well as those from the 30 other participating nations, will make their way to Russia for the tournament’s June 14 start. The World Cup will be spaced out between 11 cities and 12 stadiums, with the finale being held at Moscow’s Luzhniki Stadium on July 15. According to Bleacher Report, more than 2.5 million tickets had already been sold for the 64 matches by June 10.
If you’re a part of that lucky group, congratulations. You’re in for sure-to-amaze performances (Egypt’s Mohamed Salah), long-shot stories (Uruguay, Iceland) and, possibly, Argentina legend Lionel Messi’s final attempt at World Cup glory.
But even if you haven’t made plans to see the matches in person, you shouldn’t kick yourself too hard. High-end hotels and restaurants all around the globe are showing their soccer spirit by promoting special packages, themed treats and elaborate parties that everyone is invited to — no matter what your passport says.
Here is a round-up of where you’ll find the most fun around the pitch:
The Palazzo Resort Hotel Casino
If you thought Lagasse’s Stadium was live during March Madness and the Super Bowl, wait until you hear the decibels the place can reach over the next four weeks. You won’t know if the roars are because of the score or the fact the Las Vegas venue features 100 HD screens and stadium-style seating.
If the soccer intensity doesn’t fill you up, an international-themed menu of Bavarian pretzels, pulled pork street tacos and beer-battered fish and chips probably will.
Corinthia Hotel Budapest
To accommodate all of the fans expected to stop by, this Four-Star treasure’s Grand Ballroom terrace has been converted to Sky Lounge, a soccer haven where you’ll find table football games, loads of TVs, World Cup-inspired drinks and a timely menu from chef Peter Bolyki. And the real kicker: the Budapest hotel’s staff will don referee uniforms as well.
Gansevoort Meatpacking NYC
Your favorite team won’t want to see any yellow or red cards thrown its way during the tournament, but the ones that the bartender at this New York City hotel will be dishing out are another story.
Being served at Gansevoort Meatpacking’s The Chester, the Red Card is a clever take on the Moscow Mule with a twist (citron, pomegranate juice, lemon juice, simple syrup, ginger beer and blackberry garnish), while the Yellow Card is a spin on a French 75 (gin, vodka, simple syrup, lemon and orange juices, champagne and lemon garnish).
The Loews Hotels
Four-Star Loews Atlanta Hotel’s ode to the host country is a tantalizing version of a White Russian called The Dude Abides. Down at Four-Star Loews Miami Beach Hotel, the property is not just pouring winning tipples (such as sangrias, caipirinhas and margaritas) at Bar Collins; it’s also scoring in the kitchen with aptly named dishes like Bicycle Kick Nachos and Half Time Quesadilla.
Innside by Melia New York
West 27th Street might get a little animated over the next month, seeing as how this hotel, the Spanish hotel chain’s first Big Apple address, will show the World Cup from its outside terrace. But the fútbol fun won’t stop there; match-day beer specials and a trio of soccer spritzes will be a part of the game plan, too.
Red Bowl’s dress code generally calls for a “smart casual” look. Through mid-July, however, we’re guessing that national team jerseys and T-shirts will be permitted since the Beijing Five-Star gem’s hot-pot eatery (and its neighboring Mei bar) will show the tournament and cook up seafood and meat skewers for you to nibble on between the action.
The Grand Mayan at Vidanta Los Cabos
The Shorebar, with its swooping roof and Airstream-housed kitchen, has already made itself one of the just-opened Grand Mayan’s must-visit eateries. And with World Cup action on the TVs, the lure only grows. For home country Mexico’s matches (and every contest from the quarterfinals on), the can’t-miss venue relocates to Que Lindo Bar, where activities and the resort’s lively Joy Squad aim to keep energy high.
The Peninsula Paris
Thanks to a winning partnership with beloved Paris Saint-Germain Football Club, this Parisian Five-Star property is able to present an once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to soccer fans. With this premier package, you will not only play out your World Cup (or Ligue 1) fantasies by walking the hallowed grounds of Parc de Princes stadium, but you’ll also meet a player from the squad and get signed memorabilia.
Fontainebleau Miami Beach
In addition to oceanfront viewing parties and Heineken-filled cabanas, this Forbes Travel Guide Recommended retreat runs circles around the competition during the World Cup with a special 50-minute spa treatment ($184) that consists of a massage, a eucalyptus-infused towel application and a foot scrub that serves as a not-so-subtle nod to soccer fans.
The Nines, A Luxury Collection Hotel
Fans of Major League Soccer’s Portland Timbers are considered some of the most animated in the United States. Be a part of the revelry by reserving an overnight package with the team’s hotel sponsor, The Nines. Included in the Four-Star hotel’s promotion is an official Timbers scarf, daily breakfast for two and complimentary overnight parking, which is great because you can leave your car and walk the half mile to Providence Park for the game.