The corridors of the Secret Garden Genting Grand in Zhangjiakui seem like any other hotel in a ski resort – but of course, the resort hosting the Beijing 2022 mountain sports is not just any other hotel.
Being within the “closed loop” that separates Olympic athletes and participants from the Chinese public means there are a few quirks to contend with.
You’re joined in the corridors by dozens of hazmat-suited staff, one of whom is spraying a “disinfectant solution” that smells a lot like bleach from a hose attached to his Ghostbuster-style backpack. They pass through with their sprays at least three times a day, covering mainly the carpet in their mist.
Relentless disinfectant seems to be a theme across the Games, with white spray marks adorning everything from the airport information booths on arrival, the PVC screen separating us from our closed loop drivers, to stains on black shoes from a freshly sprayed carpet.
Breaking the language barrier for lunch: In the mountain resort of Zhangjiakou, the hotels have restaurants ranging from Chinese food and Western-style diners to chain brands like KFC and Pizza Hut.
But one thing they all have in common is the language barrier between the primarily English-speaking clientele and our Mandarin-speaking hosts. In an (almost) Google-less China, there might be an app for that, but some of these restaurants are opting to use other hardware.
The tech that at first glance resembles a cellphone from the early 2000s is in fact the iFLYTEK Jarvisen – an AI smart translator developed in China. Our experience with the tech has been a pleasant one, certainly making mealtimes less stressful.