Hotel Preserves Pioneer Spirit Through Turtles and Casinos

KorstonOnce a cinema for communist youth, the Paris hall houses slot machines.
The Orlyonok Hotel, once used to house Soviet Pioneers, is dramatically expanding capacity and relaunching itself as part of a new chain, Korston.

The expanded Orlyonok will include two towers with 600 new rooms. Meanwhile, other Korston hotel-casino complexes are planned for Kazan, Nizhny Novgorod and Yoshkar-Ola, the hotel's general director, Louie Beck, said last week as the Orlyonok turned 30.

The anniversary also saw the hotel complete what management called a transformation from a hostel for communist youth into a modern hotel complex with a strip club and 16 restaurants.

"The spirit of youth and its particular gaming fervor have been preserved and have their realization in Korston Hotel & Casino Moscow," the hotel said, citing the openness of "Las Vegas, which grew out of the desert," as a model.

Rising over Vorobyovy Gory, the Orlyonok stands 20 stories. It is unclear how tall the new towers will be. A former cinema hall, where Pioneers once viewed films intended to build character, now houses a fake Paris, concert stage and rows of slot machines.

Another hall holds a pirate ship-cum-restaurant in a lagoon filled with turtles.

After the towers open in 2008, the Orlyonok will have nearly 1,000 rooms. Moscow is facing a shortage of hotel beds, and City Hall has said it wants to create some 30,000 rooms by 2010.

Beck said training schools, at which young guests would have a chance to learn a trade -- and get paid doing it -- were planned to make the new complexes more family-friendly. "It won't just be the hospitality industry, but other trades, including handicrafts," he said.

Stressing that Korston was committed to Russia, he added, "We should always be attached to the old history, but we have to see how the future will be."