The Copacabana Palace Hotel and Spa has a reputation as one of the finest resorts in the southern hemisphere. Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers danced through its Art Deco halls and the Rolling Stones tuned up in its grand salon before their concert on the beach, according to the hotel.
The luxury comes at a price: Room rates start at $623 at this time of year, not including taxes and gratuities.
Aleksandar Milosevic knew the Copacabana wasn’t inexpensive when he checked into the hotel last May, but he also knew he wouldn’t have to pay for it. The Brazilian government was hosting Milosevic for a UN Alliance of Civilizations conference in Rio. The government had chosen the hotel.
Milosevic made sure all of the arrangements were in order when he arrived, and was assured that Brazil was picking up the tab for his room. But when he checked out of the resort, a hotel employee surprised him by showing him a bill for $2,430.
“You have to pay,” the associate told him. “The Brazilian government canceled its sponsorship of your accommodations.”
Then things turned unpleasant. Milosevic asked why he hadn’t been informed of the government’s decision, and according to him, a hotel manager told him it wasn’t obligated to do so. The Copacabana insisted he pay before being allowed to leave.