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Mee Restaurant at the Belmond Copacabana Palace
Once upon a time, we wondered whether in-house restaurants had any effect on your hotel choice. As hotels continue to push their offerings in an effort to compete with local establishments and become part of the city's scene, hotel restaurants around the world continue to get better and better.
Two awards were handed out this week that show the restaurant industry is taking notice. Down south, MEE Restaurant at the Belmond Copacabana Palace in Rio, known for its "sophisticated pan-Asian cuisine," received a Michelin star in the first edition of the Michelin Guide Rio de Janeiro & São Paolo. It was one of six restaurants to be honored in the first edition of the Michelin Guide to cover South America.
Yoo Hotels / Yoo2 Hotels / Rio de Janeiro Hotels / Hotel Design / Design Hotels / Philippe Starck / → All Tags
Got plans for the holidays next year? YOO Hotels & Resorts do as they expand into South America with their "diffusion" lifestyle brand YOO2. The campaign kicks off in Rio de Janeiro with the opening of YOO2 Botafogo in December 2015.
This sounds like the start of something big, with a newly formed alliance between YOO Hotels & Resorts and Intercity Hotel Group, who will manage all YOO2 hotels in Brazil. We hear there are up to seven in the works, but could there be more?
Brazil's tourism board recently conducted a study of room rates and concluded that FIFA and its booking agency, Match Services, are jacking up the price of hotel rooms for next summer's World Cup.
Everyone expects room rates to be high during the Cup, but the tourism board thinks it's getting out of control, citing markups of 500% in some cases. What's worse is that the board suspects FIFA and Match are adding their own markup on top of the prices set by hoteliers. And not just a few taxes -- a 40% markup.
"We reiterate that FIFA/Match charges mark-up rates of more than 40 per cent on the amount contracted with the hotel, something that contributes decisively to the increase of the already high rates," the tourism board said in a document obtained by the Associated Press.
Summer Olympics Hotels / Rio de Janeiro Hotels / Olympics Hotels / Brazil Hotels / World Cup Hotels / Rio Hotels / → All Tags
One thing's for sure: The hotels being built for the 2016 Olympic Games in Brazil are going to be baptized by a fire hotter than the tip of the Olympic torch.
In total, about 16,000 new rooms will be added over the next three years. Obviously the properties need to be built, but don't forget about all the training and management issues that will need to be addressed, as millions of travelers from all over the world land in Rio expecting to be pleased. We already told you how new training was needed as sex hotels are converted to "normal" hotels, and we would imagine prepping to cater to all the world's cultures won't be easy.
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Rio has this hotel shortage for the upcoming events, we know that. The same committee that won the sports event bid for the Brazilian city promised 8,000 additional rooms have arranged for double that amount by the Opening Ceremonies. The 16,000 rooms will be a mix of new properties being built and renovated rooms. 3,500 of those rooms will be former sex hotels that have been cleaned up to attract the world sports fans.
In all, 60 four-hour-'nap' motels will get the once over (at least) saying 'até logo' to the heart-shaped waterbeds, red carpeting and mirrored ceilings in exchange for tasteful and comfy digs. Since the rooms will still be on the smaller side, these hotels can turn into a more affordable option for staying more upscale areas like Leblon.
Not only are the rooms getting redone, even the employees of the hotels will look and sound different. Motel employees are getting special training and language courses to deal with a new clientele. We can only imagine that late night requests for room-service are a lot different after the facelift.
Celebrity Scoop / Brazil Hotels / Rio De Janeiro Hotels / Fasano Hotels / Kim Kardashian / Kanye West / → All Tags
The wind blew strong as the three-month-pregnant Kim held on tight to her man.
Earlier last week, while the rest of Rio de Janeiro celebrated Carnival, celebrity couple Kim Kardashian and Kanye West were in more of a spectator mood, as they looked on from their glass balcony at the Fasano Hotel.
The 89-room hotel is part of the family-owned Grupo Fasano , which has hotels in São Paulo and Punta del Este and Boa Vista, as well as a number of restaurants around the country. Celebs like Madonna, Beyonce and P. Diddy have all favored the Fasano in the past, and Kimye certainly looked happy with their choice. Could that be.....a....show of genuine happiness on Kanye's face? Kind of astonishing for a guy who tends not to smile for the cameras so much as contemptuously sneer in their vague direction.
Rooms at the hotel all have ocean views, and were designed by Philippe Starck with a 60s Bossa Nova theme.
Knowing how Kim & Kanye like to roll, we're going to assume they opted for a Deluxe Suite, which goes for around $3,690/night, and features hardwood floors, a giant living room with all-white couches (pictured), walk-in closets, and a marble bathroom with a bathtub overlooking the ocean.
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The famous Copacabana Palace in Rio had once been the place to be when visiting Brazil especially during its 80s and 90s heydays. But then something happened and, well, the place fell into a bit of disarray. Then in 2011, Orient-Express stepped in. They shut down the place in June and finally have announced that after throwing $20 million into a makeover, the iconic hotel is back!
The lobby has been expanded for a more airy feel and all 145 rooms and suites in the main building have been renovated from furniture down to the linens. Careful attention was made though, to ensure that the history of the 90-year old hotel was well respected, keeping the marble staircase, and unearthing the original ceiling that had been covered by plaster.
Rio De Janeiro Hotels / World Cup Hotels / Summer Olympics Hotels / Rio Hotels / Accor Hotels / → All Tags
The 2012 Summer Olympics in London just finished two weeks ago and already the focus has shifted to the hotel scene in Rio de Janeiro for both the 2014 World Cup soccer tournament and the 2016 Summer Olympics. Fortunately, there's some good news. And yes, it will involve an explosion of hotel openings like we saw with London.
The Brazilian sports minister recently assured the sporting world at large that Rio would have enough hotel rooms to accommodate all the visitors who come into town for the World Cup and later, the Olympics. It appears a recent UN Summit back in May in Rio left folks very concerned as there were only 33,000 hotel beds in town to service over 50,000 attendees. Airbnb.com, anyone?
If this isn’t one of the most iconic hotel room views, we don’t know what is. Our friend Tony snapped this from his room last month at the Hotel Windsor Atlantica, which claims to be the tallest hotel (37 stories) on Copacabana Beach.
Sadly, when he sent us a picture of the room itself, we weren’t so impressed. Look at those tiny windows! And that work area and color scheme looks a bit blah.
Our friend wasn’t so down on it though – this was his verdict:
Great location, right on the beach, a few steps from a bustling town with plenty of restaurants and bars, a 30 minute max walk to Sugar Loaf Mountain and handy for a large mall. Room's equipped with modern flat-screen TV, large comfortable bed, and is reasonably contemporary, but no WiFi - ethernet cable only.
So if you need WiFi, it’s only available in the lobby - and it's an enormous $30 plus a day, as is the ethernet in the room.
Air conditioning was rather hard to control and essential, too: one day I left it off with the window open and the room was covered in moisture from the humidity. Nearly fell over on the marble floor on the way in.
There are two nice pools - one on the fourth floor, a nice size lap pool, right next to the restaurant. The other is on the roof, an infinity pool with spectactular views of the beach, Sugar Loaf and Christ the Redeemer on Corcovado. There's a nice-sized gym, three indoor jacuzzis and both a steam room and sauna.
Worst thing in the hotel: the restaurant. Terrible food, very expensive, virtually nothing Brazilian. Burgers, pizzas and chicken sandwiches, and a $60 buffet of decidedly average quality.
Last year at this time troubled but talented Amy Winehouse was doing a risque hotel balcony dance down in St. Lucia at the LeSport Resort and Spa. She was also spotted at the resort "begging for booze, draping herself over male employees, swearing like a sailor and smoking joints in the open.
This year, she's taken the act to Brazil to the Hotel Santa Teresa in Rio de Janeiro where rooms cost about $1,200 a night. Winehouse was spotted lounging around the pool in a bikini, jean cut-offs and some mysterious bruises. The Daily Mail is furiously investigating how this could have happened:
Looking suspiciously like a drunken sort of injury that one wakes up to after a boozy night out, the bruises stood out a mile as Amy chatted to her security guards at her hotel.
Celeb Hotels / Robert Pattinson / Kristen Stewart / Rio de Janeiro Hotels / Hotel Balconies / → All Tags
The current big news on the celeb front has to do with the migration of the Twilight cast and crew down to Rio de Janeiro, where the honeymoon scenes of the upcoming Twilight: Breaking Dawn are being filmed. Stars Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson are of course staying at the most iconic hotel in town, the Copcabana Palace, where their top-floor suite hasn't escaped the telephoto lenses of the paparazzi.
The Daily Mail claims that the duo briefly stepped out onto their terrace to wave and shimmy for the fans down below, but as you can see from the location of their suite on the picture of the hotel below, we doubt the fans without binoculars could even seen them.
Florianopolis: a mix of urban convenience and natural wonders
Brazil is hot and its going to get hotter in the next decade, thanks to the 2014 FIFA World Cup and the 2016 Summer Olympics. That's why we're having journalist Scott Mitchem, who has been traveling to Brazil for years, give us the lowdown all week on the country’s evolving hotel scene as well as its top players.
We love Florianópolis. "Floripa" was one of our favorite Brazilian destinations long before earning its current status as a global hotspot. It’s a wonderful mix of urban convenience and natural wonders, both a state capital and a 300 sq. mile island with environmentally protected nature reserves, freshwater lagoons, sand dunes, rain forests, and 42 amazing beaches, many of which are surrounded by charming fishing communities and historic colonial villages. But we just haven’t had much to cover on the hotel front.