Rarely does a single hotel usher in a new era in tourism for an entire continent, but Copacabana Palace is no ordinary hotel. The first five-star property in South America, Copacabana Palace, has graced the edge of Rio de Janeiro’s most famous beach since its opening in 1923. The intervening years have seen a lot of ups and downs for Brazil, but one hundred years later, Copacabana Palace retains a steadfast hold on its crown as one of the most glamorous hotels in the world. The glistening white landmark stands out among the buildings lining Avenida Atlântica, and its interior is no less evocative of the understated elegance of a bygone era that, thankfully, is impeccably maintained to this day.
Travellers who stay at five-star hotels regularly know that small details go a long way in making a good impression. At Copacabana Palace, however, no detail is small; following the lead of stellar general manager Ulisses Marreiros, staff members take steps to ensure every aspect of the hotel’s operation is given considerable attention to make the guest experience as near perfect as possible. Most notable is the friendliness of the employees, always at the ready to offer information and assistance and frequently engaging in exciting conversation since they have often led lives as attractive as those of the guests, who may be surprised by the hotel’s resort feeling in the middle of one of South America’s biggest cities.
With a pool, tennis court, and spa on the premises and the expanse of Copacabana Beach right out the door, holidays can be as active as desired. As seen on any walk along the black and white mosaic walkways edging the sands of Copacabana, Rio de Janeiro residents make the most of their city’s beautiful location and partake of many outdoor activities. From swims in the ocean to beach volleyball and its excellent variation, foot volleyball, the beaches of Rio see locals enjoying themselves amid stunning scenery. For those who want to relax on the beach, Copacabana Palace maintains a private section on the sand with exclusive access for hotel guests.
Like all Belmond properties, the culinary experiences at Copacabana Palace are superb. Ristorante Hotel Cipriani is named after Belmond’s famous property in Venice and serves an appetising array of dishes created by talented Italian culinary director Nello Cassese, who puts his remarkable twist on traditional recipes to make indelible impressions in taste and presentation. Leave room for the spectacular desserts! Spanning the width of the hotel’s pool is Cipriani’s glass wall, looking out to the courtyard that serves as the social centre of the property. Accompanying Cipriani along the courtyard’s edges are Mee, Copacabana Palace’s Asian infusion restaurant, and Pérgula, a casual venue for breakfast, lunch, and dinner with indoor and outdoor seating.
Copacabana Palace is one of the jewels in the Belmond portfolio of deluxe travel experiences, which include hotels, trains, boats, and restaurants. In this, its centenary year, Copacabana Palace has had a unique air of celebration most appreciable in the first-floor Hall Of Fame, where photos of past guests are bookended by wall-sized photos of the hotel when it was first constructed and was the only building on an otherwise deserted beach. In 1923, Copacabana was a practically uninhabited outpost of Rio de Janeiro’s CBD. Copacabana Palace created the allure, leading people and businesses to relocate to the beach from the urban area to the north. That allure remains as strong as the hotel enters its second century.
Written by: Robert La Bua – Global Traveller Deluxe
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