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19 Jan 2017

BY April Hutchinson


The most significant hotel opening in South America this year?

A Rio hotel designed by world-famous Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer has been given a new lease of life and is to be relaunched by Melia Hotels International.


Want to know what the most significant hotel opening in South America will be this year?

The influential architect lived to the age of 104, and his work included the iconic Museo de Arte Contemporaneo de Niteroi in Rio and many buildings in the capital, Brasilia, such as the cathedral and National Congress.

The reopening of the famous Hotel Nacional will also mark the first hotel in the country under the Gran Melia brand.

MHI will officially launch the Gran Melia Nacional Rio in the city’s most exclusive area of Sao Conrado in March.

During its 1970s and ‘80s heyday, the hotel was a celebrity playground for the likes of Liza Minnelli, BB King and James Brown and played host to the Rio Film Festival.

The 108-metre, 34-storey circular building was constructed from 1968 until 1972, but had been abandoned for a decade and had fallen into a state of disrepair until businessman Marcelo Henrique Limirio Goncalves purchased it in 2009.

The work of recreating the 413-room hotel was undertaken by VOA Brazil, which sought to maintain some its original features and artwork such as 270 individually sculpted concrete slabs depicting classic carioca characters.

The circular design and glass facade of the property means panoramic floor to ceiling views of Rio for all guests, while gardens designed by Roberto Burle Marx are another legacy of the hotel, featuring 46 species of native Brazilian plants and his signature curving paving stones.

Debora Aguiar designed all of the communal areas of the hotel, including the VIP floor and the rooftop bar area, with 360-degree views across the city and Sao Conrado Bay. The signature restaurant on the 32nd floor will be overseen by Brazilian chef Felipe Bronze and will open in April.

The hotel will also have the Sereia restaurant focused on Mediterranean cuisine and named after the hotel’s iconic sculpture of a mermaid by Alfredo Ceschiatti.

Gran Melia Nacional Rio will also include the brand’s RedLevel service from April, with guests able to avail of the RedLevel Lounge with private reception area, lounge-library, breakfast area and an open bar with premium drinks.

The hotel boasts the only Spa by Clarins in Latin America and has a rooftop helipad for VIP guests.

Gabriel Escarrer, vice chairman and chief executive at MIH, said: “Rio de Janeiro is a booming luxury market. We are very excited to finally launch this unique property with such a huge historical significance in one of Latin America’s most important cities and we believe it has the potential to bring back the time of splendour of the city’s tourism.”

MIH already has 17 hotels in Brazil, with three more to open in 2018. Gran Melia Nacional Rio has also become a member of Leading Hotels of the World.

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