By Fiona Hurrell, Senior Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – American expatriates Lance Horsley and David Laster moved to Rio in 2010 where they opened a hugely popular B&B (bed and breakfast – or “pousada” as they are locally known) called Casa Cool Beans in the bohemian hilltop neighborhood of Santa Teresa. In response to its success, the partners have since opened another residency, the new Casa Cool Beans Flats in Ipanema, on the legendary Rua Vinicius de Moraes.
The Casa Cool Beans B&B in Santa Teresa became a big hit with travelers, taking the number one spot on Tripadvisor’s travelers choice award after just a few months of being open and remaining there to date. According to Laster, the key to Casa Cool Beans’ success is good customer relations and service.
He explains, “Most of our guests compliment us on our customer service but they also love our rooms and public areas which are adorned with great art. We feel what sets us apart from the rest and keeps us at number one is that we are both hands-on owners and provide a level of service seldom found in other B&B’s. We have one employee for every guest room which is unheard of in the B&B world.”
Having spent most of his career in the hospitality industry, Horsley previously worked at the Four Seasons flagship hotel in New York, while Laster had a career in technology. Their combined experience has helped shape Casa Cool Beans in to the successful enterprise it is today, allowing them to open a second location in Ipanema.
Speaking of their reasons for choosing Ipanema as the location for Casa Cool Beans Flats, Horsley explains, “It just seemed to be the right fit for us. We love Santa Teresa and so do the guests but we know that many people would like to stay in the beach area some time. We know that by opening Casa Cool Beans flats in Ipanema we can offer our great Casa Cool Beans brand and service to both locations.”
The Ipanema apartments, like the Santa Teresa pousada, are decorated in a fun and vibrant style featuring the work of local artist Paulo Freire. A main difference is that the nature of the apartments allow visitors more independence and, as Horsley admits, with so many great restaurants and things to do in Ipanema, guests have everything they need right on their doorstep.
The residence features five one-bedroom suites and three studios situated in the perfect location of Rua Vinicus de Moraes, close to Ipanema Beach and all other local amenities including travel links from General Osório Metro.
“The building has been a hundred percent renovated [...] to include electrical, plumbing, etc. The floors are a polished ceramic tile and walls of windows in each unit, all with the same ‘look’ as our Casa Cool Beans B&B,” Laster describes.
Having opened just one week ago, both Laster and Horsley are looking forward to welcoming more guests to their beloved Rio. As Laster states, “Rio does not seem to have a high season anymore; at least we don’t experience it. We have a high season and then we have a higher season.”