By Fiona Hurrell, Senior Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – The Copacabana Palace Hotel has remained one of Rio’s most iconic landmarks ever since it first opened its doors in 1923. Presiding over an era of decadence and glamor, the impressive white building has hosted the crème de la crème of stars and celebrities from Marilyn Monroe and Fred Astaire to the Rolling Stones and Beyoncé.
Despite its ability to preserve tradition the hotel is by no means adverse to change, having recently undergone an intensive renovation project in order to bring the establishment up-to-date.
The work, which started in July just after the Rio +20, is the second renovation project since the hotel first opened. The improvements will be officially unveiled at a private function on December 12th.
The main alterations have been made to the hotel’s lobby, which has been extended to almost double its original size. The changes have also enhanced the disabled access, which was inefficient in the past due to the high number of staircases.
Juliana Lacerda is part of the reception and welcome team at the Copacabana Palace and has witnessed, first hand, the various stages of the renovation project. “The biggest improvements have been to the disabled access. Being an old hotel, there were a lot of stairs before which meant it was difficult for disabled guests to navigate their way around.”
The renovation work has also extended to all rooms on the first and second floors as well as some on the third floor, which will be redecorated. Lacerda is quick to point out, however, that the décor will remain consistent with the hotels history and external appearance.
Lacerda explains, “The hotel is a listed [historic] building and is therefore protected by an organization that safeguards historic locations. For this reason, any decorating must reflect the period and exterior of the hotel.”
The renovation work has, understandably, had an affect on the running of the hotel which was significantly disrupted by the temporary closure of its main building. Luckily, the work was thoughtfully planned to take place during winters low season, therefore minimizing the effect on business.
Many years have passed since the Copacabana Palace first opened its doors and in recent decades, the hotel has had to compete with newer more modern establishments that have cropped up along the beachfront. It is hoped that this latest renovation will fortify the hotel’s status of grandeur and position it as one of the top choices for visitors during the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Olympic sporting events.
Lacerda explains “Since extending the lobby to 198 square feet, it is now much more spacious and even offers seating areas for guests. The idea is that it will be much more comfortable and well equipped for the arrival of guests in Rio to celebrate the World Cup and the Olympics.”
One of the most famous hotels in the city, the Copacabana Palace has a iconic legacy. Its timeless elegance and glamorous ambiance having only been improved by the recent work, ensuring that, like a classic Rolls-Royce, it never goes out of fashion.