By Jay Forte, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Santa Teresa is one of the Cidade Maravilhosa’s most inspiring locations, with its steep cobble-stone streets, sweeping eclectic views and bohemian art scene. Many of the buildings along the winding streets are still in need of renovation, but recently another colonial building has been completely refurbished to house the first luxury ‘boutique pousada’ in the area – named Quinta Azul.
The property was bought in 2007 by the entrepreneurs Gordon Lewis, from the UK and Yewweng Ho from Malaysia. “We were looking to buy in Santa Teresa and this was the first property we bought in Rio.”, says Gordon Lewis.
Lewis is no stranger to the real estate market in Rio, and also has LondonRio, a property company which specializes in refurbishing and modernizing office spaces. The developer also has renovated another old mansion in Santa Teresa and converted it into Quinta Rosa – with five apartments and two studios for residential renting.
Quinta Azul is located on Rua Almirante Alexandrino 256, the main street passing through the heart of this timeless neighborhood, literally a step away from the famous Bonde trolley train track. In a moments walk there is also a variety of celebrated restaurants, a community movie theater, and plenty of craft shops and art galleries.
Lewis describes the renovation: “We took the two level building [and developed it into] five levels. The works went on for eight months in total … The inside works started in April 2011 and finished in November.”
“We had Quinta Rosa working well in Santa Teresa and we knew that creating something unique for Quinta Azul would bring more interest to Santa Teresa; we created the first value for money luxury boutique pousada.” he said.
In speaking about the vision for the design renovation, Lewis describes: “Yewweng decided to make the design ‘Brazilian’ but with a boho chic style… The high quality soft furnishing with romantic feel help to make the Quint Azul a cozy and comfortable place to stay.”
As with many things in Santa Teresa, the result is an elegant mix of old and new. Lewis explains: “The Brazilian antique furniture with state of the art bathrooms, free WiFi … all this is very much part of the future of tourist accommodation for Brazil.”
For those looking to experience the old colonial charm in Santa Teresa, with new world comfort, this will certainly fit the bill. But book soon, as it is no secret tourism is set to boom for the summer and Carnival season.
Quinta Azul plans to develop more rooms in 2012 to satisfy the demand, as well as more projects in the longer-term. Certainly the need for more accommodations in Rio is only going to grow in the lead up to the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Olympics.
Lewis explains the outlook is looking good, for Quinta Azul, Quinta Rosa and LondonRio. “We also have many more plans for increasing our portfolio of renovation of commercial offices in downtown for lease and sale. We are constantly looking for offices to increase our portfolio.”