By Georgia Grimond, Senior Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Santa Teresa has long been known as Rio’s charming, bohemian neighborhood. Located at the top of winding, cobbled streets, far from the coastline Rio is famous for, it shows a different side of the city from the penthouses and high-rises that stretch along the beachfront and surrounding residential areas.
At the end of the nineteenth and beginning of the twentieth centuries it was home to the city’s wealthy families who sought the cool air of the elevated neighborhood. While retaining its charm and many of its grand houses, it is now a more affordable place to live and is favored by artists and tourists. AccorHotels, a large French hotel chain is capitalizing on this demographic by investing around R$100 million in the existing Hotel Santa Teresa Hotel and a new project.
The Hotel Santa Teresa is one of Rio’s best luxury, boutique hotels. It was previously owned by another French hotel brand, Relais & Château. Now, under the management of Accor, it has be known as the M Hotel Santa Teresa Rio de Janeiro MGallery by Sofitel, since March 19, 2016 when it was rebranded.
The five-star hotel is a former fazenda, or farm, set among a tropical garden with 44 bedrooms, a pool, spa, restaurant, bar and panoramic views. Accor are planning in channelling R$30 million in upgrade and improvements to the hotel.
One hundred meters away, the group are building a second hotel, a Mama Shelter. With rooms priced at around R$450, it will be a more affordable option to the Hotel Santa Teresa but will retain the high level of comfort and service that guests can expect from a member of the Accor group.
“We really wanted to bring these two brands to Brazil, and in Santa Teresa we found the perfect opportunity. The ‘tropical chic’ style fits perfectly in the spirit of MGallery by Sofitel and Mama Shelter, rather resembling the Montmartre in Paris, due to the large number of artists who have studios and live in the area,” explains Patrick Mendes, CEO of AccorHotels South America.
“The cultural, culinary and modern environment also adapt perfectly to the public. We will bring the distribution and digital structure of the AccorHotels group, always assuring a sustainable market and development that is harmonious with this emblematic neighborhood of Rio culture.”
Santa Teresa’s position, in the hills above the city’s Centro, has proven to be an inconvenience in the last five years as taxi drivers are often reluctant to go up there and infrequent buses have been the only form of public transport.
However, the situation has improved recently with the reinstatement of the neighborhood’s infamous yellow tram, known as the bonde. It was taken out of service following a serious crash in 2011 but has now been returned to its former glory and once again provides a vital link between the city below and Santa Teresa above.
The combination of a greater selection of high-end hotels to stay at and improved transport are likely to encourage more visitors to the neighborhood and bring all round benefits to residents and business owners.