Luxury retreat

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Once a coffee plantation mansion, Hotel Santa Teresa’s transformation into an elegant refuge has been instrumental in redefining the luxury travel experience in Rio de Janeiro. The epitome of luxury and an elegant retreat away from high-rise buildings and traffic, Hotel Santa Teresa is perched in the tranquil, bohemian neighbourhood of Santa Teresa, boasting unparalleled views of Rio de Janeiro.

This leafy, five-star sanctuary has become a firm favourite among international royalty and celebrities, from Jimmy Carter, Richard Branson and Ronnie Wood to Peter Gabriel and Princess Mabel of Orange-Nassau. Perched high in the hills of Santa Teresa, Hotel Santa Teresa offers spectacular, panoramic views of the city, and the neighbourhood’s cobblestone streets, red-tiled rooftops, artists’ studios, speciality restaurants, curio shops, colonial houses, churches and museums provide charming surroundings, further accentuating the hotel’s tranquil ambience.

Set on 4000m² of landscaped, tropical gardens, Hotel Santa Teresa provides a sense of harmony with nature for the mind, body and soul; with the comfort and elegance of its unique design features. French hotelier Francois Delort bought a near-derelict colonial mansion and completely transformed the historic coffee plantation with a four-year restoration project into what is now Hotel Santa Teresa, which opened in November 2008, transporting guests through the culture of Brazil, and offering special touches at every turn, from its tropical woods to the silk drapes and shutters.

According to Paula Melo, sales manager at Hotel Manager, the property’s interior design style can be defined as tropical and ethnic chic, and the search for authenticity in the hotel’s design is constant. Inspired by the art, culture and beliefs of Brazil, the interior decoration has indigenous and African influences. The designer spent two years traveling through Brazil to find rare pieces, turning the hotel into a real museum, Melo explains. Travelling to Brazilian states as diverse as Maranhão, Pará, Amapá, Bahia, Minas Gerais, Pernambuco and Amazonas enabled the designer to recreate an environment defined by the mystic, the ethnic and the sacred, Melo reveals.

Rustic elements such as burnt cement, tropical wood and demolition waste, tiles and dark or Golden slate, have been given a slice of modernity with the contemporary design of Sérgio Rodrigues, Zemog and Oficina de Agosto.

Most of the structure and the essence of the old farm were maintained and integrated with the new project, including the façade, the arches made of Portuguese bricks in the bar, and the decoration of the floors, Melo adds. Positioned just 3kms from the Financial and Commercial Center, 4kms from Santos Dumont Airportand 20kms from Galeão International Airport, Hotel Santa Teresa boasts a location closer to these hubs than any other luxury, boutique hotel in Rio.

A major draw for business and leisure travellers, the hotel’s first-rate location allows guests to reach many of the city’s major attractions with ease, including Corcovado, the Sugarloaf Mountain, the historical and financial centre of Centro (Downtown), Tijuca Forest and the best beaches, in addition to the bustling and authentic Carioca nightlife of Lapa. Business travellers can also access translation and secretarial services at the property, in addition to an executive meeting room with a private balcony, where guests can enjoy coffee breaks while taking in views of Christ the Redeemer.

Although Santa Teresa is one of Rio’s safest neighborhoods, the hotel also boasts a permanent private security team and 24-hour surveillance. With artfully-designed rooms and a pool with views over the city, the property has clinched a raft of notable awards in recent years, including its presence on National Geographic’s list of Brazil’s Best Hotels in 2011 and Tatler Travel Guide’s 101 Best Hotels of the World last year. Recognised by Wallpaper magazine as the World’s Best Hotel Suite in 2010, the unique and unforgettable Panoramic Loft Suite spans 1300ft², boasting unique views over Guanabara Bay; one of the New Seven Wonders of the World, Christ the Redeemer; and the Santa Teresa hills, as well as a separate relaxation area equipped with an LCD TV and design furniture, and a king bed with a mountain view.

Many of the property’s rooms and suites have balconies overlooking the city or tropical gardens, while the Panoramic Loft Suite provides a spectacular 200° panoramic view of Rio de Janeiro. The bedroom doors weigh about 100 lbs, and are made of seven kinds of different Brazilian Woods. Only natural materials such as cotton, coconut and banana fibers, buriti or bacaba are used, Melo reveals. Adorned with design furniture by famous Brazilian artists including Sergio Rodrigues, the suite’s beautiful bathrooms are decorated in tropical woods and stones, and contain Studio Vitty-designed bathtubs. The Superior Rooms are, on average, 290ft² and offer king or twin-sized beds, air conditioning, mini bars, LCD TVs and wireless internet connection.

The rooms have design furniture by RockLane and Carassas. Tropical Ypé wood floors; and City and Garden views. With a king bed or two twin beds, the Deluxe Rooms span 375ft² and have burnt cement bathtubs, with many coming complete with vast verandas. Boasting beautiful views over the mountains, the Junior Suite offers a living room, a king size or two twin Canopy beds, air conditioning, a mini bar, an LCD TV, a DVD player and wireless internet connection, and a separate seating area. The Master Suite, at 645ft², features flooring made from rare tropical Imbuia and Canela woods.

Although this boutique hotel has sustained its colonial façade, its rooms and suites, restaurant, lounge, spa and pool areas have been refashioned using materials including burnt cement floors, tropical woods, black and golden limestone slate and Portuguese tiles. Attention to detail is key and the hotel’s 44 ‘Tropical Design’ rooms and suites feature the finest natural elements alongside the latest technology, making ample use of noble tropical woods, bathrooms outfitted with black limestone; and appointed with heavenly beds draped with high quality cotton and linen, luxury bathroom amenities, LCD TVs with more than 60 cable channels, and complimentary broadband internet connection.

All the design elements and materials, the deign furniture and the works of art enhancing the walls have been prudently selected and integrated with the hotel’s facilities, ensuring guests experience the ultimate in atmosphere and comfort, while remaining loyal to Brazil’s ethnic heritage. Fusing Brazil’s abundant history and its vigorous present, the hotel uses supreme natural elements in its tropical design, from luxury linen, wild cotton, coconut and banana tree fibres, and tropical woods, to Portuguese tiles, black, green and golden slate and burnt cement, flooding throughout the social areas and rooms. Design furniture and art pieces created by renowned contemporary Brazilian designers and artists, including Sergio Rodriguez, Zemog, Studio Vitty, Rock Lane, Carassa and Oficina de Agosto, mingle with the restored colonial architecture.

Serving the best of contemporary Brazilian cuisine, combining Asian and Mediterranean ingredients with regional produce, and housing more than 200 wine labels to please the most discerning palates, the Térèze Restaurant features recycled materials, including demolition wood furniture and restored, treated canvas, creating an eco-chic tone. The innovative dishes on the menu at the Térèze Restaurant include Chilean salmon in a cashew nut crust, grilled foie gras and Barbados cherry compote; salt-grilled Bahia fresh rock lobster flamed with Magnifica cachaça, creamy organic palm oil and fresh coconut risotto; farmhouse duck magret grilled with Pará white Brazilian nuts, fresh hearts of palm on the grill and an açaí seed sauce; and chargrilled Amazonian Tambaqui cutlet, water banana mousseline and soft, spicy passionfruit sauce.

For drinks and lights appetisers, guests can enjoy the Bar dos Descasados Lounge, which a bohemian-boutique aura, drawn out by the red and white-tiled floor, brick arches, over-sized arm chairs, sofas and lounge beds. The lounge music, candles and star-lit skies at night turn the bar into the ultimate romantic hideaway and the perfect venue to start or end an evening. A complete feast for the senses, the hotel features wooden stairs leading to the rooms, filled with aromas from coffee beans, while guests can enjoy a cocktail on the open air terrace in the lounge, overlooking the treetops.

To completely unwind, the spa offers the best beauty and relaxation treatments, using the eco-Amazonian brand Natura’s products, in addition to a wide selection of anti-stress massages. The spa offers Ofuro baths, and hammam saunas, and its all-embracing menu, featuring everything from the day spa, the candle massage, hammam tropical, Shiatsu and the Jet Lagmassage to lymphatic drainage, the body mask, the immersion bath in essential oils, and the hand and foot spas, meets the needs guests’ needs. The energizing massage, performed with Açaí Oil, stimulates blood circulation and improves muscle tone; while the relaxing massage with passion fruit oil makes the skin smooth and fresh. For the Balinese Massage with Jasmine Essential Oil, guests enter a room decorated with aromatic candles and have their eyes covered with Jasmine pads, while transcendental music plays in the background. The experience sums up the very essence of a stay at Hotel Santa Teresa, as the spa’s well-trained staff ensure guests feel relaxed and pampered every step of the way. Read the article on Upscale Living’s website. 

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