Charming Hotels in Brazil

Thursday, September 30th, 2010

With the fast growth of tourism in Brazil, the number of people looking for accommodation with high levels of comfort, personalized services, unique decoration, discrete location (the so called Charming Hotels) is also growing.

Roteiros de Charme (Tours of Charm) is the private association which congregates the Charming Hotels in Brazil. The past year alone, more than one hundred hotels applied to join the group; however, only two of them were approved.

Hotel Villa Bahia (photo) is located in Pelourinho, heart of the Historic Center of Salvador (itself a charming World Heritage Site), in the State of Bahia; two old mansions of the 17th and 19th Century were refurbished to give place to the hotel. There are only 17 suites (with acoustic insulation), swimming pool and a terrace with a view to the Pelourinho.

The other new member of the Charming Hotels is Pousada do Engenho (Pousada = Inn; Engenho = old farm), in the city of São Francisco de Paula, about 120 km distant from Porto Alegre, in the State of Rio Grande do Sul.

The Charming Hotels are spread across 13 States of Brazil; there is at least one hotel in 10 of the 12 cities which will host matches of the World Cup 2014. Salvador and Porto Alegre, mentioned above, are two of the host cities; Brasilia and Cuiaba are the two host cities with no hotels.

Below, a sample of other Charming Hotels in Brazil.

Hotel Rosa dos Ventos, Teresopolis, Rio de Janeiro

Rio de Janeiro. None of the hotels is in the capital city. Hotel Rosa dos Ventos (photo above), in the Imperial city of Teresópolis, is the oldest member of the club (Teresópolis is where the Brazilian Confederation maintains a training center). See more hotels in Rio de Janeiro.

Sao Paulo. Likewise, no hotel in the capital city. Chateau La Villette, up the mountains of Campos do Jordão (120 km from the capital) has been Charmful since 2000. See more hotels in Sao Paulo.

Belo Horizonte. No hotel in the city. Solar da Ponte, in the Historic city of Tiradentes, is a good option. Check out hotels in Belo Horizonte.

Curitiba. Only one hotel: La Dolce Vitta, less than half an hour drive from Arena da Baixada, the stadium which will stage matches in the city. See other hotels in Curitiba.

Recife. There are three hotels near Recife, and all deserve mention. Pousada do Amparo is located in Olinda, which exhalates History, culture, music and party in every corner. Pousada Zé Maria and Pousada Teju-Açu are the best accommodation options in Fernando de Noronha, a paradisiac island off the Brazilian coast, still unknown to foreign tourists, but a favorite among Brazilians. See other hotels in Recife and other hotels in Noronha.

Natal. Two hotels. Manary is in the capital, Natal, and Toca da Coruja is in Pipa beach. See other hotels in Natal and hotels in Pipa.

Fortaleza. The only charming hotel in the state of Ceara is Orixás Hotel, about 120 km from the capital Fortaleza. See other hotels in Fortaleza.

Manaus. Anavilhanas Lodge, right in the middle of the jungle, about 180 km down the river from the capital Manaus. See other hotels in Manaus.

WC 2014 Qualifying Draw will be in Rio de Janeiro

Friday, September 10th, 2010

FIFA officials are visiting Brazil this week; Secretary General Jerome Valcke has met with members of the Local Organising Committee and Government officials to get updates on the World Cup 2014.

CBF has announced that the draw which will define the qualifying groups for the World Cup 2014 will be held in July of 2011 in the city of Rio de Janeiro (which was the only candidate city to host the event). This is one of the most visited events of the World Cup, as it is attended by representatives and journalists from more than 202 countries which participate in the Qualifying.

Rio’s Mayor wanted to host the draw at the yet to be finished Cidade da Música (City of Music), but FIFA vetoed the place; a new place is yet to be defined.

According to sources, FIFA would be considering to establish the International Broadcasting Center of the World Cup 2014 also in Rio, more specifically at the Centro de Convenções Sul America (South America Convention Center), which is located just 2 km from Maracanã.

Still according to sources, FIFA and the Government of Rio would have decided to setup one of the bigger TV centers of the Cup in the Aterro do Flamengo, so that the images of Pão de Açúcar and the Guanabara Bay would appear in the background images of the reports.

However, other cities also have interested in hosting the IBC and the TV Center, as these centers attract a lot of professionals involved with the Cup (hence, generating a lot of business in infrastructure and in services, such as hotels). The main rival of Rio is São Paulo, but Brasilia, Salvador and Belo Horizonte are also interested.

And it is to Sao Paulo that Valcke and staff are heading next. Among several other business decisions, FIFA has yet to confirm whether the new Corinthians Itaquera Arena will host the opening of the Cup (or even if Sao Paulo will continue a host city at all).

Best Hotels in Brazil

Tuesday, July 27th, 2010

The Ministry of Tourism in Brazil is still in the process of re-creating the Classification System of Means of Accommodation. Meanwhile, it is not easy for potential guests to find an unbiased evaluation of hotels in Brazil.

Veja, the most influential Brazilian magazine, published some time ago a guide of best hotels in Brazil; the guide sorts hotels by city and event (such as “the best hotel for the Sao Paulo Fashion Week in Sao Paulo“), and is still a good indicator of the finest hotels in Brazil.

In Sao Paulo: Hotel Unique (photo below),  Sofitel, Transamerica, Grande Hotel Senac. See other hotels in Sao Paulo.

In Rio de Janeiro: Le Meridien, Sheraton, Pousada Pardieiro. See other hotels in Rio de Janeiro.

In Santa Catarina: Plaza Blumenau. See other hotels in Florianopolis.

In Salvador: Bahia Othon. See other hotels in Salvador.

In Curitiba: Mabu Royal and Premium Hotel. See other hotels in Curitiba.

In Brasilia: Melia. See other hotels in Brasilia.

In Recife: Atlante Plaza. See other hotels in Recife.

In Natal: Serhs (photo below). See other hotels in Natal.

In Fortaleza: Bluetree. See other hotels in Fortaleza.

In and near Manaus: Tropical, Amazon River, Crowne Plaza. See other hotels in Manaus.

Who is going to build the stadiums of the World Cup 2014

Monday, July 19th, 2010

The contract for reconstrucion of Maracana will be the biggest for the World Cup 2014: the estimated cost is R$ 720 million (about US$ 400 million).

The State of Rio, owner of Maracanã, informed yesterday that one company and five consortiums will participate of the bidding process to take the contract. These consortiums paid 1% of the estimated total cost (i.e., about U$ 4 million) just to have the right to present their bids.

As expected, all major Brazilian companies will be participating of this process; these companies are the same ones which will be building or rebuilding the other stadiums of the World Cup 2014.

The company bidding alone is OAS.

The Consortiums are:

Consortium Brasil 2014: Sanerio, BA Engenharia e Meio Ambiente and Hexagonal Construções.
Consortium Construcap-Cetenco-Convap Maracanã: Construcap-CCPS Engenharia, Cetenco and Convap.
Consortium Novo Maracanã: Queiroz Galvão, Carioca Christiani-Nielsen.
Consortium Novo Maracanã Paulitec-Estacon-Recoma: Paulitec, Estacon Engenharia and Recoma.
Consortium Maracanã Rio 2014: Andrade Gutierrez, Odebrecht and Delta.

The biggest civil engineering companies in Brazil are: OAS, Queiroz Galvão, Andrade Gutierrez and Odebrecht.

These companies operate most major civil works in Brazil (roads and bridges, public buildings, hydroelectric plants, etc), they have contracts in several countries (particularly Latin America and Africa).

These companies will certainly get contracts not only to rebuild the stadiums, but to work in all major infrastructure work for the World Cup 2014: airports, ports, new roads, etc. Update, July 22nd: Andrade Gutierrez and Via Engenharia have just won a contract to rebuild the Brasilia Stadium, the second most expensive project for 2014.

The President Lula recently issued a Provisional Law reducing bureaucracy to build airports, but such Law doesn’t benefit Stadiums. So, the bidding process will to have to go through several steps, and it will take at least a couple of weeks for the process to finish and the contractor to be known.

Violence in Rio de Janeiro being reduced

Friday, June 11th, 2010

One of the most serious concerns of the organizers of the World Cup 2010 is with the violence in South Africa; and the preoccupation is not so much with episodic terrorist attacks (which can be more easily controlled), but with the day to day violence (assaults, stray bullets, gang fights), which may kill people anytime, anywhere – and whose solution takes years of concerted planning and work.

This problem afflicts the organizers of the World Cup 2014, as well. And no other city is more under scrutiny than Rio de Janeiro, the most important of the host cities of the Cup, and the host of the Olympic Games of 2016.

Rio is aware of the responsibility, and is taking measures to reduce violence.

For many years the Government treated violence combat as a war, where the enemies (mostly drug traffickers) should be killed; this is well portrayed in the movie City of God (which is voted as one of the 20 best movies of all times). The problem with this strategy is that many innocent civilians are also killed, and the survivors start to see the Police as an enemy as evil as the traffickers; and, whereas Police come and go, the traffickers are always around.

Recently, the strategy was changed. The Government is now creating UPP – Unidades de Polícia PacificadoraPacifying Police Units – in the most violent areas of Rio.

Every UPP has a physical structure, with a well sized staff. The Police officers  (as much as possible, only recently recruited people) are assigned to an specific UPP, hence creating links with the community.  In case the goals to reduce violence are met, the UPP staff gain a salary bonus.

Besides, along with every UPP (and the subsequent reduction in violence), the Government builds schools, health centers, leisure spaces; and trailing the Government, come the utilities companies (electricity, transportation, internet, etc).

The idea is to make the communities (whose vast majority is composed by honest, working people) believe that, rather than violence and traffic,  now the Law and Order should reign.

The graphic to the left shows that, even though there is still a long way to go, the levels of violence in Rio have been consistently decreasing.

Number of murderers is coming to 30 per 100,000 inhabitants; for comparison, in South Africa this figure is about 49.6 per 100,000 (source is here; figure quoted as of June 2010, and may change in the future).

Floods in Rio cause death and chaos

Wednesday, April 7th, 2010

The past two days, storms in Rio de Janeiro caused floods, landslidings, deaths, (toll is at 100 and counting) and chaos;  see reports and photos by the New York Times, Washington Post and the BBC.

The arena Maracazinho was seriously damaged. Maracanã, the stadium which should stage the final match of the World Cup 2014, was also flooded – an international match had to be postponed.

FIFA already learned about the news. FIFA’s concern is, obviously, how the World Cup could be affected by the rain.

The graph below, made by the Official Weather Institution in Brazil, shows the average precipitation levels (blue bars) and temperature (orange line) for the city of Rio de Janeiro.

rain-rio-de-janeiro

The graph shows that the rainy season starts with the summer, in December, and lasts through April. However, the graph shows also that even in the drier months of June and July (when the World Cup 2014 should happen), there is still a considerable probability of raining.

But raining would not be a big problem, if the city were prepared to face it. Most of the  host cities have a bad draining/sewage system, combined with a bad rubish collection system; as a consequence, the rubish blocks the draining holes, and the water floods the cities.

Besides, several host cities are surrounded by hills and mountains, and many people live near the  top, coast and foot of them. This unordered occupation combined with heavy rains result, year after year, in landslidings and deaths.

Works in all Stadiums are delayed

Wednesday, March 3rd, 2010

On October 30th 2007 (nearly two and a half years ago), FIFA named Brazil as the host country of the World Cup 2014; and on June 1st 2009 (nine months ago), FIFA and CBF announced the twelve host cities of the Cup.

FIFA set March 1st 2010 as the deadline for all hosts to have started the works to build or refurbish the stadiums; today, March 3rd 2010, only three of the hosts have started some works (but not one brick has been laid – see report further below).

A few weeks ago, FIFA expressed preoccupation with the delays in South Africa;  “if the World Cup started tomorrow, we wouldn’t be ready”, said Secretary General Jerome Valcke. Yesterday, when celebrating the 100 days countdown to the 2010 World Cup, Valcke declared that “FIFA won’t have with Brazil the same patience they did with South Africa“.

CBF sent a message to all host cities, demanding explanations for the delays. A new deadline was set to start works: May 3rd. CBF said that cities which don’t comply with deadlines may loose their rights to host matches. The deadline for all stadia to be finished continues to be December 31st 2012, six months before the kick off of the Confederations Cup 2013.

Current situation of the stadiums:

Belo Horizonte: works scheduled to start on June 12nd; the Government is still looking for private partners to finance the works.

Brasília: works were scheduled to start in April; however, a case of corruption came out, and the ex-Governor was impeached and is under arrest. Political indefinition will probably cause delays.

Cuiabá: works scheduled to start on March 23rd.

Curitiba: Atlético Paranaense, owner of the stadium Arena da Baixada, estimates that they will need R$ 80 million to adapt the stadium to FIFA demands; now, they are looking for the money.

Fortaleza: works scheduled to April. The bidding process was started in December 2009, contractor to be known late March.

Manaus: Prosecutors required changes in the bidding process; works are scheduled to start in April.

Natal: bidding process to start in April; works to start in June.

Porto Alegre: Internacional, owner of Beira-Rio, claims that some internal refurbishments were already started; however, nothing in the structure was changed. Internacional is claiming tax exemptions to buy construction material to refurbish the stadium.

Recife: works to start in May. According to the local committee, delays were caused by late changes in the project to adapt it to environmental laws.

Rio de Janeiro: the local committee says that sub-soil studies have started on March 1st; clearly, a cosmetic measure to pretend to comply with FIFA deadlines. The bidding for the major works will be launched in April.

Salvador: the bidding process is finished, the contractor is defined, but the Goverment still need money and environment licenses to start the works.

São Paulo: probably (and suprisingly), Morumbi is the stadium with most problems. Neither Sao Paulo FC (owner of the stadium) nor the Governments want to spend money with the stadium. Some changes were made to the project which had been originally approved, but FIFA didn’t like the changes; FIFA President Joseph Blatter said that “Morumbi doesn’t meet the FIFA requirements to stage the opening match of the World Cup 2014“.

Capacity of the stadia of World Cup 2014

Wednesday, January 27th, 2010

Below, a brief description of all 12 stadia of the World Cup 2014.

Host City Stadium Capacity Owner
Rio de Janeiro Maracanã 90,000 Public
Brasilia National Stadium 70,000 Public
Belo Horizonte Mineirão 69,650 Public
Fortaleza Castelão 66,700 Public
Sao Paulo Itaquerao 65,000 Corinthians
Porto Alegre Beira-Rio 62,000 Internacional
Salvador Fonte Nova 50,000 Public
Manaus Arena Amazonia 50,000 Public
Recife Arena Pernambuco 46,160 Public
Natal Arena das Dunas 45,000 Public
Cuiaba Arena Pantanal 42,500 Public
Curitiba Arena da Baixada 41,375 Atletico PR

Stadia are ordered by capacity, for this is a major criterium used by FIFA to decide where the most important matches (such as opening, quarter finals, semi finals and final matches) will be staged.

The host cities of the 1950 World Cup

Friday, January 8th, 2010

In 2014, it will be the second time that Brazil will host the FIFA World Cup; Brazil was also host of the 1950 World Cup (besides Brazil, only three other countries had the privilege of hosting twice the World Cup: Mexico in 1970 and 1986, France in 1938 and 1998 and Germany in 1974 and 2006).

In 2014, there will be 12 host cities; in 1950, there were only six: Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo, Curitiba, Porto Alegre, Belo Horizonte and Recife. Those were the six largest Brazilian cities in 1950 (Brasilia still didn’t exist; it was founded in 1960).

All these six cities will be host again in 2014. However, only one of the six stadiums used in 1950 will be used again in 2014: Maracanã; Maracanã was built for the 1950 World Cup, and staged both the opening and the final matches of that Cup.

Two of the 1950 are still in use and are regularly stage of important matches: Ilha do Retiro, in Recife, and Pacaembu, in Sao Paulo; both fit about 35,000 attendants, and with some refurbishment could reach 40,000, FIFA’s standard for a World Cup.

The other three stadia are still standing, but only stage occasional less important matches, and are too small to host a World Cup match: stadium Sete de Setembro (September 7th), in Belo Horizonte, will be replaced by Mineirão; stadium Durival de Brito, in Curitiba, will be replaced by Arena da Baixada; and stadium dos Eucaliptos, in Porto Alegre, will be replaced by Beira-Rio.

7-de-setembro-stadium

Above, a photo of the Sete de Setembro stadium  nowadays; it was in Sete de Setembro that United States beat England by 1 x 0.

The Americans would then go to Recife, where they lost to Chile by 5 x 2.  The English team played other two matches, both in Maracana. The Italians played only two matches, both in Pacaembu, São Paulo (the city outside Italy with the largest Italian community).

See details of all matches of the 1950 World Cup.

The bullet train

Wednesday, December 9th, 2009

One of the main transportation projects for the World Cup 2014 is the building of a bullet train linking São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, the two largest Brazilian cities. In Portuguese, the train is called Trem de Alta Velocidade (High Speed Train), or TAV; visit the official site of the High Speed Train.

high-speed-trainThe official TAV site still informs (wth endorsement of the Federal Government) that operations should start before 2014; however, there are strong doubts about that. There are several obstacles to the project, including technical, financial, political and environmental.

In 2007, it was estimated that the bidding process would be finished by 2008, and the trains would be running after seven years; today, it is growing stronger the opinion that the train won’t be ready before 2015.

The Government is looking for private partners to build the railway. On December 7th 2009, the federal Government announced the criteria to be used to select the partners; 70% of the scoring of bidders will be related to the necessity of official fundings (the smaller the necessity, the higher the score), and 30% will be related to the price of ticket to be charged from passengers (the cheaper the ticket, the higher the score).

Below, more information about the project.

bullet-train-map

The map above shows the route of the railways (click the map to enlarge). Stations in red are already confirmed in the project, stations in green are still under analysis.

One line would connect Campinas (one the largest cities in the State of São Paulo) and the airport of Viracopos (international airport) to the city of São Paulo. The other line would connect São Paulo to Rio de Janeiro, with intermediary stations in the airport of Guarulhos, São José dos Campos and Volta Redonda.

bullet-train

Trains will be 200 meters long. Estimated maximum speed is 300 km/h. Estimated travel times, leaving from Rio, are: to Volta Redonda, 34min; to São José dos Campos, 1h17min; to São Paulo, 1h33min; to Campinas, 2h08min. Currently, flying from São Paulo Rio takes about 1h50min, and driving takes about 5 hours.

There will be two categories of services: Express (between Campinas, São Paulo and Rio) and Regional (intermediary cities). Express trains would fit 458 people, in two classes; regional trains will fit 600 people, in one class.

Estimated prices for a ticket São Paulo – Rio are: R$ 150, economic class, off peak trips; R$ 200, economic class, peak time trips; R$ 250, executive class, off peak; R$ 325, executive class, peak time. Currently, a flight costs between R$ 180 (off peak) and R$ 400 (peak). Current exchange rate is US$ 1 = R$ 1.70.

bullet-train-brazil

About 61% of railways will run on surface, 21% across bridges and 18% underground.

bullet-train-costs

Estimated costs total R$ 34.6 billion (about US$ 20 billion). Most of the costs correspond to civil woks; indemnifications will take 11%; systems and equipments will take 10%, and the trains themselves will take 8%.