Closed for 20 Years, Hotel Designed by Oscar Niemeyer Reopens in Rio

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Closed for 20 Years, Hotel Designed by Oscar Niemeyer Reopens in Rio

If true luxury is in the localization, the reborn Hotel Nacional is ostentatious. Right next to the Dois Irmãos (Two Brothers) hillside, with an unobstructed view of the Pedra da Gávea (Gávea Stone), and just steps from the São Conrado (Saint Conrado) beach in Rio.

For someone on the top of the 33-floor cylinder which was originally inaugurated in 1972, even the statue of Christ the Redeemer is visible.

Architect Oscar Niemeyer and businessman José Tjurs saw the space, an area of 15 thousand m2, as an ideal spot for the tallest hotel at the time in the country.

The 3,000 m2 lobby, without pillars, has a view of the sea. The gardens by Burle Max, cover 2,500 m2. “Nobody builds anything so expansive and generous anymore”, says Rui Manuel Oliveira, Vice President of the Meliá network in Brazil, which will operate the recently reopened five star.

The last guests checked out in 1995. At the time, the hotel belonged to banker Artur Falk, of real estate agency Interunion, which was accused of fraud in the Papa-Tudo capitalization securities episode.

The hotel went broke and was place under federal intervention. During the next 20 years, it gradually turned into a stunning carcass. Artwork was stolen, the modernistic furniture was auctioned off and it gradually became a real estate myth.

In 2009, a group captained by Goias businessman Marcelo Limirio Gonçalves, former owner of the Neoquímica laboratory and a partner in Hypermarcas, bought the tower for R$ 85 million (US$ 25 million).

Afterwards they associated with the Spanish network Meliá and, in a long, drawn-out process, and with the Organ for Preservation of Rio’s Historic Heritage Properties, IRPH, which allowed for very few alterations in the original project.

Folha visited the hotel on its first day of new operations, on Thursday (the 15th), the day of Niemeyer’s birthday. The hotel is under a regimen of soft opening – a kind of rehearsal that will last for one month with 60 rooms already ready for occupancy. […]