Brazil leads Latin America in travel
The World Travel & Tourism Council, according to new research, finds that Brazil is on track to receive an additional $5.5 billion toward the nation’s GDP from travel in 2012. As a region, research shows that Latin America will trail only Asia-Pacific in travel and tourism growth in 2012. “Brazil’s travel & tourism industry is set for a great few years and I’m certain that Brazil agreeing to a number of open skies agreements have contributed to the positive growth figures,” said David Scowsill, president and CEO of the WTTC. “However, Brazil has a few hurdles to overcome with two major sport events coming up. In order for these events to be successful, present inadequate infrastructure must be improved.”
Some of our recent guests here at Casa Cool Beans took this photo while on a helicopter ride around Rio. Do you REALLY need more reasons than this photo to visit Rio????? Thanks to Jeremy and Christina…
Rio’s 2012 Carnival in Numbers
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – At a press conference on Monday, the municipal Secretaries for Tourism and Conservation – Antonio Pedro Figueira de Mello and Carlos Roberto Osorio, respectively – announced that this year’s Carnival generated estimated revenues of R$1.45 billion (approximately US$850 million) in the city of Rio de Janeiro.
According to their estimates, Rio welcomed 1.1 million visitors this year, 29 percent more than expected, and 32 percent of whom were foreigners.
Statistics from the Brazilian Association for the Hospitality Industry in Rio de Janeiro (Associação Brasileira da Indústria de Hotéis) show that the average hotel occupancy rate was 95 percent. Hotels in Centro recorded the highest rate at 99.16 percent, followed by the neighborhood of Flamengo at 98.66 percent.
In the Zona Sul (South Zone), hotels in Leme and Copacabana showed an average of 94.45 percent occupancy and Ipanema and Leblon registered rates of 93.81 percent.
The municipal authorities’ estimates also indicate that 5.3 million people took part in Rio’s 425 Carnival street parties (or “blocos”) – an increase of 9.7 percent on last year’s figures, with Cordão de Bola Preta attracting the largest number of revelers at 2.2 million people, followed by Monobloco with 400,000 people.
According to the Municipal Secretary of Tourism, Antonio Pedro Figueira de Mello, the Carnival of 2012 can be considered a success: “We had a Carnival of absolute success. We received a large number of tourists. With this success come new challenges. We still have problems with peeing in the street and garbage, but it is something that is already being planned [for in the future] and will be improved.”
The number of people arrested for urinating in the streets increased to 1,014 from 777 last year, while the amount of garbage decreased 23 percent from 1,300 tons in 2011, to 1,000 tons in 2012, which was attributed to more recycling this year.
It was also announced that Zona Sul will not have any new blocos licensed. The secretary said. “Regarding the number of blocos, we’ll talk with some of them, as the Afro Reggae, which appears in [Zona Sul’s Ipanema] grew a lot. We can find an alternative place.”
Read more (in Portuguese).
February 22, 2012|; Juliana Barbassa, Associated Press
It took Dutch tourist Adriaan little time after landing in Rio to pick out his favorite spot during Carnival, the five-day party that officially ended Wednesday.
A 35-year-old graphic designer, he found his niche at the gay meeting point on Ipanema beach, where palm fronds and rainbow flags wave in the balmy ocean breeze, and tanned, well-muscled young men strut about in swim suits that reveal more than they conceal. Conversation failed to distract the tall, blond visitor from his careful perusal of the bathers rinsing off salt water at an open-air shower in a ritual that was equal parts bathing and public display of bodies toned to perfection.
“This is just beautiful,’’ he said while sitting on the beach in the gayest neighborhood of a city routinely ranked as a top destination for gay tourists.
“We have a lot of gay people at home, it’s very normal, no big deal. But it’s not like this: so many people, in the sun, partying together. This is like a candy shop!’’
Adriaan, who preferred not to give his last name to keep his Carnival carousing off from the Internet, was one of thousands of foreigners drawn by the heady sensuality and live-and-let-live attitude displayed by residents year-round, and especially at Carnival time.
The love goes both ways: Rio officials are trying to attract more visitors such as Adriaan, who bring an enormous amount of money into the economy.
“The city of Rio doesn’t discriminate. It is in its essence welcoming,’’ said Rio Secretary of Tourism Antonio Figueira de Mello. “Carnival is when the city shows that side most clearly. It’s a party that welcomes the world.’’
By all accounts, this year’s festivities lived up to the expectations, despite a police strike that threatened to derail the event, but was called off before the glitter started flying.
The daylong street parties drew hundreds of thousands, while glamorous parades took over at night in the city’s Sambadrome stadium, where Rio’s most beautiful men and women shimmied atop elaborate floats dressed only in strategically placed feathers and sequins.
The final numbers of visitors, gay or straight, are not yet in, but city officials are saying this was one of the most successful, and diverse, parties yet.
The mayor’s office last year created a diversity department headed by Carlos Tufvesson, a gay, multilingual fashion designer, to work with gay tourists, researching their needs and launching campaigns against homophobia and for safe sex during Carnival.
A series of gay-friendly initiatives followed: the resurrection of anti-discrimination laws that had been on the books since 1996 but were seldom enforced; the establishment of a hotline for homophobia complaints; vocational training for transvestites and anti-bullying efforts meant to help gay and lesbian students.
According to the tourism secretary, more than a quarter of the approximately 3 million tourists who flood into Rio every summer are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender, and 75 percent are young men between ages 20 and 35. They stay in the city an average of five days and spend about $200 a day, more than double the $74 a day that heterosexual tourists spend.
The city had local artists produce a samba song urging the city to hold a “Carnival without prejudice’’ and it distributed paper fans urging people to report violations of Rio’s anti-discrimination laws to a hotline.
Reality, however, isn’t always as sunny as Ipanema’s gay beach and bars would suggest. On Feb. 13th, days before Carnival, two gay Brazilian tourists were assaulted by taxi drivers on their way out of the city’s international airport. One of them needed stitches and checked into a hospital.
The civil rights organization Grupo Gay da Bahia registered 282 occurrences of discrimination in Brazil based on sexual orientation in 2011, ranging from insults to 87 of physical aggression, according to anthropologist Luiz Mott, who founded the group.
French tourist Frederic Du Pont, 36, on his fourth visit to Rio, said he has heard the occasional anti-gay slur on a city bus or away from the wealthy south side, but he’s never felt threatened.
“Sometime I worry a little bit, I’m not sure how far I can go,’’ he said. “Maybe I look at the wrong guy in the eyes a little too long, maybe they’re not gay. But I’ve never been harassed.’’
Du Pont, like many visitors, said he still can’t pull off the easy Carioca way of approaching a total stranger and within minutes extracting a kiss. Even on his latest return trip he was a little shy about diving into the sweat-soaked, percussion-driven throng at Ipanema during Carnival.
Even so, Du Pont said he’d had no trouble finding friends.
“There is so much seduction everywhere,’’ he said. “You are in overdrive, all the time. This is Carnival.’’
Santa Teresa Bonde Back in 2014
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Santa Teresa’s iconic yellow tram – the “bonde” – will be back on the rails in time for the 2014 World Cup, the state government’s Chief Secretary of Staff, Regis Fichtner, announced yesterday. According to Fichtner, a call for tenders to build fourteen new trams has been scheduled for Monday, February 27th, and the bonde should be running again by March 2014. A R$110 million budget has been set for the project.
He also announced plans to extend the tram route to link Carioca Station in Centro to the old Silvestre Station in the Zona Sul (South Zone), following an original tram line which has been abandoned to all intents and purposes since 1966.
From Silvestre, the revival of another disused line will connect the tram to the Corcovado train, which takes visitors up to the Cristo Redentor (Christ the Redeemer).
Fichner emphasized that the new system would reduce waiting times and improve passenger safety, saying, “People will not be allowed to travel on the outside of the tram they will travel seated inside safely. This means that there will be no extraordinary weight loaded onto the tram, and it will prevent people from falling out, as had previously been the case,” he said.
The tram has been out of action for six months since it derailed due to suspected poor maintenance, killing six people and injuring more than fifty. The incident occurred just two months after a French tourist fell to his death as the tram passed over the Arches of Lapa and a safety barrier gave way.
TripAdvisor unveils Travelers’ Choice best hotels awards
By Barbara De Lollis, USA TODAY
TripAdvisor today announces the 25 hotels that have won a spot on its 10th annual Travelers’ Choice Awards lists for most outstanding hotels.
Hotel Check-In has assembled a photo tour of the Top 25 hotels in the USA. (Keep reading for the Top 10.)
The coveted No. 1 ranking for best U.S. hotels goes to Chicago’s Elysian, the stylish, independent hotel that opened in 2009 and has won awards and accolades ever since.
It’s a bittersweet award for the Elysian since it’s one of the last, if not the last, awards it will receive as an independent property. Next month, the Elysian will become part of Hilton’s Waldorf-Astoria chain.
In fact, many of the winners on the Top 25 US hotels list are independent properties or part of small collections. You won’t find Marriott, Hilton, InterContinental, Starwood or any other hospitality giant on the list.
There are, however, two relatively small chains that stand out on this “best hotels” list.
San Francisco-based upscale boutique hotel operator Kimpton Hotels has three properties that made the list in Chicago, Portland, Ore., and Alexandria, Va.
And Toronto-based luxury hotel operator Four Seasons has two properties that made the list, both of which are resorts on Hawaiian islands.
You may notice that TripAdvisor this year has expanded the Top 10 winners’ list to Top 25 to give travelers more ideas for remarkable hotel stays.
The online review giant also expanded the number of categories its honoring. Travelers will find winners for hotel categories such as: Best Luxury and Bargain, Best for Service, B&Bs and Inns, All-Inclusive, Spa, and Trendiest.
Unlike most hotel awards lists, TripAdvisor Travelers’ Choice winners are based on the millions of reviews and opinions written by TripAdvisor travelers around the world.
The average nightly rate for 2012 Travelers’ Choice Hotels award winners is $270, although there’s no need to blow your budget.
TripAdvisor says that 45% of the winners have an average nightly rate of $200 or less per night.
Here are select winners of TripAdvisor’s top hotel categories:
Best Hotel in the World: The Phoenix Resort in San Pedro, Belize
Best Hotel in the USA: Elysian Hotel in Chicago
Best Luxury (4&5 star) Hotel in the World: Shangri-La Hotel in Tokyo
Best Luxury (4&5 star) Hotel in the USA: The Grand Del Mar in San Diego
Best Bargain in the World: HueNino Hotel in Hue, Vietnam
Best Bargain in the USA: SeaCoast Inn in Hyannis, Mass.
Best for Service in the World: Arcadia Residence in Prague, Czech Republic
Best for Service in the USA: SeaCoast Inn in Hyannis, Mass.
Best B&B and Inn in the World: The Twenty One in Brighton, England
Best B&B and Inn in the USA: A.G. Thomson House: Historic Bed and Breakfast in Duluth, Minn.
Best All-Inclusive in the World: Garonga Safari Camp in Phalaborwa, South Africa
Best All-Inclusive in the Caribbean: East Winds Inn in Gros Islet, St. Lucia
Best Relaxation and Spa in the World: BollAnt’s im Park in Bad Sobernheim, Germany
Best Relaxation and Spa in the USA: Bella Monte Hot Springs Resort and Spa in Desert Hot Springs, Calf.
Trendiest Hotel in the World: Villa Zest Boutique Hotel in Cape Town, S.A.
Trendiest Hotel in the USA: Smyth Hotel, a Thompson Hotel in New York City
Top 10 hotels in the USA as rated by TripAdvisor reviewers:
- 1.Elysian Hotel Chicago, Chicago
- 2.The Grand Del Mar, San Diego
- 3.Four Seasons Resort Maui at Wailea, Maui, Hawaii
- 4.Old Edwards Inn and Spa, Highlands, N.C.
- 5.Heathman Hotel, Kirkland, Wash.
- 6.Hotel Commonwealth, Boston
- 7.French Quarter Inn, Charleston, S.C.
- 8.Fairmont Heritage Place Ghirardelli Square, San Francisco
- 9.Hotel Monaco Portland – a Kimpton Hotel, Portland, Ore.
- 10.Inn at the Market, Seattle
Casa Cool Beans takes 4th place in the TOP B&B and INNS in Brazil!!! We are still rated the #1 B&B in all of Rio de Janeiro as well! Many thanks to all our guests who made this possible!!!
Top 25 B&Bs and Inns in Brazil
- Rio de Janeiro, Brazil