Maiko Nizzo joins Casa Cool Beans team to become the first Les Clefs d'Or Concierge at a Rio de Janeiro Guesthouse!
Hi, my name is Maiko and I am a Carioca (born in Rio de Janeiro). Raised in Copacabana, I am passionate about Rio de Janeiro. I consider myself a lucky guy to live in one of the most beautiful cities in the world and I feel extremely fortunate to have a job that focuses on helping people enjoy this “marvelous” city!
After working a few years as a Concierge for some of Rio’s most popular hotels, I began attending meetings of the most respected international Concierge associations, the Les Clefs d’Or. A few years after that I was awarded the coveted golden keys, making me an official member of the Les Clefs d’Or Organization. You can recognize Clefs d’Or Concierges by the keys they display on the lapels of their uniforms. These crossed gold keys are more than just the symbol of the organization; they are the symbol of guaranteed, quality service. Les Clefs d’Or, pronounced, “lay clay door,” is French and literally translates as “keys of gold.” Les Clefs d’Or members have dedicated many years of hard work and training to the concierge profession. They have their fingers on the pulses of their cities, able to advise guests on restaurants, nightlife, sporting and theater events, sightseeing tours, shopping and more. They can direct guests to any location, any product, at any time of day or night. Les Clefs d’Or concierges are motivated by a genuine desire to serve. Whether requesting something simple or complex, you can be sure they are a trusted resource to business travelers and vacationers alike. Always keeping guests’ safety, enjoyment and satisfaction in mind.
While attending an international concierge congress in Canada, I met several Les Clefs d’Or members working in small properties, which for me was new and very interesting! So, after returning home, I began to think that maybe it was time for me to do something different. So, that is exactly what I did last week when I joined the Casa Cool Beans team.
Now, for the first time in history, a guesthouse in Rio de Janeiro has its own Les Clefs d’Or Concierge. I am a very lucky guy to receive the opportunity of working at “TripAdvisor’s Best Guesthouse 2012 Travelers’ Choice” of Rio de Janeiro! The team at Casa Cool Beans, owners Lance and David, manager Sergio and the rest of the staff are already doing an excellent job. I feel honored to be part of this outstanding team!
As the first Concierge at Casa Cool Beans I will do my best to assist guests to enjoy the city and give them the best tips possible so they can become adamant fans of Casa Cool Beans AND the city of Rio de Janeiro!
Rio’s 15 coolest places to stay (a few for under R$300):
The city’s most interesting hotel and hostel rooms and the coolest bed and breakfasts for those on a budget
If the warmth of innkeeper and raconteur Bob Nadkarni’s welcome to his guesthouse in the Tavares Bastos favela doesn’t snare you, the view from the upper terrace (itself conjuring up visions of a young Luke Skywalker’s Ator home in Star Wars) surely will. It’s worth knowing that the creative mind at work behind The Maze was once the props designer on the set of 2001 A Space Odyssey. His creative attentions have now turned to the building that began as an art workshop, became his home, and is now also an inn in the truest sense of the word, complete with Bob’s original artwork adorning the walls. Backpackers, artsy types and, indeed, world famous Hollywood stars are treated equally, for it is here that The Incredible Hulk was filmed and that Tim Roth proclaimed makes the ‘best cup of tea in Rio’. If all that doesn’t add up to ‘cool’ credentials, we need to buy a new yardstick. R$180 per night (deluxe suite).
Botafogo was once home to the slightly grotty but never dull traveller hostels and student bars and clubs, but with the arrival of bars Meza and doiZ and now the hostel Oztel (all from the same owners), things have taken a turn for the chic. That’s not to say this is exactly a glamorous spot, but cool and funky room designs, unusual exhibitions and events (monthly cocktail-making classes, anyone?) and some great bars and restaurants nearby make this a bit of a must for those keen to stay out of the usual tourist traps. Grab the tropical room and share it with a friendly couple of jungle birds. R$200 per night (double with en-suite).
Another of Santa Teresa’s unmarked wonders, the front door of Carmen and Fernando’s house leads into a world of piled up records, vaulted ceilings and the kind of terrace from which Sugarloaf mountain should always be seen, complete with plunge pool and bar. The living room is comfortably big enough for all-comers (the owner’s quarters are found just off it up a small staircase), though other nooks, like the mini-mezzanine above the reception, offer more privacy if needed. Just off the dining area, a steep spiral staircase leads up into the tiny loft-style room. The tight, low-ceilinged quarters are not for the big of stature or luggage, but a cosy spot complete with its own little terrace and the best view in the house. R$200 per night (loft room).
The Italian-run CasAlegre gives off the laidback air of its affable Italian owner, the central courtyard providing calming respite from the Santa Teresa cobbles. From here the small gallery space can also be seen, with a different artist invited each month to show off their wares. Attracting a creative bunch, the house has some imaginative touches including rows of plastic bottles collected in conjunction with children from the nearby Prazeres favela that are cut open, filled with plants, and hung along the outside wall. The slightly pricier Presidential Suite is the one to opt for, with a small balcony overlooking the street below, a large living space complete with kitchen essentials, and a separate bathroom and bedroom, but all have their own charms, and can be rented long-term. R$250 per night (Presidential Suite).
Cool in every way (possibly bar the name), the American-run guesthouse has an enviable location in the middle of the Santa Teresa action close to the time-honoured Bar do Gomez. The gardens of this beautiful bed and breakfast are the first thing to charm their way into your attentions, quickly followed by the stylish rooms courtesy of designers including Patricia Brasil and Gilson Martins, and upper-deck swimming pool and massage area. Also to be found up here, complete with private veranda overlooking the full glory of Santa Teresa below, is the best suite in the house designed by the artist Alemão, but with full wi-fi, a killer breakfast and the owners’ chilled-out Californian charm, for once it really doesn’t pay to be choosy. R$260-R$340 per night (suite no.7)
Friendly, laidback lodgings in boho Santa Teresa
Chilled out, impossibly helpful and exuding all the charm of their native California, Cool Beans’ American owners have set about creating a near-legendary experience in Santa Teresa, thanks as much to their outlook as their beautifully reworked property. Close to a few notable local hostelries like Bar do Gomez and a short walk from the heart of the ‘hood (this neighbourhood is exactly the sort of place you want to be strolling around in order to capture its true essence), the gardens and pool deck may grab the attention first, but the bedrooms also echo the original charm at the heart of the building. The private veranda of the top-floor suite takes the plaudits, but the simplicity and all-inclusive attitude of the staff mean that any room is worth the (very reasonable) price.
The luxury travel guide to Rio de Janeiro
With World Cup and Olympic fever gaining pace in Rio, Chris Moss provides his guide to the city’s most stylish haunts – get there before the crowds do.
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By Chris Moss
10:36AM BST 11 Oct 2012
Why go now?
The epitome of glamour in the 1930s and 40s and rock ‘n’ roll sexiness in the 1960s and 70s, Rio is back in vogue. Preparations for the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Olympic Games mean revamps of everything from stadia to favelas, as well as protection orders on the colonial architecture. If São Paulo is Brazil’s economic powerhouse, Rio remains its cultural and hedonistic hub, with new arts spaces such as Movimento and the Bhering Factory and the renovation of the Theatro Municipal complementing landmarks such as the Niterói Contemporary Art Museum. The verities endure: Rio’s dreamy beaches, set against granite and quartz morros, and a proper wilderness just a 15-minute taxi ride away at Tijuca Forest Park. The cariocas, Rio’s residents, enjoy a frenetic social life and exude a natural grace, whether heading out for cocktails at the latest new bar in Santa Teresa or crossing the coast road in an otiose swimsuit. With London 2012 now over and the World Cup due to be hosted in the city in 2014, international focus is now turning to Rio – now is the time to go to beat the crowds.
Where to stay in Rio
The Hotel Fasano Rio de Janeiro in Ipanema.
The Hotel Santa Teresa opened three years ago in its namesake district – a newly fashionable area of tree-lined, cobbled streets. It’s away from the beachside bustle, with a pool, lovely gardens and furniture by Sergio Rodrigues, Rio’s most daring designer. Marina All Suites on Avenida Delfim Moreira, in Leblon, is expensively funky; its new Club Floor has spectacular, cleanly designed rooms with ocean views and its Bar d’Hotel is one of Rio’s hippest. Fasano has become one of South America’s most stylish hotel groups and its Ipanema hotel which wears the Starck signature well, has suites from which you can see the Atlantic from your bed. Staying at La Suite on a cliff in Joatinga, is akin to being at a friend’s place, though that friend is a millionaire modernist who loves pop art and Baccarat chandeliers.
Where to dine in Rio
Rio is perhaps best known for informal pé sujo (dirty foot) dining, sweet and salty comfort food and early drinking – a 10am bottle of Brahma beer is completely cool – in laid-back pubs called botecos. But it’s in the high-end restaurant scene that the city has seen its most obvious renaissance. La Fidúcia has been praised by cariocas for rebooting the classily romantic vibe along Copacabana’s Rua Duvivier, and the contemporary Italian menu – with Brazilian classics such as feijoada available at weekends – is one of the best in town. Le Pré Catelan at the Rio Sofitel (00 55 21 2525 1206, leprecatelan.com.br) is the best hotel restaurant, where Roland Villard oversees a trilogy-themed starter menu that features sensational seafood entrées such as lobster ravioli and bisque, and langoustine tartar with tomato and mango, and main courses that range from Amazonian tambaqui fish to Angus ox chops. A classic on Avenida Atlântica is Restaurante La Fiorentina which is popular with carioca celebrities and artists and ideal for a pasta or pizza evening with ice-cold beers. On the walls, black-and-white photographs of past diners, including Rita Hayworth, Rudolph Nureyev and Brigitte Bardot, evoke the charm of old Rio.
Where to go out in Rio
If you can’t make it for carnival, don’t despair. Rio is always up for a dance. Studio RJ, which opened in October, is Ipanema’s hot new live venue, hosting performances of carnival music by acts inspired by blocos (street bands). Rio Scenarium, in the lively Lapa district, is an old fave where the choro, forró, samba and everything in between are danced, on three storeys of dancefloors in a space crammed with old furniture.
Need to know:
What: Rio de Janeiro was Brazil’s capitaul until 1960 and is its second most populated city (6.3million), after Sáo Paulo.
When: January to May are bright and dry and the spring months of September and October are Wonderful. Carnival takes place during Lent – great if you love crowds but horrendous if you don’t.
Fly: Direct from London with BA or TAM in 11 hours.