Meliá Hotels International has opened its first Gran Meliá luxury hotel in Brazil, the Gran Meliá Nacional Rio in Rio de Janeiro.
Located in São Conrado, one of Rio's most exclusive neighborhoods, the hotel originally opened in 1972 as the Hotel Nacional. Designed by world-renowned architect Oscar Niemeyer, it was one of Rio's most famous hotels in the 1970s and '80s, hosting celebrities such as Liza Minnelli, BB King, and James Brown. The property subsequently fell into disrepair and was left abandoned for more than a decade before being acquired by Meliá, which has since renovated it and made it the flagship of its Gran Meliá brand.
Having been restored to its former glory, the property -- which is recognized by Brazil as a national heritage site -- now includes 413 guest rooms; two restaurants; three bars, including a pool bar and a rooftop bar with 360-degree city views; Rio's only hotel helipad; a spa; a gym and fitness studio with personal trainers; and a VIP floor that will be complete in April, offering a private reception area, lounge-library, private breakfast area and open bar with premium drinks.
The hotel also houses some of Brazil's most notable works of modern art -- including "Painel de Carybé," a sculpture by Hector Bernabó (aka Carybé) that includes 270 individually sculpted concrete slabs depicting classic carioca characters -- as well as a garden by modernist landscape architect Roberto Burle Marx, whose design incorporates 46 species of native Brazilian plants alongside classic Portuguese paving stones.
The property's final touch will be its convention center. Opening in 2018, it will have nearly 40,000 square feet of meeting space for groups of up to 4,000, with cutting-edge technology, sound and lighting services, and free Wi-Fi.
"Rio de Janeiro is a city with a huge amount of history, incredible architecture, and a booming luxury market. The outstanding cultural heritage, art, and natural scenery available in the city really enriches the traveler's experience," said Gabriel Escarrer, vice chairman and CEO at Meliá Hotels International. "We are very excited to finally launch this unique property with such a huge historical significance in one of Latin America's most important cities and we believe it has the potential to bring back the time of splendor of the city's tourism."