Orient-Express Hotels Ltd., owners and operators of 49 deluxe leisure properties in 25 countries is acquiring the 200-room Hotel das Cataratas, the only hotel within the UNESCO World Heritage designated Iguaçu National Park in the Paraná region of Brazil.
The company will take over the operation of the hotel on October 1, 2007 and plans extensive renovations once the appropriate permits have been obtained. The property will remain open throughout, as the layout of the hotel will allow work to take place in phases without inconveniencing guests.
First opened as a hotel in 1958, the Hotel das Cataratas is an elegant two-storey Portuguese colonial style building. It has one of the most impressive and enviable locations in South America, with the world famous Iguaçu Falls just a two minute stroll from the property, and surrounded by almost 15,000m? of national park.
The hotel comprises a main building which houses the reception area, a bar and restaurant with terrace and a reading room, as well as guest rooms on the first floor. Two additional wings were added in 1971 and 1982, and in total the hotel now offers 85 standard rooms, 64 superior rooms, 49 deluxe rooms, three suites and two presidential suites. Guest rooms have hardwood floors and bathrooms with large bathtubs and granite tops. A number of rooms have direct views of the waterfalls and guests are reminded of their proximity by the ever-present roar of water and rising spray of mist.
The Hotel das Cataratas houses two restaurants. The Restaurante Itaipu, serving a blend of Brazilian and international cuisine at breakfast, lunch and dinner, is located on the ground floor of the main building and has a veranda for al fresco dining. The Ipê Bar & Grill by the main pool serves light snacks throughout the day and offers a South American style meat barbecue with live music for dinner.
The extensive gardens contain a swimming pool and a children’s playground, tennis court, grass volley ball court and look-out point towards the Iguaçu Falls. The hotel has two large conference rooms with capacity for up to 200 guests.
The Hotel das Cataratas was the first property in Latin America to qualify for the ISO 14001 Environmental Management certification in recognition of its ecological operating policies.
The Iguaçu Falls lie on the border of Brazil and Argentina and, although most of the falls are actually in Argentina, the 360¡ views from the Brazilian side are far more panoramic, particularly of the Garganta del Diablo or Devil’s Throat, a U-shaped 150-metre-wide and 700-metre-long cliff. Depending on the time of year and present water levels, up to 275 separate falls make up the 2.7km crescent that plunges over 80 metres to the valley floor at a rate of between 1.3-1.5 million litres of water per second.
Iguaçu Falls airport is a 15 kilometre drive from the Hotel das Cataratas and is served by international flights via São Paulo, which is a 1 hour 30 minute flight away. The climate in the region is humid and subtropical year round, with temperatures rarely falling below 70¡F.
Local activities on offer from the hotel include helicopter rides over the falls, boat rides over the rapids, four-wheel drive jungle tours, nature walks and trails in the national park, the Parque das Aves bird sanctuary close to the park entrance, visits to Itaipu Dam, the largest generator of hydro-electric power in the world and excursions to the Jesuit ruins of San Ignacio in Argentina.
This will be Orient-Express Hotels’ third business in Brazil, where it also owns and manages the Copacabana Palace Hotel in Rio de Janeiro. In June 2007, the company signed an agreement to purchase a 185,000 sq m parcel of land in Buzios, one of the most popular up-market destinations in Brazil, 180km north-east of Rio de Janeiro. The land will be used for the development of an all suite boutique resort of 40 rooms, along with a real estate development of 17 villas varying in size from 200-400sqm. Once the necessary permits have been granted, it is estimated that the resort will take 20 months to construct.