News - Brazil - Desire for Design
This month my on-going search for potential development opportunities has taken me to Brazil. It is surprising how little we know about Brazil in Europe, or better said, how little I knew about Brazil. It is a country of 240,000,000 million people and to my surprise only receives 5,000,000 foreign visitors per year - these being primarily South American. This is a startlingly low figure for such a large country with incredible natural and human resources.
For the hotelier and prospective developer the Brazil market is still more intriguing. During my tour I was particularly impressed with the Fasano Hotel in Sao Paolo. Architecturally it is a marriage of contemporary design with a wealth of details, such as antique furniture and an English brick façade. I can particularly recommend the Baretto bar, which is stunningly simple in design but has great warmth and ambiance. I also visited the Fasano in Rio, located on Avenida Vieira Souto, in the heart of Ipanema. Its modern design and efficient service make it a very sophisticated destination, wearing a 50s bossa nova style and proudly baring the hallmarks of Philippe Starck’s design influence. Even better, after four or five years of operation the hotel has retained its fresh appeal.
Today, Brazil feels like a country of great opportunity where improvements in education and income have created a ‘new middle class’ although there are concerns that the country’s infrastructure has yet to catch up. Sao Paulo, where I spent a few days, is South America’s largest metropolis and a teeming business centre with a tiny population – a mere 20,000,000 people! Yet despite its colossal size and population the city has only three design hotels making the five star hotel market there very small and the midmarket very large and competitive.
The local architecture features classical facades punctuated by a vertical jungle of modern towers and brutalism. Yet I got a sense of a clear movement towards a more design oriented mentality in the city and throughout Brazil, particularly in the masterly reconditioning of such structures like the Livraria da Vila by celebrated architect Isay Weinfield. I am, of course, excited by the prospect of creating a YOO hotel here in an amazing country full of exciting, friendly, kind people with a verve for living and a hunger to progress, improve and prosper.