Topics:  brazil, travel, travelling

Hotel offers touch of Brazil

FORGET Italy's Villa d'Este on Lake Como, and the InterContinental next to Hong Kong Harbour.

Cross off Longitude 131 within a stone's throw of Uluru in the Red Centre, and do the same for Tanzania's Ngorongoro Crater Lodge.

Focus on the Hotel das Cataratas, pictured, in Brazil's southern jungles.

It is, arguably, one of the best hotels on the most spectacular site in the world.

If the reinvigorated Portuguese colonial splendour of the place is not enough for you, step outside the hotel's foyer, dawdle across a manicured lawn, and Iguassu Falls is right there.

The construction of das Cataratas started in 1939, but because of World War Two, it lay unfinished for 10 years.

Then it was modest, with 52 rooms, and was isolated. Poor roads limited access to it, too.

The pink building still managed to stand out in the heart of an emerald green jungle.

It passed through the hands of several owners until 1967, when it was acquired by Brazilian airline Varig. By 1971, the hotel started expansions to cope with international demand, nudged along by Varig's aggressive advertising campaigns. It built 151 extra rooms, and two presidential suites.

However, by 2005, when Varig went broke, the hotel had become tired. "Ahh, das Cataratas," someone who stayed there in the early 2000s said. "Do the windows still rattle?"

Then along came Orient-Express, among the world's most exclusive holiday destination providers.

By October 2009, it had completed a major renovation.

The work captured the rich, rambling, colonial opulence its original creators had dreamed of.

The spacious, air-conditioned rooms have all the mod-cons you would expect in five-star accommodation. In the background, the dull sound of the falls lulls you, like surf near a holiday home.

And the windows do not rattle any more.

>> Read more travel stories.



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