Opinion – Josimar Melo: The new era of hotels


Why do so soon die so big hotels? At least in Brazil it seems to happen all the time. Even suspecting it’s not just here.

One day we go to Manaus and stay at the majestic Hotel Tropical, silently lapsed by the waters of the Rio Negro. Then go back there and he is no more.

One day we are young and save a little money to take the suitor to eat fondue in the center of São Paulo, spending the winter at the top of the Othon hotel. The next suitor has to take it elsewhere, as the building in Praça do Patriarca now has a different type of occupant.

Watch world-class jazz concerts —after having a drink at the piano bar— at Maksoud Plaza? It’s over. Not to mention places that are still open, but in painful decay.

Funny that all this comes to mind from an opposite example: the Copacabana Palace, in Rio de Janeiro, enters 2023 celebrating one hundred years of life. And with impressive vigor. Invited to two dinners that opened the celebrations that will take place throughout the year, I was able to see it in loco.

It was last week, on the 1st and 2nd of this month. First, chefs Pía León and Virgílio Martinez, from the celebrated Peruvian restaurant Central, were in charge of the kitchen, displaying an instigating cuisine based on the altitude biomes of their country. The following night, it was the turn of a special menu —creative, with an Italian base— prepared by the young and super-talented chef Nello Cassese, head of the hotel’s main restaurant, Cipriani (as well as food and beverage for the entire group in Latin America). ).

Yes, from the group. Because the centenary Cup belongs to a multinational group. Maybe that’s where the survival of the big hotels comes from, unable to maintain themselves based on a family structure?

Created by the Guinle family, the Copa entered a slow and seemingly uncontrollable decline, until it was purchased in 1989 by the American millionaire, naturalized English, James Sherwood (died in 2020), who had decided to group historic hotels around the world. The company, which was born as Orient Express (as it also bought the historic train line), became Belmond and today belongs to an even larger conglomerate, focused on luxury brands (from champagne to perfumes, from fashion to hotels), LVMH , by the current richest man in the world, Frenchman Bernard Arnault.

I can’t hide how it bothers me the hyperconcentration of so many products in so few hands, in all areas. I see whiskeys that were deadly competitors, vying for every sip of their drinkers, suddenly forgetting how different they are; automobiles that would step on the gas to run over each other, overnight becoming sister brands; luxury luggage brands that would gladly pocket the faithful ladies of one and the other, now practically parading together; tastes of millions of consumers modeled by half a dozen owners. Strange times.

But it is a fact that, after the romantic era of the founders, and the decadence that was taking shape, with the acquisition by a transnational group, Copa began to remake itself.

It was closed for a few years for renovation and initial restoration. And since then, it hasn’t stopped. Every year something new. Restaurant renovation. The pool. Creation of an unexpected Asian restaurant, soon multi-award winning. A new pool bar. Reopening of the historic theater. The result: the city regained one of its symbols.

Does anyone remember César Ritz? And your “broder” Escoffier? From the heroic era of hospitality and tourism at the turn of the 19th to the 20th century, marked by the character of its inspiring pioneers?

Times have changed. The hotel with the face of the owner-host seems to be in extinction. But not the hotel industry.

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