With tourism paralyzed, historic Rio hotel is converted into luxury apartments
By Carlos A. Moreno
Rio de Janeiro, Jul 16 (EFE) – The Gloria Hotel, the city’s first five-star establishment and once the preferred accommodation for Brazilian and international notables visiting Rio, is being transformed into a residential building as the industry seeks to reduce capacity amid an uncertain future for tourism in the world shaped by Covid-19.
The city government of Rio de Janeiro earlier this year authorized the conversion of hotels into apartments or commercial spaces.
Ten years ago, this tourist mecca had around 30,000 hotel rooms.
By 2016, the number had more than doubled thanks to a construction boom spurred by Brazil’s role as the venue for the 2014 World Cup and by the insistence of the International Olympic Committee that Rio needed 62 000 rooms to host the 2016 Summer Games.
“We managed to have the most modern network in Latin America for the Olympic Games, but the expectations of growth in business, tourism and events did not materialize. And the setback has been made worse by the pandemic, ”HoteisRIO industry group leader Alfredo Lopes told Efe.
At least 80 of the city’s hotels have closed because of the coronavirus, including 12 permanently, and nearly 20 establishments are awaiting reconversion authorization, according to figures from HotelisRIO.
Rio still has around 52,000 hotel rooms and although commerce has improved from the worst days of the pandemic, occupancy remains below 50%.
“Converting hotels is absolutely necessary as we went from 30,000 to 60,000 rooms, and even before the pandemic we knew we didn’t have the number of tourists or events to guarantee survival. “said Lopes.
The Gloria Hotel, the first structure in South America to be constructed of reinforced concrete, opened in 1922 with a theater, casino, ballrooms and recreation areas.
The Gloria was bought in 2008 by mogul Eike Batista – then No.8 on Forbes’ list of the world’s richest people – and he promised to make it Brazil’s first six-star hotel in time for the FIFA World Cup. world 2014.
But renovations were halted when Batista went bankrupt in 2013.
Mubadala, Abu Dhabi’s sovereign wealth fund, acquired the Gloria Hotel in 2016 and then sold it to the Opportunity Group, which obtained approval from municipal authorities to transform it into an apartment building.
The conversion of the iconic Hotel Gloria “is a big step as the city government is revitalizing the entire city center,” Lopes said.
Rio de Janeiro this week issued an ordinance offering incentives to companies interested in renovating nearly 500 abandoned buildings in the city center to create affordable housing.
The idea is to build on the improvements made before the 2016 Olympics, including the construction of museums and an aquarium and the opening of an electric railway, to make downtown Rio a attractive place to live. EFE cm / rev