Staying in Rio’s favelas

Staying in Rio’s favelas


Posted December 6, 2013

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Once a dirty word in and around Rio, Brazil, favelas—the city’s slums, are upping their aesthetic game and moving away from derogatory association.

Much of this was in preparation for the 2014 FIFA World Cup, and of course, the 2016 Olympic Games Rio de Janeiro. Numerous hotels of all kinds will throw open their doors in the heart of favelas across the city, where there are impressive views of Sugarloaf mountain, the statue of Christ the Redeemer, and famous beaches. With the crime rate reduced due to government improving security, and the beauty in the rough found, these locations are sure to be big hits with visitors.

Rio favela
Chapéu Mangueira favela.  Photo:  Salvador Drustin

Pioneering projects within the favelas have inspired Rio’s government to do more and thus the Rio Top Tour program was born. The major aim of the program is for tourism to create new opportunities for favela residents, like training them to become professional tour guides.

Millions have already flocked to Brazil for the Games, and return visitors and first-timers alike are in for a surprise when they see the innovative ways favelas are finding their place in society.

One such favela is Chapéu Mangueira, where Hugo Medina and Cristiane de Oliviera, opened their aptly named hotel— Favela Inn. With three guest rooms that allow for six guests, priced at $17.95 a night (low season) or $24 (high season), and gorgeous sea views from its high vantage point, the hoteliers are only just getting started.

Students from abroad will also benefit from Medina and Oliviera’s ventures, as they intend to open another hotel specifically for this market. Not only will students attend school in a new, and exciting city, but they will be able to take in the true nature of Rio’s culture from the “ground level,” experiencing day-to-day life as locals. Medina and Oliviera also contribute to the community and its economy, by using fresh, local produce.

Urban agriculture is a growing trend in the favelas, and rooftops and balconies can be seen teeming with a range of delectable vegetables and fruits. These gardens supply family and small markets’ requirements, following agro ecological guidelines.

Medina and Oliviera’s second hotel will feature recycled materials—inspiration from favela living.

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  • Jacqueline “Jackie” Jones is a Barbadian author and entrepreneur who spends more time lost in the virtual world than anyone should. Jackie loves meeting new people as much as she loves traveling, and she’s often guilty of “interviewing” unsuspecting strangers whether they want her to or not. When she’s not dealing with the day-to-day of running two businesses (Originz Multimedia and Waterway Media), or spending time with family and friends, Jackie turns to words and is an accomplished speculative fiction writer.