Rio de Janeiro: how to do the 2016 Olympics in style
With the Olympics in Brazil around the corner, Martha Hayes visits The Lodge just outside Rio de Janeiro and discovers a new meaning to luxury hospitality
There are few places in Rio de Janeiro that offer a better view of the sunset than the candle-lit veranda of The Lodge; a colonial mansion high up in the city’s hilltops. Situated in the bohemian town of Santa Teresa, charmingly known as the ‘Montmartre of Rio’, panoramic views of Guanabara Bay and Sugarloaf Mountain abound, but it’s what lies within the grounds of this soon to be private club that offers the greatest appeal.
A plethora of rooms, terraces and balconies overlook tiers of fragrant, lush gardens and a beautiful pool, while inside a cool club house and vintage-style tea salon offer more than enough to keep you entertained. It’s simply where you would want to hang out all summer if the opportunity were to arise… This year, with a tiny event known as (ahem) the Olympic Games taking place just a 20-minute drive away, it looks like it has.
Formerly a private house, the building has transformed into a bold and beautiful members-club style venue for the duration of the Games (4-21 August) – and you don’t even have to be a member for an exclusive bite of the action.
Holding up to 1000 guests, The Lodge is available for private hire on a daily, or 3-day basis. You can book the whole thing, or you can hire out a certain area for a party, for example, the poolside and its neighbouring screening room; very handy, when there’s plenty of sporting action to view.
The Lodge is the brainchild of Londoner Nigel Peters and luxury events company, NP+Co. Borne out of a frustration that when London hosted the Olympics in 2012 we missed a trick when it came to luxury hospitality, it hopes to change the services on offer to travelling sports fan for the better.
What was missing from the London Olympics is that it didn't say London, Peters explains – and having put his stamp on some of the City’s most talked about parties, working with the likes of the Elton John Aids Foundation, Bombay Sapphire and Prada, he’s kicking himself he didn’t create make his mark on 2012. He hopes his efforts this summer, something he describes as “the riskiest project” of his career, will more than make up for it.
It hasn’t been an easy journey – he looked at 50 other properties before stumbling across this colonial house – but his commitment to the local and exceptional should stand him in good stead; from the mouth-watering ceviche and the Gran Legado Brut, to a number of Rio’s mixologists, DJ’s and art curators also at the heart of the project.
Respected set designer Jo Sedley has sourced much of the furniture for The Lodge, from drinks trolleys and graphic prints to boho rugs and lounge chairs, nearby, and abstract artwork from street art group MUDA. The resulting space is somewhere between Mayfair’s Sketch and Shoreditch House, by way of Hollywood’s iconic Chateau Marmont. Suddenly getting tickets to watch the beach volleyball doesn’t feel like Rio’s hottest ticket any more…
Of course, the arrival of The Lodge well and truly puts the town of Santa Teresa on the map, too. Until now, it has a remained one of the city’s best kept secrets. A wealthy 19th century town turned 1960s artists haven, the area has always been considered cool, in an understated rather than opulent way; somewhere you’d go to potter around the cobbled streets on a Sunday. Its celebrity inhabitants in years gone by range from singer Amy Winehouse to Mick Jagger – but this summer, you’d imagine there’ll be a few more to add to that list.
Rates of hire range from $200k (whole house for three days) and $40k (area for whole day or night) which includes furnishing, tech and PA systems, club and service staff and wifi. For more information, see http://thelodgerio.com; 020 7434 2306