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From Princess Diana to Rod Stewart: Copacabana Palace celebrates 100 years of glamor, scandals and excellence | Culture

What really makes Copacabana Palace special — with its five stars, 100 years of history and endless glamorous anecdotes — is how comfortable it is to have breakfast while chatting with the waiter, Luiz Filipe Ribeiro, about legends such as Ronaldo and Ronaldinho, or new sensations such as Endrick.

The hotel is exclusive, but the least exclusive thing makes it stand out: the essence of Río de Janeiro, which spills out lavishly. It cannot merely be packaged as a product or sold as an experience.

Filipe Ribeiro’s face is filled with sunny joy as he fields the umpteenth questions about soccer, or tells you how to make the tapioca bun that you’re tasting. This upbeat spirit is the most important thing — everything else is secondary.

“Since it opened, this is a hotel where people feel good,” says writer Francisca Matteoli, author of Copacabana Palace: Where Rio Starts, in an email interview with EL PAÍS. The book — which contains a beautiful array of photos — doesn’t say that people feel important or unique while they’re at Copacabana Palace. They don’t feel like they’re in heaven, either. “People just feel good,” Matteoli notes.

She maintains that the Copa (as it’s known among friends) shouldn’t be valued in terms of strict material luxury. “For me, it’s a question of charm… of that eternal thing that improves with time and passes from generation to generation. This is the case with my family, who began coming to the hotel since it opened in 1923. I know Rio and the hotel well. The human quality I encounter here never ceases to surprise me.”

At Copacabana Palace, you can be drinking a bottle of champagne in the semi-Olympic pool — “our legendary pool,” the staff always repeats — where, one morning in 1991, Lady Di swam alone while Prince Charles was somewhere in the Amazon. Or where, in 1970, Janis Joplin — months before dying of a suspected overdose in Los Angeles — allegedly went in naked and was supposedly “invited to leave the hotel.” Episodes like these were chronicled by Brazilian journalist Ricardo Boechat in his book Copacabana Palace: A Hotel and Its History.

An exterior view of the building, which has 119 rooms and 101 suites. The façade was recently restored.
An exterior view of the building, which has 119 rooms and 101 suites. The façade was recently restored.Luisa Dörr
The hotel lobby.
The hotel lobby.Luisa Dörr

You can be drinking champagne in the legendary pool (a Brazilian bottle goes for around $40, while a French one can be as high as $1,200) or staying in a room that ranges from $500 to $7,000 a night. This year, the World Travel Awards distinguished its suites as the best in South America. And — regardless of the category of the room — every client has a careful “pillow menu” at their disposal, with options such as the “relaxing pillow with chamomile aroma” or the “aloe vera pillow with regenerative technology.” You can also ask that your bed be oriented towards the window, so you can stretch out between fresh sheets while watching the Brazilian sunrise. The famous Soviet ballet dancer Rudolf Nureyev requested this in 1971.

The pillows are convenient to wake up well rested, open the windows and see the Copacabana beach at your feet, while that atmosphere of warm, fragrant air — filled with the salty sea, the busy city and the tropics — suddenly suffocates you. You can see the immense blue expanse of the Atlantic Ocean, which is part of the public and universal Río de Janeiro, as is the golden spirit of Luiz Filipe Ribeiro. He has been working at the Copa for a decade. He started as a cleaner and has now settled into his role as a waiter, while he studies Systems Development Analysis on the side. He aims to specialize in the use of big data in luxury hospitality.

The director of the Copacabana Palace, Ulisses Marreiros.
The director of the Copacabana Palace, Ulisses Marreiros.Luisa Dörr

The hotel has two Michelin-starred restaurants: the pan-Asian Mee and the Italian Cipriani. Its Pérgula restaurant — located next to the pool — serves a hearty Brazilian breakfast, with honeys from various regions of the republic, sucos (juices), mamão (papaya) and melancia (watermelon). Albert II — the prince of Monaco, one of the hotel’s most distinguished and faithful guests — especially enjoys the fresh fruit.

At Pérgula, Saturdays are feijoada days, when the classic black bean stew is served. Still, the restaurant is missing some of the classic dishes of Brazilian popular culture, which don’t have a more central presence in the gastronomic variety offered by a national emblem such as Copacabana Palace. Perhaps it would be worth it if at least one of its two high-level restaurants was dedicated to the new cuisine of Brazil, a country of 3.3 million square miles whose Amazon rainforest represents — as Spanish chef Fernando Adrià said — “the last frontier of flavor.” This omission may be a trace of the initial mentality of this hotel, which looked outwards rather than inwards in its quest for glory.

In 1922 — the centenary of independence — Brazilian president Epitácio Pessoa wanted Río (then the capital) to be able to receive guests with lavish accommodations. The president brought Octávio Guinle — a hotelier and a member of one of the richest families in the country — into the project.

The building wasn’t ready in time for the centenary. Its opening was delayed until 1923, due to the size of the work and the time it took to receive so much imported material: Italian marble, lamps from Czechoslovakia, French and Swedish furniture, English carpets. Even the cement was brought from Germany. The French architect Joseph Gire designed its eclectic façade in the style of the Carlton and the Negresco, the hotels along the French Riviera that had impressed President Pessoa on his trip to Europe for the signing of the Treaty of Versailles.

A quartz sculpture on display in one of the hotel’s hallways.
A quartz sculpture on display in one of the hotel’s hallways.Luisa Dörr
One of the rooms, full of light, spacious and always displaying beautiful paintings or photographs of Rio, its landscapes and its biodiversity.
One of the rooms, full of light, spacious and always displaying beautiful paintings or photographs of Rio, its landscapes and its biodiversity.
Luisa Dörr

It was an exorbitant idea to build that monumental beaux arts building in Copacabana, which was just beginning to gain traction as an area for second homes and was far from the city center. Still it was ultimately a success that shaped contemporary Rio. As the journalist Maneco Müller wrote in the prologue to Boechat’s wonderful chronicle: “The old Copa is part of the history of Rio and even of its geography. After all, it wasn’t Copacabana Beach that put the hotel on the map, it was Copacabana Palace that put the beach on the map.”

The Copa soon became a reference beyond Brazil. In 1933 — with its multimillion-dollar casino up and running, only 10 years after the hotel’s inauguration — Hollywood consecrated its image worldwide with Flying Down to Rio, the musical starring Ginger Rogers, Fred Astaire and Dolores del Río.

“For me, the hotel’s period of greatest splendor was that of the golden age of travel, the era of adventure and discovery, which lasted until the first decades of the last century,” says writer Francisca Matteoli. Her favorite anecdote is from those times, when, in 1930, her Chilean grandfather arrived at the hotel loaded down with suitcases. A group of fans confused him with the actor Tyrone Power, whose arrival was expected at the same time. Matteoli’s grandfather — far from rushing to resolve the misunderstanding — stopped to sign autographs. By then, the hotel was already a machine for manufacturing literary episodes.

What happened in 1928 with Brazilian president Washington Luís was more serious. According to Boechat, he tried to force his way into the suite of Yvonette Martin, a French woman with whom he had a romantic relationship. She shot him in the abdomen. The president was hospitalized — it was publicly said that he had undergone surgery for appendicitis.

Copacabana Palace
The pool at the Copacabana Palace – living history.Luisa Dörr
One of the displays.
One of the displays.Luisa Dörr

There are endless stories from the Copa. Marlene Dietrich — in the dressing room of the Golden Room, the hotel’s concert hall — once requested an ice bucket full of sand from Copacabana beach, so that she could urinate in it. Orson Welles threw furniture out of the window into the legendary pool — including his typewriter, according to some versions — after a telephone dispute with his partner, Dolores del Río. There was the fire of 1953, which Guinle weathered without losing his composure: with flames raging in part of the complex, Norwegian Princess Ragnhild’s numerous suitcases were ready in the lobby precisely at the scheduled departure time. Guinle was a perfectionist — he led a team of 1,400 employees who were attentive to every detail. His list of rules for workers established, for example, avoiding any criticism of the client, “even indirectly,” or “never — neither by word nor by gesture — revealing that you’re aware of their eccentricities.”

Today, the director is Portuguese citizen Ulisses Marreiros. He’s a calm man with cordial elegance. He began working at the age of 15, in a supermarket. Soon, he embarked on a career that took him away from his home. “My first hotel was in the south of Portugal,” he smiles. “It was a three-star hotel with 1,380 rooms, number one in the region in sales of beer and fries.”

At a table at Cipriani, he affirms — between bites of his exquisite meal and a stunning wine pairing — that “hospitality is an anthropological experience, even more so in the luxury sector.” With a subtle gesture, he calls a waiter over, to discreetly indicate that he must explain to two diners that it’s not worth asking for their champagne glasses to be filled to the brim. The price of the bottle justifies the manager’s intervention: “As you can understand, we’re not in the milkshake business here.”

Marreiros warns that the behavior of the guests is usually quite proper and that there are hardly any exceptions. In recent years, they haven’t had crises like the soccer game that Rod Stewart organized in 1977, in the presidential suite. Due to the damage caused by the singer’s game, he was — like Joplin before him — “invited to leave the hotel.”

During our visit, the Red Hot Chili Peppers were guests. Their presence was imperceptible, unlike the loud shouting that could be heard from their entourage during a brunch in the quiet Pérgula restaurant.

The Pérgula restaurant.
The Pérgula restaurant.Luisa Dörr
Luisa Dörr

Over dinner at Cipriani, the director briefly recounts the biggest changes in the hotel’s history. Octávio Guinle died in 1968. He was succeeded by his wife — Mrs. Mariazinha — who inherited an anachronistic management model, with crazy expenses. She competed with the new five-star hotels in a Río that was declining, since — in 1960 — the capital of the country became Brasilia.

She resisted selling until 1989, when she accepted the offer made by James Sherwood, who integrated the Copacabana into Belmond (formerly Orient-Express Hotels). In 2018, this group was acquired by the luxury giant LVMH, owner of what is now formally called: Copacabana Palace, A Belmond Hotel, Rio de Janeiro.

Since Sherwood got to work three decades ago, renovations haven’t stopped. The most recent stage was the reopening of the theater, in 2022. It had been closed for 27 years and was rehabilitated by the architect Ivan Rezende. “Everything had been lost after the fire of 1953… we had to do archeological work to interpret what it had been like,” he explains. The result is a cubic space of native woods, with surface reliefs that help improve the reflection and absorption of sound. Once the renovation was finished, the famous Brazilian composer Caetano Veloso stopped by for an interview. Impressed by the acoustics, the legend lamented not having his instrument with him: “How can they bring me here without my guitar?”

The architect Ivan Rezende, in the Copacabana Palace theater. It was rehabilitated under his direction and reopened in 2022, after many years of abandonment.
The architect Ivan Rezende, in the Copacabana Palace theater. It was rehabilitated under his direction and reopened in 2022, after many years of abandonment.Luisa Dörr

The Copa has evolved while maintaining its essence. It’s a luxury hotel updated to the standards of the 21st century, while still being inhabited by ghosts. There are formidable specters, such as Jorginho Guinle, the nephew of Octávio — a playboy who served as a bridge between Brazil and the stars of the United States and Europe. He squandered his time away in the hotel, where he lived. One day, in 2004 — while dying in the hospital — old Jorginho gave the order to be transferred, as quickly as possible, to suite 153 at Copacabana Palace. Once there, he ordered a vanilla milkshake with caramel and had chicken stroganoff for dinner. For dessert, he had a raspberry sorbet. He died at dawn, satisfied, broke and golden, like the soul of Río.

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Assessing Property Size: What Square Footage Can You Get With The Average UK House Price In Your Area?

Assessing Property Size In The UK

In the United Kingdom, there is a prevailing tendency to gauge the size of residences based on the number of bedrooms rather than square footage. In fact, research indicates that three out of five individuals are unaware of the square footage of their property.

However, a comprehensive analysis conducted by Savills reveals significant variations in property sizes throughout the country. For instance, with the average property price standing at £340,837, this amount would typically afford a studio flat spanning 551 square feet in London, according to the prominent estate agency.

Conversely, in the North East region, the same sum would secure a spacious five-bedroom house measuring 1,955 square feet, nearly four times the size of a comparable property in London.

Best value: Heading to the North East of England is where buyers will get the most from their money

In Scotland, the median house price equates to a sizable investment capable of procuring a generous four-bedroom residence spanning 1,743 square feet. Conversely, in Wales, Yorkshire & The Humber, and the North West, this sum affords a slightly smaller four-bedroom dwelling of approximately 1,500 square feet, while in the East and West Midlands, it accommodates a 1,300 square foot home. In stark contrast, within the South West, £340,837 secures a modest 1,000 square foot property, and in the East, an even more confined 928 square feet.

London presents the most challenging market, where this budget offers the least purchasing power. Following closely, the South East allows for 825 square feet of space or a medium-sized two-bedroom dwelling. Lucian Cook, head of residential research at Savills, emphasizes the profound disparity in purchasing potential across Britain, ranging from compact studio flats in London to spacious four or five-bedroom residences in parts of North East England.

While square footage serves as a critical metric, with a significant portion of Britons unfamiliar with their property’s dimensions, the number of bedrooms remains a traditional indicator of size. Personal preferences, such as a preference for larger kitchens, may influence property selection. For those prioritizing ample space, Easington, County Durham, offers a substantial 2,858 square foot, five-bedroom home, while Rhondda, Wales, and Na h-Eileanan an Iar, Scotland, provide 2,625 and 2,551 square feet, respectively. Conversely, in St Albans, Hertfordshire, £340,837 secures a mere 547 square feet, equivalent to a one-bedroom flat.

The disparity continues in central London, where purchasing power diminishes considerably. In Kensington, the budget accommodates a mere 220 square feet, contrasting with the slightly more spacious 236 square feet in Westminster. Conversely, in Dagenham, the same investment translates to 770 square feet. Three properties currently listed on Rightmove exemplify the diversity within this price range across the UK market.

South of the river: This semi-detached house is located near to three different train stations

South of the river: This semi-detached house is located near to three different train stations

2. Lewisham: One-bed house, £345,000

This one-bedroom property in Lewisham, South London, is on the market for £345,000.

The semi-detached house is set over two floors, and has a private patio.

The property is located near to bus links and amenities, as well as Catford train station.

Edinburgh fringe: This three-bed property is located on the edge of the city, near to the town of Musselburgh

Edinburgh fringe: This three-bed property is located on the edge of the city, near to the town of Musselburgh

3. Edinburgh: Three-bed house, £350,000

This three-bedroom detached house in Edinburgh could be yours for £350,000.

The house, which has a two-car driveway, boasts a large kitchen diner, and is within easy reach of Newcriaghall train station.

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Top 10 Florida Cities Dominate The Business Startup Landscape In The U.S.

Top 10 Florida Cities And Business Startup Landscape In The U.S.

The Voice Of EU | Florida emerges as a hub for entrepreneurial endeavors, with its vibrant business landscape and conducive environment for startups. Renowned for its low corporate tax rates and a high concentration of investors, the Sunshine State beckons aspiring entrepreneurs seeking fertile grounds to launch and grow their businesses.

In a recent report by WalletHub, Florida cities dominate the list of the top 10 best destinations for business startups, showcasing their resilience and economic vitality amidst challenging times.

From Orlando’s thriving market to Miami’s dynamic ecosystem, each city offers unique advantages and opportunities for entrepreneurial success. Let’s delve into the chronologically listed cities that exemplify Florida’s prominence in the business startup arena.

1. Orlando Leads the Way: Orlando emerges as the most attractive market in the U.S. for business startups, with a remarkable surge in small business establishments. WalletHub’s latest report highlights Orlando’s robust ecosystem, fostering the survival and growth of startups, buoyed by a high concentration of investors per capita.

2. Tampa Takes Second Place: Securing the second spot among large cities for business startups, Tampa boasts a favorable business environment attributed to its low corporate tax rates. The city’s ample investor presence further fortifies startups, providing essential resources for navigating the initial years of business operations.

3. Charlotte’s Diverse Industries: Claiming the third position, Charlotte stands out for its diverse industrial landscape and exceptionally low corporate taxes, enticing companies to reinvest capital. This conducive environment propels entrepreneurial endeavors, contributing to sustained economic growth.

4. Jacksonville’s Rising Profile: Jacksonville emerges as a promising destination for startups, bolstered by its favorable business climate. The city’s strategic positioning fosters entrepreneurial ventures, attracting aspiring business owners seeking growth opportunities.

5. Miami’s Entrepreneurial Hub: Miami solidifies its position as a thriving entrepreneurial hub, attracting businesses with its dynamic ecosystem and strategic location. The city’s vibrant startup culture and supportive infrastructure make it an appealing destination for ventures of all sizes.

6. Atlanta’s Economic Momentum: Atlanta’s ascent in the business startup landscape underscores its economic momentum and favorable business conditions. The city’s strategic advantages and conducive policies provide a fertile ground for entrepreneurial ventures to flourish.

7. Fort Worth’s Business-Friendly Environment: Fort Worth emerges as a prime destination for startups, offering a business-friendly environment characterized by low corporate taxes. The city’s supportive ecosystem and strategic initiatives facilitate the growth and success of new ventures.

8. Austin’s Innovation Hub: Austin cements its status as an innovation hub, attracting startups with its vibrant entrepreneurial community and progressive policies. The city’s robust infrastructure and access to capital foster a conducive environment for business growth and innovation.

9. Durham’s Emerging Entrepreneurship Scene: Durham’s burgeoning entrepreneurship scene positions it as a promising destination for startups, fueled by its supportive ecosystem and strategic initiatives. The city’s collaborative culture and access to resources contribute to the success of new ventures.

10. St. Petersburg’s Thriving Business Community: St. Petersburg rounds off the top 10 with its thriving business community and supportive ecosystem for startups. The city’s strategic advantages and favorable business climate make it an attractive destination for entrepreneurial endeavors.

Despite unprecedented challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Great Resignation, and high inflation, these top Florida cities remain resilient and well-equipped to overcome obstacles, offering promising opportunities for business owners and entrepreneurs alike.

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European Startup Ecosystems Awash With Gulf Investment – Here Are Some Of The Top Investors

European Startup Ecosystem Getting Flooded With Gulf Investments

The Voice Of EU | In recent years, European entrepreneurs seeking capital infusion have widened their horizons beyond the traditional American investors, increasingly turning their gaze towards the lucrative investment landscape of the Gulf region. With substantial capital reservoirs nestled within sovereign wealth funds and corporate venture capital entities, Gulf nations have emerged as compelling investors for European startups and scaleups.

According to comprehensive data from Dealroom, the influx of investment from Gulf countries into European startups soared to a staggering $3 billion in 2023, marking a remarkable 5x surge from the $627 million recorded in 2018.

This substantial injection of capital, accounting for approximately 5% of the total funding raised in the region, underscores the growing prominence of Gulf investors in European markets.

Particularly noteworthy is the significant support extended to growth-stage companies, with over two-thirds of Gulf investments in 2023 being directed towards funding rounds exceeding $100 million. This influx of capital provides a welcome boost to European companies grappling with the challenge of securing well-capitalized investors locally.

Delving deeper into the landscape, Sifted has identified the most active Gulf investors in European startups over the past two years.

Leading the pack is Aramco Ventures, headquartered in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia. Bolstered by a substantial commitment, Aramco Ventures boasts a $1.5 billion sustainability fund, alongside an additional $4 billion allocated to its venture capital arm, positioning it as a formidable player with a total investment capacity of $7 billion by 2027. With a notable presence in 17 funding rounds, Aramco Ventures has strategically invested in ventures such as Carbon Clean Solutions and ANYbotics, aligning with its focus on businesses that offer strategic value.

Following closely is Mubadala Capital, headquartered in Abu Dhabi, UAE, with an impressive tally of 13 investments in European startups over the past two years. Backed by the sovereign wealth fund Mubadala Investment Company, Mubadala Capital’s diverse investment portfolio spans private equity, venture capital, and alternative solutions. Notable investments include Klarna, TIER, and Juni, reflecting its global investment strategy across various sectors.

Ventura Capital, based in Dubai, UAE, secured its position as a key player with nine investments in European startups. With a presence in Dubai, London, and Tokyo, Ventura Capital boasts an international network of limited partners and a sector-agnostic investment approach, contributing to its noteworthy investments in companies such as Coursera and Spotify.

Qatar Investment Authority, headquartered in Doha, Qatar, has made significant inroads into the European startup ecosystem with six notable investments. As the sovereign wealth fund of Qatar, QIA’s diversified portfolio spans private and public equity, infrastructure, and real estate, with strategic investments in tech startups across healthcare, consumer, and industrial sectors.

MetaVision Dubai, a newcomer to the scene, has swiftly garnered attention with six investments in European startups. Focusing on seed to Series A startups in the metaverse and Web3 space, MetaVision raised an undisclosed fund in 2022, affirming its commitment to emerging technologies and innovative ventures.

Investcorp, headquartered in Manama, Bahrain, has solidified its presence with six investments in European startups. With a focus on mid-sized B2B businesses, Investcorp’s diverse investment strategies encompass private equity, real estate, infrastructure, and credit management, contributing to its notable investments in companies such as Terra Quantum and TruKKer.

Chimera Capital, based in Abu Dhabi, UAE, rounds off the list with four strategic investments in European startups. As part of a prominent business conglomerate, Chimera Capital leverages its global reach and sector-agnostic approach to drive investments in ventures such as CMR Surgical and Neat Burger.

In conclusion, the burgeoning influx of capital from Gulf investors into European startups underscores the region’s growing appeal as a vibrant hub for innovation and entrepreneurship. With key players such as Aramco Ventures, Mubadala Capital, and Ventura Capital leading the charge, European startups are poised to benefit from the strategic investments and partnerships forged with Gulf investors, propelling them towards sustained growth and success in the global market landscape.

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