RIO DE JANEIRO – A week before the start of Carnival in Rio de Janeiro, hotels are hurrying to put out “no vacancy” signs and tripling their room prices for the 1.5 million tourists expected to flock into the city, according to organizers.
The Rio hotel association estimates that hotel occupancy during Carnival – Feb. 10-14 – will reach 72 percent, organization president Alfredo Lopes told EFE.
“Carnival and New Year’s Eve are the main dates on Rio’s tourist calendar, with the best rates of hotel occupancy, but for a long time Carnival has been the main date for tourism” in the city, he added.
One can already sense a festive atmosphere in the air, and it is hard to find lodgings in the southern part of Rio, the most touristic and safest zone in the city and where room rates are going through the roof.
As is traditional, tourists will prefer to stay in neighborhoods like Copacabana, which expects hotels to be at 75 percent capacity, and Ipanema, which will exceed 80 percent, although Flamengo will be at 83 percent because of its closeness to downtown and the number of dance troupe that will parade through the area.
The cheapest rooms are practically gone and it is difficult to find anything below $200 per night for a double room.
The available rooms are the most expensive ones, but the more expensive hotels like the Fasano or the Copacabana – two of the iconic tourist locations in the city – are already filled, even though the last reservations went for over $1,000 per night.
Prices could exceed $900 per night at the Hilton and Pestana hotels on Copacabana Beach, where there are still available rooms.
Most of the international tourists who will visit Rio in the coming days, Lopes said, will be Argentines and Chileans, many of whom will be renting apartments or single rooms in local homes as a more economical option.