Colonial elegance in the Brazilian jungle
174 Rooms / 19 Suites
The dashing good looks of Belmond Hotel das Cataratas, an ice-cream pink colonial estate, are trumped only by the breathtaking natural wonder of its setting. It is the only hotel inside Brazil's Iguacu National Park and from its restaurant terrace you can savor a refreshing caipirinha while watching the sun set behind the cascading froth of Iguassu Falls. Inside, the marble and dark-wood interior is endlessly elegant; out the back you’ll find pristinely manicured gardens brimming with exotic trees and a brilliant-blue, deep-water swimming pool staffed by pool attendants who seem to know just when you're ready for another fresh coconut water.
The 193 rooms ooze traditional Portuguese style and range from Superior Rooms to Cataratas Suites. All feature queen beds, dark rosewood floors and carved furniture, pastel trim, floral curtains and walls punctuated with botanical prints. Moorish glazed ceramic tiles lend the bathrooms a light, attractive air. The 1,011-square-foot suites are luxuriously spacious with two bedrooms and bathrooms, a separate living room and views of the verdant surroundings from four different balconies.
The spa is an ideal retreat after a sweaty day traipsing through the national park. You are welcomed to the discreet spa in one of the luxury hotel's ground-floor side wings by a neon "spa" sign above the entrance — but that's where the artificial glare ends. Inside, the wood-and-marble décor creates a serene ambience illuminated by natural light from the garden windows. There is a reception area, a relaxation room screened by linen curtains, and six treatment rooms, including one for couples. The spa showcases Brazilian products — Bel Col for facials and Vyvedas and BySamia for body treatments such as the Essence of the Amazon and the Rainforest Scrub. You are also treated to a cool pair of white and turquoise Havaianas flip-flops (there’s nary a fluffy slipper in sight).
The bar serves great beer and burgers with fries, and the refined Itaipu Restaurant features Brazilian-style haute cuisine. But for a wide variety, the light and breezy poolside buffet restaurant is hard to beat. In the morning, its tables are filled with a cornucopia of jungle fruits, cereals, breads and eggs. At dinner, feast on dozens of international favorites and choice cuts of meats from its churrascaria gaucho grill. Fittingly, given the huge strides in South American wine making in recent years, bottles from Argentina, Chile and Brazil headline the wine list.
The Iguassu Falls hotel is all about the majestic falls and surrounding national park. At dawn and at dusk, guests of Belmond Hotel das Cataratas have the falls to themselves (tourists not staying there must leave the park every day, meaning hotel guests can unparalleled access to all of the sites). You can walk out to the infamous Devil's Throat lookout platform, surrounded by the spray of the falls, with just the local wildlife for company, plus be back in time for an alfresco cappuccino before the first tourists of the day have even entered the park.
An excellent in-house travel office can organize safari walks into the rainforest, bird watching, rafting and helicopter rides over the falls. Time your trip well and, once a month, the Belmond also offers the exclusive chance to witness the rare phenomenon of a lunar rainbow, where the full moon begets a multi-colored arc over the falls. More traditional resort activities include tennis, swimming pools and a gym with large picture windows.