Brazil is the fifth largest country in the world and one of its fastest-growing economies – hence its place in the popular BRICS acronym of developing markets. The country is riding the crest of a wave as it plays host first to the football World Cup in 2014 and then the 2016 Olympic Games, so infrastructure development is on the rise. But so too are hotel rates and the general cost of living, so don’t be surprised by the prices in restaurants and bars. Safety is still an issue in parts so visitors should take all the usual precautions and make use of taxis for getting around São Paulo.
If you want employees to make an impression on their travels, choose Hotel Unique (www.hotelunique.com.br) and have them invite their new business acquaintances over. This building resembles an enormous ship stranded on its hull with a green copper exterior and large ‘portholes’ for windows. For something a little more understated, but no less trendy, opt for the Fasano Hotel (www.fasano.com.br). Both are located in the upmarket and leafy Jardins neighbourhoods.
Try D.O.M (www.domrestaurante.com.br) which goes back to nature to source some of Brazil’s finest natural ingredients, or Mani (www.manimanioca.com.br) which specialises in Brazilian-European fusion food. They were ranked number two and five respectively in the Latin America’s 50 Best Restaurants awards earlier this year. Or track down a churrasqueira restaurant to sample the barbecued meat for which Brazil is famous.
The Fasano’s Baretto bar is highly rated for its chic design and live music, but if you’re sleeping upstairs you might want to explore further afield. If you fancy Brazilian jazz in low-lit and lively surroundings head for Casa de Francisca (www.casadefrancisca.art.br), but you’ll need a table reservation.
British Airways and Brazilian national carrier TAM both operate non-stop flights from London Heathrow to São Paulo’s Guarulhos International Airport. One-stop options include Air Europa’s new services from London Gatwick via Madrid (from mid-December), plus TAP, Iberia, Lufthansa and Air France from their hubs.
Guarulhos International Airport is around 30km from São Paulo city centre. Airport shuttle buses operate several routes across the city, but taxis are normally the transfer of choice and readily available. Bear in mind the journey into town can take up to two hours.
Must see sights
Avenida Paulista is the throbbing business and commercial heart of São Paulo, roughly separating the city’s new and old neighbourhoods – explore the numerous galleries, museums, restaurants and bars that line its tributaries. Check out the city’s impressive Municipal Theatre and Metropolitan Cathedral, or head out to Ibirapuera Park for acres of green gardens and fresh air.
“Take a long-term approach to doing business, and do not stick too rigidly to your plans. Things often change rapidly and unexpectedly in Brazil. Brazilians are flexible, and famous for finding a way around problems”
São Paulo is three hours behind GMT. Portuguese is the first language, but English is widely spoken at hotels and restaurants. The currency is the Brazilian Real: £1 = R$3.5. See www.visitbrasil.com.