I have been to Rio de Janeiro many times, both for work and pleasure. So I know all of the hotels. Based on all of the variables, I chose the Sheraton Grand Rio. The designation “Grand” has only been given to about 20 Sheraton hotels worldwide (out of more than 500) based upon their location (near a beach), hard product (physical structure) and soft product (service). And the Sheraton Grand Rio is the only Sheraton Grand in South America. One of the main things I like about this hotel is that it is the only hotel in Rio which is directly on the beach and has a really nice pool area.
In addition the hotel was recently remodeled. They moved the Executive Lounge (which I had access to as a Starwood Platinum member) from a small space on the 3rd floor to a former suite on the 26th floor, which is the top floor of the hotel.
In addition, my Platinum status allowed me to book the cheapest room in the hotel and get upgraded to an oceanfront room on a high floor
My room had two queen beds and 3 balconies, one which was a wraparound oceanfront balcony. The hotel had a great spa, with complimentary use of the steam room, sauna and gym.
The hotel also has several restaurants, including a Brazilian Churrascaria, a poolside restaurant, an Italian restaurant, and a critically acclaimed French restaurant on the top floor (across from the Executive Lounge).
Many people react negatively to the fact that across the street from the hotel is the Vidigal favela (slum). But most of the people living in the favela are hardworking and honest but happen to be poor due to the widespread inequality of wealth distribution in Brazil.
As a matter of fact, most of the hotel workers are from the favela and are the ones responsible for the quality service it provides.
I was really looking forward to my month long stay in the hotel!