South

written by | Posted on July 11th, 2013

Curitiba's Botanical Garden.

Curitiba’s Botanical Garden.

Curitiba

FLY: Beginning late-2013, American Airlines will offer direct flights from Miami to Afonso Pena International Airport, located 12 miles from the city-center. Additionally, travelers can get connections to Curitiba via TAM and other airlines from Sao Paulo and Rio. (Airport code: CWB)

SEE: Curitiba is a melting pot due to the massive immigration that took place in the 19th century, when Germans, Italians, Ukrainians and Polish made this city their home. As such, visitors can explore the Santa Felicidade neighborhood, with its first-class Italian eateries; the Bosque Alemão (“German Wood”), which celebrates the tradition of the German immigrants and is home to an observatory with views of the city; and the Ukrainian church replica at Tingui Park. Also not to miss is the Botanical Garden, which was created to resemble French gardens, and, in fact, Curitiba has an enviable number of green spaces all worth exploring. Meanwhile, cultural and architectural buffs won’t want to miss the bold Oscar Niemeyer Museum, designed by the architect and housing photos of his projects from around the world.

STAY: Best bet for World Cup fans is the Pestana Curitiba property, with 173 rooms and suites. It’s located near the city’s historic center and is one of the city’s most modern and family-friendly hotels. Amenities include a pool, spa, and restaurant that serves Portuguese cuisine. There’s also a Stella Artois bar, for those who can’t get enough of this Belgium beer. (pestana.com/en/pestana-curitiba-hotel)

WORLD CUP VENUE: Arena da Baixada (capacity: 41,456 spectators for the World Cup); will host four matches.

Sunset over the Guaiba River in Porto Alegre.

Sunset over the Guaiba River in Porto Alegre.

Porto Alegre

FLY: Located four miles from downtown, the Salgado Filho International Airport is accessed nonstop from Miami via an American Airlines flight that will begin in late 2013. Or, travelers can hop on TAM, which offers direct flights from Rio, Sao Paulo and other Brazilian cities. (Airport code: POA)

SEE: Porto Alegre, which translates to “happy port,” is located on the eastern bank of the Guaiba River, right at the convergence point of five other rivers, together forming the vast Lagoa dos Patos. It is considered one of Brazil’s most sophisticated and forward-thinking cities, and is also one of the country’s greenest cities. Most striking is the well-preserved, neo-classical architecture, which is not surprising given that the majority of citizens are of Portuguese, Italian, German and Polish descent. Architectural buffs will love exploring the early-20th century Metropolitan Cathedral, featuring exquisite architectural details; the Rio Grande do Sul Art Museum, also of neo-classic design and housing works by regional artists; and the Public Market—yes, shoppers will love this place, too, but those into architecture will notice, once again, the neo-classic details. Recommend a detour to one of the parks, of course, especially the Parque Farroupilha, the city’s largest park; it gets quite lively on Sundays during the weekly flea market.

STAY: The luxury Sheraton Porto Alegre is the best bet in town, located in the exclusive, upscale neighborhood of Moinhos de Vento and encompassing 170 guestrooms and suites. The hotel is connected to the Moinhos Shopping Center—with over 100 boutiques and shops, 15 restaurants, and four movie theaters—and is within walking distance of the Calcada da Fama, a street full of gourmet restaurants and trendy bars. Book one of the themed guestrooms, which pay homage to Brazil, England, and New York City. There’s an onsite heated pool, and spa treatments are available. (starwoodhotels.com)

WORLD CUP VENUE: Beira-Rio Stadium (capacity: 48,849 spectators); will host five matches.

World Cup Tours

Package the World Cup experience with a tour operator. Here are a few recommendations.

Kensington Tours is offering several packages that range from five to 14 days. The 8-day Brazil World Cup-Follow Your Team, starting at $6,995 pp, based on two to four people dbl, includes two Preliminary Round World Cup matches so that your clients can “follow their team.” Rate includes all airport transfers, accommodations, flights within Brazil, all match transfers, and on the ground host services. There’s also the 8-day Brazil World CupSemi-Finals & Final, which starts and ends in Rio, and starts at $35,995 pp, based on two to four people dbl. Departure date is July 7, 2014, and your clients can also add on cocktails with Pele for an extra price. (kensingtontours.com/ sporting-events/brazil-world-cup-packages)

Goway, which has partnered with Cartan, an agent of MATCH Hospitality for the sale of the 2014 FIFA World Cup, is offering three options to take in the sports event: Base Camp, which does not include game tickets and allows clients to follow their team; Hospitality Packages, which do include game tickets; and Experience it Like a Local, which does not include game tickets. (goway.com/specialevents/ world-cup/index.html)

Roadtrips also offers several options for your clients to pick and choose from with World Cup custom packages that offer three-, four- and five-star accommodations in every World Cup city; customizable packages tailored to your client’s preferred dates, budget and desires; personalized meet and greet at the airport, and private airport transfers; onsite local host services in every World Cup host city; Brazil-based travel and concierge services; destination services, and luxury excursions and adventures to add to your client’s experience. There are 6-night packages (ideal for two matches) from $6,520 pp depending on host city. World Cup Semi & Final packages start at $15,735 pp, with Final packages starting at $10,935 pp. (roadtrips.com/world-cup-travel.aspx)