Lincoln de Melo has worked at the Renaissance São Paulo Hotel for three years, the last two at the concierge desk. De Melo, 30, says one of the best aspects of his job is discovering new things about his ever-evolving hometown and sharing them with visitors from around the world.
What restaurant would you recommend for a professional lunch or dinner?
For a relaxed atmosphere, I would recommend the Terraço Jardins Restaurant (Tel: 3069-2621) here in the hotel.
For a more formal meeting, there is A. Figueira Rubaiyat (Tel: 3087-1399), where you can reserve a private room and enjoy typical Brazilian dishes. Figueira’s specialty is beef but it serves fish and chicken as well.
An Italian restaurant such as Piselli (Tel: 3801-6043) is another excellent choice, especially for vegetarians. They serve a green pasta that I personally like too much!
I have 24 hours in São Paulo. What itinerary would you recommend in order to impress a client?
You could start by visiting the São Paulo Cathedral, which is in the central area of the city. From there, you can explore the Mercadão Municipal, which was renovated in 2003 and where you can buy and eat traditional Brazilian and imported foods.
If your client likes museums, our hotel is located only four blocks from the city’s main museum, the Museu de Arte São Paulo, which has an impressive collection of European paintings in addition to important works by Brazilian artists.
Can you suggest one or two places to shop?
Here in the Jardins district, there are many high-end boutiques along the Rua Oscar Freire and in the area around it. Some of our guests from Europe say they are not so interested in shops that they can visit at home. But on Rua Augusta, you can find places with clothes made by local designers.
Iguatemi São Paulo is one of three very elegant shopping malls that are close to one another. You could easily and quickly get to the others – Deslau and Cidade Jardim – by cab.
What are the must-buys in São Paulo, if I were to bring something home?
For adults, Brazilian coffee is a good and popular choice. A bottle of cachaça is our most famous spirit, to make caipirinhas at home.
For children, our famous flip-flops are great. There are stores where you can personalize them with names or even photos, and the kids love them.
What safety measures do you recommend that people take when they visit São Paulo?
We always caution guests against displaying expensive jewelry, cameras and watches as this can attract unwanted attention and cause temptation. I have one guest who is very attached to his watch and I recommend keeping it covered by a jacket when out. This area, Jardins, is safe but you need to exercise common sense in a city of 10 million people.
I have many meetings in the city. What is the best way to get around?
Cabs are very safe and they all use meters. The hotel has a transportation desk, with a car and trained driver, if you have several appointments in one day. The important thing is to reserve and plan ahead. Unfortunately, in this very big city with two million cars, there is always traffic and it can be a challenge to reach destinations that are only a short distance away.
Another option is the subway: São Paulo has a clean, modern subway that can get you lots of places very fast.
What is the strangest request that you have received from a guest?
I had a guest, with his girlfriend, who told me he had visited the city 10 years before and sailed in a lake in the city. It’s certainly not very common for visitors. I did some research and found a place where you can hire small boats.
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About the Author: Mary Sutter is a contributing editor to Latin Trade.