Tucked alongside the edge of the Atlantic Ocean, the Sheraton Grand Rio Hotel & Resort is the only hotel in Rio de Janeiro with direct access to a beach — a fact Head Concierge Livia Louriero knows will keep the resort’s guests happily ensconced on property.
Still, after they have their fill of the sun, sand and surf outside their hotel room, guests head straight to the concierge desk, where Louriero and her team offer insider tips, suggestions and thoughtful gestures that often exceed expectations.
Loureiro joined the Sheraton family 12 years ago as an intern before working her way up to the role of head concierge at the Sheraton Grand Rio.
Marriott TRAVELER sat down with Livia to chat about the best things to do in Rio and her unique experiences working with guests as their concierge.
What inspires you in your work as head concierge to surpass guests’ expectations and create the kinds of memories that keep them coming back?
“I love to help people. I love to connect with people and do different things during the day. I also love the life of a concierge … We’re always involved in many events and getting to know people.
One time there was a young person who wanted to do a surprise for his girlfriend. But he didn’t want to just go to a restaurant. He wanted to do something different. So we decided to create a picnic in the pool area.
We made designs out of towels, got Champagne, and even had music playing. He loved it so much that he ended up upgrading to a suite. It was a lot of work to put together the dinner by the pool, but it was necessary for us to create that special moment for him.
Another time, I had an [international guest] ask me for help proposing to his Brazilian girlfriend. He mentioned that they both really loved samba, so we started contacting samba houses, and we arranged for him to propose during a performance. He invited her to the show, and I had to make sure that she went. He disguised himself in the cast, and at the end he asked her to marry him. It was exciting!”
I imagine there are even opportunities to create experiences for guests who haven’t asked for them.
“I remember that we once had a single female guest [staying here]. One of our doormen was carrying a bouquet of roses to another guest, and he happened to enter the elevator with her. She told him that she had never received roses as a gift.
The doorman told us the story, and we thought that we needed to send her some roses. So we created a beautiful bouquet of roses. When she came back to the lobby, we presented her with the bouquet … It’s a simple story, but we want our guests to be happy in any way.”
Part of your job is helping people figure out what to do outside of the hotel. But the Sheraton Grand Rio Hotel & Resort has so many things to do on property. What do you suggest they do while here?
“To relax, we recommend our spa; they do a wonderful relaxing massage with a view of the sea and then [you can] have a tea and biscuits in the lounge.
Every Saturday in the restaurant Casarão, we have our traditional and unforgettable feijoada, which is a typical Brazilian dish that consists of black beans with various types of meat and is served with farofa, white rice and collard greens.
For a more sophisticated dinner, excellent for special occasions, we have the L’Etoile restaurant by Chef Jean Paul Bondoux, serving French food. It’s located on the 26th floor and has a unique atmosphere and views of Leblon and Ipanema at night.”
You must get some extraordinary requests from guests. How do you meet their expectations? Or even exceed them?
“First, we try to converse with the guest to understand exactly what they want. We have to understand the person and know if the person is at the hotel for their anniversary, a business trip or a simple vacation. We have to understand the person, so we read their body language to get a sense of what they are in the mood for.
A guest once contact me by email saying she was traveling alone and wanted information about Carnival. I started to find some parties for her to attend. Soon after, another guest came to our desk and said she too was alone at Carnival.
We decided to connect the two, and they enjoyed the Carnival festivities their entire time together. Six months later I received a photo and a message saying they had become friends and that they were taking another trip together.”
You’re a native of Rio de Janeiro, so you must know the city really well. What are your favorite excursions?
“I love to recommend things related to nature, like hiking Pedra da Bonita, hang gliding onto the beach and touring the city in a helicopter. It’s very beautiful to see Rio de Janeiro from the top in a helicopter. You can see that Rio de Janeiro is a unique city, with the beach, lake, forest and mountains. The helicopter even does a 360-degree spin around the Christ the Redeemer statue, and you can take a selfie with Christ.
I also have some favorite excursions that most tourists don’t know about. My favorite garden is the Sítio Roberto Burle Marx, located in Barra de Guaratiba, which has one of the most important collections of tropical plants. There are more than 3,500 different species there.
The Instituto Moreira Salles is a cultural center that is located in Gavea. [The building] is the old residence of Walther Moreira Salles, a Brazilian who made his wealth in banking. It houses an amazing exposition of photographs about old Rio de Janeiro.
Prainha Beach is located in a protected environment, so there is no construction in this area. The water is clear, and it’s amazing for surfing. The beach also has a trail to the Caeté viewing point, where you can overlook Rio de Janeiro.
Finally, the Pedra do Telégrafo in Barra de Guaratiba is popular because at its end there is a rock where you can take a photo and it looks like you are hanging over the edge of a mountain!”
If you enjoyed learning about this local experience, we invite you to visit us at Sheraton Hotels. At destinations around the world, our associates welcome you and seek to deliver the highest standard of service with style and local flair, ensuring you experience the best stay possible.