Previous Post: Manaus, Brazil. First Impressions: Photo Report, Part 1
Please note: Exchange rate was slightly better in Manaus than in Rio: ($1:R$2.26 vs. $1:R$2.20).
At the end of my previous post I promised to talk about my impressions of Manaus as one of the 12 World Cup venues in Brazil. Having thought about it some more, I decided to do it at the end of the series. It just seems to be logical, because yes, I have a few words to say about the city’s preparedness (or lack thereof) for this massive event.
Anyhow, the Park Suites Manaus we stayed at is one weird puppy. It’s a 16-story building towering right above the Rio Negro and located in an upscale Manaus suburb called Punta Negra next to the sandy Rio Negro beach. The views we had from our room were nothing short of astonishing!
I can’t imagine a better location and better views if you are into exploring the Amazon, yet want to stay relatively close to Manaus. I would certainly not stay in the city center (please read my previous report if you want to know why).
And of course, the Park Suites Manaus is the only hotel in the area if you want to stay on points. As a Category 3 hotel it will cost you 28,000 points a night, but Gold status that you get with the US Bank Club Carlson credit card entitles you to one free night for any 2+ night stay. That effectively makes it 28,000 points for two nights (if you are playing your cards right).
As you can see the Park Suites has a lot going on for it. Unbeatable location, attractive exterior, killer river views, gorgeous pool area, and friendly, cooperative staff that are truly trying to help. It could be a solid, 3.5-4 star hotel, but then, you get to your room, and the magic stops.
After two tries, they finally gave us one of their best rooms–or so they said–on the 12th floor with a wraparound balcony and the views you can see in the pics below. That the room could only be described as spartan didn’t bother us too much. It had a good air-conditioner, flat-screen TV (that was hooked with a standard, non-HD cable, though), a safe, and wired Internet, that wasn’t too slow. What did bother us was a lousy bathroom. Ugly, tiles right from the 60-s with a walk-in shower so tiny you don’t want to make any sudden moves in there. Just go through the motions as carefully as you can and get the hell out of there.
However, when you do “get the hell out of there” and open the curtains (use your muscle in order to do that because they get stuck), you are getting this incredible view from the balcony—do ask for a higher floor. That view alone, I promise, will make you whole again!
Yes, I know you’ve noticed rusty rails. But if you look beyond them…
This low rise building down there is a famous, 5-star Tropical Hotel. I don’t know, I still prefered the view from my balcony.
It was a large corner room, but with only one bed, so they had to bring another. We asked them to remove the couch because it was just taking space at that point. Actually asked them twice, but they’d never come around, so we had to rearrange some furniture ourselves. Looks as if it belongs, doesn’t it?
So allow me to wrap up my review with this.
- Location, location, location…
- The views!
- 28,000 Club Carlson points for two nights for gold members. Timmy and I booked four nights for 56,000 points total.
- Gorgeous infinity pool and pool area.
- Reasonable buffet breakfast for R$28, although nothing to write home about.
- Lots of cheap street eateries in the area.
- Close proximity to the FIFA Fan Fest.
- Helpful and friendly staff when they don’t forget your requests (but they often do).
How helpful? Very, with an exception of one bartender who tried to charge us for ice (no, not kidding, they do charge R$10 for a bucket of ice, and there are no ice machines anywhere!) Our flight home was not until 12:14AM, and they let us stay in the room until 9PM or so. That redefines late checkout in my book!
Here is my cousin Timmy instead of my chubby self.
You know, they don’t call it Rio Negro for nothing! When you get into the water, it’s like you are stepping into the oil. The beach next to the hotel is very popular with the locals and tourists alike. The water has acidity, which probably explains why I haven’t seen a single mosquito there. Not one!
The FIFA Fan Fest is a 10-minute walk from the hotel.
- Location. Yep, I know what I’ve said, but it’s very far away from downtown Manaus if you want any kind of night life.
How far away? The taxi to or from downtown runs about R$50-60 (must bargain) and takes about 40 minutes. We mostly used the local bus for R$2.75, but it is not air-conditioned, and the way they drive… well, let’s just say, you’re not in Kansas. No, sir!
In addition, many bus stops in Manaus, including the one in Punta Negra are unmarked! You have to ask the locals, but they don’t always know. There are two buses that ride between Punta Negra and downtown, 120 and 126 in case you’re interested.
This is an unmarked bus stop near the hotel. Actually, there are at least a dozen buses that stop at different spots along this strip, so if you don’t know the exact spot where your bus stops, you’ll have to run after it.
- Inferior rooms.
- No decent restaurants in the area, and the hotel restaurant is pricey.
- Undertrained staff.
How undertrained? They had no idea what our second free night meant. At the checkout they attempted to collect R$2,000 for our two last nights because they could only find one award reservation, the one in Timmy’s name. We did straighten it out eventually, but I had to email them the confirmation I had received from Club Carlson during the checkout because they didn’t have it. If we had been in a hurry, we might’ve had a problem.
- Room showers.
- Poor housekeeping. Let’s just say you don’t want to walk barefoot in your room.
- Poorly managed pool area. Yes, I know I said it is gorgeous, but there were also these nasties. Of course, garbage like that tells volumes about some of the guests, but there are no excuses for not cleaning the area properly and promptly. The water in the pool was clean, though.
So would I still recommend this hotel? Cautiously, yes, as long as you know in advance about the imperfections. With an exception of big events like the World Cup, it normally sells for under $100 and it is totally worth it at this price-point. The pros outweigh the cons in my opinion. And since it wouldn’t be fair on my part to end my report with the pics of garbage, here are a few more (nice ones).
On the descent. The Park Suites Hotel is that solitary building in the middle.
Swimming in the river.
And a couple of more shots at the pool. We really loved the pool, and you can use it any time, day or night.