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The first leg of my recent Brazil and Asia trip was to São Paulo for an amFAR event, and I stayed at the boutique, high-design Tivoli São Paulo – Mofarrej in the happening Jardins district. Though the Tivoli isn’t a traditional big-chain or points property, it still provided a great opportunity for me to book through and get closer to my free night from its Welcome Rewards Program. Plus, in a huge city like São Paulo, foregoing the use of points in favor of staying at a conveniently located boutique hotel can make a lot of sense, especially considering the time and money I saved by not needing to take taxis everywhere.

The gorgeous lobby of the Tivoli.
The gorgeous lobby of the Tivoli.

The Top 3 Reasons I Used

1. One Free Night. Members of the Rewards (previously known as Welcome Rewards) program can earn one free night after booking 10 nights through the site, and I needed three more paid nights to qualify for the freebie. Note that the “one free night” is actually a credit equal to the average daily rate of your 10 previous bookings, so it’s essentially a 10% rebate.

2. Convenience. In addition to offering one free night after you’ve accumulated 10, is often worth my while (as it was in this case) due to good room availability across hotel chains (and non-chain properties), as well as competitive prices—especially for last-minute bookings.

3. Straightforward Rewards. The rewards are pretty simple—no points-and-miles gymnastics here. Just note that you need to keep your account active at least once every 12 months (by collecting a night or redeeming a free night) to keep your free nights from expiring.

That said, Rewards isn’t my favorite loyalty program among hospitality brands—I’m loyal to Starwood Preferred Guest, which grants me SPG Ambassador concierge service after 100 paid nights in a year, among other benefits. My second preference is usually Amex Fine Hotels and Resorts (Amex FHR), available to Amex Platinum and Centurion cardholders. Booking rooms through the program gets you early check-in, late check-out and included breakfast among other benefits.

The Tivoli

In the huge city of São Paulo, traffic can be nightmarish—so location is very important. In addition to being close to the amFAR event that brought me to the city, the Tivoli São Paulo – Mofarrej is located in the safe, tree-lined streets of the Jardins district are where the action is—think lots of museums, fantastic shopping and literally hundreds of restaurants and bars. (I previously stayed at the Intercontinental, which is also close to the amFAR event’s location, but I’m not banking with IHG Rewards this year, so I opted to stay even closer to the event.) You could easily spend a day exploring the neighborhood, while the Metro stop near the hotel can take you anywhere you want to go in this sprawling metropolis.

In addition to a fabulous, glittering lobby, the Tivoli has 220 rooms, including 34 suites. One of these, the Mofarrej Presidential Suite, is the largest in South America. I booked a Standard Room (Collection Plus) for R$1,375.50 ($461.94 USD) per night. It’s not a points-earning hotel, but it is part of a program called the Global Hotel Alliance. The program has 465 hotels, including 27 brands in 61 member countries in its network, and its DISCOVERY rewards program offers members perks such as “behind-the-scenes access to special activities, cultural experiences, attractions and events not easily available or accessible to the general public.” Not really what I’m looking for in a loyalty program, but it’s still an interesting take on the idea.

Simply by asking at check-in, I was able to upgrade to a big, newly renovated Collection Suite for $100 USD a night, which is a great deal. Also great was the 6pm checkout time they gave me, which almost felt like yet another free night.

Checking in at the Tivoli.
Checking in at the Tivoli.

Guest Room

My suite was clearly well-renovated and had great views. It had an in-room coffee machine and all the usual amenities. The bedroom’s views were great as well, and the full mirror on the wall gave it the illusion of being bigger than it was. The bed was enormous and comfy.

In the bathroom, the shower and the tub were both behind the same wall of glass, which I don’t think I’ve ever seen before, and it was an interesting idea. There was plenty of counter space for toiletries, and the black marble gave it a masculine, modern look. Trussardi bathrobes, sandals and hotel-branded toiletries were included.

The smallish living room had fantastic views.
The smallish living room had fantastic views.
Everything you could want in the room's bar area.
Everything you could want in the room’s bar area.
I should send a gift basket to the inventor of the King bed.
I should send a gift basket to the inventor of the King bed.
Sleek and functional bathroom.
Sleek and functional bathroom.

By the way, apparently, the views of the room works both ways—good morning, sir!

An extremely personal wake-up call.
An extremely personal wake-up call.

Hotel Amenities

The hotel’s pool area is out back, and it looked like an over-sized bathtub to me. It wasn’t very inviting, especially with that weird orange color. The cabanas were a nice touch, though, and the pool is heated. Still, for a place with such gorgeous weather for much of the year, I’d have thought the pool would be a bigger (and prettier) focal point.

The small, disturbingly orange pool.
The small, disturbingly orange pool.

The gym is indoors, but the atrium-style windows give it a nice, airy feel. There’s a good amount of decent equipment.

A bright and sunny fitness center.
A bright and sunny fitness center.

The food and beverage selection and service is nothing to write home about. The room service menu and hotel restaurant items were limited, and nothing was especially good. With so many truly wonderful dining choices within walking distance of the property, I do not recommend eating at the Tivoli.

I do have to give the hotel props for letting me check out at 6pm, since I had a late flight. They certainly didn’t have to do that, so props to the staff for accommodating me.

Overall Impression

Though the Fasano, Unique and Emiliano are way more chic, they’re also way more expensive. At the Tivoli I found a great staff and cool vibes, and I recommend it if the price feels right to you. As for my personal experience, the room was nice, the location was even better, and the free night made this choice a no-brainer.

I’d love to hear from my readers about points properties in São Paulo—please feel free to share your favorites (and least favorites) in the comments below!

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Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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