Luiz and his mother have a soft spot their heart for the mountain town of São Lourenço. Back when Luiz was just a tiny boy and his biological father was still alive, their family spent several weeks every summer in this quiet town. Truth be told, the town was famous for its fancy hotels and casinos (not to mention the city park featuring several natural mineral springs) and Luiz’s father loved to gamble.
Luiz’s days were spent playing in the park and his nights were filled with little boy antics on the streets. Oh the stories! He went year after year throughout his childhood. São Lourenço has imprinted on both Luiz and his mother. It remains a favorite getaway destination.
Casinos have long been outlawed in Brazil, but the fine old hotels and beautiful park still attract tourists throughout the year. We went (this time around, my third visit to this destination) as part of a packaged excursion put together by a social club Zozó belongs to. Luiz and I were the youngsters in the group. It was a good price and the group stayed in Zozó’s favorite hotel.
Now a town of about 43,000 people, São Lourenço is located in the south of Minas Gerais about 3,000 feet up in the mountains. These days the main attraction is the park with its many water fountains from which mineral water of varying types flow 24/7. People come to drink the water said to have medicinal qualities. There is also a huge spa which provides various hydro-therapies as well as the regular facial and massage treatments. It’s quite nice.
The huge 80 year old park is beautiful and very well maintained. It is lush, manicured and provides a quiet getaway for residents and visitors alike.
Zozó is a regular at the Guanabara Hotel. The staff behind the registration desk light up when she walks through the door. They swarm her and assist with her every need. It is a sight. She sits in the same area of the dining room so as to maintain a relationship with the same waiter who knows her preferences at each meal.
The hotel diaria (daily cost) includes top quality breakfast, lunch and dinners as well as full access to the hotel’s water park, swimming pools (indoors and outside), saunas and Jacuzzis. The pool area includes towel service, a bar and snack counter. It’s quite the joint.
While Luiz and his mother showed off their favorite spots, walking down memory lane sharing stories with others on the excursion, I was content to sit by the pool and read. Naturally we went to the park, but the town is a bit sleepy for my taste, especially the third time around.