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The Ariau Towers is a boutique hotel northwest of Manaus, Brazil, on the Rio Negro, a major tributary of the Amazon River. It consists of 7 towers, with all 288 rooms elevated from the rain forest floor by approximately 10-20m and connected by approximates 5 miles (8.0 km) of catwalks.
The hotel complex is one of the oldest and largest jungle lodges in the Amazon. It has become known for its luxury accommodations and celebrity guests. Describing it as "the ultimate treehouse", travel writer Patricia Schulz included the hotel as one of her "1,000 Places to See Before You Die". On the other hand, the editors of Frommer's South America severely criticized the hotel for its "mass-market" offerings and its lack of environmental sensitivity, calling it "all that is wrong with Amazon 'ecotourism'".
In 1982, Jacques Cousteau was in the Amazon with his team, and in Manaus stayed at the Mônaco Hotel where he met the hotel’s owner, Dr. Ritta. According to the hotel's foundation, it was all Jacques Cousteau's idea. The construction was to follow the natives model of building and it had to be built by them since they dominate the technique of building on stilts. The construction began around July 1985 and one year later, the first tower of the Ariaú Amazon Towers was ready.
The hotel has 288 units split amongst apartments, suites (located in the towers) and tree houses. The tallest of the units, the Tarzan House, is built on top of a living Mahogony tree, at the height of 22 m from the ground. The towers are interlinked by a wooden catwalk system of approximately 5 miles (8.0 km), all within the canopy of the rainforest. Other facilities within these tree tops include 2 swimming pools, two observation towers 134 ft (41 m) high and a panoramic auditorium for 450 people. There are also restaurants serving regional foods, bars and convenience stores.
The hotel has various tours available within the forest, such as canoe walk, jungle walk, piranha fishing, visit to native's houses, and observation of nightlife animals. Visitors can also observe the Meeting of the Waters, where the Rio Negro and the Solimoes River meet, but because of density and different temperatures don’t get mixed. The separate shades of water run side by side for a length of more than four miles (6 km) without mixing. Macaws and various breeds of native and non-native monkeys are common around the towers, and provide much entertainment to the tourists.
A typical Amazon riverboat connects the hotel with Manaus twice a day in both directions and a bus shuttle further connects the wharf with the Manaus airport and hotels. A helicopter service can be booked optionally.
- Larry Rohter, "Into the Amazon -- a journey with a bit of comfort", The New York Times, October 12, 2007.
- John Henderson, "Rooms With a Jungle View:Deep in the rain forest is the Ariau Amazon Towers Hotel, an elaborate, luxurious lodging where rooms and catwalks at tree level allow a closer walk with wildlife", Los Angeles Times, May 9, 1999.
- Patricia Schulz, 1,000 Places to See Before You Die (Workman Publishing, 2003), ISBN 978-0761104841, pp. 818ff. Excerpts available at Google Books.
- Nicholas Gill et al., eds., Frommer's South America, 5th ed. (John Wiley & Sons, 2010), ISBN 978-0470649268, p. 346. Excerpts available at Google Books.
- Ariau Amazon Towers - The Amazon rainforest - nature, adventure, native indians and animals