Built in 1945 as the first large-scale hotel in Medellin, the Hotel Nutibara is a Medellin institution. Still operating as a hotel and conference center, it continues to stand out as an architectural icon.
Located two minutes from Parque Berrio metro station and considered part of the cultural and architectural heritage of Medellin, Hotel Nutibara gave Medellin the opportunity to stand out as a popular holiday destination for the rich and famous.
Advertised to be the top hotel of its kind in Colombia at the time, the architect brought in was one of the most famous of the time, American Paul R. Williams who had gained fame by designing spectacular buildings in California.
Medellin had barely 150,000 inhabitants when the idea of building a big city hotel was born in 1937.
“It was the crystallization of a longing wrought by a handful of visionary Antioquians, illuminated by the genius of greatness,” recalls Rubio Alvaro Escobar, General Manager of the hotel in an interview with El Colombiano newspaper.
Work began on April 22, 1938 when the corporation trusted with its construction was created under the name Hotel Nutibara Company SA. Original investment stood at $300 with 600 shares priced at 50 cents each.
The construction company wished to build a stunning hotel complete with luxury rooms, shops and restaurants. The company itself was originally created with a 50-year life span with potential for extension at any time if more development of Medellin were to take place.
To buy the original plot of land cost $200,000 and the stunning building was constructed by a team of engineers from Antioquia, the state of which Medellin is the capital. It was noted at the time that 90,000 bags of cement were needed to complete the task.
At the time of construction there was very little in the Plaza Nutibara but with the creation of the hotel there was huge growth in the popularity of downtown which is nowadays the business hub of the city.
In order to promote the hotel and ensure its success, it was agreed that the hotel would be free from paying any tax for the five years it would take to build as well as a subsequent five years when it was up and running.
The grand opening of the Hotel Nutibara took place on July 18, 1945.
The 12-story building had 204 telephones and over 4,000 pieces of rosewood furniture. With a German chef and 110 employees the hotel became the only place to stay for the upper echelons of Colombian society.