Last week I attended the Brazilian Luxury Travel Association's trade show for select travel advisors in New York City. I met with owners and managers of 20 Brazilian luxury hotels and local tour operators and learned that since Brazil removed the tourist visa requirement for Americans in June 2019, tourism from the U.S. increased 25% in just the first six months. The dollar is very strong at the moment, making it the perfect time to see Brazil yourself!
One of my favorite meetings was with UXUA Casa Hotel & Spa (pictured above) because I'm fascinated by the unbelievably quaint, charming seaside village of Trancosa in the far south of the state of Bahia. Southern Bahia has a tropical climate, rainforest, pristine beaches and picturesque fishing villages like Trancosa along the legendary "discovery coast" where Portuguese explorers first colonized Brazil in 1500. The closest major airport is Porto Segura with daily flights from Brazil's major cities, so Trancosa is a perfect respite after visiting one of Brazil's cosmopolitan cities. UXUA is only 24 miles from the airport - less than an hour by car; better yet, let's arrange an 8-minute helicopter transfer for you!
Trancosa is a colonial village where time has seemingly stood still; you may see horses grazing freely on its grassy, traffic-free town square, where UXUA is the only historic hotel. Its restored colonial casas, lush garden, spa (treatments prized for centuries by the native Pataxó people), gym (with capoeira classes that support teaching programs in the local community) restaurant (emphasizing local seafood, organic produce, and local cacao, coconut and tropical fruits) and quartz pool is like a village-within-a-vilage and was created working beside local artisans and artists using traditional methods and reclaimed materials. Located between four rivers, Atlantic rainforest, mangroves and the sea, Trancosa is an unspoiled paradise which you can also explore further with a native guide including a cultural visit to the neighboring Pataxó reservation. Don't be surprised if you see CNN's Anderson Cooper around town or on the beach with you because he owns a casa in Trancosa and visits several times a year.
UXUA also makes the list below of properties doing social good and helping guests to do the same.
Article excerpt below by Elaine Glusac appeared in Virtuoso Life magazine, May 2018.
Round Hill Hotel and Villas, Jamaica
When it’s thriving, the elkhorn coral native to the reef in front of Jamaica’s 129-room Round Hill Hotel and Villas spreads in thick branches that look like gilded antlers. “The entire seascape used to be a golden color,” says Andrew Ross, a marine biologist and managing director of the coral restoration organization Seascape Caribbean. When he noticed a few years ago that environmental damage was turning the reef green and brown, he approached Round Hill with a plan to restore it, by creating a coral garden and propagating seedlings for replanting. Eager to help, the resort offered to fund the project, and today, Ross is one year into a three-year mission to establish 5,000 new corals.
The multidimensional plan not only tackles environmental issues, but addresses social sustainability too, by persuading local fishermen to avoid the replanted areas – critical nurseries for young fish – and training them to become guides who will lead guests on snorkeling tours. “The elements of protection, building the ecosystem, and the return of fish are now being directly monetized by the community, giving them incentive to protect the reef,” Ross says. Round Hill plans to eventually let scuba-certified visitors take part in reef gardening with marine scientists and area fishermen.
From Portugal to Thailand, every Six Senses property is home to an on-site Earth Lab, where eco-friendly projects include growing organic gardens, recycling or upcycling glass, generating solar and biomass energy, and distilling natural insecticides. You can participate in lab workshops like learning how to make organic toothpaste and natural mosquito repellent, or turn old towels into flowerpots.
Emirates One&Only Wolgan Valley, Australia
In Australia’s Greater Blue Mountains Area, the 40-villa Emirates One&Only Wolgan Valley offers a daily conservation activity on its 7,000-acre property, a carbon-neutral wildlife reserve. Together with the resort’s field guides, guests plant native trees and shrubs, survey wombats, monitor feral animals, or collect native seeds.
Ulusaba Private Game Reserve, South Africa
One of the highlights of a stay at South Africa’s 21-room Ulusaba Private Game Reserve is a customized, daylong visit to the surrounding Shangaan villages, where you can read to schoolchildren or kick a ball around with the local soccer team. All proceeds from the tours benefit local villages.
SOUVENIRS THAT SUPPORT LOCAL COMMUNITIES:
Tierra Atacama Hotel & Spa, Chile
Rustic tabletop llama sculptures carved from indigenous liparita stone by Alejandro González, a local artist, musician, and community leader. Sculpture, $100.
Singita, South Africa
Furniture, artwork, and colorful tableware from local Zulu weavers, whom the safari company helps train in production and business prac- tices. Tableware from $12.
Uxua Casa Hotel & Spa, Brazil
Beach bags, totes, throw blankets, and pillows made on-site with an antique loom by the hotel’s resident “dream weaver,” Evandro Campos Nogueira. Items from $130.
Contact me for a sensational and socially responsible trip of a lifetime!