By Lisa Flueckiger, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Conveniently located between Rio and São Paulo, two unique guest-houses guarantee a relaxing break from everyday hectic life. The Pousada Picinguaba and the Fazenda Catuçaba were both created by a French expatriate, Emmanuel Rengade, who had traveled through Brazil and by chance ended up in Picinguaba, the small beach village between Paraty and Ubatuba, São Paulo state.
The two places have a unique approach to luxury: simplicity. Staying there is about getting to know real unspoilt Brazil nature, about enjoying yourself and having a relaxed, uninterrupted getaway.
There are no TVs or telephones in the rooms and no internet to disrupt the tranquility. Nelly Pager, Sales and Marketing Director of both hotels, explains the concept is to, “disconnect to get in the mood of the place.”
Both destinations have around ten single and double rooms and suites and one or two private villas which assure that the services offered are always personal. All rooms are individually designed and furnished, employing art and furniture from famous and local artists including some home-made furniture.
At the Fazenda, the Campana brothers, famous Brazilian designers, are currently planting a unique Bamboo Cathedral, a place for meditation and yoga for the hotel’s guests.
The two retreats assume the responsibility that comes with lying next to the UNESCO protected heritage site Mata Atlântica (Atlantic Coastal Rainforest). Both resorts are environmentally friendly and connected to the nearby villages by employing and training local staff and using mostly local products.
The closer location from Rio is the Pousada Picinguaba which lies twenty minutes south of Paraty in the Natural Park of Serra do Mar and enjoys a wonderful 3 km protected beach. The Fazenda Catuçaba lies in the countryside, thirty minutes from the historical town of São Luiz do Paraitinga and halfway between the Pousada Picinguaba and São Paulo.
The Fazenda Catuçaba is located in a former coffee farm, its main house dating from 1850. The rooms are situated in villas throughout the 450 hectares of property with views of the valley and the green hills.
The property also includes an organic farm, rivers, lakes and great views from the surrounding hills, which can be hiked from the hotel. All meals prepared in both hotels use fresh ingredients from the Fazenda Catuçaba.
There are plenty of activities to be done at both hotels, including scuba-diving and surfing in Picinguaba, and climbing, horse-riding and rafting at Catuçaba. “The guests are not [usually] inside the hotel all-day,” says Ms. Pager.
The hotels are also well suited for families with children, who can harvest their own vegetables for dinner, milk the cows and watch as their food is prepared, as the kitchen door is always open. Dinner is served at a fixed time, so that guests gather as one big family.
Ms. Pager recommends combining both hotels, if you have enough time, as they only lie a ninety minutes drive apart and the hotels offer packages. And usually, “the longer [guests] stay, the happier they are,” she tells The Rio Times.