By Lisa Flueckiger, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – The beautiful and rustic Ilha Grande (Big Island), just a few hours south from the city of Rio, has become world famous for its 106 beaches and secluded rainforest charm. Australian Rennie Jackson made it her home, and opened the Pousada Aratinga Inn in 2011, a hidden guesthouse surrounded by green in the island’s main village Abraão.
Jackson had been traveling to the island for years, and eventually decided it was where she wanted to live herself. With her love for details, she has also made sure that every guest feels at home: “Aratinga is my home, people don’t come to the pousada, they come to Rennie’s place,” she told The Rio Times.
Ms. Jackson has created a cozy guesthouse with a personal touch, where nothing is amiss as she lends whatever is needed from beach towels to games up to her laptop. “I love what I do. I love offering hospitality,” she explained.
Guests will also have the chance to meet during the full English afternoon tea, as Ms. Jackson makes a point to introduce everyone coming and going on their island adventures. “Many guests have become new friends at Aratinga”, she added.
The guesthouse currently has four rooms in the original main house of the property and three chalets. One of the chalets was also part of the original residence when she bought the place, and the other two were built in 2011.
All rooms are surrounded by a large garden, creating the feeling of staying in a jungle oasis. Adding to that is the location of the pousada in Abraão’s outskirts, while still being only a few minutes walk from the village.
The Pousada Aratinga Inn opened its doors for the first time for six months in 2011 and was open the entire year (besides a regular 3-month closing period for maintenance) in 2012. Despite this short time, it has not gone unnoticed, being recognized by Trip Advisor’s Traveller’s Choice of 25 Best Pousadas in Brazil in both 2012 and 2013.
The pousada is also eco-friendly, holding the Green Seal and two other ecolabels. They collect rainwater and reduce rubbish and recycle, including an innovative compost worm tower, whose soil is used for the garden.
Ms. Jackson explained that they “recycle whatever we can” and only use biodegradable cleaning products. Children from the village school have visited the pousada to learn about recycling.
The Australian expatriate is always thinking of ways to improve her guesthouse from small details, such as do-not-disturb signs, to larger developments, such as two new timber chalets and a new lounge that are currently being built and are planned to be finished by the end of this month.
The two new chalets will have queen sized beds and split A/Cs, spacious bathrooms with gas heated water and a veranda to sit and relax. The lounge will have hammocks and a corner for card games, as well as a separate bathroom with a shower, which guests can use after check-out. The verandas will be decorated with traditional Portuguese tiles.
Its most popular beach, Lopes Mendes, has been chosen as one of the ten best beaches in the world by Trip Advisor. However, currently plans to apply for making Ilha Grande a Unesco world heritage site and limit the number of visitors compete with those to privatize some of its beaches.