Feb 15, 2011

Ponta dos Ganchos : a treat in heaven

by Antonella Kann

You would need to split your day hourly in 24 and keep a watch on time if you´d have to linger over every little bit of Ponta dos Ganchos. And I am serious: this hotel, tucked high up at the far end of a fisherman village called Ganchos, less than an hour from Florianópolis´airport, is a tiny sample of what paradise should look like. Even more: it´s how you´d probably expect to be treated once in heaven.

Besides being a rich relaxation experience, you´ll feel impossibly pampered from the moment you set foot in this gorgeous setting, surrounded by private luxurious suites which feature… – don´t try to guess, as I´ll tell you soon enough. With a tag of Relais & Chateaux, and a Virtuoso label, nothing is best than the best for the guest.

So, the Ponta dos Ganchos was the place I elected as the best to celebrate, erh, our 32 years of togetherness. It really deserved to be special. But nothing could prepare us for being treated like celebrities in this stylish environment .

The place is, you´ve guessed right, an exclusive retreat, with a dashing assemblage of scenic views – our suite had the most amazing one cascading into the sea, dotted with colored fishermen´s personal nets – high end gastronomy – Chef Laurent Suadeau is one of the consultants - and the best equipped accommodations ever.

We had, in approximately 230sq meters, nothing less than a king size bed, a private sauna, a Jacuzzi, two showers, two bathrooms with l´Occitanne amenities, a terrace with a couch, a small infinite pool (heated, if you´d just turn on the button) and lounging chairs. We were surrounded by dozens of towels, robes, a nespresso machine, a mini bar free of charge for non-alcoholic beverages plus snacks, a fireplace (the State of Santa Catarina can easily offer alpine temperatures in winter months) a comfy couch to watch movies or tv on a 50” flat screen… everything spread around strategically, not to mention the bottle of Imperial Brut in a bucket full of ice, offered on our arrival.

To stroll around the resort, we either walked the pathways or called the golf cart to pick us up. It happened twice as summer storms caught us by surprise right after lunch on one day and right before the siesta on the small private beach, the next afternoon. Yet barely a stone´s throw from our bungalow, someone quickly appeared to rescue us back to number 23 of the new wing of luxurious accommodations.

We sure missed a couple of sunset, unfortunately. Dark clouds didn´t seem to leave the area, and although we had a glimpse of white sand while chasing some beams of sun on the following morning, the weather wasn´t terrific. But, as you may conclude, the Ponta dos Ganchos isn´t the sort of hotel where you get bored if you are “ stuck” in your room. And also, there´s a Dior Spa to invigorate your spirit on a rainy afternoon. Massages, treatments…Oh, well, I know, tell me, it´s tiring to live like royalty.

But I could easily get used - or should I say addicted? - to it. Needless to say that we did manage to combine several activities with this romantic escapade. A nice guided walk to a nearby deserted beach, a boat ride on an authentic fisherman´s boat to explore the region and observe the oysters and clam´s local breeding, as well as kayaking, all organized within the premises.

Check this out: miniature benedict egg for breakfast, followed, combined or along with a choice of nine other little dishes among bread, hot and cold sandwiches, yogurts...Sophistication and presentation are present in every meal, besides surprising guests by "engraving" their names with chocolate on the coffee. Causing emotion is a key factor in the immaculate service.

Maybe in the near future the Ponta dos Ganchos will be the destination on everybody´s lips – though I would prefer to keep this gem to myself – but right now it´s an ideal and year-round serene destination, a stylish paradise with perfect service, known to those people who have the talent to concoct all these ingredients of hospitality with the art of choosing well.

Ponta dos Ganchos
tel. 48 3262 5000

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Feb 1, 2011

Le Relais de Marambaia : a room with a view – the best in Rio – far from the madding crowd!

by Antonella Kann

Few places in Rio reveal such a magnificent view as the one from Le Relais de Marambaia´s five exclusive suites. The caveat is its location, tucked-away in Pedra de Guaratiba, a neighborhood which is only 20-some kilometers away from Leblon, but quite a burden to reach if you are caught in heavy traffic jam. The area nearby is also home to the famous gardens of Roberto Burle Marx. So get ready to enjoy more than an overnight stay.

But, if you are smart, schedule your departure (from any place in town) before three o´clock in the afternoon, so you´ll get there earlier than I did and nothing can prepare you for the stunning sunset which can be admired from the swimming pool as well as from the terrace of your comfortable suite.
I was itching to get there and planned an escape in the middle of the week, in order to enjoy this sun + relaxation program with my husband. Although we missed the best part, we could still relax with a couple of caipirinhas in our hand. The nice kiwi and passion fruit drinks were delicious and therefore we could recover our energy and consider tasting a menu featuring seasonal produce – shrimp, fish, crab…

An ideal year-round destination, the Relais de Marambaia is one of the many guesthouses which opened in Rio lately. It belongs to a French citizen and is run by his charming niece, Alexandra, who cares for every detail in the house, which is as stylish as a boutique hotel can be – king sized beds with white linen and fluffy robes, Occitane ammenities, wide TV screens, DVD´s, Perrier bottles in the mini bar and walk in showers for two. Some even have a jacuzzi. She also looks after her guests as if they were old-time friends.

A recent makeover turned le Relais into a refuge for couples in search of a romantic overnight stay, as well as foreign tourists who want to run away from Rio´s madding crowd. You do, indeed, have the best view from every angle of the guesthouse, as there is a 60 kilometers´stretch of sand splashed right in front, known as the Restinga de Marambaia. Unfortunately, it´s inaccessible to anyone except the military, reason for this area to remain immaculate and untouched. You may swim right there and nearby, but you can´t set foot on the beach.

But ( and a big BUT) Alexandra invites her guests to explore similar (and hidden) gems like this one, deserted beaches which are nestled around the area. Simply board one of the fishermen´s boats, which can be hired right in loco, and go for a little ride. These beaches are only reached by sea or hiking. So, for sure, you´ll feel like Robinson Crusoe…

Le Relais de Marambaia
Estrada Roberto Burle Marx 9346
tel. 5521 23942544

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