Luxury Explorer Review

5-Star Hotel Review

Ponta dos Ganchos

Brazil

Surrounded by a verdant emerald sea and nestled on a lush, tropical peninsula of spectacular beauty in southern Brazil

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Ponta dos Ganchos

Location

The municipality of Governador Celso Ramos, on a privately-owned peninsular

Travel Information

Florianopolis International Airport - 50 mins

Top Tips

Take a fishing trip and eat your catch that night

5-Star X-Factors

Complete privacy, surrounded by the stunning waters of the Emerald Coast - truly spectacular

Seeing is believing

Brazil had never been on top of my list of places to visit and for no particular reason. That was until the day I went to the Action Against Hunger Fine Wine Auction sponsored by Luxury Explorer, and I found myself bidding on a birthday present for my husband who, at the time, was safely on the other side of the world. My idea was for the two of us to go away for a couple of days, somewhere in Europe that was easily reachable in an hour or two. It didn't entirely go to plan as, a few months on, we ended up boarding a flight to Brazil!

The resort of Pontas dos Ganchos is situated one hour North of Florianopolis, a town of three million people in southern Brazil. I must admit that neither my husband nor I had ever heard of it. But the fact that Florianopolis is also, apparently, the birthplace of Gisele Bündchen seemed to sweep away any lingering doubts that my husband might have had! After a bit of investigation, we happily discovered that we were heading for paradise and, better still, we had to go via Rio de Janeiro. This impromptu little adventure of ours started to sound really interesting.

Our few days in Rio were wonderful full of music, noise and colours. However, we were really looking forward to flying south to our destination. The flight from Rio to Florianopolis is only 90 minutes but you soon realise that you have landed in a completely different kind of Brazil.

As the very jolly driver told us several times, the southern province of Santa Caterina is very civilised and famous for having the lowest crime rate in Brazil. Its inhabitants are mainly of German and Italian descent. The Germanic heritage is particularly evident in streets and cities names and in the architecture: you can go on a ten mile circuit through the countryside and see timber-framed houses in the Fachwerk style, few of which can still be found in Germany.

Ponta dos Ganchos sits serenely in the village of Ganchos, Portuguese for 'hook'. It was baptised by the Azorean immigrants who settled on this lush, mountainous, cove-studded peninsula, more than 200 years ago, at the height of the whaling boom. You can immediately perceive that more than just natural beauty has been preserved here, but also a whole way of life. The colonist’s descendants still make their living from the sea, nowadays cultivating oysters, scallops and other shellfish.

When we arrived in Ganchos on a late September afternoon, we were welcomed by the deafening sound of Latin music originating from enormous 80s looking giant radios in the boots of cars. A political rally Brazilian style was in full swing due to impending local elections and we were caught in the middle. Soon the crowds parted and we veered off into an unassuming lane, with unfinished buildings on either side. As if by magic, a gate opened to reveal the most amazing spot on the peninsula: our final destination.

Warm welcome

We were greeted by the very friendly staff, who showed us our accommodation. Villa Esmeralda was total utter bliss with its open plan, loft-style heaven, sleek wood and honey-coloured stone. The bedroom and living room area opened onto our own private deck with plunge pool and the most gorgeous sea view.

Once inside we discovered more. Just beside the biggest, glass walk-in double shower I have ever seen was a sauna and a whirlpool bath, as big as our plunge pool, but on an indoor deck with the same gorgeous view! One thing became immediately clear: it was going to be very, very difficult to leave. In fact, be warned: the staff will try to lure you into various interesting excursions and very pleasurable activities in and around the resort, but you will find yourself not wanting to abandon the peace and luxury of your pad!

After settling in and marvelling at the sheer beauty of our surroundings, we decided to go for a walk around the resort. There are several pavilions scattered around, amid colourful bushes and lush tropical trees. One hosts the breakfast area, the gym and indoor pool and a private screening room. So, in the event of being surprised by a tropical downpour, as we were, you will not get bored.

Of course, the easier option is to head for the wellbeing centre, which is in a partnership with Dior and is set under a leafy canopy in the most tranquil spot by the edge of the sea. The soundtrack to my massage was just the sound of waves beating against the rocks.

Gourmet festivals

Lunch and dinner is served in a different pavilion, just by the lovely little beach. Twice a week, lunch is a very informal barbecue, served in the grill area behind the restaurant. The tents and oversize sofas reclining along the shore at the 'Cantinho de Veleza' are the perfect place to enjoy one or many caipirinhas, the Brazilian national cocktail made with the local cachaça rum.

But what really gives the resort special charm is a little stone island just in front of the beach that you can reach by swimming or along a catwalk. If you feel particularly romantic it's hard not to in this place you can choose to have dinner on this islet, just the two of you, served by your own waiter from a specially created menu with paired wines.

Sadly, we did not have the chance to enjoy such experience as the weather at night was quite windy and cold during our stay. Nevertheless, we had plenty of time to enjoy the wonderful food on offer. My favourite was definitely breakfast one good reason to get out of the bungalow!

Every morning, on the beautiful deck overlooking an emerald bay studded with small turquoise fishing boats, we were served an eight-course mini gourmet festival. All the tiny portions reflected the freshness and diversity of the locally-grown products. There were organic shots of watermelon and guava, mini muffins, organic homemade jams, papaya mini-beignets, quails' egg croque madames, various hams and minas cheese a beautifully light Brazilian variety mini omelettes and lots of tropical fruit.

For a breakfast person, like I am, this was truly spectacular! It didn’t matter that we had to spend the rest of the morning trying to burn it all off, before sitting down for lunch and then again for dinner.

Lose the watch

You can easily forget your watch here as there are no set times for any of the meals. Everything is there for you whenever you want it, catered for you without any fuss and always with a smile. Service was truly the star. Everywhere we went, the staff were really helpful, friendly but professional. Initially, we were startled to discover that every time we left the bungalow, even for a few minutes, somebody would materialise to tidy up and restock the premises.

The waiters were particularly skilled in suggesting you try different dishes that were not on the menu, like the moqueca, a Brazilian fish stew with various garnishes, one of which is farofa fried manioc flour not dissimilar from sawdust! It may not sound that appetising but my husband swears it was delicious.

What we really appreciated was the effort to showcase all the local produce, from the shellfish to the little-known Brazilian vegetables and Amazonian fish and fruit. The meat was particularly good, as you would expect in South America.

We spent five amazing days at Ponta dos Ganchos. We relaxed in our gorgeous villa, we ate too much, we slept in the sun, paddled in the lagoon, tried to fish from the little island, walked the trails around the resort and, more importantly, we had time to truly reconnect. We were so fortunate to discover such a gem of a place and so unexpectedly!

I can see why Ponta has been consistency voted one of the best resorts in South America and in the world for the last few years. In a way, it is a shame that we cannot go back with our three young boys, as no under 18s are allowed. On the other hand, this is a secluded, hidden treasure made purposely for couples. As there are only 25 bungalows, even at full occupancy you would hardly be disturbed. After five days of total bliss, it was sadly time to leave and return to civilisation. We left with a heavy heart but totally refreshed and with the promise to definitely return.

Isabella Lynagh
 

Isabella Lynagh
Isabella Lynagh


Luxury Explorer
Luxury Explorer

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