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April 6, 2009

Bahian Rhapsody

Check in to Bono’s Brazilian casa.

Leaving your one-bedroom casa in one of Brazil’s oldest fishing villages, you might feel like a native biribando. But the cluster of candy-colored houses perched on a grassy cliff in Trancoso — a small, 16th-century town in the state of Bahia — is Brazil’s latest five-star retreat: Uxua Casa Hotel. Originally intended as a second home for Wilbert Das, the creative director of Diesel, the Dutch designer instead turned his sights on creating Brazil’s most exclusive luxury lodge.

Although it’s just opened, the hotel has already welcomed members of U2 and the diamond magnates of Bulgari. With only nine houses for 28 guests and traffic strictly off-limits (save the occasional wild horse), Uxua is fast becoming the preferred escape for São Paulo’s urban elite, too. Designed and decorated by Das with the help of local craftsmen, the Bahian and native-styled casas vary with one to three bedrooms and can be fully serviced by Uxua staff, or left alone for absolute privacy. Three are renovated homes on Trancoso’s centuries-old quadrado, while the other six are new additions scattered throughout a tropical garden studded with coconut and jackfruit trees.

Come 2010, another under-the-radar Bahian beach town threatens to steal Trancoso’s spotlight. Best known for surfing and beachfront Capoeira, Itacaré will get a dose of modernist luxury when Bond girl-turned-hotelier Anouska Hempel opens her new eco-resort Warapuru. Already three years delayed, the property is expected to feature the same signature minimalism as Hempel’s pioneering Blakes Hotel in London (which, three decades ago, invented the “fashion boutique” concept). This time, that sophisticated style will be nestled beneath the canopy of a protected rainforest.

After touching down on Warapuru’s private landing strip, guests will be able to check into one of 40 rooms, each with its own private pool and sundeck. For those with long-term aspirations, Warapuru is selling 18 custom-built villas on the same mountainside plateau, each furnished to your specifications. Of course, with dedicated butler service and unlimited access to the hotel’s restaurant and spa, you’ll have to forget about any humble fisherman fantasies.

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read more: 02. Sleep | boutique | historic | villa | 04. Eco | 07. Beach

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