A wellness getaway can mean a lot of different things to a lot of different people. For some, a week on a beach with umbrella-dressed cocktails is all they need, others go for a yoga or meditation retreat, a fitness bootcamp or a spa retreat. Me? I prefer a five-star luxury retreat where I can dabble in a little bit of all of the above between dips in my whirlpool bathtub with a view. But hey, that’s just me.
Enter Ponta dos Ganchos, widely considered the most exclusive resort getaway in Brazil, which is to say a discerningly over-the-top escape for the country’s bold, beautiful, rich, and famous (and my wife and I, who are none of the above, though we sure are cute!). Ponta dos Ganchos is located outside Brazil’s most livable city, the Southern Brazilian capital of Florianópolis, Santa Catarina, tucked away on the edge of a small fishing village with a big name (Governador Celso Ramos), 31 miles north of the city. It’s a discreet 25-bungalow paradise in …well…paradise. It’s only fitting that a resort of this statue would be near Floripa (as it’s nickname goes), a city with a well-deserved reputation for sun, wellness, and high standards of living in and of itself (it’s a lifestyle cross between San Diego and Miami, but smaller and more livable than both).
Ponta dos Ganchos is widely considered the most exclusive resort getaway in Brazil, which is to say a discerningly over-the-top escape for the country’s bold, beautiful, rich, and famous . . .
Most folks would need precious little more than a room here to get well soon. I’m lucky enough to nab the Especial Vila Esmeralda, a 3,210-square-foot bungalow (pretty much bigger than any apartment I have ever lived in in San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York, or São Paulo) whose highlights include but are not limited to: A sauna and private gym in the room; a private infinity lap pool, a whirlpool bathtub – all angle stunning views of the Atlantic Ocean – and a king-size bed with a 60-inch LCD television (there is, in fact, so much to this room that my word count for this story wouldn’t even accommodate a more detailed list). It’s my guess that most folks don’t get out and about the resort all that much.
But those who do will find everything at Ponta dos Ganchos is set up to instill a sense of privacy – there are numerous nooks and crannies across the grounds where you and your partner may tuck yourselves away to steal a romantic moment. With various chaise lounges, day beds, and cabanas spread throughout the lush Relais & Châteaux property, even when all 25 bungalows are full, you can rest assured your experience wont be shared unless you choose so.
The resort’s Wellbeing Centre isn’t necessarily a full-service, self-contained spa, but it does feature three private bungalows with sea views on the tip of the peninsula, hidden away from most of the areas that guests otherwise frequent. I settle in for a signature Ponta dos Ganchos massage ($123, 90 mins). My soft-handed therapist, Anne, is pretty perfect, though I’m convinced at one point the music playing is the “Tribal Council Theme Song” from Survivor, or at least a song that calls upon the same wind instrument that dominates the tune. Or maybe I’m dreaming – Anne takes me to that dopey, drooling stage regular spa goers all know and love with her handiwork and combination of sweet almond, sunflower, and grape-seed oil.
Maybe I’m dreaming—Anne takes me to that dopey, drooling stage regular spa-goers all know and love with her handiwork and combination of sweet almond, sunflower, and grape-seed oil.
Though I visited in the toned-down winter season – winter coats aren’t most people’s idea of a beach resort getaway! – Ponta dos Ganchos offers a slew of wellness activities in the warmer months, like sunrise yoga, pilates, property trail hikes and the like, but where the resort really excels in making you well is by pure, unadulterated attention. Take the Private Celebration, for example. A gaggle of coddling experts showed up at our room around 5:00 pm and asked us to leave – just in time for sunset cocktails by the sea, watching Royal Terns gracefully dive for fish while dolphins ride the currents in the distance just offshore.
As the sun disappears on the horizon, we are invited back, where 90-minute relaxation massages commence, followed by a flower petal-prepared bath in the whirlpool bathtub with a bottle of Cave Geisse sparkling wine on ice, a Brazilian cult favorite. While we are being rubbed down (Doh! My wife got Anne this time!), a romantic candlelit dinner for two is set up on our balcony. A gorgeous five-course meal commences, all handled deftly by our server, Josiane, no doubt with a team hidden somewhere outside of our line of sight.
The next morning, the feast continues with the 10-course breakfast tasting menu (that’s standard, though don’t be alarmed, it’s all perfectly small bites). With check-out time looming in 30 minutes, I made an executive decision: Back to the whirlpool tub!
It was all I needed.
Kevin Raub is a European-based journalist who has covered travel and entertainment for a variety of publications, including Travel+Leisure, Condé Nast Traveller, and New York Times T Magazine. He is also the author of over 80 Lonely Planet travel guides. Follow Kevin's adventures @RaubonTheRoad on Instagram and Twitter; and at www.kevinraub.net.