40km south of the Ilhéus airport and 25km north of the Comandatuba airport, Bahia, Brazil
During her time at boarding school in wintry Switzerland, artist Mucki Skowronski often felt deprived of color. Back in her native Brazil, it seems she has spent her entire career making up for that early grayness. The lucky travelers who visit Fazenda da Lagoa, her 14-bungalow retreat in a remote region of Bahia, play witness to one of her most recent colorful stylings.
Led by Mucki Skowronski and her husband, a team of Brazilian architects and artists conjured up Fazenda’s minimalist design. The resort’s vaulted ceilings, expansive windows, sand-colored stone and bamboo mats create an elegant, unfussy backdrop to Mucki’s tropical handiwork. The surroundings are so stylish that it is almost unsurprising to flip through Vogue Travel magazine at the bar and realize that Mucki herself is on the cover, holding the reins of a horse whose saddlebags are full of furnishings borrowed from the resort.
The resort’s décor blends perfectly with its gardens, which are simply a slightly tamed version of the 1,500 private acres of tropical forest that surround it. The colors of the forest come to life in a narrow pool, which is tiled not with standard–issue turquoise, but instead with a refreshing shade of green. Nearby is the pool bar, where guests can sip some of the best caipirinhas this cachaca-loving nation has to offer.
Those who have indulged a bit too much can retreat to their airy bungalows, which pop with color and boast a seemingly endless array of Mucki’s whimsical touches. Each bungalow is unique, though all come with four-poster beds rapped in gauzy mosquito nets and ultra-private outdoor showers. The highest-end bungalows offer a view of the ocean or the nearby lagoon, while the standard ones share a deck and a wall with their neighbors—less private, but ideal for families traveling together. For many, the high point of any bungalow is the outdoor lounging space, complete with hand-painted fabrics, daydream–friendly hammocks, and life–size wooden alligators. (“To eat boring people,” the owner explains.)
A few feet beyond the bungalows, the resort’s private beach competes with its lodging for first prize. It runs for seven kilometers, each of them fringed with palms and devoid of people. Those in the mood to explore can make use of Fazenda’s bicycles. They’ll soon learn that, even when those kilometers come to an end, the white sand continues—and no people appear. The water in the winter months, while not turquoise blue, is clean, refreshing and relatively safe for swimming. Working up an appetite is a good idea: good meals await upon return to the lodge.
Fazenda’s chef, André Reis, trained under Alex Atala, who is well-known in Brazil and beyond for using French and Italian techniques to transform classic Brazilian dishes. Chef Reis learned well—he consistently turns out upscale, high-quality concoctions. The fact that breakfast and dinner are included in the price of the lodging inspires overindulgence. Breakfast alone is an endless array of fresh fruits, eggs, and bread baskets that may eliminate the need for lunch altogether. Dinner options include everything from moquecas to a creamy mushroom risotto. Dessert is worth the indulgence: the guava cake with ice cream is delectable.
The attentive staff, some of whom speak Spanish and English, encourage guests to treat the resort as their own private beach house. Their suggestion is almost too easy to follow. If you so desire, they will drive you to the resort’s emerald–colored lagoon, where they will leave you—well–equipped, of course, with fresh fruit and a cooler full of cold beverages—to enjoy the very private deck, the kayaks, and the crystal–clear water, returning to get you at a predetermined time. In the interim, it’s just you and the fish. The staff can also arrange private dinners for two on the moon–lit, palm–fringed beach, a perfect way to wind down after a stressful afternoon of massages and body treatments in Fazenda’s open–air spa.
Many Fazenda guests’ “real lives” are harried and high–powered—as evidenced by the fact that quite a few arrive by helicopter instead of braving the 45 minute drive from the nearest airport. The staff here knows well how to help them escape to a world that is both luxurious and very, very private. For a few, the escape may be a bit too extreme: those seeking nightlife other than a meal on the beach or a drink in the bar are in the wrong place. Of course, the remote location is one of the many reasons most guests love this awe–inspiring oasis so much.
Web Address: www.fazendadalagoa.com.br/
Total Number of rooms: 14
Published rates: Published rates: R$800 (smallest bungalows in low season) to R$1,600 (largest in high season – excluding major holidays), breakfast and dinner included.
Review and photos by Derek and Shanna Singh Hughey.