“Exceptionally beautiful eco-friendly estate where rustic simplicity meets style and luxury on a vast stretch of Bahia's undeveloped Cacoa Coast”
Set on a hillside and scattered among the coconut groves within sight of the magnificent beach front and pool, the 40 guest rooms (14 Standard and Luxury Rooms and 26 individual bungalows - each named for tropical fruit) are rustic yet very comfortable, tasteful and spacious.
We loved the colour-washed bungalows, which are built on stilts and surrounded by wooden decking. Apart from the thatch and wood ceiling, everything inside is white - from the wraparound sofas, crisp bedlinen and fine mosquito netting draped over the beds to the white polished concrete floors and walls dotted with occasional monochrome photos. Picture windows line 3 sides of the room, ensuring lots of natural light; at turndown for the evening maids lower the white canvas blinds to cocoon you in. The kingsize bed is set in the middle of the room. Behind lies a desk, two wardrobes (one containing the safe), and double wash basins.
In the Superior Bungalow one door leads to a toilet; the other to an outside shower (perhaps a little more basic than one might expect at these prices, but perfectly adequate). In the next price level up, Luxury Bungalows, you also get an outdoor Jacuzzi and 2 sofa beds plus a sea view. The most expensive rooms set on top of the hill near the spa - the Premium Bungalows - also have a plunge pool. All rooms have air conditioning, a minibar and a phone but no TV (there's a snug room near the restaurant where you can watch DVDs and cable TV if you're really in need of electronic stimulation, or bring your own iPad).
For the best ocean views, we recommend the bungalows set on the hillsides, in particular Luxury Bungalows 2 and 4 and Superior Bungalows 1 and 3, which are on the way up to the spa (but watch out for the uneven stepping stones in the dark). Numbers 15, 16 and 26 on the adjacent hill behind the restaurant also enjoy panoramic vistas and can be booked together sleeping up to 8 guests (number 26 which has a mezzanine loft can accommodate a family of 4). Most of the other bungalows are located lower down on the beach level, nearer the pool amid the grassy palm grove with the sea visible through the trees.
The 14 slightly cheaper Standard and Luxury Rooms are housed together in two 3-storey buildings a couple of hundred yards further along from the pool. The interiors are similar in style to the bungalows but the bathrooms are all indoors; you also get an L-shaped sofa, private balcony and some have partial sea views.
Bathrooms aren't huge, but the showers are lovely and you get bathrobes, plenty of large towels hung on a bamboo ladder and complimentary toiletries from the Natura Ekos brand, made sustainably from Brazilian ingredients.
Breakfast and dinner are served in the Bahian-style restaurant under a high thatched roof, among the palms by the beach, or on the candlelit terrace. Wherever you choose it will be relaxed and informal, and if you go on an outing which means you won't be back for lunchtime, you can ask for a box lunch to be arranged (we enjoyed the mid-morning hot chocolate and juicy mangoes on our rafting trip).
Lunch is served down by the pool at the North restaurant and bar (unless it is raining hard in which case chef and waiters decamp to the restaurant); choose from an extensive bar menu or from the specials chalked onto the board. We went for the latter and struck gold: ceviche de frutos do mare and tempura de camarao were accompanied by grilled vegetables, French fries and fish presented "Provencal style".
Brazilians eat late: lunch is served any time from 1-5pm and dinner doesn't start until 9pm. It's dark by 7pm so you'll have a couple of hours to take advantage of the waiters' cocktail-shaking skills (each night a bar is set up in the fabulous sitting room). The service can sometimes be a bit slow, but hey, you're in Bahia after all and there's nothing to be rushed about.
Menus change daily and are generally 3-course affairs with 3 or 4 suggestions with an emphasis on healthy, fresh and light dishes, all beautifully presented. If you have a special request or wish to challenge the chef, just ask. Much of the produce is organic and locally produced in partnership with local small scale farmers. Dishes are a fusion of Brazilian and Bahian culinary traditions: perhaps you'll choose a tasty Moqueca de Peixe (a Bahian fish stew made with coconut milk, served with rice and fried bananas) or Bobo de Camarao (local shrimps cooked with tomatoes and manoic, served with black beans). Or opt for something lighter - we had grilled chicken with couscous; on Wednesday evenings they bake fresh pizzas in a huge outdoor oven.
Breakfast is included in the room rates, and comes with a delicious-smelling wood-burning stove and staff to cook whatever eggs or pancakes you wish - we heartily recommend the coconut and condensed milk one. There's also a generous buffet with a selection of tropical fruit, cakes, dainty petit fours, breads and exotic juices. Room service is available at extra cost.
Children are welcome; during our visit (off season) there were a few European families with toddlers and the resort has plenty to recommend for them. We liked the grassy areas where children can play, the huge unspoilt sandy beach and the separate kids pool, from which it was near impossible to extract our daughter - her best pool ever! Note that some areas, including the hilltop spa, only admit children over 16.
Children up to the age of 6 stay for free in their parents' room; cots are free too. There's a charge for older children.
Toddlers (1-4 years), Children (4-12 years), Teens (over 12)
If money is no object, book the 3 adjoining bungalows which sleep up to 8. We particularly liked the mezzanine bungalow (number 26) for families - it has an extra loft bedroom. In the other bungalows, the sofas can be made into beds for youngsters.
Babysitting is available by arrangement.
Remember baby and child equipment may be limited or need pre-booking
The restaurant has a kids' menu. There's plenty of fresh fruit for children and lots of options for breakfast. For lunch and dinner there are child-pleasers such as pizza on the menu. Note that dinner is served late by northern European standards - you might want to eat an early dinner in the late afternoon while out on excursions, or buy snacks. Staff are very forgiving of fussy children in the restaurant, they also took time out to play with our baby and keep him occupied while we ate.