Txai Resort

Near Itacare, Bahia, Brazil Book from R$1,485

Exceptionally beautiful eco-friendly estate where rustic simplicity meets style and luxury on a vast stretch of Bahia's undeveloped Cacoa Coast
Picture those endless beaches of Bahia. Frame them within 100 hectares of coconut groves and rare preserved Atlantic rainforest. Then add a little luxury and artistic flair to get Txai (pronounced "chai") - positioned on the undeveloped Cacao coast, 400km south of Salvador and an hour's drive north from Ilheus. This idyllic resort has 40 rooms and individual thatched bungalows, three palatial cobalt-blue tiled pools (including a kids one) just steps from the expansive empty beach and a hill-top spa that will take you closer to heaven. The emphasis is on nature, tranquility and beauty (there are no TVs in the bungalows). Imagine an exotic Bond movie set with Bahian-inspired elegant rooms.

Wake up to an ocean view. Sample the sumptuous breakfast buffet. Then soak up the local culture and nature with one of the hotel's daily eco trips, whether river rafting, surfing or riding to forest waterfalls; or birdwatch from your balcony. Lounge poolside with a caipirinha. Dine on the freshest fish and Bahian specialities. Retreat to your bungalow to stargaze. For a special treat and total relaxation, this is one of our favourites.

Highs

  • Beautiful pools, miles of unspoilt white sand beaches and acres of lush garden
  • The hill-top spa - yoga, massage and watsu with outstanding coastal views
  • Well-chosen excursions that let you absorb the local area (though they can be pricey)
  • A magnificent sitting room with a terrific aspect over the main pool, and a library with an excellent collection of books on Brazilian culture, flora and fauna
  • Eco-friendly approach - Txai's involved in several local community projects, including a reforestation programme
  • Dancing the Forro with the locals in Itacaré

Lows

  • High security when entering the estate can give a sense of being cut off, but you do feel super safe
  • Bathrooms are rustic rather than super-luxe
  • Not all of the staff speak English, but they're charming nonetheless. (We were also a little bemused by the lack of info on arrival)
  • If you're after glitz and a party vibe, this may not be the place for you. The nearest town, Itacaré is 20 minutes away
  • It's expensive and full-prepayment is required upon reservation

Best time to go

Any time of year. Temperatures vary little from month to month: it's warm all year round with average highs of around 26-30ºC. June to September have slightly cooler evenings. It can also rain any time of the year but April to July are traditionally the wettest months although there's often a period of heavy rainfall at the end of November/early December.

Our top tips

Make sure you pack (or buy when you get to Brazil) some Havaiana flip-flops as anything with a heel can be tricky with those grassy paths and uneven stepping stones. You'll need a sarong, mosquito repellent, sun cream and shades. Light, loose fitting clothing is good for those hot or humid times and if you plan on joining some tours you'll need trainers. It may rain for a short time during the day so bring a light waterproof jacket. A torch is helpful for finding your way back to the room at night (you get a complimentary little keychain torch in your room, but it isn't very powerful).

Great for...

Beach
Eco
Family
Honeymoon
Spa
  • = Recommended
  • = Best in region
  • = World favourite
  • Beach Resort
  • 40
  • Restaurant and bar (open daily)
  • All ages welcome
  • Open all year
  • Heated Pool
  • Spa
  • WiFi
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Beach Nearby
  • Off-street Parking
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym
  • Daily Maid Service
  • Towels & Bedlinen
  • Concierge Service
  • Tennis Court
Room:

Rooms

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.

Features include:

  • Air conditioning
  • Bathrobes
  • Cots Available
  • Extra beds
  • Fan
  • Hairdryer
  • Minibar/fridge
  • Mosquito net
  • Phone
  • Safe box
  • Terrace
  • Toiletries
  • WiFi

Eating

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.

Features include:

  • Bar
  • Children meals
  • Minibar/fridge
  • Organic produce
  • Restaurant
  • Room service
  • Vegetarian menu
Eating:
Activity:

Activities

  • Enjoy the pool and beach and wander around the grounds - wonderful birdlife is all around
  • Get pampered in the hill-top Shamash spa - walk up to this stone-built complex complete with its own small heated infinity pool. Private spa rooms have astonishing views across the Bahian coast. Revitalising treatments on offer include aromatic baths, hydromassage, watsu, Reiki, shirodhara and other massages (including Ayurvedic, hot rocks, pregnancy), sauna and steam room sessions, stretch, yoga and meditation classes, facials, manicure and pedicures
  • Get some surf lessons either on Txai's beach or other nearby beaches - each recommended for different types of waves. Txai has surfboards for hire
  • Take some tennis lessons on the hotel's courts (available for groups or individuals)
  • If it's raining (which happens often in the tropics!), sink into a sofa in the sitting room or library with a good book


Every day Casa de Passeios (Excursion House) arranges well organised activities, these can come with a guide.
  • Canoeing and rafting happen in the nearby river Rio de Contas, followed by a natural waterfall massage
  • Horse-riding is generally organised along trails that depart from Txai into the Atlantic rainforest, up the hill, crossing rivers and returning to the beach
  • Hike one of the many trails hereabouts: the beach trail leaves the beach at Itacarazinho where you climb steeply up for more great views, and then go down to nearby beaches before ending at Engenhoca beach; or head from Jeribucaçú to another waterfall through mangroves and Atlantic Forest; some trails lead to an old fazenda (farmstead)
  • Visit Lagoa Encantada nearly 50km away where you get closer to the flora and fauna of the Forest and discover more beautiful waterfalls
  • Learn about cocoa production on a visit to São Francisco Farm; on the return journey visit Pé da Serra beach near the Serra Grande viewpoint and then enjoy a natural Jacuzzi at the Tijuípe waterfalls
  • Sail in an old fashioned Bahian boat up river
  • Venture into nearby Itacaré (a shuttle service operates into town from the hotel each evening), a cute cobbled town now home to a new generation of surfers. A tour can be organised by Txai. In the evening try to catch some Forro (samba meets rumba) and marvel at the sensuality that is Brazilian dance culture, or get a capoeira lesson

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Birdwatching
  • Hiking
  • Horse-riding
  • Kayaking
  • Nightlife
  • Plantlife / flora
  • Rafting
  • Sailing
  • Surfing
  • Swimming
  • Tennis
  • Traditional cultures
  • Well being
  • Yoga

Kids

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.

Best for:

Toddlers (1-4 years), Children (4-12 years), Teens (over 12)

Family friendly accommodation:

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:

Babysitting is available by arrangement.

Baby equipment:

  • Cots
  • Mosquito net

Remember  baby and child equipment may be limited or need pre-booking

Children's meals:

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.

Kids Activities on site:

  • Grassy areas for play
  • Separate shallow kids pool
  • Large sandy beach with gentle surf waves plus life guard on duty
  • TV and DVD room
  • Tennis courts

Kids Activities nearby:

  • Surf lessons on Txai beach or other beaches nearby
  • The hotel's excursions include horse riding, canoeing and rafting

Distances:

  • Airport: 45 minutes
  • Hospital: 1 hour
Kid Friendly:

Our guests' ratings...

10/
Rooms
10/
Food
10/
Service
10/
Value
10/
Overall

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Rates for Txai Resort