Amazon Beauty: Uxua Casa Hotel & Spa
Trancoso, a small beach village in Bahia, Brazil, is the totally-off-the-radar getaway that everyone knows about—a place for the affuent but not glitzy, the good-looking but also really smart, as best personified by its newest part-time resident, newscaster Anderson Cooper. When he’s not occupying it personally, his three-bedroom Casa Anderson is the latest available for guests at Uxua Casa Hotel & Spa. It has a view of the quadrado (the town square), and its third bedroom is actually a tree house suspended above its outdoor living space.
Uxua, which means “wonderful” in the native Pataxó language, was conceived and designed by Wilbert Das, the former creative director of Italian denim brand Diesel. It’s also a very long way from anywhere else. Although Trancoso has a private airstrip, travelers on commercial airlines can fly into São Paulo, take a connecting hour-and-a-half flight to Porto Seguro, and then drive another 55 minutes.
But Trancoso makes its distance from everywhere else a virtue by intensely focusing on the local. While this is certainly not a new idea in terms of cuisine—every high-end kitchen worth its artisanal salt loudly proclaims its use of local ingredients—Trancoso goes hyperlocal in every aspect of its design, aesthetics and activities. Guests stay in private casas of one, two or three bedrooms created by locals using reclaimed materials from the area, especially wood. And while the hotel has a spa and fitness room with all the expected amenities, its most popular offerings are classes in capoeira, an Afro-Brazilian martial art. Guests can watch artisans work an antique weaving loom in the gardens, and purchase their blankets and beach bags made from cotton, linen, straw, sisal, rami and beads, or watch an artist apply paint to pillows and bags in traditional Pataxó patterns. Although Uxua can supply its guests with any amenity from anywhere in the world, its goal is to meet guests’ needs with the simple luxuries found in the Amazon.