It has been known for a while that Brazil offers some of the best beaches and luxury hotels in the world and certainly in South America. In the southern state of Santa Catarina, you will find one of the best luxury resorts in the whole country, Ponta dos Ganchos Exclusive Resort.
This is an easily accessible area and therefore makes a wonderful addition to a holiday to Brazil. The south of Brazil has a very different feel to the north. There was a lot of European immigration here and the population is much more pale skinned with ancestry from Germany, Austria and Italy. Florianopolis is an hour’s flight from either Rio de Janeiro or Sao Paulo and connects quite well with other parts of the country. An hour’s drive from the city of Florianopolis takes you to the unusually named area of Governador Celso Ramos. It is here that we find the adults-only resort of Ponta Dos Ganchos, tucked away unobtrusively in a small town.
As you drive up to the gate, the Leading Hotels of the World insignia gives a clue as to the standard of the hotel and the resort certainly lives up to this name and more. It is quite simply a slice of paradise on an already very beautiful coastline. This part of Brazil is beautifully hot in the summer, but temperatures drop to around 7-10 Celsius in the winter and rain is not uncommon meaning it is deliciously verdant and quite humid. Once inside the resort, one has the feeling of being in an oasis as great care has been taken to develop the plant life and gardens. Large ferns, bromeliads and many other species provide some cover from the sun and privacy between the bungalows, meaning that none feel overlooked. The bungalows have been positioned so that each faces the sea, offering views over the beautiful bay complete with charming fishing boats bobbing in the water and mussel lines hinting at the delicious seafood on offer here.
The bungalows are split up into six categories. Anhatorim is the standard room, a little smaller than the others and without its own private pool or sauna. Guests can enjoy a private terrace complete with hammock overlooking the bay. The Arvoredo bungalows are the next level up, slightly larger and with their own private plunge pool overlooking the sea as well as a dry sauna. The bungalows da vila are bigger still and add a jacuzzi bath inside the room. Especial da vilas are much the same but slightly larger. The two best standards of bungalows are the Esmeraldas and one final Esmeralda Especial. These are spacious and luxurious with large decks, outdoor pools that can be heated or cool and a fully stocked wine fridge. The Esmeralda Especial is one bungalow, always offered to celebrity clients but available for any guests. This is similar to the Esmeralda bungalows but has its own private gym downstairs.
We enjoyed the comforts of an Esmeralda bungalow.
Ponta Dos Ganchos is situated on its own little peninsula and this means guests can enjoy a private beach and a perfectly tranquil stretch of sea. Kayaks, SUP boards and snorkels are available to take out from the beach and nothing beats paddling round the bay spotting sea turtles and enjoying the view. A small bridge links the beach with a tiny island which is used for relaxation in the day and offered as a beautiful setting for private dining at night. One couple a night can reserve the spot and dine by candlelight overlooking the ocean with dinner served by their own private staff. What could be better?
Great care has been taken in planning this hotel and everything is on offer for guests to enjoy. There is an indoor pool and a spacious gym for those wanting to keep up their exercise regime or enjoy a relaxing swim. A games room houses a pool table and adjacent to this there is a cinema room. Guests can book the space to enjoy a wide range of films, complete with popcorn. There are also a number of activities on offer from helicopter rides and guided walks to cooking classes and boat trips out to a biological marine reserve. The spa offers a range of relaxing treatments, the highlight being an indulgent couples experience complete with in-room massages, champagne and private dining.
Food is an important part of Ponta dos Ganchos and the emphasis is on excellent cuisine. This starts at breakfast and is maintained throughout the day. Breakfast starts at 7.30 and thee is no time limit on when it finishes, meaning that guests can have the most relaxing day and enjoy breakfast whenever they wish. It is structured as a tasting menu, a different approach to many Brazilian hotels and a very successful one. Brazilian breakfasts, although largely excellent, consist of a lot of food and particularly a large amount of cake and desserts! The emphasis is on small courses, each exquisitely prepared. The menu changes every days but keeps the same structure, starting with a detox juice shot followed by different fruits and natural yoghurt with a unique topping each day. A juice is served and always different, incorporating Brazil’s many delicious fruits. Fresh coffee is available as well as a variety of teas. Next comes a selection of breads including croissant, pain au chocolat, small rolls and of course the ubiquitous Brazilian Pao de Queijo – a must in any breakfast. These are accompanied by a selection of four miniature sandwiches, petit-four sized and elegantly constructed. Next comes a savoury highlight which might be quails eggs with spinach cream one day or a typical Brazilian tapioca pancake filled with cheese. The final course is always something sweet, perhaps a pastry filled with papaya cream or pancakes, vanilla cream and fruit compote. Served as it is, on a sunny terrace overlooking a beautiful bay with the sunlight dancing on the water, breakfast doesn’t get much better than this.
The proximity to the sea means that there is always a variety of fresh fish on the menu at Ponta dos Ganchos. We enjoyed a delicious seafood barbeque one day with salmon, tuna, squid and some of the largest king prawns I have ever encountered. This was served with fresh grilled vegetables and a side of homemade dressings, the perfect lunch on a hot day by the sea.
Dinner is served in the restaurant by the beach and is a relaxing and romantic affair as the large windows and doors are left open to allow the sea breeze in. The menu is extensive and excellent, ranging from fresh salads through to exquisite desserts. We enjoyed a fresh crab brandade which was perfectly flavoured and a delicious fig salad complete with local cheese as starters. There are some delicious risottos and pastas on the menu and the crayfish risotto was declared a hit. I can vouch for the sea bass with banana trilogy and a basil foam. I am a huge fan of banana and plantain and this dish went down a treat, combining the best of both. An extensive wine list offers the best of European and Brazilian wines to accompany your meal. The south of Brazil is the wine region and it produces some excellent sparkling wines in particular which rival the best of France or Italy.
Great care is taken with service and attention to detail at Ponta dos Ganchos. The staff are friendly and polite without being too obsequious and they all speak excellent English which can be a rarity in Brazil. I was pregnant when I visited the resort and personal touches such as a small book on baby care and a vanity kit with everything I needed for a day at the beach were delightful and showed the level of personal service on offer.
Ponta dos Ganchos is without doubt one of the best hotels in Brazil in a stunning location and well worth including on any luxury holiday to this spectacular country.