Ponta dos Ganchos Resort, Brazil
Located on a private peninsula along Brazil's Southern coast and part of the esteemed Relaix & Chateaux group, Ponta dos Ganchos ranks among one of the world's most exclusive resorts. With over-the-top luxurious bungalows, genuinely gracious staff, a no kids under 18 policy and plenty of activities that take advantage of the naturally lush surroundings, a trip to the hotel offers the kind of total relaxation that's difficult to achieve otherwise.
After a car and driver delivered Ami and me from the Florianopolis airport (about an hour's drive), a glass of champagne and several staff greeted us at reception and whisked our luggage on a golf cart to our rooms. We followed behind with the concierge who personally escorted us to go over the details, all of which are top-notch.
Our accommodations consisted of two of the four recently-opened Emerald Villas—spacious bungalows (nearly 2500 square-feet) kitted out with an infinity plunge pool, dry sauna and whirlpool bath, among other amenities. With sweeping views of the bay, dotted with Oyster traps and the occasional fishing boat, we couldn't get enough lounging on the private deck while listening to music on the surround sound speakers (a custom CD of Brazilian music is yours for the taking) and taking frequent dips in the pool to cool off.
Indoors, a huge and inviting sectional couch (great for watching movies that are available for check-out), a king-size bed with 600 thread count sheets, as well as a Nespresso coffee maker, well-stocked minibar and wine cellar offer plenty of other options for hanging out. Other less obvious features, such as dual showers with glass walls that lend the feeling of bathing al fresco and two separate WCs, make every little experience an enjoyable one.
While the romance and seclusion of the Villas is unrivaled, Ponta dos Ganchos provides a host of other ways to enjoy your time there. We spent several hours lounging on the private beach, sipping caiprinhas and snacking on food served by the attentive staff. (All food is included while alcohol is not.) In addition to beachside dining, the seven-course breakfast, served on a deck overlooking the ocean, is a great way to enjoy a meal too. Dinners in the restaurant specialize in seafood and haute interpretations of local cuisine, which can also be reserved by couples on the private island.
A swim across the bay to the tiny island is a welcome diversion, but sailing, fishing, an indoor heated pool, tennis, snorkeling, a game room and more are all available for the taking as well. We opted for a decidedly more lazy approach and booked massages (not included in the price) at the Dior spa, which—set along the edge of the peninsula in canopied open-air rooms—was an unforgettable treat.
From the spectacular rooms to the lush landscaping and all the sumptuous details in between, Ponta dos Ganchos is high on our list of favorite destinations. To book, visit the reservations site. Rack rates start at about $530 nightly.