Hotel Review: UXUA Casa Hotel is a new luxury concept hotel located in Trancoso, on Brasil's "discovery coast."
The remote area makes UXUA (pronounced oo-SHOO-ahh and translated means "marvelous") Casa Hotel the perfect getaway. As one of the earliest settlements established by the Portugese colonialists, Trancoso is located on an idyllic hilltop square where the original settlers built a neat square of homes. These homes have survived to present day and provide the modern-day location for the UXUA Casa Hotel.
Conceived by Wilbert Das, Creative Director of the brand Diesel, the UXUA is the first hotel owned by Das, although he has lent his creativity to such luxury hotels as the Diesel-owned Pelican Hotel in Miami Beach.
While most boutique hotels are located on isolated beaches, The UXUA's location in the heart of the village allows guests to directly experience the rhythms of the village, which is only busy during the Brazilian summer holidays of New Year's and Carnival and the rest of the year offer a relaxing change of pace from the hustle and bustle of major cities around the world.
Trancoso's remote location meant that more uniqueness and creativity went into its building than most other resorts. Utilizing local artisans and materials, UXUA is a collaboration of both the town and Das. The hotel's conception revolved around the ability to use largely recycled and locally sourced materials from this remote area of southern Bahia, rejecting easy solutions from international suppliers and instead inventing things on-the-spot.
The location and participation of the locals has allowed the resort to seamlessly blend with the local architecture, exactly the way the Pataxó Indians constructed homes in this area over many centuries.
"The walls are formed from a mix of tree-branches and clay (a technique the Pataxó call "pau a pique"), and the effect is quite rough, as if the walls are growing straight up out of the earth itself," said Das.
The casas at UXUA are all located in the village "Quadrado," near the best restaurants, which serve local Bahian cuisine, as well as excellent restaurants specializing in Sushi, Italian, Indian, Portughese and French cuisine. Because Trancoso is a popular resort town for Brazilians visiting from the nearby cities of Sao Paulo and Rio, it also offers incredible shopping options as well.
In addition to the casas in town, the resort also offers a unique beach lounge, just a five-minute walk down the hill from the hotel, made from an old fishing boat which has been restored.
Each part of UXUA is a unique example of recycling and the use of organic materials: sinks carved directly out of tree trunks, showers with water coming out of wooden logs and beams, very little glass is used and instead wooden shutters and blinds are all made by hand by local carpenters, as well as floors made out of a burnt cement technique made popular in Trancoso.
In keeping with the local "indoor/outdoor" lifestyle, the houses have open-air bathrooms, outside living areas, and some of the homes have entire walls which open up to private gardens and private pool.
One of the most unique features of the resort is the swimming pool, made of more than 40,000 pieces of Aventurine quartz, which has been laid by hand by a local artist who trained in mosaics. For those who believe in the power of crystals, including many of the local people in Trancoso, Aventurine is the most powerful "healing" stone.
In addition to enjoying the temperate climate, fine dining and shopping, the surrounding area also offers a wealth of outdoor activities.
Das' crew reports, "Trancoso is a paradise for those who love nature, so besides just going to any of the nine local beaches for swimming or beach-volleyball, there is kayaking on local rivers, hiking, horse-back riding in amazingly scenic places, fishing, diving. There are several Indian reservations in the area, some located along amazing stretches of coastline where all development is prohibited, and these are amazing to visit. Of course there are also the more traditional activities of golf, on one of South America's best courses at the Terravista Golf Course."
UXUA Casa Hotel is a unique travel destination, but it sacrifices none of the luxury of a resort and still maintains fundamental aspects of UXUA's emphasis on preserving the environment and on socially responsible practices.
For LxM Carly Zindermann