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November 30 2019
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“How did you find this place?” is the standard question that Vila Naiá proprietor Renata Mellão asks her guests upon arrival. The São Paulo–based architect has opened a design-first retreat on a wonderfully remote beach in Bahia, Brazil, but getting there is a bit of a chore. It requires a commercial flight to Porto Seguro, and then a 20-minute ride by air to the nearby village of Corumbau. Do you prefer the say-your-prayers puddle jumper or the very bumpy helicopter? Choices, choices …

But the destination is worth the logistics. Vila Naiá’s main attractions are pristine, turquoise waters and the adjacent jungles of Parque Nacional de Monte Pascoal, and so swimming and hiking are the primary pursuits. The hotel’s eight suites and casas all have ocean views, and guests will inevitably awake to the sounds of crowing roosters and rustling palm trees.

The staff has been culled from the region’s local indigenous community and fully trained by Mellão. And while communicating with many of them can be challenging, their attention to detail is both remarkable and appreciated. From bohemian-style wooden beach bungalows to strategically placed hammocks to an excellent cocktail bar, Vila Naiá’s amenities are plentiful. Health-oriented guests will appreciate the restaurant’s farm-to-table approach; many of the ingredients originate in the neighboring eco-reserve. (If you ask nicely, Mellão might give you a tour.) But the hotel’s biggest luxury? No cellular service for miles.

Rooms at Vila Naiá begin at $270 per night. The hotel’s Web site is published in Portuguese, so Anglophone guests are advised to reach Mellão directly at reservas@vilanaia.com.br

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