With their booming economy, 2014 World Cup, 2016 Olympics and the recent Rock in Rio Festival, Brazil is the global destination everyone is talking about. While southern Brazil with Rio de Janeiro is more known, it is the less developed and exotic beaches in the northeast that is the undiscovered luxury destination of tomorrow.
When we set upon our trip to Brazil, we traveled American Airlines, the only airline that travels to Recife, Brazil. Checking in at Los Angeles International Airport, as Business and First Class passengers we were treated to exclusive counters and security lines which made the start of our trip a departure from the norm. With Admirals Clubs along the way in Los Angeles and Miami; rest, relaxation and even showers to freshen up, we always had an option from the bustle of the terminals.
Flying to Miami, American Airlines uses the luxurious Boeing 777 Wide-body aircraft with newly reconfigured seats in business and first class. These automatically adjusting, fully reclining seats made the voyage an absolute delight- not that the nonstop service of food, beverage, large array of on demand movies and ice cream sundaes didn’t help pass the time.
To match the seats, the airline sported an amazingly friendly attitude; as they say in their preflight video- they really “are glad you are here”. This passion for service and attention to detail was an integral part of our flight that brought us closer to Africa than the United States. At the end of the flight, we were almost tempted to stay on the plane, but our exotic adventure awaited.
RECIFE and OLINDA
Recife is one of the largest cities in Brazil with a history that dates back to the 16th century with periods of Dutch, Portuguese and Jewish colonization that left behind cultural and architectural influences. The architecture can be seen in the city of Olinda, a UNESCO World Heritage site with 22 churches and 11 chapels. Recife is home to the first Jewish Synagogue in the new world, and in the 1630s this colony ultimately settled in New Amsterdam, later to become known as New York City.
We stayed at the Atlante Plaza Hotel in Recife, a majestic glass skyscraper across the street from several miles of white sand beaches. In our room, a large assortment of local fruits and sweets greeted us along with the magnificent view of the ocean. The beaches offered us a perfect opportunity for strolling and sunbathing. We both fell in love with the beaches in Brazil; they are the center of the entertainment for locals and tourists alike with restaurants, foot volleyball courts and vendors.
PORTO DE GALINHAS
As we waved goodbye to Recife, we were driven by our LUCK Receptivo private driver one hour south of Recife through the sugarcane plantations to the beach resort of Porto De Galinhas. Porto de Galinhas is the place to relax, known for its private home rentals, smaller pousadas, and some of the best luxurious full service hotels of the region. Consistently voted the best beach in Brazil, they are characterized by large natural reefs (or “Recife” in Portuguese) and “piscinas naturales”, small tide pools in the reefs that trap the fish at low tide and make for amazing snorkeling and photo opportunities. We had the privilege of having the Director of Tourism of Ipojuca Geraldo Figueirôa be our host and guide during our stay. His attention to detail, warm hospitality, and knowledge of the region made us feel as if we were from the area. The warmth of the Brazilian people made us feel truly welcomed.
PORTO DE GALINHAS
We had the pleasure of staying at Summerville, an all inclusive, family friendly resort with bungalow suites and apartments. The hotel offers countless activities and non-stop buffet of Brazilian dishes including amazing desserts and exotic and absolutely unique fresh fruit. Every evening, upon our return to the hotel, we would relax in the hammock in front of the ocean reminiscing about all the wonderful experiences of the day before falling asleep with the sounds of waves outside our bungalow.
The other world-renowned hotel in the region is Nannai. A luxurious, adult, couples and honeymooner’s destination composed of apartments and bungalows, some with private pools, others with pools that connect to the main pool allowing you to swim to the main restaurant. If privacy is what you are looking for, the hotel can arrange entirely private meals in your bungalow on the beach with live musicians and customized menus. The hotel offers a natural private beach known for its beachside massages and relaxation. We were excited to discover that this December they will open the largest L’Occitane Spa in South America.
Munganga restaurant, a member of the respected “Associação dos Restaurantes” is in the heart of Puerto de Galinhas. This restaurant is the culinary highlight of the region serving Brazilian contemporary cuisine using traditional and modern dishes from the region. The owner and Brazil’s top celebrity chef, Felipe Barreto, sat with us and ordered dish after dish of some of the finest dishes, paellas, lobster, shrimp, coconuts, vegetables, salmon, mango and meats we have ever tasted. Add to that a few of Brazil’s famous caipiroska, the cousin of the better known caipirinha, that uses vodka instead of cachaça (sugarcane alcohol) with either cashew fruit, kiwi, maracuja (passion fruit), pineapple, grape or strawberry. Munganga is so famous in Latin America that they were just selected to cater a dinner for 400 people at the Pan American Games in Guadalajara, Mexico. This is a dish not to miss.
After our unforgettable trip to Brazil, we were sad to leave but happy to get back on to our American Airlines flight and enjoy the service, food, and on demand entertainment from the comfort of our seat. As the seats reclined and the cabin lights dimmed for the flight home, we reminisced about all the amazing memories from this ESCAPADITA to Brazil that will stay with us for life.