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Búzios: Brazil’s coastal hideaway for A-list celebrities

Robert La Bua unwinds in Búzios, a Brazilian coastal hideaway tantalisingly revealed by Brigitte Bardot, now a luxury destination and escape for A-list celebrities.

Visitors familiar with Brazil’s largest cities know that São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro seduce with their potent cocktails of exciting arts, dining and fashion, making vacations there a non-stop extravaganza of activity. With some of the wealthiest residents in the world, these two engines of a robust Brazilian economy are the places where the country’s commercial success is most tangibly visible in the office towers, shopping centres – and traffic jams.

Despite these trappings of affluence and glamour, the Brazilian holiday ideal remains a quiet, uncomplicated beachside village where the sun shines and caipirinhas come by the jug. Welcome to Búzios.

Where the beautiful vacation

Just over two hours’ drive from Rio, Búzios is the place where ‘The Beautiful People of Brazil’ go when they want to relax. It is the haunt of A-list celebrities, self-made billionaires and scions of family dynasties. Just a small fishing village a generation ago, Búzios – properly known as Armação dos Búzios – is now the destination of choice for those seeking a consciously peaceful environment without sacrificing the creature comforts favourable to a reinvigorated state of mind.

Búzios is not exactly a happening place – and therein lies its greatest appeal. Almost everyone is here to get away from the action, not come to it.

That said, there is always an element of entertainment on Rua das Pedras, where restaurants and shops provide a denouement to the day’s (absence of) activities. In the centre of the original village, the street is the social centre of Búzios, much as Quai Jean Jaurès is in St Tropez, the French village with which it has much in common – including Brigitte Bardot.

Thanks to her liaison with a Brazilian lover, Bardot was a frequent visitor to the village – and, at that time, where Brigitte went, people followed. Today, she is immortalised in a statue along Orla Bardot (Bardot Shore), the most coveted real estate in Búzios and the location of the finest hotels. Among them is Casas Brancas, owned by the debonair Santiago Bebianno. The apotheosis of the Brazilian gentleman, Santiago grew up in the hotel back when it was the family home, but before it acquired the adjacent properties and expanded to become one of Brazil’s most sought-after holiday addresses. Today, Casas Brancas welcomes the Brazilian élite and their friends in a home-like atmosphere balancing perfectly an ethos of unfussy luxury with an earnest responsibility whether through delicious meals served overlooking the sea or equally delicious spa treatments designed to erase stress from our existence.

Legends of Búzios

When strolling along Rua das Pedras, make sure you indulge in a Brazilian ice cream. The country’s Amazon region yields an abundance of unusual fruits exotic and many of these fruits are so fragile they cannot be shipped to other parts of the country and have to be appreciated in the form of ice cream and sorbet. Watch for bacuri, mangaba, cupuaçu, jabuticaba, graviola (soursop), and açaí (ah-sah-EE), which already has something of an international profile thanks to its ultrahigh value in Vitamin C.

São Paulo has its own beach resort, Guarujá, where wealthy paulistanos have long had weekend getaways, yet many prefer the charms of Búzios. In contrast, no one from Rio goes to Guarujá.

Ever proud are the residents of Rio, fully aware of the allure of their special, secret place.

This article originally appeared in Signature Luxury Travel & Style magazine. To subscribe to the latest issue, click here.

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