In the remote village of Tracosco on the lush southeastern coast of Bahia, you’ll find the unique UXUA Casa Hotel. Conceived by Dutch-born Wilbert Das (fashion designer and longtime creative director for Diesel, the hip clothing line), the gorgeously bright and airy hotel took over two years to build using recycled materials in this tribute to the area Das loves so much.
Six of the nine 1- to 3-bedroom casas or cottages (three are restored fishermen homes) are scattered around beautiful gardens, while the remaining three face the town square. Some are equipped with plunge pools, some with a Jacuzzi, and others nestle in the gardens and on terraces. Each casa has an open living room and a full kitchen where local chefs will help the culinary-adventurous create local Bahian feasts in their own casa. Meals are also served in the restaurant, at the pool, are delivered to your casa or can be taken at the beach just five minutes away. On the sand there’s a scenic lounge whose bar and kitchen were created out of an abandoned fishing boat that washed up on shore.
The swimming pool was made by a local, self-taught “mosaicist,” who used over 40,000 unique green aventurine quartz pebbles, well known in this part of the world to be especially healing. There’s also a spa where, in addition to acupuncture, massages, yoga, and Pilates, you can take private classes in capoeira and forro dancing, which is extremely popular at most of the social activities in the village.
There’s plenty to do if lying on endless beaches is not your thing: trek, horseback ride, snorkel, dive, canoe, play tennis, visit the nearby Indian reserve Barra Velha, a national park that 500 Pataxo tribe families call home … or join a local soccer team in the square!
To build the lodge, Das recruited local craftsmen to construct eight individual, traditional casas and one treehouse using recycled and organic materials wherever possible, while applying the local building customs to create a lodge that fits into its surroundings. Almost everything was carved by hand, which includes some unique touches in the bathrooms that are made out of fallen trees. Hardwood roof tiles were restored from old farmhouses, local ceramics cover the floors, and recycled woods and irons make up the bathrooms to create the rustic ambiance.
UXUA has also roped in an area containing native vegetation and mangroves. The lodge owners have partnered up with the local administration and have taken responsibility for keeping the mangroves and the beach clean.
Bahia has high levels of illiteracy, and training for luxury hospitality services is uncommon. Das wanted to employ locals so, two years before the hotel opened, he began a ‘hotel school’ on the property, where locals were given hospitality training by professionals from international hotel schools. In addition, all personnel who had not finished high school were put into classes to complete their diplomas, and those staff who lacked basic literacy skills were given one-on-one instruction. Every one of the present staff of 45 has either finished high school or is in the hotel’s program to get a diploma. Three of those who got diplomas are now taking university courses in a neighboring town, with tuition and transportation provided by UXUA.
Medical benefits are provided to all staff, something extremely unusual for Bahia. They are also guaranteed employment year-round, also rare in this part of the world, where staff are hired seasonally. The hotel pays the salary of the local professor of capoeira, which guarantees that the town’s children and teenagers can practice this sport even if they can’t afford to pay for the classes.
Produce for the magnificent Brazilian fare served in the hotel is sourced locally.