Hiding amongst the tropical thickets and oyster farms of Santa Catarina, Ponta dos Ganchos hotel is a relaxed rainforest retreat of shimmering sunsets and secluded beaches. Should you tire of sipping caipirinhas by the infinity pool or lounging on your private deck, this exclusive paradise has plenty of play left with its games room, cinema, and a restorative spa, too.
Get this when you book through us:
A bottle of Cave Geisse Brut – a Brazilian sparkling wine – on arrival
Double rooms from $564.05 (BRL2,300), excluding tax at 3 per cent.
Rates include daily breakfast.
You won't have to leave your room for pampering sessions; couples massages can be arranged in your bungalow.
At the hotel
Spa, cinema, games room, gym, clay tennis court, CD, DVD and book library. In rooms: WiFi, LCD TV, CD/DVD player, minibar, fireplace, wine fridge, and Nespresso coffee machine.
Our favourite rooms
Each of the bungalows has a king-size bed, walk-in wardrobe and hammock on the veranda. Steam up in the sauna of a Arvoredo Bungalow then head out to the wooden deck for bubbles and bay views in the private plunge pool. Or splash out, quite literally, on the Special Emerald Villa Bungalow – pick your own wines from its cellar, work out in its underground gym and notch up some laps in its infinity pool.
Rooms have their own Jacuzzi or infinity pool, and there’s a heated pool inside for rainy days.
Book in at the hotel's signature Spa Ponta dos Ganchos for purifying facials, tension-banishing massages (including detox, hot stone, and deep tissue), and revitalising treatments for tired legs; all take place in the open-air spa pavilion by the water’s edge between 2pm and 8pm.
Leave your flipflops at home – the hotel supplies Havaianas, staple of Brazilian footwear, for all guests.
The rugged rainforest terrain makes this hotel unsuitable for mini Smiths.
The private island seats one couple a night – book ahead to make sure it’s you. Otherwise, opt for a table out on a balcony above the ocean.
Loose linens to ease the tropical temperatures, especially between December and March.
The Beach Restaurant is carved from Amazonian woodwork with open balconies that look out to sea. Try the prawn on pumpkin or oyster moqueca (a stew cooked with garlic, chilli and coriander). Freshly caught seafood can be barbecued for you on the beach. At night, romance hangs from every leaf thanks to the shimmering candles and crystal lights. Breakfast is served all day in the games room – choose from 10 courses including fruit shots and bolinho de chuva (doughtnuts made with cinnamon).
You can get drinks in the main restaurant but there’s also a bar in the games room, where you can chill out to Brazilian beats before dinner. Be sure to try their take on a caipirinha – the Hook is made with Cachaça Gancheira, a bespoke Brazilian spirit, and Amazon-originating physalis.
There are no set times for meals – the restaurant will stay open until the last guest leaves. The action in the bar and restaurant usually settles down by 1am.
Order in cheese plates, pizzas and pastas between 7am and 1am.
Rua Eupídio Alves do Nascimento, 104
Ganchos de Fora
The nearest airport is in Florianopolis, a 50-minute drive from the hotel. Tam and other regional airlines fly here from Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo. Call our Smith24 team to arrange flights.
From the BR101 highway, you’ll need to take the exit for Governador Celso Ramos, heading east towards the coast. Pass the village of Ganchos do Meio and carry on until you drive down a slight dip and come to a narrow road on your left. Go down it, and Ponta dos Ganchos should be in sight. That said, it’s probably a little easier to find if you get someone from the hotel to meet you at the airport in Florianopolis so you can trace the 19 miles together. There’s free parking.
Helicopters can land at the hotel. Guests can also arrive by boat from Florianopolis, or moor up their own.
Worth getting out of bed for
Within the resort’s ramparts, hike the 40 minutes or so to the beach, amble the nature trails, cycle up to the local waterfalls and watch for whales escaping the Arctic winter between June and November. If a tropical downpour rains you in, choose from the 300-strong film collection at the hotel’s cinema. Catch an open boat up to the oyster farm, where a fourth-generation fisherman will assist you in catching and eating Brazilian bivalves straight from the sea. For a slice of Germany in your tropical surroundings, take the two-hour trip to the Eisenbahn brewery and try the traditional beer.
There are no restaurants within walking distance and all your meals are provided at the hotel, but if you’ve ventured out of the resort and find yourselves in Florianopolis, peruse the art and pick from the 500-strong wine list at Bistro d’Acampora, where the chef recreates French and Italian dishes using Brazilian ingredients (+55 (0)48 3235 1073; www.dacampora.com.br).
After a cab ride at customary Brazilian breakneck speed through Santa Catarina, we suddenly drop a few gears; we’ve arrived at the lackadaisical fishing village of Ganchos Do Meio. Mrs Smith looks perplexed as she surveys the sparkling sea studded with row upon row of pastel-coloured buoys. Our driver informs us that this football-pitch-sized aquatic farm is home to thousands of oysters; this aphrodisiacal bivalve is in fact responsible for 70 per cent of this placid enclave's industry. A steep climb up into the fecund hills later and we reach our final luxury destination. As two ice-cold fruit punches are brought to us in the reception embedded in sub-tropical woodland we wonder, ‘Who needs oysters?’ Romance can’t possibly ever require a helping hand here.
Miguel Garcia, the manager, helps us in getting our bearings by pointing out our bungalow – one of 25 – on a scale model of the resort. Our new home is perfectly situated on the privately owned peninsula that protrudes from the Southern Brazilian coast. ‘Location, location, location…’ I smile. Miguel looks at me a little bewildered, but before I can explain the expression, we’re being whisked away on an electric buggy cart.
As I’m clocking that our bungalow is equipped with every mod con, an over-excited Mr Smith swan dives onto the bed. Paraphrasing the in-room literature, I relay that the mattress was developed with sleep company Cia do Sono and it is embedded with infrared rays offering a therapeutic sleep while promoting cellular renewal, toxin elimination, combatting muscular pain... ‘Well, you certainly know how to get a girl in the mood!’ she responds. I counter her sarcasm by filling the Jacuzzi on our balcony and by ordering two G&Ts from room service. It doesn’t have quite the desired effect – Mrs Smith is rolling her eyes and tapping her watch as if to say 'It’s 10am and we haven’t even had breakfast'. Who could blame me? The mood at this paradise inspires a suspended reality.
Surveying our new abode, we decree Ponta dos Ganchos’ attention to detail faultless. Cool Egyptian bed linen, perfectly chosen tracklists on a complimentary CD, large flatscreen TV, climate-controlled wines, gentle bamboo wind chime, swaying hammock on the veranda, dry sauna…Yes, we even have our very own sauna. Mrs Smith and I swap The Look. The Look is a rare thing – it intimates that there are no complaints. None. Nada.
We take a quick pre-breakfast snoop of the resort's facilities next: heated indoor pool, fully equipped gym, white-washed spa and a well-stocked games room. Impressive. Perusing an extensive DVD library, I hear the muffled opening cords of Nino Rota’s famed film score. I move in the direction of the sound – two large wicker doors. I timidly slide them back to reveal a cavernous cinema in which a solitary man is watching The Godfather II – my favourite film. Mrs Smith is dumbfounded; how on Earth can someone sit alone in a dark cinema when a private beach with lapping crystalline waters is but 50 yards away. As I close the door the man turns, beams a contented smile and returns his gaze to the screen.
A leisurely stroll around the ample grounds later and we settle on one of many lounge areas with a view of the resort’s connected-only-by-a-rope-bridge private island. We take our seats for breakfast – if such a term does justice to the eight-course taster menu available whenever you desire. Ponta Dos Ganchos is clearly a place of indulgences, where it is just as acceptable to watch your favourite film (sun shining or not), as it is to run yourself a Jacuzzi and drink a G&T before breakfast. When you’re somewhere as special this, the usual rules just don’t apply.
We decide that the perfect way to digest our decadent breakfast is by venturing down the steep decline to the beach for a sunbathe. Hitting the sand, we’re struck by the sheer perfectness of it all. Noting the stuff-of-dreams small island set away from the beach, I suddenly recall the room’s literature stating this can be booked in advance by couples for an evening meal à deux. I surreptitiously abandon Mrs Smith on the beach for a moment. If I can get us on that tiny islet for our own five-star Robinson Crusoe experience I’ll be banking enough Brownie points to last an entire holiday!
A sunlight-steeped, vitamin D-drenched day later, and we're back in our bungalow; Mrs Smith emerges from her traditional pre-evening pretty-up in time for us to hitch a buggy ride down to the beachside restaurant. Tinkling piano and twinkling candlelight sets the mood. Mrs Smith is about to take a seat when I announced the surprise – our supper is to be served on our own tiny island. We cross the footbridge to the solitary table. As Mrs Smith takes in the soul-stirring private view, a waiter expertly traverses the roped crossing, armed with a bottle of chilled white wine to accompany our Luis Salvajoli creations. The resort’s chef combines traditional Brazilian recipes with international haute cuisine and it’s the seafood that especially stands out – fresh flavours in dishes such as shrimp and pumpkin stew are untainted by fussy sauces leaving the quality of the ingredients to do the talking.
Effervescent under moonlight, the lagoon is soundtracked by the soft music from across the water. Mrs Smith offers me a hand; she has a mischievous look. Of course – she wants a slow dance on her own tropical island. She’s obviously forgotten my two left feet. In the heat of the moment who am I to disappoint? This place can surely make an artist of philistine, a poet from a cynic, and in that balmy heat, I am soon obliging. Mrs Smith’s mouth is stretched wide… she is smiling… laughing… hold on, no, she is shouting! Clumsy Mr Smith is standing on Mrs Smith's bare foot. OK, now we’re both laughing – as magical as it is, perhaps Ponta dos Ganchos’ inspiration can’t actually perform miracles.
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