Thursday, 16 December 2010

Brazil’s best places to stay: Sagu Mini Resort, Ilha Grande

When I arrived in Ilha Grande, after taking a ferry from Angra dos Reis (a couple of hours from Rio), a tiny boat was ready to pick me up and motor across the water for five minutes to the Sagu Mini Resort. There are plenty of inexpensive places to stay at in Abraão, the island’s only town, but if you’re after something a bit special, then go for the Sagu. It only has nine rooms, and they’re all really spacious, with their own balconies and hammocks. What’s lovely about it is that it has been built with the rainforest (which covers the island) at front of mind. You feel that you are deep within it because there are so many nooks and crannies to explore, not to mention all the butterflies and birds fluttering around. The boat drops you off on a long, wooden jetty that leads to the Sagu resort and the owner, also called Ana, was ready to greet me on arrival. Like I said, the room was lovely and big, as was the bathroom, and there was a balcony with lovely views of the sea, and a large (covered) veranda with a hammock, which proved quite handy given that it rained a lot while I was there. And when it rains in Ilha Grande, it really rains. Forget any storm you may have experienced in the UK – in comparison, it’s like a little trickle. In fact, one couple who had come to the restaurant at the Sagu for dinner one evening were forced to spend the night there because it was too dangerous for them to travel back to Abraão. Cars aren’t allowed on the island, so visitors explore it via footpaths. You also need to carry a torch with you, as the footpaths aren’t floodlit. Equally useful when the weather wasn’t great was the living room, where you could choose from a pretty decent collection of DVDs, quite a few of which were in English. But the best activities, as you’d expect, were outdoors. We borrowed kayaks to explore the beaches around the Sagu and trekked to Lopes Mendes (as mentioned in a previous post). There is also a jacuzzi to soothe away the strains of the kayaking. If there was one downside to the Sagu, it was probably its restaurant. The food was expensive and, because the hotel is outside the town and the weather wasn’t great, our options were limited. The setting was lovely though. Another point worth noting – and one which wasn’t a problem despite comments on Tripadvisor – refers to the little black flies in the breakfast area. There are quite a few of them, although they aren’t actually flies; the species is called Irapuã (trigona Spinipes), and there is information about them at the hotel. They are harmless. If you don’t like nature and little insects, then the Sagu might not be the best place for you. But I loved being surrounded by it all; it was part of the island’s - and the hotel's - charm and natural beauty.

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