As the world gears up for the Summer Olympics in Brazil, boutique owner Desiree Kohan illuminates a couple of corners worth exploring.
Desiree Kohan, the founder and fashion plate behind Los Angeles boutique Des Kohan, fell in love with Brazil while on vacation in 2000—“I stayed on a houseboat in the Amazon and explored all of Bahia and its islands,” she says. “I was hooked then the same way I’m hooked now.” She and her Brazilian husband and 2-year-old son now split their time between Los Angeles and São Paulo.
She points to Trancoso’s pristine beaches and luxe bohemian properties as not to be missed: “It’s the quintessential gypset crowd,” says Kohan of the former fishing village (one of the oldest in Brazil), where colorful homes have been converted to restaurants and bluff-side cafes over-look the ocean. However, it’s ecotourism destination Alto Paraíso de Goáis (in west-central Brazil) that is her top must-see. “It’s called High Paradise, with over 30 waterfalls and mineral baths. It has the most concentrated area of crystals anywhere in the world,” says Kohan, who offers a bullet-pointed itinerary for the “otherworldly” locale below. “It’s the most desired spot amongst São Paolo designers, writers and artists. I wish I could transport you…it is truly a gem in the rough.”
ALTO PARAÍSO DE GOÁIS
• Pousada Maya The most charming boutique hotel, usually booked monthly by overstressed São Paolo Paulistas, is owned by my husband’s childhood friend. She really knows how to pamper you while creating the perfect mix of Brazilian wild savannah and local amenities. pousadamaya.com.br.
• Casa da Lua Pousada This boutique hotel is nestled in a tropical garden among toucans and monkeys. Outdoor fire pits and fountains surround the entire perimeter. casadaluapousada.com.br.
• Private Home Rentals There are many private beautiful homes and estates nestled in the tropical jungle. We provide these contacts upon request through our Des Kohan concierge service. firstname.lastname@example.org.
• Cravo e Canela This is a great organic and vegan brunch, lunch and juice spot with cuisine that is locally grown. Indoor and outdoor seating overlooks luscious gardens. cravoecanelaaltoparaiso.blogspot.com.
• Jambalaya Espaço Gastronômico My go-to dinner spot. There are no signs so it took us a couple of days to find it. It is hidden on a private road lined by fire pits and features live music in the most romantic outdoor setting. It is a Northern Brazilian gastronomic experience where all regional dishes are masterful.
• Poço Encantado A waterfall known for its long sand beach, this natural attraction has a no-name restaurant overlooking the falls. Preorder your home-cooked meal before going for a swim in the falls. cachoeirapocoencantado.tur.br.
• La Vita e Bella No Paraiso The chef in this Italian restaurant serves up dishes with regional nuts and grains. There’s also outdoor seating with family-style tables.
Written and edited by JENNY MURRAY.