04.12.2012 - 08.12.2012
Just three hours east of Rio de Janeiro on the coast is a tropical paradise called Armação dos Búzios – where the rich and famous come to play in their holiday homes, the seafood is fresh and abundant in restaurants that line the cobbled streets, and you could stay for weeks and explore a new beach every day. The quaint town was made famous in the 1960’s by actress Brigitte Bardot who holidayed here with her Brazilian boyfriend and fell in love with the place, staying for a lot longer than she had intended.
These days the small fishing village is a holiday mecca for Argentinians, Brazilians and cruise ship passengers who come for the perfect beaches, upmarket boutiques, art galleries and to be seen at the hot restaurants and bars around town. Having not yet had our fill of Brazilian beach life, we thought we should join them and see it for ourselves.
Accommodation in Buzios can be as expensive as you want it to be, so we were pretty happy to secure accommodation for under $100US per night at a four star resort right on the beach. The resort had a gym, restaurant and bar on site and a shuttle into town which was 8km away. Sounded idyllic and it was with great anticipation that we arrived at the resort ready for four days of relaxation.
Perhaps the first sign that we were in for a few surprises should have been the empty carpark on arrival? We got to Reception and were greeted by a Brazilian lady with an Australian accent (Aussies really are everywhere!!) who informed us that the resort was a ‘little quiet’ this week so we had been given an upgrade to a beachfront room and that breakfast on our first morning would be served on our veranda. Very happy with that! After admiring the view over the ocean from our bed we set out to explore the resort, first stop being a late lunch by the pool.
No cushions on the deckchairs or sunbeds, no one at the pool or bar and no one to ask how we could order lunch……where was everyone? A quick trip back to Reception and we discovered the chef had not arrived for work today. Ok….. so we asked about the shuttle into town to go get something to eat only to be informed that the shuttle doesn’t operate anymore….. Our idyllic hideaway was starting to feel like a lot of hard work! You can imagine what the gym looked like when we eventually found it (which is also where we found the cushions for the daybeds!).
Our host kindly dropped us into town and suggested we rent a buggy so we could get in and out of town (thanks, but our budget had just been blown on accommodation that offered a shuttle for that!) and so it was that we spent the next three days in a piece of junk that was to be our transport. Lucky for us, Buzios was pretty spectacular so we put our first day of challenges behind us and settled in for the ride.
There is plenty to do on the peninsula if you are looking for an active holiday – wind and kitesurfing, snorkelling, hiking, fishing and boat trips. Or you could be lazy like us and spend your days lying on the beach, eating frozen yoghurt and napping in a hammock late in the day. Nights are for perusing the boutiques in town, watching sunsets and enjoying the lively atmosphere on the main street where everyone eats out on the tables that line the pavements and live music rings out from multiple venues. Buzios is the epitome of a beach resort holiday.
Turns out staying in a resort on your own has a few benefits too! Breakfast in the room continued for another two days (until someone else checked in), and with the pool area set up for guests on day two we had our choice of day beds and the entire pool to ourselves. We also didn’t have to share sunset on the pier with anyone except the birds. There still didn’t appear to be a chef around, but our little death-trap-of-a-buggy got us in and out of town easily enough where the restaurant choices were unlimited.
All in all, we ended up having the relaxing few days we had counted on despite the dubious start. No doubt with high season just days away the resort will be in full swing for the next few months with staff behind the bar and the ability to offer lunch to their guests, but we were happy to ditch these services in exchange for our ocean front upgrade and having breakfast delivered to our room so we could enjoy the view. Brigitte was definitely on to something all those years ago.