Discussions of what is “good value for money” are interminable and usually inconclusive – rather like those of religion and politics. There are so many variables in such a debate but, common to all, are what you are prepared to pay versus the price of the product.
The Trancoso hotel Estrela D’Agua is a fine example of the paradoxical kind of place that provokes such questioning.
I have given rather a long description of the hotel and surroundings because Trancoso is pretty far from anywhere and anyone thinking of going to the hotel needs to have a fair idea of what will be met. So if you are an impatient reader my apologies for this pretty long-winded description.
The hotel is a 90 minute drive from Porto Seguro and is situated just outside the village of Trancoso (a less than 10 minute drive) and right on the beach. It has several two story 4 apartment buildings and a variety of houses of varying degrees of luxury and facilities. These are all set back and hidden from the beach surrounded by beautiful gardens, mainly trees, inhabited by many birds of the most varied types. As you walk down to the beach you come to the outside-inside restaurant, lounge or reading room, sushi bar and bar followed by two swimming pools. There are hammocks, a beach bar and several covered areas overlooking the beach and sea.
The architecture and decoration is what might be called rustic smart and is indeed most pleasant and in tune with the beach, Atlantic rainforest and mangrove environment. We stayed in a one-room apartment with bathroom and veranda. The room was not large but was comfortable and, as already mentioned, pleasantly decorated. The bathroom was spacious with plenty of hot water. Housekeeping operated twice a day so there were always fresh good quality towels and a made-up bed. Internet access is free but liable to go on and off like a failing light bulb. The air conditioning in our room was silent and most efficient. There is no room service.
Breakfast is substantial and varied. Tons of fruit, cereal, bread, cakes, local dishes and freshly made eggs, any way you like. Lunch and dinner and the sushi bar are available most of the time and meals can be had inside or outside. Shorts and flip-flops are quite acceptable attire. Beach umbrellas, towels, tables and refreshments are available on the beach in front of the hotel with an army of beach boys to hand.
The beach in front of the hotel stretches for several miles either way (North or South). To the South lies Trancoso and if you walk that way you will quickly come to the village area and a huge beach invasion of red umbrellas, tables and chairs. If lots of people, thumping music and crummy food are your thing then this is the place to be.
If, on the other hand, you like peace and less populated surroundings then head North. While we were there, during our mid week, mid January stay, and on our early morning walks, we had miles of golden sand to ourselves. The beach was spotless and in five days we did not see one plastic bag or a beer can, unlike the devastated beaches in Rio which are not only covered in trash but also are littered with bright orange trash bins – mostly ignored. A fresh water river appears after about 40 minutes, said to be clean, which affords a refreshing dip before heading back.
The staff is most friendly, courteous and happy to assist in any way. Just out of interest most of the more senior staff are from the south of Brazil while locals undertake the more simple functions.
To run an establishment such as this cannot be easy as everything must be brought in from afar, often by ‘plane – including staff and guests. The hotel owners have invested heavily in the brilliant location, in the accommodations, in the facilities and services and charge accordingly.
And here is the sting in the “tale”.
We were happy to pay R$1,850.00 (some US$770.00) per day for a four night/five day stay. Not cheap, but in our opinion pretty good value for what was offered.
But we were certainly not happy to pay R$8.00 (or US$3.50) for a 200ml bottle of water when a liter bottle could be bought in Trancoso for R$2.80, or just over US$1.00 for five time the amount of water. And it was not as if the water, an essential to life, was a French Perrier or a Finnish Veen – just a local product in a plastic bottle. Going further a Catena Alta Chardonnay was on the menu at about R$550 when it can be bought from the Brazilian distributor at R$136. Not to mention a half bottle of mediocre white at R$110 a bottle. It was hard to find a single dish on the restaurant or sushi bar menus at less than R$100 or US$40. Well, you might say, if you are happy to pay US$770 a night why are you whingeing about the price of a miserable little bottle of water? The answer is simply that it is not good value for money, whatever your income. And I can think of many expensive European or North American hotels where water is complimentary. No big deal really, but brilliant when compared to the negativity of an exorbitant charge for a drink of water.
Other criticisms, or lets call them suggestions, are less obvious. Unless you want to take a twenty minute walk into Trancoso, eating dust or deep in mud depending on the weather, then you have to call for a R$20,00 taxi ride. How about a shuttle service in the hotel’s own large car – it has one! And how about some hotel run beach activities – sail boating, snorkelling at the reefs just off the beach, kayaking, and so on, rather than the exorbitant R$2.500 (about US$1,000) for the hire of a motorboat and pilot.
If you travel by private jet or helicopter you will probably find these criticisms trivial. But, if you are just “ordinary” folk, then be aware to beware. This is a fine hotel, but with a sting!
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Located in Trancoso, by the sand of Nativos' Beach, Estrela D'Agua is the perfect getaway for those seeking comfort and sophistication. As a result of the impeccable quality of its services, the inn is part of the reputable Associacao Roteiros de Charme, which maintains strict environmental policies. ... more less
- Reservation Options:
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- Also Known As:
- Estrela d`Agua Hotel Trancoso
- Estrela D'Agua Trancoso, Brazil