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“Doesn't Get Better Than This.....”

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The Island Experience
Ranked #72 of 93 Ilha Grande B&B and Inns
Los Angeles, California
2 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
“Doesn't Get Better Than This.....”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 12 September 2010

This was the best trip I have ever taken. There won't be words to describe how great this place was but I'll thrown out a few high points. I found the Island Experience doing searches on "top ten ....spas, adventure, yoga, mind-body-spirit, etc ". Then I began reading reviews. The reviews for the Island Experience mentioned many of the things I was looking for... exercise, great food, relaxation, massage, hiking, rain forest, kayaking, oceanfront, beaches, yoga, cultural experience, etc.). It was all that and more. It is a unique experience to end up on a beautiful island with 8-10 others, previously unknown to you, and spend a week eating, playing, laughing, sweating and relaxing. The week I went (last week in August), I shared my Island Experience with people who had traveled from Argentina, Saudi Arabia, Switzerland, England, and the other coast of the US. Four people had been there a week or two when I arrived. Five of us showed up for our fist week together. It was so much fun to hang out with people from around the world, walk trails, kayak beautiful blue waters, explore amazing beaches, relax on yoga mats and share wonderful cuisine in an open air dining room beside the ocean by candlelight. Plenty of solitary time too, if you want it. This place takes the "do what you want" approach. So you have amazing daytrip options every day, or you can just stay at the main lodge and relax on the grounds. The sauna and hottub have perfect views of the sunset and are highly recommended.

Although I had read everything I could before going, there were still pleasant surprises waiting there. There were two amazing performances by visiting specialists in Capoeira (Brazilian martial art) and in Aerial Artistry. Both the Aerial Artist and the Capoerira group conducted classes in their respective arts so that we got to try these amazing activities. In addition, we were treated to a dance movement class that was so different and "out-of-the-box" that we were all dazzled and intrigued by the absolute incredible uniqueness of it. The yoga, also a wonderful surprise as there were two highly talented instructors who would help us usher the day in and prepare our bodies for the days activity ahead. Then, at the end of the day, one or the other would help us undue any knots and soreness with restorative yoga that again complemented the days events. In looking back, it is the complete integration of everything that made this place different and better than anything I've ever done. The yoga was preparation for the days activities. The breakfast was specifically calculated to feed the days activities, as were the snacks and lunch. The massage, was somehow coordinated to work out the parts of the body that were most in need, given the days events. And the massage was special. It was a combination of so many techniques, all I can say is that it was restorative.. and wonderful.. and different... and perfect! Onto dinners, which appeared to be preparation for the next days activities. I noticed the hearty fish dinner preceded the hardest hike of the week (Parrot's Peak). Speaking of Parrot's Peak, definitely a challenging hike but, if you're ready for it, SUCH a beautiful vantage point. One of those places where you feel like you're on top of the world. And the chance to hike through primary rainforest to get there... priceless. So great to be a part of such a well oiled machine. I felt like a million bucks by the end of the week. And one final little nicety was a wonderful little dog "Lua" who would happily accommodate the occasional attention and play that guests offered.

So I weighed in the week before I went to the Island and am happy to report a 5 pound weight loss after TIE. I have embraced some of the recipes I loved most from TIE and I am maintaining the loss. I hope to return someday as this was the most relaxation and fitness that I have achieved in a very long time and TIE got me there in one short week. If money were no object, I would stay longer. Also, if Martin and Adriana ever decide to introduce their clientele to another part of the world, I am there! Their approach to health, happiness and wellness through activity, nature and healthy delicious cuisine makes great sense.

  • Stayed August 2010, travelled solo
    • Value
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Helpful?
Thank lifeisohsogood
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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52 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Location
    5 of 5 bubbles
  • Sleep Quality
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Rooms
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Service
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Value
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Cleanliness
    5 of 5 bubbles
Traveller tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (4)
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • Spanish first
  • Any
English first
Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
Level Contributor
3 reviews
3 hotel reviews
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 2 September 2010

When I chose The Island Experience from an online search of "yoga resorts worldwide", I had no idea that I'd be making a decision that would allow us to have our best family holiday ever! My husband and I (both in our 50's) were looking for a new destination that would include yoga (even though we were beginners), plenty of outdoor activities, healthy food with a low-cal option, and cooler weather than we'd find north of the equator. We found all of these things, and more. Our son, age 23, joined us for two of the three weeks we spent at TIE, and we all fell in love with the island, the staff, and the country.

Martin and Adriana are perfect hosts: friendly, helpful, encouraging and knowledgable. After three weeks there, we felt like family, and their casual, welcoming style makes everyone feel right at home from the first day they meet you in Rio for the trip south to Angra dos Reis, the port town from which you travel by boat to Ilha Grande. The island itself is a nature preserve, and has no roads (apart from a few in the main town), very few vehicles, and hiking trails of various intensities criss-crossing the island. Residents go almost everywhere by boat, hopping from cove to cove; even the school bus is a boat!

The facility itself is breathtaking. Built entirely of wooden beams and slats, the yoga room has glass windows from floor to ceiling, so your view as you practice is of the ocean, with the lapping of the waves as a calming accompaniment to the meditative mood. The lodge and the guest rooms are also built in the same rustic, but elegant style, and each room has a balcony overlooking the water, complete with deck chairs and a hammock.

The rooms are simply but comfortably furnished (including a much-needed mosquito net over the bed, since the island is 95% covered in Atlantic rain forest), and there is daily maid service. There are no TVs at the lodge or in the rooms, and no telephones, since part of the goal of the program directors is to help guests de-stress and unwind from busy, electronically-dependant lives. You can have occasional internet access at the main lodge, but the signal can be unreliable, since it is an island, so it's best not to plan to be "connected" during most of your stay. Most cell phones do work there in "roaming" mode.

One of the best things about the program is that only they only accept up to 12 guests per week. Most guests come for one or two week stays. We were there for three weeks, and there were never more than 9 guests total per week, with at least four staff/trainers per session. This meant that no matter what the activity, there were enough staff members to make sure that each guest could be as challenged as they'd like to be each day. There were always several options for daily hikes/kayaks, and someone from the staff was with each group at all times. Some of the hikes were very challenging (we didn't attempt those, but the "younger" folks did!) but all were beautiful, mostly treks through rain forest canopies of bamboo and many other kinds of vegetation, including coconut, banana and breadfruit trees. Local fauna include several species of monkeys, plenty of birds, some lizards and snakes (only saw one snake myself) and even a few squirrels. Each day, we'd stop at at least once beach, all of which were lovely. Lopes Mendes is my favorite - a 2 1/2 mile stretch of white sandy beach where surfers take their chances with the medium-sized waves, and where there is also plenty of shade for those of us who choose not to sunbathe.

Amenities onsite include: one-hour massages MOndays -Fridays, a sauna, jacuzzi, some free-weights and an exercise bike (which we never used because we were so busy hiking, kayaking and enjoying the amazing beaches). One of the main draws for us was the twice-a-day yoga program; we had our first session at 6:30 each morning, and one more in the evening before dinner. The yoga instructors were wonderful, and were able to help each guest find his or her comfort zone for doing the various routines. Some days, we opted out of activities and stayed at the lodge, relaxing and enjoying the quiet beauty of the facility

The food is prepared under the supervision of Adriana. Adriana is a nutriotionist by education, and a gourmet vegetarian chef by choice. The meals are mostly vegan, with some dairy, and grilled fish a few times a week. She calls the food she serves "detox" but I can honestly say that I was never hungry, always had plenty of energy, and felt great even after three weeks of the organic, low-gluten diet. Each dish was delicious, beautifully presented, and completely satisfying, made with fresh ingredients from the local market.

To summarize, The Island Experience was the best holiday we have EVER taken, and we feel grateful that we found it. We definitely plan to go again, hopefully next summer, and are recommending it to anyone who is looking for an active, but also relaxing holiday in gorgeous surroundings. Martin and Adriana will be there to welcome you, and to make sure your island experience is truly special!

  • Stayed August 2010, travelled as a couple
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Helpful?
Thank vickyelabd
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
London, Canada
Level Contributor
3 reviews
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 1 September 2010

I had a really great week with the Island Experience. My group was great, the staff and owners were very accommodating and the work out and activities across the week were challenging and rewarding.

Highlights included hiking to and then enjoying Lopes Mendez beach; daily yoga sessions; trekking up to the top of Parrot Peak; great food and juices and the fab sunsets.

Definitely recommend this trip if you want to detox, get fit and have fun in an sensational environment.

  • Stayed August 2010, travelled solo
    • Value
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Helpful?
Thank dblondon78
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Riverside, California
1 review
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 25 August 2010

My time here was life altering. I returned to my daily life with a newfound drive to live healthy and stay active. I also connected with nature and my body in a new way that has a very deep significance for me. I would highly recommend this to anyone and everyone. Enjoy!

  • Stayed August 2010
    • Value
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Helpful?
Thank adamelabd
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Boston, Massachusetts
Level Contributor
32 reviews
16 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 21 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 5 August 2010

I chose TIE because a friend of mine had gone alone and assured me it was a great place for solo female travelers. From the moment I started inquiring about the experience (and it IS and experience), the staff were completely responsive and helpful. They always answered email and the phone! My arrival was orchestrated beautifully and I soon met the other 9 women who were near my age that I would spend the week with - they were lovely people (fashion designer, pharmacist, lawyer, film music director, motivational speaker). The food is absolutely fantastic and the week of activities is just perfect. Get ready to be challenged physically - tons of kayaking and hiking but there is also a nice balance of down time. Bring sunblock and bug spray and really good hiking shoes and socks. Also bring shampoo and shower soap - not provided. I can't say enough good things about The Island Experience. It was just perfect!

  • Stayed July 2010, travelled solo
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Helpful?
2 Thank BubblesNYC
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Scottsdale
2 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 27 July 2010

You better like being active if you choose The Island Experience! This is not a hotel, it is an experience. Martin and Adrianna run The Island Experience well and the food, the sea kayaking, the treks, the massages, the yoga, the view, and the people make your stay amazing. The days are filled with activitities but you will never feel healthier, more grounded, and strangely relaxed despite all of the athletic endeavors you'll participate in. I am telling you it will be the best vegan food you have ever had in your life. We admired and loved our yoga teacher, Julietta, who also kicked butt kayaking and speeding up and down the trails. This girl is an inspiration. There was no cutting corners. And being that there are so few guests at a time and because of the secluded nature of the lodge, you will truly feel like you are at a home away from home, doing the types of things that you enjoy with other like-minded people. If you really need some recharging, you don't HAVE to do every activity....there are hammocks to be used and a jacuzzi to relax in. Ilha Grande itself is at least far-removed-feeling from Rio....because there are no cars and the main village is about 45 minutes from the lodge by boat, you are secluded and this is nice. If you can avoid e-mail, cell phones, and all other technologies, boy do you feel like you are away from it all. We stayed in a double room and it was very nice---nicer than the singles, I have to say. The lodge is newer and in great shape. If you want to just lie around and relax all day, this is not the place for you. If you like to be outdoors and active but then like to balance that with yoga for centering and strengthening, good food, relaxing massages, and interactions with like-minded people from all over, this is your place!!

  • Stayed July 2010, travelled with friends
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Helpful?
Thank igetaround73
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
MD, USA
Level Contributor
6 reviews
6 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 4 helpful votes
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 5 July 2010

This is my second time staying with the Island Experience. I am a bit sad that some of the trainers moved on, but understand that they need to live their lives.

Last time I stayed, I was at the old location. This location is more luxurious. The rooms were bigger, deck was bigger, had a workout area, sauna, larger yoga studio, etc. The program changed a bit, but they kept the best trails - Lopes Mendes, Parrot Peak.

And they are still accommodating to your level of fitness. I was more out of shape this time around, plus I wasn't feeling 100% on the second day. There was no pressure to do the activities, although they encourage some activity. When I woke up from my morning nap, everyone left for the day - which I expected. I didn't expect one of the trainers to be waiting for me. We didn't discuss earlier if I was going to do anything, but they were prepared. Also, since I did Parrot Peak last time, they allowed me to do another hike, which was equally challenging, but a different scenery.

Like last time, the food was fabulous and massages very appreciated. Unlike last time, they have the cutest puppy there.....completely adorable.

Overall, although the experience was different than my first time, I look forward to returning to the Island Experience.

Stayed May 2010, travelled solo
Helpful?
Thank colleengrant
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about The Island Experience

Property: The Island Experience
Address: Estrela da Ilha | Praia de Freguesia de Santana, Lagoa Azul, Ilha Grande, State of Rio de Janeiro 23900-060, Brazil
Region: Brazil > State of Rio de Janeiro > Ilha Grande
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beach Restaurant Shuttle Bus service Spa Suites Swimming Pool
Hotel Style:
Ranked #72 of 93 B&Bs / Inns in Ilha Grande
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): £££
Number of rooms: 9
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Located on the spellbinding island called Ilha Grande, just off the coast of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, our unique adventure spa and fitness program is a seven-day program designed to detox your body and de-stress your mind. A typical day is filled with meditative yoga, challenging physical activities accompanied by experienced trainers, delicious and healthy meals that purify and energize, and euphoric massage that leaves you completely relaxed. The combination of all these elements are truly life transforming. ... more   less 
Also Known As:
The Island Experience Hotel Ilha Grande
The Island Experience Ilha Grande, Brazil

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