When Brigitte Bardot visited Armação dos Búzios in the 1960s, it was still a tiny fishing village but the French actress is said to have fallen in love with it anyway. It isn’t hard to see why; perched on the edge of the Atlantic Ocean, just two hours’ drive from Rio de Janeiro, Búzios, as it’s known, has retained its rustic charm.
Someone else who also fell under its spell was Emmanuelle de Clermont Tonnerre and, in 1989, the French national built her holiday home on a rocky outcrop, a frisbee’s throw from Praia de Ferradura Beach. It didn’t take long for de Clermont Tonnerre to realise what a special location she’d found and in 2004 she decided to turn her beloved home into a boutique hotel. So she enlisted acclaimed Brazilian architect Otavio Raja Gabaglia to fulfil her dream of “architecture that integrates perfectly with nature”.
Gabaglia re-purposed the large house, using wooden beams, terracotta roof tiles and glass to create a 21-roomed, two-storeyed hotel. So successful was Gabaglia’s use of space that his designs have now been incorporated into local architectural law, ensuring that all buildings in the region are restricted to two storeys.
In 2006, Rio-based architect and decorator Luiz Fernando Grabowsky came on board to further realise de Clermont Tonnerre’s vision of “a casual-yet-chic luxury hotel where guests could learn a little of the Brazilian history and tradition”.
He brought in sweeping floor-to-ceiling windows and increased the number of terraces, enhancing the space and light and making the most of the jaw-dropping views of the west-coast beaches.
“All the rooms adhere to the socially responsible ethos, including using furniture from Brazilian companies who use only rough, recycled or certified wood,” explains de Clermont Tonnerre.
It’s the same story in the hotel’s 3000m² Beach Lounge, which is constructed from licensed wood, while the actual bar is carved from a 1000-year-old tree root.
“It’s all about offering a luxury that’s socially acceptable,” says de Clermont Tonnerre. “I wanted guests to take a trip through the element of decoration; to discover the beauty and understand this fascinating country.”