The Fasano hotel, in Rio de Janeiro, overlooks lifeguard stand 'Posto 8' on Ipanema Beach. With its spirit of sophisticated casualness- in Havaiana flip-flips or Kenzo espadrilles- you will fit in no matter what your footwear. But the gem is hidden deep inside another one of French designer, Phillipe Stark’s, trendy hotels. The luxury Renata de Abreu Spa is one of Ipanema's best kept secrets.
Albeit it is a warm 77F(25C), Autumn is full swing here in Rio de Janeiro. I enter the lobby of this wooden, glass and marble beachfront property after a morning of boutique shopping on the vibrant streets of Ipanema. Ipanema is much more than just a world famous beach, it is a neighborhood of incredible restaurants, outdoor cafés, beach bars, and live music..
Ipanema also hosts some of the city’s most unique Brazilian design shops. Specializing in swimwear, post-sun cocktail attire and flirty dinner wear. Shopping there will take you directly into that tropical spirit. Brazilian designers are known for their use of color and light fabrics. But this does not mean that they skimp on the quality or high level of design. The look and feel of these high-end boho shops mirrors an afternoon spent roaming Santa Monica, Le Marais or Soho.
The Fasano lobby is grounding, with its heavy wood furniture, marble features and bouquets of tropical flowers. I hesitate for a minute on grabbing the essential late morning vacation cocktail at the sea facing bar before heading up the the 1st floor for my deep tissue massage. But I resolve to wait until post-rejuvenation for that well deserved drink at the roof-top bar.
The Spa at the Fasano, seamlessly blends a touch of the Orient with the classic sophistication of 1960s Copacabana. As I enter, I am greeted at the reception by a large smiling Buddha statue and a reception host eager to please. She calls me by my name, as if they have been expecting me (always a good touch!), and shows me to the dressing room where my robe and slippers await.
After changing, I am offered a tea in the waiting lounge and asked to choose the scent of my massage oil and type of music that I would like playing. The lounge feels like a high designed living room, with leather chairs, architectural books and large bronze vases holding dried eucalyptus. I opt for chamomile, lavender and mantras (in that exact order) and enjoy the moment until I am called in.
The massage room has all the essentials an experienced spa go-er looks for: clean luxurious sheets, a comfortable face rest, a strong leg bolster, candlelight and calm feel. My masseuse enters and swiftly swoons me into deep tissue delight. The 50 minutes passes all too quickly, as it always does. And at the end, I am invited to take my time getting up and getting ready.
There are a variety of services available. Although I tried only one, I mentally penciled in a future Ayurvedic massage and a Hydrotreatment on the hotel’s rooftop in the exclusive Vichy Shower room. One detail to be adored that truly makes this spa stand out, is its commitment to sustainability. It works with the environment, which is not the case in most Brazilian establishments. Its use of bamboo fiber uniforms and recycled plastic Havana flip-flips are just a small example at its commitment to keep it Green.
Feeling fresh, surprisingly light and full of energy, I ride up to the roof top on the 8th floor. Next to the infinity pool, is your quintessential upscale beach bar. Think: blue and white striped outdoor sofas, a wooden bar with shiny barstools, a view over the length of Ipanema beach and VIP seats for the famous sunset behind the iconic Dois Irmãos mountain range.
I waffle between a crisp, cold coconut water, served in the coconut, and a glass of champagne. I once read in the NY Times that one must stay hydrated after a massage to clear the lactic acid in the muscles, so who I am not to order both?
The hotel staff immediately comes over to see how I had enjoyed my massage. These are the little details that truly proves why the Fasano is the choice hotel for guests such as Madonna, Beyoncé and Rihanna. As I take a minute to enjoy the vibrant view, I notice French Vogue is also there that day, doing a small photo shoot of the view. The energy on that rooftop feels like I am both a part of something interesting and yet my personal space is not impeded in any way.
I feel care free after my delightful afternoon at the Renata de Abreu Spa at the Fasano. I most definitely will return, but now it is off to a Samba Party!