TOMO Hotelier

What do you consider your team’s greatest achievement?
I feel we have managed to combine just the gentlest balance between professionalism and a friendly connection with our guests. I mean, in luxury hotels one can feel a little too formal and that is not the energy of Brazil at all. We are approachable and curious. Yet, to keep everyone's personal spaces private and still be thoroughly attentive we managed to unite friendlessness with a high customer service protocol, creating a very bespoke service indeed. My team is local and trained to be well informed and flexible. Nothing is too much of a trouble at all for us.

What do you most value in a hotel for your own holidays?
The uniqueness of the destination or the hotel would be very high on my wish list! I think a motto for the future of hotels is definitely “be original". We are all looking for experiences that are creative, and places where you can learn about the local community and yourself. Luxury I believe is the ability to be present. A hotel can have the best furnishings, design, or expensive toiletries, yet if the team and hosts are not present and if the feeling is of "same old, same old", well then it does not interest me that much. I love the uniqueness of feeling I am experiencing something new and a sense of adventure – to be positively surprised by a location or a hotel operation.

What is one place nearby that every one of your guests should discover?
The bay of Paraty is something very special. It is a destination full of heritage – from nature to indigenous cultures. The visitor must experience the gentleness of the bay waters and its hidden beaches and corners, just like the original inhabitants used to do. The enormous rock formations are breathtaking and a visit to Mamanguá is a must. The sheer scale of the rock formations, the forests the tales of mermaids, pirates and indigenous communities are very thrilling. A region immersed in marine and land conservation, after all that mountain range that surrounds the city is a UNESCO World Nature Heritage site.

What is your dream journey?
There are many incredible locations in the world. I absolutely love Africa and the iconic wildlife and landscapes of the savannahs which are so breathtaking. I love nature and wildlife, so for me destinations that are strong on environmental ethos and experiences are up there at the top of my wish list of destinations. Africa gives us the chance to see the wilderness relatively untouched and a safari is a great experience to see animals where they should be, in the wild. Europe has also a very dear place in my heart. France and its stunning regions during summer are so romantic. European countryside is very magical as is the Mediterranean coast. I love Sicily and its vibrant, idyllic sceneries and culture – granitas and Proseccos! But I have to say that Brazil surprises me positively too. We have the amazon forest that is just stunning, and I love Bahia, in north-east, so much! The barefoot-luxury experiences in Trancoso or Caraíva are unique, and the visitor can find a wonderful blend of heritage and coolness. Bahia is very rich in stunning natural parks and experiences. Another breathtaking destination is Lençóis Maranhenses, a national park in Brazil of ephemeral lagoons, amongst sand dunes that frame the coast of Maranhão. It is otherworldly beautiful, one of the most enchanting landscapes in Brazil – the crystal-clear turquoise freshwater lagoons are formed with rain from the Amazon forest and the sand dunes are formed of grains of quartz which makes them soft and to glitter in sun. Brazil is just a breathtaking destination, from the coast of Paraty to the depths of the forest. Traveling is like food for the soul, it makes me see the world differently and more positively. I am really looking forward to my next adventure, wherever and whenever it may be.

What local dish do you never tire of eating?
Food is such an amazing part of travelling. Aromas and flavors just imprint that wonderful feeling on you that you are somewhere different. In Paraty, I love and totally recommend a dish called “Camarão Casadinho” which is a dish of large local-caught grilled prawns coupled together by aromatic manioc-flour stuffing. The dish is so typical of the region and has its roots in indigenous and fishmen culinary heritages. For me, the best prawn dishes can be found at Refúgio restaurant in Mamanguá, the only "Fjord" in South America. It is a stunning area in the Bay of Paraty. Mamanguá is a gem for fresh fish and local dishes, most restaurants here are community rooted, and another great stop there is Dadico’s restaurant and their fresh fish and seafood, caught on the day from the bay and served simply and with charm – grilled and with a bit of lemon. I also love the seafood and fish dishes from Banana da Terra Restaurant, in the city’s historical center. I recommend prawns on cassava puree with coconut source, ginger, pineapple, and a local rainforest fruit called "Juçai", a relative of the famous Amazonian acai-berry. Yet, if you feel like a more familiar gastronomic vibe, Paraty has wonderful French, Italian, Thai, and Portuguese restaurants. I recommend Punto Divino, Italian cuisine, and their mouth-watering Spaghetti al Vongole, with fresh clams from our seas of course – it is just divine!

What motivated you to become a hotelier?
I always enjoyed being a hostess, creating moments, welcoming friends, and the friends of friends to wonderful dinners and happenings. Upon my return to Brazil, I realized a great small luxury hotel with a great host was lacking in the Brazilian hotel scene – especially in Paraty. The union of my professional skills and my intuitive flair for connecting people needed a platform. I thought " a small luxury hotel would be a phenomenal adventure". That was it! I started looking for a place in the World Heritage city of Paraty, where I could elevate the Brazilian hotel experience and add a new way of experiencing Brazil – uniting environmental and social ethics with hospitality.

What was your greatest extravagance in creating your hotel?
I have to say that creating a hotel and restoring Casa Turquesa was an act of extravagance in itself! I mean, at the time I did not have any professional experience whatsoever as a hotelier and to say the truth I had no idea what I was doing. Yet, that allowed me to be unique and creative as I had no reference or professional vices in that sense. So, I created something very bespoke, unique and a touch extravagant for the hotel scene in Paraty.

Where do you feel happiest on your property?
I love nature, hence the garden that flows into the lounge area is magical. I think that would be the place to be! It is the hub of the Casa, from where you can retire to the gazebo under banana trees or to the bar to sip our signature martini, called Dry Turquesa. The morning and sunset lights flood through the handmade curtains, and it is just a stunning play of light and shadows. Add to it the fragrance of tropical flowers and the cacophony created by the morning birds, and it is just magical. At sundown one can feel the sea breeze and hear the fisherman boats gently returning to port. I just love the open spaces and the fluidity of the architecture of the integrated garden lounge area.

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