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TOP TEAM


Coletivo de Arquitetos adapted a local sand crafting technique, silicogravura, to create feature walls with subtle Brazilian fl air


Shambhala in the Maldives and dozens of La Prairie spas, so I knew early on that I didn’t want to work with spa consultants for fear of repeating what’s already out there. We had conversations with many of the leading ones, but concluded that we needed to strike out on our own and tread new ground – especially as there are no Brazilian-themed spas anyway. Instead, we turned to local experts. A geologist from a nearby university advised on a water menu consisting of 15 sparkling and still waters from around the country while another professor specialising in aromatherapy helped to create the 28 essential oils from ingredients in the surrounding mountains. In total, we worked with 19 professors and scientists who have collated 2,200 pages of research to prove the effects of our treatments. In addition, Coletivo de Arquitetos, the spa architects, didn’t specialise in wellness so brought a fresh look. We have


96 LEISURE HANDBOOK 2014


fi xtures that no cost-concerned designer would include. But the winner is the guest.


What makes your spa stand out? As we did everything from scratch, we have sen- sorially stimulating experiences no one else offers. For example, our wet Rain Forest Sauna, has a perforated plate in the ceiling through which warm mineral ‘rain water’ is released every two minutes to eliminate the sense of claustrophobia or extreme heat typical of saunas. To add more depth, the scent of the surrounding woods comes from one of our essential oils. Elsewhere, a large room has a fl oatation


tank fi lled with Epsom salts. It features a cinema projection system showing nature fi lms on the ceiling, as well as underwater music, so people who are fl oating have visual and aural cues for further relaxa- tion. This is a standalone treatment, but we sometimes use it as a pre-massage tool to unlock muscle tension.


What’s been the biggest challenge? To make an experience that was totally local and avoiding the comfort zone of Asian, Indian or European treatments and tech- niques. We consulted with native Brazilian practitioners, local shamem of sorts, and carried out extensive work with universi- ties to develop authentic treatments. Afro-Brazilian massage techniques


are strong and vibrant, so some of our massages include more pressure to bring oxygen to the muscle tissue. Meanwhile, native Indian movements are inspired by animals, so our treatments include grip- ping techniques that emulate puma paws or bird claws – this is much smoother than it sounds and helps to dissipate muscle tension in specifi c spots.


What drives you? The feedback from guests having a unique experience; and the feeling we’ve created something completely new that’s good for Brazilian self-esteem.


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