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Hidden deep inside another one of French designer Phillipe Stark’s hotels is the Renata de Abreu Spa at the Fasano. This hotel, built with core materials such as wood, glass and marble overlooks life-guard 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.
Albeit it is a warm 77F (25C), autumn is full swing here in Rio de Janeiro. I enter the lobby of this beachfront property after a morning of boutique shopping around the colorful streets of Ipanema. Ipanema is much more than just a trendy beach it is a neighborhood of surfers, professionals, foreigners and designers.
Ipanema also hosts some of the city’s most unique Brazilian boutique shops. Specializing in swimwear, post-sun cocktail attire and flirty dinner wear, shopping here 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 quality of fabric or a high level of design. The look and feel of these high-end boho shops mirrors an afternoon spent shopping in Santa Monica, Le Marais or Soho.
The lobby is grounding, with its heavy woods and bouquets of tropical flowers. I hesitate for a minute to grab the essential late-morning vacation cocktail at the sea facing bar, before heading up the the first 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 blends seamlessly 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 the dressing room to put on my robe and slippers.
Upon changing, I am offered a tea in the waiting lounge and asked to choose the scent of my massage oil and the 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 entered and kept one hand on me at all times, clearly trained in the art of deep tissue. The 50 minutes passed all too quickly, as it always does. And at the end, I was 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.
Feeling fresh, surprisingly light and full of energy, I rode 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 entire beach and VIP seats for the famous sunset behind the iconic Dois Irmãos mountain range.
I waffled between a crisp cold coconut water, served directly in the coconut and a glass of champagne. I once read in the New York 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 came 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 took a minute to enjoy the vibrant view, I noticed French Vogue was also there that day and was doing a small photo shoot. The energy on that rooftop felt like you were both a part of something interesting and yet your personal space was not impeded in any way.
I felt carefree after my delightful afternoon at the Renata de Abreu Spa at the Fasano. I most definitely will return.
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