This Brazilian beach resort is all about eco-chic living and ultra-personalised service
With endless stretches of deserted beaches backed by luscious jungle, hidden lagoons and tangles of mangrove trees, Kenoa – Exclusive Beach Spa & Resort is set within its own tropical paradise. Inspired by his parents’ summer house in Barra de São Miguel, Pedro Marques called on the same local architect to create a place where guests could share in the happiness of his family holidays and make their own memories for generations to come – many of whom return year on year, and for good reason.
Marques takes great personal care of his guests, as much as he does the natural environment which surrounds his hotel, by heating every drop of water used throughout the resort – from private plunge pools to rainforest showers – with solar energy, crafting the exterior from natural stone rather than man-made materials, and landscaping the gardens using local plants.
What does being ‘Independently Minded’ as a hotel owner mean to you?
Independence means everything, it’s the essence of Kenoa that makes us able to personalise each detail and to turn every stay into a meaningful experience. I believe that my passion and personality unifies the approach and dedication to service and detail throughout the resort. We trust that the small details make a big difference and by doing that we always take the extra step towards the fulfilment of each guest’s needs, bringing happiness and comfort in an uncomplicated fashion.
What was the inspiration behind the hotel, and where do you continue to find sources of inspiration?
It was destiny that brought me and my family to the sunny state of Alagoas, on Brazil’s breathtaking northeast coast. My family started visiting a friend each year who moved to Alagoas and after several visits, my parents decided to build a summer house in Barra de São Miguel. Now that we could call a slice of this coast our home, and due to the lack of options in the Brazilian hospitality market back in 2007, I started dreaming about a hotel. Despite my previous lack of hotel experience, I built an exclusive resort from scratch with one goal in mind: executing every detail from the guest’s point of view. To help me deliver that dream I teamed up with Osvaldo Tenorio, the local architect who masterminded my parents’ summer house. We both share a passion for simple, natural design, and authenticity.
I wanted Kenoa to be inviting and to respect above all the nature where we are located. I aimed to create a unique hotel in Brazil – elegant, yet informal, luxurious and yet natural, international and yet organically connected with its heritage. Our goal was and still is for Kenoa to be sustainable in all aspects. I truly believe in the idea that it is possible to offer a positive, conscious and ecologically responsible luxury experience. We wanted to create an original experience based on simplicity and authenticity that could touch each guest’s soul and allow them to reach their happiest possible mindset. Kenoa is not solely a reflection of me, but also of my family and loved ones, and of the people who worked with me over the years. The hotel, today, is a sum of all these influences.
How do you think your hotel stands apart from other boutique hotels?
I believe it is a mix of concepts, location, architectural and interior design, but above all it is our own art of hospitality focused on authenticity, simplicity and care. Our staff must feel passionate about the Kenoa concept, they have to make everything possible by creating moments of happiness and lasting memories for each guest. Dedication and attention are key to making each guest feel at home. We have a heartfelt care for each and every guest, we adapt to their needs and not the other way around. We are renowned for and proud of our intuitive service but we are always trying to improve it. The aim is to create trustworthy and dedicated relationships, leaving our guests just to relax and enjoy the beautiful, peaceful and friendly environment.
If you only had 24 hours to get a taste for your hotel experience, what would you recommend a guest must do?
You will be welcomed with a refreshingly cold passion fruit Bellini, and our staff can help you unpack as you get to know the hotel. Enjoy the afternoon by the pool, discovering the tropical fruits in our caipifrutas – order siriguela or cajá followed by a skewer of fresh local seafood, octopus, lobster or shrimp. As the heat of the day starts to fade, indulge in a pampering session in the serene Caudalie SPA for a relaxing massage after your flight. Before dinner, go up to the Kaamo Winebar and choose your bottle from our wine cellar. Come and experience a special evening of dining at Kaamo Restaurant. Opt for the Brazil&You tasting menu created by chef César Santos, which will take you on a gastronomic journey through Brazil as you listen to the waves lapping the shore.
After dinner, be sure to go up to our rooftop lounge and choose an exclusive Kenoa drink – caju tropical gin is a personal favourite, best enjoyed under the starry sky and the full moon. Before returning to the room, sink into a sofa in our comfy lobby to read a book or disconnect by the pool beds. Following a wonderful night’s sleep, wake up early to see the sunrise right in front of the hotel. Try our local tapiocas and tropical juices at breakfast, in addition to the freshly baked cakes and breads. If you want to explore, sign up to our oyster experience – guests are guided in canoes out into the middle of a lagoon to taste oysters directly from the water. Alternatively, our Life Boat Experience invites guests to discover the beautiful Barra de São Miguel by boat, with its colourful reefs and sandy beaches. If you prefer to relax at the hotel, you can walk on the beach when the tide is low, get to know the natural pools which are perfect for bathing, or just simply enjoy the deserted beach.
Have lunch by the pool and try the coconut waters. Be sure to ask for a sururu broth, one of our cataplanas and a petit gateau guava. Take photos in the panoramic windows of the pools, take the hotel’s surfboards out for a spin, or just relax to the sound of the sea and ambient music. When the time comes, don’t forget that our staff can help you pack your bags. Before you leave, be sure to book your return and try our ‘see you’ drink – a local sugar cane based cocktail which will keep you coming back for more.
How would you describe your own perfect luxury experience?
We must always feel the passion of each staff member for the art of hospitality. An intuitive service should be crafted with effortless and tailored experiences which will be appreciated by making the stay more original, and helping guests to enjoy the location with local expertise. I believe service should be valued above location, and while infrastructure can make a difference, it can also frustrate any experience. Service is the most delicate issue to exceed guest expectations. You have to know your guest and to be able to have perfect internal communication so the guest preferences are seamlessly shared between the staff members. The stay should be curated to you.
Do you have a vision for the future of the hotel?
To always improve our art of hospitality, the service, the details and the care for our guests to make them even happier with freedom, simplicity and lots of authentic attention. We must continue to learn about our guests and from our guests, and it is a challenge to always surpass expectations, even with high return rates when guests come back with already high expectations from the previous experience. We will also soon be opening our Residences project which will bring the same concept and attention to detail for eco chic beach living to brand new Kenoa villas.