For home-based agents sending younger, nightlife-seeking clients to Rio de Janeiro, recommend a detour to Búzios, a growing haven for sleek nightclubs and hip restaurants. Originally a small fishing village inhabited by French pirates, this peninsula is made up of more than 20 beaches, and is home to some great water sports, mainly snorkeling.
Rio Buzios Beach Hotel
Some of its most well-known beaches include Azeda Beach, a small oasis with calm and crystal-clear water; João Fernandinho Beach, which has an array of bars and restaurants where clients can feast on lobster and other great seafood; Ferradura Beach, a unique horseshoe-shaped bay; and Geribá Beach, which is ideal for clients looking to surf and windsurf.
Búzios is also a great destination for excellent dining. Fish and seafood are the main local dishes, and there are French, Italian, Moroccan, Thai and other exotic restaurants.
But this area is now mostly known for its booming nightlife. In fact, younger travelers are driving much of the U.S. market to Brazil. According to Embratur, Brazil’s tourist board, more than half the U.S. vacationers in Brazil in 2006 were under 40. Thirty percent were under age 32, and 25 percent were between 32 and 40 years old. The 41- to 50-year-old demographic made up 24 percent of visitors, and travelers 51 and older represented 21 percent.
Although it is predominantly a spot for younger clients looking to party into the early morning, Búzios is also a great sell for couples and families, with its abundance of great restaurants and water activities. People from Rio de Janeiro go to Búzios for weekends and holidays and stay about two to three days. According to Búzios tourism officials, in the summer, the destination received about 1 million total visitors.
Where to Stay
Casas Brancas is a hip, boutique-style hotel with 32 rooms and suites. It is Mediterranean-inspired and offers a relaxed setting with some impressive views of the bay. We recommend any oceanview room here, but the best of the best are the three Suites, all of which come with a private balcony. The Suites also feature a spa, which offers basic massages and full-body treatments, as well as their own beauty salon. Agents should call 011-55-22-2623-1458 and ask for General Manager Amalia de La Maria or e-mail [email protected].
Guest rooms at Casa Brancas include private balconies
Villa Rasa Marina is the newest hotel in Búzios, located in Praia Rasa, which is said to be one of the calmest areas of the peninsula. The property, which opened in March 2008, is the latest hotel from Marina Hotels in Búzios. We were told this property is ideal for clients looking for a luxury brand in an exclusive setting. The hotel is about a two-hour drive, or a 20-minute flight, from Rio de Janeiro, and offers 35 rooms and suites, the best of which is the Suite da Villa, a 970-square-foot oceanview room. The loft-style room itself is 570 square feet, has a rustic straw-lined roof and includes a king-size bed, living area, bathroom and a private Jacuzzi with an ocean view. Additionally, this room has a terrace with 400 square feet of space. There is only one of these at the property, so agents should book at least a month in advance. Agents should e-mail r[email protected].
For families and couples, we recommend the Rio Búzios Hotel, which has 64 rooms, all with king-size beds and balconies. The best are the Deluxe Rooms, which all come with Jacuzzis. The travel agent liaison at the property is Marcos Ricar, who can be reached at 011-55-22-2623-0312 or [email protected].
Another great property for families is the Atlântico Búzios Convention & Resort, which has 135 guest rooms in three categories: Standard, Deluxe and Super Deluxe. It also has two outdoor pools (one specifically for children), a game room and massage rooms, among other features. The travel agent liaison at the property is Luis Guedes, who can be reached at 011-55-22-2620-8850 or [email protected].
The nearest airport is Rio de Janeiro-Galeão International Airport. Most major U.S. carriers fly there. Transfers from the airport can be arranged and rental cars can also be booked via local transportation company Venturini (011-55-22-2623-61867, [email protected]). Since November 1, TAM Airlines has been offering flights from New York’s JFK International Airport to Rio de Janeiro.
Also, Delta Air Lines began offering new direct flights between the U.S. and Brazil late last year. Delta will offer nonstop service between Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport and the Eduardo Gomes International Airport in Manaus, and between Atlanta and the Fortaleza International Airport via the Guararapes International Airport in Recife. This new service brings the number of weekly flights Delta offers between the U.S. and five Brazilian destinations to 32. Delta currently offers daily nonstop service between Atlanta and New York and São Paulo’s Guarulhos International Airport, and between Atlanta and Rio de Janeiro’s Galeão International Airport. Delta recently announced the addition of a seasonal frequency between Atlanta and São Paulo.
“The Hamptons of Brazil”
In general, Latin America doesn’t get the credit it deserves as a great option for young travelers, or even older travelers looking for some nightlife. The Caribbean and Mexico are usually praised as great nightlife destinations, where vacationers can grab a late-night cocktail and dance the night away, but South America—mainly Brazil—should start getting some mention as well. In fact, the municipality of Búzios has been described by some industry representatives as the “Hamptons of Brazil.” And after chatting with hoteliers and other professionals in the destination, Home-Based Travel Agent is inclined to agree.
A guest room at the Villa Rasa Marina in Búzios
Búzios, about a two-hour drive from Rio de Janeiro, offers great nightlife as well as excellent beaches, snorkeling and boating opportunities. The area’s main strip is Rua das Pedras, where locals mingle with tourists and where celebrities are spotted. Rua das Pedras and the Bardot Beachfront, we were told, are the main spots for the bars and restaurants, which serve all kinds of food. (Art galleries and stores with national and foreign brands fill out the area.) Further down the road is Anexo’s Bar. This place caters to a more relaxed crowd with a lounge-like atmosphere.
Another option, especially if you’re looking to cut a rug, is Privilege nightclub. Right next door is Massaroca Pizza Drink, which, as the name implies, serves draft beer and pizza. Live entertainment can be found at Pátio Havana, with jazz, blues and popular Brazilian music shows. If you’re looking for something with more local flavor, Chez Michou is your spot, serving crêpes and, of course, offering music and alcohol.
Beaches of Búzios
During the day, check out João Fernandes, João Fernandinho, Lagoinha, Forno, Azeda and Azedinha beaches. These spots are the best places to go snorkeling. If you’re more of a scuba diver, check out Âncora Island, with an average visibility of about 13 to 28 yards. (We should point out that Búzios gets an average of more than 250 sunny days a year, so bring ample sunblock.)
Another popular diving site is the nearby city of Arraial do Cabo, which is actually about a 30-minute drive from Búzios, and has been described as one of the best diving places in Brazil.
Búzios offers many different kinds of boat rides, including schooner tours. Several vessels leave from Armação Beach in the morning and early evening with prices ranging from $25
to $50 per person for trips that go by several beaches and islands. Those who want to
plan their own activities and have greater privacy can rent a fishing boat, which is usually charged by the hour.