Alto Paraíso, what’s the thing that draws people from everywhere to this place?
Alto Paraíso, a small community located in north-eastern region of Goiás/BR is a place where ordinary is a word that do not apply. Even for a person as myself, obsessed with chaotic urban environment, this place hypnotized me from the first time and mostly people I talk to when I run into places here. This is my second time in this paradise (Alto Paraíso means literally High Paradise), and I decided to share my experience, not only about the places I have been, but also share other people's point of view of how is to enjoy holidays, live and work here.
Chalet BemVida is the location where I stay whenever I come here, so I sat down with owners Margarida Vaz and Claudio de Oliveira to find out more about the trials of running a chalet. These two used to live in cosmopolitan London and now are here in the middle one of the warmest and mystical places in Brazil. Margarida kind me conceded an interview and you can read it below.
So, what made you leave your jobs in London and move to Brazil? Why Alto Paraíso?
M: My mother had some land here ready to construct something and gave me the idea to start a chalet. So I spoke with Claudio and we both embraced the suggestion. And well, Alto Paraíso is sunny most of the year (10 months per year), and I wanted to be back also to stay close to my family. Another point is the beauty of the place, so rich in fauna and flora and quietness. It was about time for us to lead a more peaceful life.
Did you always have the idea of running your own chalet in mind?
M: No, as mentioned before, it was my mother’s idea, and since the moment she spoke to us, the suggestion took form and we start to develop it, bit by bit.
What does it take to start a chalet?
M: That is a tricky question, but mainly money, patience, hard work, persistence and available time.
What was the hardest part of setting up your own chalet? How experienced do you have to be?
M: The worst part is to deal with inexperience people in the engineering sector. Another thing is, in the city we have few options in the construction area, every time we had to acquire a new tool or a new material, we had to go to Brasilia (3 hours by car from here) and that used to delay the construction of the chalet. About the experience, surely is good to have some, but the truth is that you will learn day by day with guests, third parties, etc. In my opinion, you can be the most experienced professional in the area and still, you will have to deal with a lot of new things, because once you work with public it is a whole new challenge and people are completely different from each other.
How does the lifestyle compare to being back in Brazil?
M: London is one of the most cosmopolitan cities in the world. Add to that the winter, I mean real winter. Plus, culturally wonderful, ravishing architecture, wild nightlife, facility to travel within Europe. The adjectives are endless. In Alto Paraíso we have the nature, a quiet life, family bounds and my 2 dogs Lokua and Bali (they are also part of the family). I was in a moment of my life that I was feeling like in a abyss, not feeling like I belonged to that cosmopolitan life anymore, so it was time to be back to my roots. And here seemed the perfect place.
Talking about social media, what work best for chalets?
M: I believe for most of hotels, chalets, etc., Google is the main media search. But as we are a small chalet, by word of mouth it is what works best for us.
What external factors affect the booking?
M: Rainy season complicate everything, because once you have the rain, everything in the waterfalls is about to turn into mud, and also get dangerous, the rocks get very slippery, so you have to be very careful and adventurous! Other point is, some people think we are far from everything, which is not true. Actually people who are not used to travel are the ones who think we are far, because if you are used to travel, from SP is just 1:45 min flight and 3 hours by car from Brasília. What is this compared to São Paulo traffic jam? Nothing. Furthermore, the road is new, good and has a breathtaking view.
How is the daily routine?
M: We are still developing the gardening and landscaping to make the ambiance even more cozy, a closer contact with nature right in front of you. Other than that, it is not a stressful routine, we live in a very calm vibration here.
Holidays, does it get very busy?
M: Yes, mainly July because is the dry season and really hot, regardless the fact that is winter, we still can have the weather up to 30°C degrees in the shadow. It is the school vacation period, so a lot of people from nearby regions come here. And last but not least, happens the event ‘Festival Ilumina’, guided by the Brazilian spiritual leader Sri Prem Baba, and that fact alone brings people from all over the world and the city gets really packed.
Are there more Brazilians or foreigners?
M: Even, 50/50.
Ups and downs?
M: We never get time for ourselves as we are always here taking care of the chalet, so not really have chance to travel, but we knew that and it is fine as it is. If we have to travel we plan ahead. Ups, the nature of the place is unbeatable.
How you deal with the weather, we are in winter season and the daily temperature is 29°C in the shadow …
M: I confess that the first year here was kind of shocking and hard to get used to with all this dry heat and humid temperatures, but as for now, it is fine, I like it. I was born in Brazil, so it was just a matter of time to adapt again with the hot weather.
What are the key segments of Chalet BemVida?
M: Our proposal is a more intimist space, discrete, one you feel like home. Not party people, but guests who are searching for calmness, meditation, introspection. Our setting is very personal. That is our kind of public.
Inside the Chalet
What the word BemVida means?
M: Actually the correct word is benvida, and means welcome in Galician. So we adopted it as BemVida, changing the N for M and making it a unique word for our Chalet.
Fauna and flora
Any recommendations to guests who are traveling the first time to Alto Paraíso?
M: A lot of sunscreen; insect repellent; flashlight; hat; cap; backpack; warm coat and scarf, in July the temperature at night can drop to 10/12°C; lighter clothes for the day (bikini, towels, flip flops); closed shoe, mountain tennis, sneakers; hydrant and oils to nourish the body; lip balm; sunglasses. Make sure to read about the city before traveling here. Alto Paraíso is a place where you won’t find any kind of urbanism, not even wild nightlife. Instead people will find here an ecotourism site, introspective, a place to get in touch with your inner voice, to learn to see things in a different way and see one of the most beautiful places in Brazil. NOTE: currently in the city of Alto Paraíso only the Itaú bank is functioning normally. Therefore it is important that anyone who has an account in another bank already bring their money separately.
Come to Alto Paraíso, we are waiting for you!!!