A Luxury Vacation to Brazil for Less


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Lars Leetaru

A luxury vacation to Brazil can cost a king’s ransom or be easier on the wallet, according to Jennifer Gillmore, a Brazil specialist at Travel Beyond, a travel company in Wayzata, Minn. “Hotels and restaurants in Brazil can be very pricey, and tourists who are unfamiliar with the country can end up spending a lot without getting a lot,” she said.

But follow a few of her insider tips, Ms. Gillmore said, and a luxurious Brazilian getaway can be had for a reasonable price.

Don’t Visit During Local Holidays Avoid visiting Brazil over local school breaks, usually in January and July; during Carnival, in February or March; and over Christmas. Many locals travel within the country during these periods, Ms. Gillmore said, and so hotel prices are at a premium. (Plus, temperatures can be uncomfortably hot during the austral summer.) Fewer busy months mean more pleasant weather and a bounty of deals at luxury hotels such as “Pay Three Nights but Stay for Four.”

When in Rio, Skip Beachfront Accommodations Don’t stay at an upscale beachfront hotel in Rio de Janeiro because the price for a night’s stay tends to be sky-high. “Since the beach is a big attraction in Rio, hotels overprice their rooms,” Ms. Gillmore said. Get a better value for your money by staying at a luxury property in a neighborhood away from the water, and hit the beach during the day. Mr. Gillmore’s favorite neighborhood in the city is Santa Teresa, a picturesque hilltop district with restaurants, bars and artists’ studios. If you’re keen on a beachfront stay, however, book a city view room as opposed to a water view room — the latter is significantly pricier.

Take the Road Less Traveled Most Brazil itineraries include visits to Rio and São Paulo, and while these cities are worth exploring, they can be expensive. Ms. Gillmore said that the country is full of more affordable and equally appealing destinations, which are largely undiscovered. “You can save up to 50 percent on accommodations, meals and activities when you go to less touristy spots, and you’ll also get a richer perspective of the country,” she said. Ms. Gillmore loves Paraty, a beach destination between Rio and São Paulo with a historic town center, and Bonito, in the southwest, known for its crystal clear rivers, lush forests and caves with geologic formations. “You can snorkel, hike and river raft in Bonito,” Ms. Gillmore said.

Eat Like a Local All-you-can-eat churrascarias, which serve many varieties and cuts of meat, are a beloved tradition in Brazil; they’re also usually reasonably priced and a great way to mingle with Brazilians. When she is in Brazil, Ms. Gillmore saves on food by having a hearty breakfast at a local cafe or at her hotel, a smaller lunch of acai, an inexpensive dish of frozen and mashed acai fruit topped with fresh fruit or granola, followed by a relaxed dinner at a popular churrascaria.

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