Sustainable Tourism Leadership

Uxua is the only name listed 3-consecutive years as a nominee for Virtuoso's Sustainable Tourism Leadership Award - five luxury hotels selected from a list of 1750 of the best in the world.

We've created Uxua without invading nature; instead hosting visitors in the heart of a historic community. The magic ingredient is the gracious, welcoming attitude of the people of Trancoso. Among our neighbors are wonderful collaborators in social projects we empower.

Mama Trancoso - sustainability taught for future generations

Natives of Trancoso have always been intuitive environmentalists. They respect tradition and preserve nature - which is why so many visitors regard this place as a paradise.

But the town's growth and modernity bring new threats, with a sudden arrival of businesses and government institutions unfamiliar to most who've lived here their whole lives.

Local youth growing up in this changing world feel a need to protect their community's heritage and beauty, to guarantee for themselves a future enjoying the same quality-of-life Trancoso gained famed for.

Public schools lack funding and resources to equip youth for this challenge, so UXUA in partnership with NGO Despertar have created MAMA TRANCOSO - Movimento Ambientalista Mukaú Aponem - one of the most innovative eco-education initiatives in the Americas.

With the ambition of cultivating a generation of environmental activists across the community, ten charismatic and talented students were selected from over 300 applicants for a year-long course of 3-hours daily instruction, 5-times per week, on subjects of basic ecology and practical steps for identifying threats to the environment, and mechanisms to respond to them.

Of course teaching sustainability to adolescents means appealing to their lifestyle and interests, so digital photography, music and video are emphasized, creating content shared via social media channels which influence the entire community.

Guest lecturers include generous artists, designers, dancers, writers, national and international celebrities, adding even more appeal to the program. For Trancoso youth, to be active in environmentalism is seen more and more as defining their generation, a 'cool thing' they share. And nothing can be more promising than this for the area's future! The short video above, called Mangue Eugnam, was entirely produced by the first MAMA class.

“UXUA is luxury with a clear conscience”
The Times of London

Diney - Capoeira Sul da Bahia

One thing which makes Trancoso unique is the passion with which local youth embrace their cultural heritage. They play traditional instruments and sing old songs, they enjoy the regional dance forms, and they love to play capoeira.

Born in Bahia of African slaves (4-million of whom were brought to work in Brasil), capoeira is a martial-arts like style of dance performed in groups with musical accompaniment. Its basis is not competition, but an expression of joy, unity and strength.

Trancoso’s branch of the famed academy, Capoeira Sul da Bahia, is led by a caring, committed professor named Diney Lima. Since 2006 sponsorship by UXUA has helped Diney guarantee that local children can study regardless of ability to pay tuition.

Today hundreds of youth participate, and the school's roda - public exhibitions - on Trancoso's Historic Quadrado and the beach are legendary. UXUA's relationship with Capoeira Sul Da Bahia has few boundaries, its professors visit the hotel to teach guests (100% of lesson cost is donated to the school), guests join in free public classes with local youth, and UXUA hosts professors from all over the world every 2-years during Capoeira Sul da Bahia's international congress.

UXUA has long pushed for international awareness of capoeira, and actively campaigned for its recognition by UNESCO, which came on 26 November 2014 with the sport granted special protected status as an "intangible cultural heritage of humanity".

Chico and Regina - Trancoso Fishermen's Association

Give a man a fish and he'll eat for a day. Teach a man to fish and he'll eat for a lifetime. And so might UXUA's guests....

We've always loved that Trancoso's native fishermen continue their trade in a traditional, environmentally sustainable manner.

Roughly 100 fishermen from 30 families go out on local waters in ten small, wooden boats. They fish with 'line in hand', instead of using fishing rods. And nets are brought out only in April, with small hand nets (tarrafas) tossed directly from the beach to snare tainha, a seasonal delicacy.

These methods and local sourcing are totally consistent with UXUA's values, so we buy all we can use directly from the fishermen, including vermelho, ariacò, cavala, atum, dourado, agulhao, badejo. We also loan tools, provide wood for boat repairs, and anything else we can to support them (including offering the occasional refreshment from UXUA Praia, Trancoso's oldest beach bar which was once the fishermen's traditional gathering spot).

In 2014 UXUA was founding sponsor of the Fishermen's Association of Trancoso (Associação dos Pescadores de Trancoso). with an objective to guarantee a future for traditional fishing by introducing fun, hands-on teaching programs for local youth.

Kelly - Despertar

We respect all givers, but reserve a special admiration for those who give that most limited, finite commodity: their time.

In September 2010 Kelly Fernanda Paduin began organizing and teaching local children classes in theater, dance and painting, plus instruction in English and French, valuable for opening opportunities for work in the tourism industry.

The mix of culture and career instruction was a big hit, and before long Kelly was recruiting volunteers from the community to teach not only children but also teens and adults. Associação Despertar Trancoso was formally created, and today has 150 students enrolled in classes in the arts and career skills development focusing specifically on sustainable tourism.

While Despartar now has 3 full-time employees, the majority of its classes are taught by 17 volunteer teachers, sharing their skills and knowledge first-hand in a very pure expression of community.

Kelly’s goal is that Despartar can become a model across Bahia and Brazil for grass-roots charity, letting others enjoy the rewards of giving back socially on a human level, through teaching. UXUA will support Kelly's project every way we can.