For the second part of our trip to Salvador, Brazil, we head up to the ‘coconut coast’ and to a hotel situated just a short distance from the village of Praia do Forte, a place I had previously called home during my days repping in Brazil. (Read more about our stay at The Fasano Salvador Here)
The Iberostar Bahia, is one of two Iberostar hotels located on the same grounds, on the edge of an area of primary Atlantic Rainforest and right on the beachfront.
The hotel is vast, but it caters well for the large number of guests it attracts, with its rooms spread over a large area, plus a number of pool areas, so it never seems over crowded.
The two main pool areas are split between the ‘Quiet Pool’ which has no entertainment or music, or the ‘entertainment pool’, where the entertainment team keep people thoroughly entertained with games, dances and general entertainment. There is also music played around this pool for most of the day, with a party atmosphere, and to be honest, its this that makes you know that your in Brazil!
I think we were probably the only English speaking guests in the hotel, with the majority being from Argentina or Brazil plus a scattering of other South American counties, plus a few from Portugal. Being the only English speakers may make you feel a little uncomfortable, but for me, its what makes this destination special, I for one would rather be thrown into different cultures and food, rather than having people catering for what the brits want or expect.
Guest rooms are large, and despite the hotel being here since I worked here 15 years ago, it still looks fresh and well maintained, although time is taking its toll in some areas and there are areas, such as around the main pool, that need some renovations.
Bathrooms are also large and well equipped. Keeping with its ‘eco-friendly’, toiletries supplied are all biodegradable and in recycled plastic containers. This eco friendly policy also finds its way to the bottled water in your rooms. Glass refillable bottles are supplied, and at regular points along the corridors, are filling stations, which supply filtered/chilled water. This is part of the hotels policy of not having any single use plastics, which along with the water bottles, also means no straws etc, which is great to see.
Restaurants in the hotel are also aplenty, serving up breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks throughout the day and night.
The main restaurant is Meu Rei and is a buffet restaurant, open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Despite being a buffet (Which I am not usually a fan off), must of the food is cooked at stations in front of you, plus there are various stations that actually plate a meal for you, rather than having a weird concoction of different food things on your plate.
The highlight for breakfast for me, was the endless supply of Pao de Queijo, which paired perfectly with some freshly cooked eggs and fresh orange juice.
Along with various other brazilian breakfast items, there was also always an endless supply of fresh fruits of all kinds.
Lunch was also available in a similar format, however they also have a second buffet close to the pool/beach, a snack bar serving various dishes such as coxinhas, fried fish and paella, plus poolside is a food-truck serving up burgers and hotdogs if required.
The snack bar and burger truck meant that you didn’t need to leave the brazilian sunshine and music while you ate, if so wished.
For dinner, there are a number of Al-a-Carte restaurants, in addition to the buffet, this include Japanese, Mediterranean, French, Bahian and Italian. These need to be booked in advance and you are limited to the number of booking, however the 5 we had available were plenty, plus the booking system was the best I have seen in such a hotel. Rather then having to book in person, you just booked your choices in the Iberostar App after you have checked in.
Just like at breakfast, the buffet was great for dinners. Food varied, however there was always a great supply of local dishes, including fresh prawns, moqueca (A fish stew) and grilled meats. Desserts were also plentiful and skilfully made and presented, plus drinks were served to your table by friendly staff, who were always there topping up my wine.
Entertainment is something that the Iberostar prides it self on, with the ‘Star Friends’ entertainment team ensuring that nobody can get bored, having said that, they are also not intrusive and if you choose not to be involved, they leave you alone.
During the day, they engage with the main pool, with competitions, dances and general silliness, the in the evening the take over the main theatre for shows, games and once a week karaoke.
The best entertainment for me though, is the weekly White Party, which takes place poolside, with live Brazilian music, including carnival Axe and Forró. This along with the Latin Party, really gets people into the holiday spirit and I am never amazed at how many people participate in the dancing, but then its what brazil is about. The one down side to the entertainment however, is it repeats on a weekly basis, so if you’re there for more than 7 days, you will just get the same shows the following week.
For something more laid back and chilled, the lobby bar has live music of a chilled nature each evening, perfect for enjoying a cocktail or two.
Despite staff speaking hardly any English and being the only brits in the hotel, you always felt welcome and part of the ‘Iberostar Family’.
If chilling is your thing, then there is always the ‘quiet’ pool during the day, plus you have the option of visiting the onsite Spa.
This is shared between both the Iberostars on site, with some room types giving you a set number of visits to use the wet areas, including a number of spa pools, sauna and steam room. Treatments and massages are also available to book, with each booking also giving you an extra days use of the other spa areas.
The beach is also wonderful and a 15 min walk gets you to areas where you can find yourself being the only person as far as the eyes can see. Alternatively, keep on walking for an hour, and you will arrive at the fishing village of Praia Do Forte.
This was where I lived for some time in the past and there are a number of small bars and restaurants that you can visit both during the day and night, and despite being on All Inclusive in the hotel, I still enjoyed venturing down for some snacks and a beer.
Praia do Forte is also home to the Tamar Project. The charity helps to protect the huge number of turtle nests along this beautiful stretch of beach, with volunteers strolling the beach each night, to mark the nests. They also house injured turtles, which you can visit in their compound by the beach.
Finally a visit to Praia do Forte wouldn’t be complete with a trip to the castle that gave the village its name (The beach of the Fort). Dating back to the 17th century, Forte de Garcia d’Avila was built as a strategic lookout and fortress during Salvador’s Portuguese colonisation. The site is now in ruins.
If walking along the beach for an hour isn’t your idea of fun, you can also get a 10 min taxi from the hotel. We usually took the option of taxi down, and walking back along the beach in the afternoon.
The vibe was very different to the one I remember 15 years ago, but not in a bad way, I loved not being surrounded by Brits while away or being an a hotel that tries to ‘cater’ for them, although this is usual done to a low standard. If you like to travel and experience different cultures and food and are not worried about having to work at language (Although google translate is available), then a stay at Iberostar Bahia comes with a massive recommendation from me.
Shop around and get yourself a good deal, and see if they will match if if booked directly.
For me, the one thing stopping this being much more of a mainstream destination for UK travellers, is the lack of flights. If you’ve not already read about the trip to Brazil as a whole, you can read about the flights and other general information about travelling to brazil, in the blog post here
[…] Keep an eye out for the next two parts of this post that have also been posted, highlighting our stay at The Fasano as well as our stay at Iberostar Bahia. […]