What have we achieved in all these years? We became pioneers in ecological and conscious hospitality in Brazil. We employed, trained and mentored a generation of local people, encouraging them to embrace their life and be autonomous. We built a relevant ensemble of sustainable architecture and art that influenced the region and beyond. We implemented an integrated socio-economic model focused on self-sufficiency. All this, around one vision: helping people heal themselves through Nature and Beauty. A guest one day summed it up: “Picinguaba and Catuçaba are a hospital for guests, and a university for employees”.
Below are the most important milestones of this exciting journey.
1997 – Emmanuel Rengade arrives in Brazil after 2 years in Lisbon and travels backpacking for months. He is deeply touched by the soul of the country, the beauty of nature and the kindness of its people, and he decides to settle here and look for a job.
2001 – After a few years as an executive in São Paulo, he leaves his career in corporate finance to buy an old house in the village of Picinguaba (300 inhabitants), located inside a State Park. After 2 years of renovation and redecoration, he creates the concept of an elegant and yet simple hotel: Pousada Picinguaba.
2003 – Pousada Picinguaba is acknowledged as the first “boutique hotel” in Brazil by the Financial Times, innovating with a new model of hospitality at the time (between a luxury hotel and a guesthouse). During the following years, the FT Weekend, leading magazine for “cool luxury” in England, will publish several full-page articles on Picinguaba. In the next years, the Pousada is published in HIP HOTEL as one of the 80 most extraordinary independent hotels in the world. Picinguaba is featured in most decoration and lifestyle magazines in Brazil and Europe in the next years. Read In The Press.
2005 – With an average annual occupancy of 73%, Pousada Picinguaba reaches records for a hotel in a remote location. At this time, more than half of the guests are from outside Brazil. Picinguaba becomes a reference for ecological tourism and a “back to nature” and “slow living” destination hotel.
2006 – Beginning of the implementation of an integrated sustainability vision and plan: the first focus is the elimination of all industrial food, plastic or disposable product. From this year on, advanced ecological requirements are implemented and become part of the pousada’s culture, day-to-day and local education.
2007 – Foundation of APIS – Açao Picinguaba Sustentavel, an NGO for the preservation of the caiçara culture and the protection of the traditional village and its inhabitants from a disorderly “development”. APIS fights for Picinguaba to remain within the protection and management of the State Park, supporting the local community through various socio-environmental initiatives.
2008 – Looking for a land to plant the organics for the Pousada’s restaurant, Emmanuel finds and falls in love with a large farm 2 hours away from Picinguaba, halfway to São Paulo.
2009 – Together with a group of friends and investors, he acquires the property that he names again after the name of the village: Fazenda Catuçaba.
The renovation and construction of 9 rooms begins, applying techniques and principles of sustainable construction and self-sustainability: energy optimization through heat pumps, all material is reused from other colonial farms. The second hotel soon starts operating.
2010: Fazenda Catuçaba develops the organic production of vegetables and fruits, cheese, cachaça (sugar cane alcohol for caipirinha) and meat (pork, chicken, lamb) to supply both places.
2012 – Beginning of the Artists in Residence Program with the project Portal do Sul by artist Pasha Radetzki from New York, which wins international awards.
2013 – Creation of the Catuçaba Institute for Art, Education and Sustainable Living. Creation and implementation of the Bamboo Cathedral by the Brazilian designers Campana Brothers.
2014 – Construction of the Oca by the Mehinakos, a tribe from Xingu who were invited to come as architects in residence, and built here the first indigenous house outside the Amazon. Receiving schools of architecture to visit the Fazenda.
2016 – Completion of the Casa Modernista Caipira, in partnership with architect Marcio Kogan. This project brought together the best of the Brazilian design with the best of ecological building, and intended to show that life in a remote location can be ecological and at the same time very elegant and comfortable. The project earns the maximum LEED certification (Platinum) for the first time in South America.
The same year, a second landscape architecture project is developed in partnership with MAPA ARQ. Two Minimods are built on the property, including the Cross House.
2017 – The Catuçaba Art Gallery, an art gallery in Nature presenting Brazilian artists connected to the spirit of Catuçaba, is built in collaboration with the Belgian architect Sven Mouton, who specialized in bamboo construction, using local materials.
2018 – Emmanuel and Bianca participate in several international groups and projects that work to promote and support the ecological and spiritual message of indigenous peoples and the necessity to reestablish our relationship with Mother Earth. They participate in meetings at the UN in New York, as well as in Barcelona and the World Economic Forum in Davos.
2019- Launch of the WE ARE NATURE – WAN – ONE movement, a global network to connect with people who believe that one of the solutions to our evolution lies in the reestablishment of our essential connection with Nature.
The book “Catuçaba, Earth Alchemy” is published in Paris, presenting the purpose of Catuçaba and celebrating its 10 years.
2020 – Emmanuel works on an economic model inspired by monasteries, where the community is at the service of individual spiritual growth. The model is based on nature to provide the essentials of what is needed (food, energy autonomy). Hospitality (hosting visitors with a perspective of healing) is at the base of the economy, as well as the production of the land (honey, cachaça, cheese, cosmetics, etc).
2021 – Launching of the Bee Nature project, led by the French family of Laure and Philippe Lemarchand who experience life on the farm for 1 year with their 3 kids. The goal is to develop a bee sanctuary and the first phase includes the installation of 150 native and African beehives on the property, aiming at pollination and production of honey and propolis.
2022 – Celebrating more than 2 decades of integrated sustainable practices and a vision for self-sufficiency, receiving more than 100,000 visitors who immersed themselves in the experience, and being an inspiration for many similar actions in the region or abroad.
In addition, we contributed to the preservation and positive development of the villages: both the communities of Catuçaba and Picinguaba have been positioned nationally and internationally as references of familial tourism, inspiring architecture and ecological practices.
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