Who They Are
In the heart of Cantareira State Park, 50 minutes from Sao Paulo, Unique Garden (the English translation of the website is a bit obscure, but can be found in the lower right corner of Unique’s site) truly lives up to its name. Besides being a sought-after spa and health retreat, with 26 deluxe chalets, as much thought has gone into pampering clients as into creating the lodge around them.
Eight agronomists work at rehabilitating the environment, the buildings curve in such a way as to avoid destroying trees, and even waste water is treated well enough to be returned to the nearby lake.
From the Presidential Villa to the Flower Chalet, the lodgings aim to indulge, even down to a ‘pillow menu.’ You can pick your own salad in Unique’s eponymous gardens, pluck your own fruit while walking through the orchards, and know that natural and organic and healthy are key words here.
A wide range of exercise classes are offered, from yoga to tai chi, or you can cycle on the grounds or swim in one of two pools. At the spa, treatments are offered in the main building or in five secluded ‘kiosks’ scattered throughout the forest. The organic meals, with a slant towards Mediterranean cuisine, are created by chef Daniel Aquino and an on-site dietician.
What They Are Doing
Unique Garden, like the Hotel Unique in Sao Paulo, is owned by the Siaulys family, which is well known for its commitment to the community. Its most famous creation is the Laramara foundation, which cares for people with impaired vision. (Founder Victor Siaulys’ daughter was blind.) Over the course of 20 years, Laramara’s clients, as well as the services it offers, have expanded and diversified, so that today over seventy percent of patients have multiple disabilities (visual impairment associated with, say, cerebral palsy, deafness, or some mental illness).
At the Unique Garden, there is a conservation facility that is run in conjunction with the Brazilian Environmental Protection Institute, where wild animals that have been hurt or dislocated by human intervention are rehabilitated and released. A community center looks after ‘the personal and professional development’ of its staff and their families, offering them courses in computers, English, music, recycling, yoga, and even bread-making.
In Their Own Words
“For us, social responsibility is not a fashion.”