Reserva do Ibitipoca is a 5000-hectare private reserve in Brazil’s Minas Gerais featuring a boutique, eight-suite hotel in a converted farmhouse.
In the 1980s, Renato Machado, a businessman from Minas Gerais, started to buy up land surrounding the Ibitipoca State Park to promote biodiversity by creating wildlife corridors and reintroducing endangered animals. Thirty years later, this has turned into a 5,000-hectare reserve. Since 2009, a converted 18th Century farmhouse, Fazenda do Engenho, has welcomed tourists to the reserve, helping to stimulate the local economy and preserve cultural heritage. As a continuation of this community-minded ethos, Renato has handed ownership of the hotel to four staff members making it a ‘project for the people, administrated by the people’. The reserve not only provides meaningful employment to the local population (99 per cent of employees are local), it also promotes entrepreneurship by encouraging relevant businesses to open in the reserve, and has up-skilled 200 people in the surrounding communities via English and ICT lessons.