san carlos de bariloche, argentinaTHE PROPERTY: Overlooking scenically stunning Lake Nahuel Huapi and surrounded by majestic, Argentine mountain peaks, the Llao Llao Hotel & Resort is one of Latin America’s finest. Built like a Canadian mountain lodge with pine-log walls, stone fireplaces, and barn-size salons, there are 205 guestrooms, suites and a private cabin. The original hotel rooms (not all air conditioned) are comfortable and small, but superior suites come with bedroom, living areas and some with fireplaces and decks. The newMoreno Wing has 43 studios and suites with enormous bathrooms, wide windows and terraces.
THE GREENS: Among the special features of the Llao Llao course is that it is totally contained within Lake Nahuel Huapi National Park. Golfers report that the 5,856-yard, par 70 course is short but tricky, covering rolling greens and fairways, bordered by forests of cypress and larch trees with integrated bunkers, hazards and greens. Golf classes, weekend tournaments, club rentals are all handled at the clubhouse.
THE AMENITIES: There are six choices of spots to dine and snack, with fine dining—from Patagonian lamb to international dishes—assigned to the Los Cesares restaurant, and classical Llao Llao tea is served in the Winter Garden. Additionally, there is a bar, lounge, in-out heated pool, tennis courts, health club and exercise room, a fabulous spa, jacuzzi, children’s center, video arcade, and bridge and reading rooms. Included in the price of the room is a full menu of activities from watercolor-painting and yoga classes, to games and events for kids.
THE SCENE: At no additional cost, guests enjoy the great outdoors on mountain biking tours, guided health walks and birdwatching trips, tennis and archery. Seasonal activities include windsurfing, canoeing, kayaking, alpine trekking and climbing. At additional cost are fishing (November through April) and skiing and snowboarding at Mt. Catedral (mid-June to mid-October). The main dock hosts boat trips to Isla Victoria and the Bosque Arrayanes, as well as day cruises through the fjords around Puerto Blest.
THE RATES: The resort’s Stay & Play Longer package, is priced from $265 pp dbl per day in the low season, and $385 during the high season, on a minimum 3-night stay. Included are buffet breakfast, daily happy hour, two greens fees per room per stay, all recreational and children’s club activities, health club access, transfers to the Mt. Catedral Ski Center and use of hospitality lounge (July/August).
trancoso (state of bahia), brazil THE PROPERTY: Club Med Trancoso lies four miles south of Trancoso village, built on the cliffs above the Atlantic, overlooking gorgeous beaches and surrounded by the Atlantic Rainforest. The resort worked hard to minimize its footprint on the land, with architecture and layout modeled after a traditional Brazilian fishing village. Classified in the hotel group’s premium resort class, this property has 250 rooms grouped in two quarters within nature reserve surroundings. Accommodations occupy eight, 2-story, brightly colored bungalow-style buildings with thatched roofs. Rooms have mini-bars, cable TV, and turndown service.
THE GREENS: Although making its debut in 2004, the Terravista Golf Course has already found a place on the top 100 list of courses in South/Central America, and is considered one of the continent’s most beautiful. The 18-hole, par 72 course was designed by Dan Blankenship, and golfers play two distinctly different golfing environments. The front nine is played amidst the landscapes of the Atlantic Rainforest, while the back nine offers dazzling views of the beach with four of its holes perched high on ocean cliffs. Facilities include a clubhouse, pro shop, rental equipment, and individual and group golf lessons. The Terravista Golf Course is a 15-minute walk from the Club Med resort.
THE AMENITIES: Club Med facilities include three bars and two restaurants—the main one featuring lavish buffets is divided into five environments, and the one for gourmet dining—evenings only—is Le Lua (the Moon). There are two pools, one of which is reserved for the Mini-Club Med, saunas, lighted tennis courts, archery, volleyball, and a good spa. Transportation is provided to the beach, where there are parasols, beach chairs, showers and a beach bar. This is a child-friendly resort, with babies, kids and teens divided by age group into age-appropriate programs. For golfers, Club Med has its own golf school, with private golf lessons and play (at additional cost to its basic all-inclusive vacation plan) at the neighboring Terravista Golf Course.