A (Tourism) Tale of Two Countries

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The talk of the town nowadays is the just-opened Tcherassi Hotel + Spa, a project of well-known fashion designer Silvia Tcherassi, who turned her vision from haute couture to fashioning an elegant hotel out of a 250-year-old mansion. The luxury, home-like hotel has seven large guestrooms and suites, with high ceilings, private balconies, rich wood floors and open bathrooms. In addition to a full service spa, the hotel will be opening Vera, a 40-seat indoor/outdoor restaurant and lounge featuring Italian cuisine. A private lounge on the third floor provides an outdoor bar and rooftop pool where guests lounge comfortably and enjoy 360-degree views of the historic city and the sea. Rates start at $275.

ultra uruguay Although it is the continent’s smallest country, Uruguay counts among its assets more than 200 miles of beautiful Atlantic beaches; Montevideo, its charming and cosmopolitan capital; Punta del Este, among the chicest of international resorts; and the gaucho country where travelers stay at estancias to capture true home-on-the-range experiences.

The major gateway to Uruguay—generally taking a short air hop from Buenos Aires—is Montevideo, sprawling along the wide Rio de la Plata. It is a safe, walkable city with a lovely historic quarter of narrow cobblestone streets flanked by Spanish colonial architecture. It’s the area clients can seek out the Decorative Arts Museum and antiques shops. New to the capital’s list of attractions are the Carnival Museum and the Gaucho and Coin Museum, and everyone wants to drop in at the Mercado de los Artesanos (Handicraft Market) and the Mercado del Puerto where dozens of little cafes and food stalls serve up typical Uruguayan barbecue fare every day except Sunday—but at its colorful best for Saturday lunch.

Uruguay’s most famous destination has always been (and still is) Punta del Este and its surrounding beaches. Indeed, during the weeks surrounding Christmas and New Year’s, all of the “beautiful people” of South America seem to descend on this corner of the Atlantic. Called simply La Punta, the resort lies two hours by car from Montevideo. It sits on a peninsula separating the Atlantic Ocean from the Rio de la Plata estuary, and there are miles of sand stretching along both the calm bay and rougher oceanfront. In addition to beach time and such watersports as sailing and skiing, visitors play tennis, polo and golf or go deep-sea fishing. They also visit the Ralli Museum of Contemporary Latin American Art, drop in at the craft market on Plaza General Artigas, take a boat to see the sea lion colony on Isla de Lobos, dine out deliciously at the end of the day and party all night.