Argentina: Latin Luxe

Deluxe and stylish accommodations abound in this South American country, whether in Buenos Aires’ charming San Telmo neighborhood, in a countryside estancia or in wine-happy Cafayate.

“Within recent years,” says Ines Segarra, director of the Argentina Tourist Office in New York, “Argentina has grown up to become a very upscale destination. Visitors are discovering that in the many gorgeous corners of the country there are wonderful places to stay and play, that the service is fantastic, and that the Argentines are indeed a warm and welcoming people. Additionally, visitors appreciate that Argentina offers great value for the dollar, and because of the economic crisis, there are a lot of specials that deliver a five-star product at four-star prices.”

far corners of the country In Latin America, Argentina is the third best-selling destination (after Peru and Ecuador) for Ladatco Tours. “Our product is Pampered Adventures,” company president Michelle Shelburne reports, “and what makes Argentina so attractive to the upscale market is its ability to deliver pampered experiences in the wildest of places.” She points to working estancias, such as Los Potreros near Cordoba where the family welcome is warm and the activities, food and service are home-on-the-range, world-class. Or, Bahia Bustamante on the Atlantic coast of Patagonia where guest activities range from horseback riding and sheep shearing, to penguin and whale watching. Wine touring, Shelburne adds, “…has become a joy for those who enjoy vineyard visits, fine food and spa treatments, all in beautiful settings—not only in the now-famous wine region of Mendoza, but the lesser-known Cafayate wine district in the northwest of the country.”

Additionally, for the American market, the Lake District has long been popular, as a single destination around San Carlos de Bariloche or for those making the lakes crossing to or from Chile. For top luxury in resorts, Shelburne says, it’s hard to beat the setting, ambiance and service of Llao Llao Hotel & Resort, Golf-Spa, which now has a beautiful spa, an 18-hole golf course and a new 43-room Lago Moreno wing. However, closer to town, the El Casco Art Hotel, with 33 lakeview rooms and suites filled with paintings and sculpture of Argentine artists, is a new recommendation for your most discerning clients. “But there are new corners of the Lake District that now offer wonder-lodges in a grand Andean mountain setting for those who like to go fishing, kayaking, and horseback riding, plus relaxing in rooms with grand views and enjoying beautiful food.” Examples she cites are Puerto Lussich Lodge two hours from San Martin de los Andes or Lago Verde Wilderness Lodge near Esquel.

Ladatco Tours puts together far corners of the country, including an itinerary that features stays at five estancias during a private car drive south from San Carlos de Bariloche in the Lake District to the Glaciers National Park region. The 18-day Ultimate Estancias Explorer starts and ends in Buenos Aires with nights at the Alvear Palace and time in Bariloche at the Llao Llao Hotel & Resort, as well as a stay at Los Notros in the glaciers park. Priced at $9,990 pp dbl, arrangements include deluxe accommodations, most meals, overland transport and sightseeing with private driver/guide, all taxes, surcharges and transfers.

sultry b.a. Martha Tavera, founder of Marnella Tours, positions upscale Argentina as “very classy, not Las Vegas classy, but European classy.” Many of the top hotels in Buenos Aires occupy some of the city’s most elegant historic buildings and deliver a very European style of ambiance and service.

Two luxury establishments come to mind first, she notes, both located in the Recoleta quarter. Setting the standard for luxury is the Alvear Palace, an official historic landmark building that has 210 rooms—100 of which are suites—opulently and tastefully filled with antiques from the Empire, Louis XV and XVI eras and contemporary Hermes amenities strewn around the jacuzzis. Then there is the Park Hyatt Buenos Aires incorporating the Duhau Palace, once home to an aristocratic family. The hotel is a blend of belle epoque and contemporary styles, with big rooms and enormous baths occupying both the historic wing and the modern tower. The gardens are gorgeous and the AhinWellness Center boasts state-of-the-art facilities and an 80-ft.-long pool. The vinoteca has over 3,000 bottles of Argentine wines, and the cheese room stocks four dozen varieties of artisanal cheeses.

Marnella Tours offers these luxury properties in its custom-designed tours: the Park Hyatt starts at $736 per night, sgl or dbl, while the Alvear Palace starts at $826.