Buenos Aires and Uruguay

cq5dam.web.1280.720Dear Friends,

Is it not amazing how our list of “must-see” places seems to expand proportionately each day? We keep trying to get just one more spectacular adventure in before the year end, before the month-end, before the weekend! I personally find that I am enjoying more places, maybe seeing them a bit quicker than I would like to, but at least I am satiating my desire to learn, see, taste, at least temporarily.

I would like to share with you some notes from my amazing trip to Buenos Aires. Now that Delta is flying non-stop from Atlanta and American continues to fly non-stop through Miami, affordable sophistication has never been so close.

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Day 1– Land at EZE in Buenos Aires at 7am and head to the chic Four Seasons at the foot of the famed Avenue 9 de Julio, located on the glamorous shopping street Posadas, and a block away from the other boutique mecca Alvear. To refresh us from our flight, a visit to the newly opened spa and a dip in the city’s only alfresco hotel swimming pool were in order. We arrived to the Hotel’s adjacent mansion right at 12:30 as the city’s elite bgan to sachet in for what is clearly the most elegant and scrumptious Sunday brunch in Buenos Aires.

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Sitting in the old world elegance of the mansion, with the smartly groomed squadron of servers buzzing through the room attending to every need, I though I had stepped back in time. That is when the host approached my table and extended an invitation to my five year old to visit the nursery anytime during what would be a multi-course extravaganza of international foods and Argentine Malbecs. My son was thrilled to be escorted to an exquisite room of the mansion serving as the nursery, at least until it was time for our visit to the sumptuous dessert buffet. Here staff, toys, and other children all dressed for brunch, busied themselves, as adults calmly enjoyed the afternoon.

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Day 2– Shopping on Alvear and Posadas is a great exercise in stretching the dollar. While many of the designers such as Escada, Christian LaCroix, Ralph Lauren, and Hugo Boss have similar pricing as in the states, one does extremely well to make purchases at the local designer shops that adorn these avenues. Leather, shoes, ties, wraps, ponchos, suits, dresses, bags – all stylish, and all amazingly well priced.

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By 1pm, we were famished and enjoyed the wild rush-hour taxi ride down to Puerto Madero to experience Cabana las Lilas, what the locals consider to be the best steak in Buenos Aires. Sitting outside on this lazy Monday, staring at the river, enjoying hot cheese rolls, course after course of complimentary antipasti, and then finally the celebrated and delicious Beef Rib Eye, quickly confirmed that this was a very special experience. Well, I must admit, I am a self-proclaimed foody and we did stay up late each night to try one fantastic trend-setting restaurant after another. Hip, contemporary Argentine cuisine is abundant from the clean-lined “Sinclair” locate in the Sinclair Quarter to the cozy and upbeat, “Bar Uriarte” in Palermo Hollywood, no bite was a wasted calorie!

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Day 3– Another fantastic sleep at the impeccable Four Seasons Hotel Buenos Aires. Today’s adventure was completely coordinated by the Concierge of the Hotel, who arranged our tickets on the private 8-seater jet from the intown airport, located 5 minutes from the Hotel. We boarded our plane 15 minutes after departing form the Hotel and were airborne in no time on our way to Four Seasons Resort Carmelo.

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This little piece of paradise is located in a town called Carmelo in Uruguay on the opposite bank of the Rio de la Plata from Buenos Aires. We crossed the mighty river in 20 minutes time and landed promptly on a grass airfield, where the Four Seasons Resort Carmelo driver was waiting for us. Another 3-minute transfer and we entered the pine and eucalyptus tree drive of the Resort. The 44-suite bungalow resort is set on the banks of the Rio de la Plata, amidst the cattle plains of the gauchos, and the vineyards of families who came from Europe to start their trade 150 years ago.

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The Resort décor would be a book in itself – imagine a wood and glass lodge with the most comforting, yet interesting elements of Balinese art and furnishings throughout. Like in Buenos Aires, the attractive and eager-to-please staff of the Four Seasons Resort Carmelo make you feel right at home, even while thousands of miles away.

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The details of service from the lobby welcome with lemon-grass and mint infused lemonade, the lantern-lit paths through the sand dunes leading from the river to the guest suites, to the warm chocolate cookies everyone counted on each afternoon at Pura, made the stay so special.

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Day 4 – A day trip to the private winery Los Serros de San Juan, open only to guests of Four Seasons, where a young enologist shared with us the history of the 150 year old wine-making operations started by European émigrés to Uruguay. We tasted Uruguay’s famous varietal Tanaat, along with delicious Rieslings and Gewurztraminer, showcasing the family’s German heritage. We then continue on to the UNESCO world heritage town, Colonia de Sacramento founded by the Portuguese originally and then by the Spanish 100 years later. The rich history, preserved cobble stone streets and charming homes and churches, made this special stop in our trip. Wonderful ponchos and wovens made by the designer Silvia Sastri at Oveja Negra are find! My son, all the while, was thrilled to be a part for the complimentary Kids for All Seasons.

Tucked away in the woods, pas the Yoga and Tai Chi room. Past the Balinese spa and health club, and then past the horse corral, one happens upon the colorful kids club and playground, stocked with toys, arts and crafts, bicycles and beach toys is a haven for young travelers. Dinner this evening was just 5 kilometers off property at Finca Narbona, where a family showcases their wine and cheese making operations and invites you to a selection of hand made pastas for dinner. It was probably all of the tasting of their famous Tanaat wines that caused us to stop at the Casino located just before the entrance to the Resort for a few rounds of black jack.

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Day 5 – I awoke early to make time for as Asian Massage at the irresistible spa. But today was really meant for meditating at the glorious lake-sized dark blue pool against the contrast of the carmel-colored flowing Plata River in the distance.

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Because the Resort is a quaint size, we made friends with travelers from many different parts of the world, and ended up with different dining partners each evening. My husband was delighted to have made buddies with whom to play a round of golf on the challenging and aptly rustic 18-hole golf course, located just between the Resort front entrance and the private polo fields. As the sun began to set, it occurred to us that it was Thanksgiving day and so decided to have dinner at the river in the Resort’s plush, yet rustic gazebo. Our waiter Marcelo, and the chef, were at hand the entire evening to treat us to a traditional Uruguayan “Parilla” of grilled meats and delicacies. What a way to end an amazing five days of paradise!

Let me know if I can help you plan you or your next trip to Buenos Aires and Carmelo. It is sure to surprise and delight!

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