Michael Harrington | 17th April 2019
Nestled at the base of the mighty Andes, which appear to emerge from a never ending sea of flat deserted land, Mendoza greets you as you land in from Buenos Aires. With its broad tree lined avenues and numerous parks the city moves to its own (slow) rhythm and feels as safe as any provincial town. And it certainly feels more of a town than city with little traffic and abundant space. From the centrally located Park Hyatt you can walk on foot or take a taxi to soak up the atmosphere at a local resto bar or stroll through its tranquil city parks. From here you can explore the Andes with trekking, white water rafting, abseiling and zip lining available plus much more. There are also 3 ways of experiencing Aconcagua, the western hemispheres tallest peak at just shy of 7000m. If time is tight or for non hikers a full day trip from the city includes a short hike for photo opportunities, whilst an option with a more comprehensive 6 hour hike is available. Finally there a 2N/3D option by hiking to Plaza Francia affording the best views. The next step is climbing the peak itself which requires around 12-15 days in total.
But if you’re here for the wine as the majority are, best to head to Valle de Uco, 1.5hrs drive south of the city. The drive is quite beautiful as you pass striking lines of alamos trees and edge closer to the base of the Andes. There are lots of bodegas and many including hotels, some of which are superb. The 2 wine hotels of note are Casa de Uco, designed and own by architect Alberto Toncongy, and The Vines, founded by Pablo Gimenez Riili & Michael Evans.
Casa de Uco is by far the more boutique with a curious array of design cues in its main building as well a beautiful and creative furniture and decor. In addition no two rooms are exactly the same, and now there are 3 beautifully appointed villas with many more to come. Another stand out is the food, especially for lunch and dinner, not to mention the truly gargantuan portions of meat is you reserve a special countryside private picnic reached on horseback. Warm and welcoming staff only enhance the experience. The hotel also offers a range of activities, from wine blending and tasting to trekking, biking and horse back dining, just like The Vines.
The nearby Vines itself is however a different proposition and is more a luxury resort with a different sense of itself and enjoys very generous private 90m entry level rooms, a social pool area (more so than Casa), as well as a signature restaurant, Siete Fuegos by Francis Mallman, Argentina’s celebrity chef of fire. The vineyards here include numerous private vineyards, turning wine lovers into wine makers, as the hotel aptly puts it. The hotel also includes probably the most spectacular gym in Argentina, a beautiful floating slice of minimalism that hovers over the Vines affording breathtaking views as you give yourself a well needed workout after one steak too many!
Both hotels offer stunning views and plenty of peace and quiet to relax so there’s really no bad choice here merely alternative atmospheres: eclectic and hospitable, and VIP understated luxury.
For more info on the magic of the Mendoza wine lands contact us today.