| The Experience |
A hop, skip and a jump from the bustling metropolis of Buenos Aires, Argentina, lives a resort so tucked away and tranquil, making me wonder what I’m doing on the busy side of the Rio de la Plata. Separated by one of the widest rivers in the world, the countries of Argentina and Uruguay are only mere miles from one another, able to give a friendly wave on a clear day. Indeed, a river runs through it, but with a one hour hydrofoil ferry ride and one hour transport by car, the surroundings change immensely from beeping horns and crowds to farming villages and simplicity. Ahhh to be free at long last. Perfect for families or couples itching for a city escape, this 1 part beach, 1 part forest, and 1 part winery resort will have guests coming back for more.
The city of Carmelo incorporates colonial charm, authentic stillness and countryside beauty, making it an ideal spot to sit back, relax and enjoy copious amounts of wine. With a privileged location on the river amidst grassy plains and rollings hills, a microclimate conducive to grape growing presents itself. Its fame goes beyond that of the Tannat grape, however. In addition, various world class options are on offer to entertain tourists including the game of golf and the game of Kings, known otherwise as Polo. Spending time outdoors here is imperative, but tucked inside the bungalows of Four Seasons Carmelo claims relaxation station.
| The Suite |
There’s no place like home, especially upon checking into a 1,300 sq ft bi-level luxury suite complete with oversized soaking tub, four poster bed, patio and vineyard view for a few glorious, pampered days. On the first level to greet me in all their delicious glory were the local delicacies of alfajor treats, consisting of dulce de leche sandwiched between two soft, buttery cookies. In other words, a healthy afternoon snack (click here for recipe).
Upstairs materialized luxuries only 5 star hotels can produce, which leads me to my Christmas list, if anybody was wondering. I would like the signature Four Seasons mattress, please and thank you. The brand knows their sleep, and if you’re going to spend 1/3 of your life in bed, you might as well make it worthwhile. And I digress.
If you follow my blog and/or Instagram, you probably know my obsession with bathtubs as well. Double the pleasure, double the fun at Four Seasons Carmelo from bed to bath (and beyond). As you can tell, it’s the focal point of the room, big enough for a party of 5 even. So, I did the unthinkable. I ate dinner in here one night because, well, why not? Room service presented itself, and why not take it in surrounding opulence? In fear that I’m making myself sound a bit sluggish with talk of food, sleep, and eating in tubs, ’tis now time for some outdoor adventure talk!
| The Pool |
The main attraction at Four Seasons Carmelo is not the tub, the pastries or signature sleep bed. It’s the oversized outdoor swimming pool with a dramatic double cascade. Remember, this is a luxury resort, and luxury resorts know luxury pools, and how to make their guests stay as long as possible. Bribes of mouth watering Uruguayan cuisine, cold glasses of Tannat, sun shades and sun hats and whatever else might be on your wish-list are taken care of in an instant. The service is unmatched as is the overwhelming sensation from a dip in the cold, refreshing pool for a reprieve from the hot Uruguayan sun. The view of the hotel’s nursery vineyard beyond isn’t too bad either.
| The Spa |
Going into my Royal Aromatherapy massage at the Four Seasons Carmelo spa, I figured it was going to be just like any other relaxing activity, if you can count laying on a heated massage table above Egyptian cotton sheets and being rubbed on for an hour an “activity.” Counts in my book.
My masseuse, Edda, was the sweetest Uruguayan woman who asked me to pick out a scent (mint) and lay face down. She massaged from my back to my neck, and I finally began to understand the term “deep tissue.” Almost having to tell Edda to lighten up on the pressure, she was the professional and knew what she was doing, so I kept the pain to myself. After the 50 minutes came and went, she told me she’d never felt knots around shoulders, neck and scalp like she had mine. Now, I’m fully aware this is nothing to brag about, but apparently the stress and anxiety of travel is getting to me. I’d like to officially add “spa treatments” to my Christmas list. Thanks y’all, and thanks Edda, for fixing me, if only for a few days.
| Activities |
Where to even begin? The dichotomy of the surrounding area of Carmelo presents miles and miles and both land and water, making the space an outdoor enthusiasts’ playground. Water sports include fishing, canoeing and event sunset cruising. Sweat it out on a bike or the tennis courts near the property. Personally, I think the real fun begins on a horse.
Few symbols are as emblematic in Uruguay as the gaucho, or horsemen who roamed the South American pampas way back when. To keep the spirit alive in modern day, Four Seasons Carmelo’s equestrian fields and gaucho Marcelo Pozo immerses visitors into the landscape full of greenery, pines and eucalyptus. Marcelo and I rode into the marshes together, conversing in Spanish about the area, the 70 horses on property but mostly, I kept pestering him into letting us gallop. Not entirely sure what to do but trying to act like it, I held on tight as we rode into the woods, going off path and getting lost in the enjoyment of fresh air at the graceful rhythm of my heavenly horseback.
Now, I’m not a golfer, but I’ll tell you that Carmelo Golf Club makes me want to be. Made of 667 acres of green grass, lakes, wetlands and native trees, I had the best time winding around the 18-hole, par-72 course in my golf cart. I’ll be sure to work on my game before teeing off again on one of the most challenging courses south of the equator. That, or I’ll opt for the Polo lesson on offer next time. I guess I could add golf clubs to the Christmas list. Golf lessons, too.
Perhaps one of my favorite facilities on property was Four Seasons Carmelo’s own yoga studio. Built on the shores of the Rio de la Plata gives the beautiful structure an even more beautiful view. Most studios I’ve been in included only sweaty fellow participants, void of any outside perspective, apart from a few small windows. But this, this made me want to adorn yoga clothes at all hours and bask in the playfulness of poses inside and outside on the sand. And that’s exactly what I did. #yogaeverydamnday
| Flavors of Carmelo |
Lucky for me, my visit to Four Seasons Carmelo overlapped with the hotel’s ‘Gourmet Weekend,’ a celebration of Argentine and Uruguayan cuisines and wines. It’s like they knew I was coming as these are a few of my favorite things. Executive Chef Lucas Curcio Pérez of the hotel restaurant Pura stood out to me for a number of reasons, most notably because of his young age. Much like you don’t judge a book by its cover, don’t judge a cook by how many years he’s spent cooking. The guy can make a mean dish. His inspiration comes from the sophistication of the international cuisine with the simplicity of seasonal products. He adds a personal touch, making sure to guide the team in his kitchen daily and accompany them on garden outings for local items. Where do many of these local items come from, you ask? I’m just getting to the good part.
Only 10 minutes from Four Seasons Carmelo is a place even more tranquil with the freshest ingredients, you’d think they came straight from farm to table, and you’d be right. Inspired by an old convenient store setup, Finca Narbona incorporates a dairy farm, restaurant, vineyard and winery – more food + wine, yay! My thighs were really loving me this trip. Part wine sanctuary and part foodie haven with organic and gluten free foods, I was quickly inebriated and stuffed, which wasn’t a bad position to be in. I’d like to thank the sweet cows for their milk that started the entire chain reaction, turning cheese into a delectable brie that inevitably ended up in my stomach. Nothing tastes better than being home grown and homemade.
As for this addition to the Christmas list, you may send a Four Seasons Gift Card, perfect for any occasion! Read: Food.
| How to Get There |
Had enough of the tango, steak and Malbec in Argentina? The easiest way to get in would be to take the 1 hour Buquebus ferry ride from Buenos Aires in Puerto Madero to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Colonia, Uruguay, where hotel staff will meet and transport you the 1 hour car ride to Four Seasons Carmelo.
| Friendly Four Seasons Faces |
I want to give a special thank you to the friendly faces that made me feel especially at home over the weekend. Thank you to Felicitas on site, Max and Mariana at the front desk, Chef Pérez at Pura, Matias at the pool and Edda at the spa for an unforgettable experience, and to all those working behind the scenes. I hope to see you again sometime soon at the Four Seasons Carmelo!
Rates start at $450/night.
View more photos from my stay at FSCarmelo & afternoon at Finca Narbona below!