| The Experience |
After boarding a flight in Buenos Aires to take me further south, I arrived in Bariloche, Argentina, a charming city that’s just as popular during the summer months as it is in the winter. Surrounded by lakes (Nahuel Huapi, Gutiérrez Lake, Moreno Lake and Mascardi Lake) and mountains (Tronador, Cerro Catedral, Cerro López), Bariloche is famous for its skiing, hiking, water sports and sight-seeing. Read: Outdoor activities. The
fat girl foodie in me also couldn’t wait to indulge in the chocolate boutiques, breweries and lamb delicacies known throughout the region. Uhm, yes please! Can you imagine sitting on the dock of this bay downing beer and chocolate while memorizing this view? Sign me up, again.
A little less than an hour drive from the airport sits the swiss-style chalet of Llao Llao Hotel & Resort. If you know anything about Bariloche, you know that this is where you want to be, purely for the scenery it provides. Straight out of a fairy tale and perched on a hill, the Llao Llao setting captivates every guest to walk through its doors. The rustic yet elegant relationship of the furnishings and decor throughout the oversized hallways makes me wonder what the hotel looks like during winter time. It’s easy to see that the hotel craves its cozy-snow-lodge-in-the-mountains persona. Even as I stood in its presence with the snow melted and the skis put away, Llao Llao exuded the desired atmosphere after a long day on the slopes, the perfect après-ski in front of a warm fireplace. Sure, it’s beautiful in the summertime as well, but staying in a snow lodge during summer is like spending Christmas in the Southern Hemisphere (where Santa would be sweating bullets in that red suit of his). There’s something a bit off, but to ever complain would be sinful. God, please forgive me.
| The Rooms |
With 205 rooms and two distinct wings, the hotel employs 350 staff members to keep its many guests happy year-round since Llao Llao never goes out of season, literally. With so many humans underneath its roof, Llao Llao still manages to feel like home. The floors creak when you walk upon the large hardwood panels. Scents of a delicious breakfast waft up the expansive staircase where the guest rooms are located.
With luxury tradition since 1940 making up the Bustillo Wing and a classic-modern affair taking over the Moreno Wing, it’s a toss up as to which way to turn, especially when every panoramic view is jaw-dropping no matter the room number. The hotel offers 13 different room categories, and with an indecisiveness mind like mine, I decided to pay a visit to many…just a perk of being a travel blogger I suppose. A little sampling here and there never hurt anybody. I’ll stop talking and let the pictures do the work.
| The Activities |
It goes without saying that this place is perfect for families and couples. With enough activities to tire out the Brady Bunch in mere hours, the hotel thrives on its location on Lake Moreno and an 18-hole golf course surrounded by picturesque mountains. As I’ve previously stated, I’m no golfer, but this course makes me want to pick up a club, or at least drive the cart.
Romance can easily be found near the pool that offers quite possibly the prettiest view I’ve ever laid eyes on, until the water was drained a day after my arrival. Inconvenient? You can say that again. Apparently there was an urgent need for construction during my stay, but perhaps they should’ve thought ahead before the Christmas season was upon them. A free lunch was offered to all hotel guests during their stay due to the inconvenience, but I don’t think a comped cheeseburger deterred guests from complaining at the front desk. The children most likely turned to archery, arcade games in the gaming center or scheduled an appointment at the kid spa instead (yes, there’s a kid spa!) but come on. The pool is the main attraction, y’all. I would’ve skipped lunch daily to utilize the pool, and let’s get one thing straight. There’s no such thing as a free lunch.
The hotel can arrange many full-day and half-day excursions around the area for your enjoyment including hiking, biking, horseback riding, kayaking and fishing trips. A popular outing is to Isla Victoria where guests can enjoy a hike, picnic lunch, rappelling and kayaking, but for a price. An afternoon like this will cost you $500 USD per person. Not able to cough up this sum for a single afternoon just yet, I figured I’d use the pool instead. Oh, wait…just kidding. Upon more research, I read that Llao Llao is near some of the most desired hikes in the area. After just a 10 minute walk, I reached Cerro Llao Llao where I spent a half-day hiking alpine peaks that took me through enchanted forests, gorgeous lakes and beaches, and provided impressive fjord vistas. Problem solved. The day after, I decided my arms could use some work, so into the kayak and through the waters I paddled.
| Cuisine & Service |
As I’ve traveled to Patagonia twice prior to this particular trip, I’ve spent enough time in the area to know what my taste-buds were craving: chocolate and lamb. It was no surprise, then, that I indulged in the most delicious lamb burger there ever was. On earth. In the solar system. Ever in existence. It was massive, juicy, cooked to perfection and primely paired with Malbec for a velvety finish. This was by far the best dish I sampled, or devoured rather, but it came as a bit of a disappointment to notice the lack of gourmet dishes on the menu. While staying at a 5 star hotel, I expect 5 star cuisine. And service for that matter. The staff was friendly but at times seemed somewhat aloof and disinterested. The service was also a bit slow, even when the restaurants were almost empty as I ate at abnormal times here and there. I chalked it up to the Argentine custom of being laid-back with zero sense of urgency, but the famous Llao Llao should be able to overcome this obstacle.
Even through its limitations, Llao Llao and its surroundings continue to charm and impress guest after guest. Perhaps I’ll be back to experience the plethora of cold weather activities in all their winter wonderland glory. After all, these mountains aren’t just for gazing.