|In El Calafate the centerpiece of the region is the Perito Moreno Glacier.|
Argentina is a country that has seduced everyone I know who has been lucky enough to visit. It has been on my “must visit” list for years and, recently, I was fortunate to be able to check it off my list. My magical journey was arranged by Blue Parallel, represented by KC Hoppe of the KCH Travel Portfolio. My quick but amazing week allowed me the opportunity to visit not only Buenos Aires, but also Bariloche and El Calafate. Argentina is vast and diverse and truly has something for everyone.
Buenos Aires may be the most European city in South America. Much of the architecture would not be out of place on the streets of Paris and many of the residents have European roots. This large, cosmopolitan city is the start of almost any itinerary in Argentina. This capital city is full of distinct and colorful barrios, home to a wonderful culinary scene, and many world-class hotels. I rested my head at the Park Hyatt Palacio Duhau. It boasts an elegant mansion and a more modern building housing the bulk of guest rooms. (I preferred the rooms in the modern building with views of the mansion.) This hotel manages to beautifully marry all the modern aspects of Park Hyatt with the classicism of the original mansion. Other luxury hotel offerings in town include the Four Seasons Buenos Aires, another mansion/modern building combination; the trendy Faena with Philippe Starck’s flair and home to what is considered the most intimate Tango show in the city; and, of course, the five-star Alvear Palace Hotel. The majority of these luxury hotels are found in the exclusive Recoleta neighborhood (the Faena resides in the more recently gentrified Puerto Madero), but there are also several nice boutique hotels throughout the city, especially in the trendy Palermo neighborhood.
|Ladd In Bariloche, which sits on the shores of Lake Nahuel Huapi in the alpine lake district of Argentina.|
Bariloche sits on the shores of Lake Nahuel Huapi in the alpine lake district of Argentina, and is another city very much European in feel, although in this case, Swiss rather than French. In season, there is snow skiing nearby. However, when I visited, the days were filled with hiking, rappelling and kayaking. I stayed at the El Casco Art Hotel, whose rooms are named after Argentinean artists and have their works of art—all of which are for sale. This area is also home to the iconic Llao Llao Hotel & Resort. Note: When booking, make sure you are aware of its new wing so you can select the correct room type for your clients. This picturesque area should not be missed!
I spent my last two nights in Argentina in Southern Patagonia’s El Calafate. This area is exactly what comes to mind when one thinks of Patagonia: vast expanses of land surrounded by the rugged Andes. El Calafate, in the steppe, has grown quickly in recent years. It is home to Argentina’s current president, Cristina Kirchner, who lives next door to the lovely Los Sauces Hotel, which she also owns. The centerpiece of any visit to this region is the Perito Moreno Glacier. I stayed halfway between town and the glacier at a warm and welcoming Relais & Chateaux property, Eolo. The drive to the glacier allowed ample viewing of local wildlife, including llama and ostrich, as well as hares, eagles, sheep and condors. Nothing, though, prepared me for the glacier. It was one of the most awe-inspiring sights I have ever seen. I hiked the glacier and saw its beauty up close, in addition to viewing it by boat and from catwalks created for optimal viewing. I could have spent all day watching the glacier calve and new icebergs being created.
|The Eolo Hotel provides ample views of the Patagonian landscape, including its famous cattle.|
In this brief visit, I had so many wonderful experiences. I cannot help but count the days until my return to visit other parts of this country (especially Mendoza and Iguazu) to see what other surprises it has in store. When selling Argentina, I strongly suggest working with a company such as Blue Parallel that can provide insider access and expertise, taking your client’s experience to the next level. Each and every day, they surprised me with at least one thing that would not have been possible without their knowledge and local influence.
Argentina is a country for everyone: for those wishing to experience culture, there is art, opera, history and dance and there is room for foodies, golfers, hunters, wine connoisseurs, adventure travelers and sports fans. Note: Make sure to tell your clients to eat the steak and lamb, drink the Malbec and come back with local treats, especially dulce de leche and alfajores.