|Argentina: A Sensual Escape|
For the friendly, passionate people of Argentina, life is to be lived full throttle and with every sense awakened. From their dedication to the very best food to the sensual art of the tango to the vast countryside that’s still dotted with real estancias and gauchos—every day is a celebration. This large country consists of a variety of climates, so visitors can choose from activities such as snow skiing, a day on the beach, and even glacier walking. And the rich soil and ideal level of rain in the interior produces some of the best wines in the world.
Where to Stay
In the heart of Mendoza—known for its wine trail—lies Club Tapiz, a small luxury hotel with only seven high-tech, opulently decorated rooms and, despite its intimate number of guestrooms, a host of astonishing amenities. Adjoining the main building is Casa Sol, a former governor’s mansion that serves as a private estate that you can rent out as well.
Patios de Cafayate Hotel & Spa in Salta is an indulgent escape in the northern region of the country. This classic luxury hotel pampers guests thoroughly with antique-decorated rooms and Jacuzzi-equipped suite bathrooms, an incredible spa, gourmet dining, and a list of activities that includes winery tours and active pursuits like trekking and biking.
Where to Eat
Get a taste of Andean cuisine at Jose Balcance, one of the top restaurants in Salta. If you like a touch of the unusual, this is the destination for you. Amidst an elegant setting, you’ll dine on unique specialties like llama in pear sauce and other dishes that may at first seem daunting, but are all exceptionally good.
From the northern section of the country, head all the way south to Kaupe Restaurant in Ushuaia (Tierra del Fuego) to dine on chilly delicacies such as king crab, a menu staple. The gourmet fare at this haute spot could go up against the finest restaurants anywhere in the world, a testament to the magic conjured by the family who runs it. The fabulous wine bar is definitely one of the highlights and shouldn’t be missed.
Where to go
Mendoza is synonymous with wine in Argentina. This central region is lined with about 1,000 wineries that produce some of the most important wines in the country. The best part is that you can tour and taste at almost all of them. Malbec is Argentina’s signature grape, but you’ll also sample Syrah, Torrontes, Semillon, and Tempranillo.
Mar del Plata in the Buenos Aires province is Argentina’s beach paradise, with 17 kilometres of beaches for surfing, fishing, and soaking up the sun. Some of the top beaches include Balneario La Perla, Playa Grande, and Miramar. The area also has a fantastic aquarium, cathedrals and museums worth touring, and a vibrant nightlife.
Where to shop
For a superior selection of hand-crafted works by local artisans, check out the Paseo de las Artes in Cordoba. This feria (market) has the usual suspects—frames, candles, and glass products—but it also offers lots of surprises in the labyrinthine maze of stalls, including tea sets, wind chimes, and kitchenware.
With cows being such an important component in the country’s dining habits and occupations, perhaps it’s no surprise that Argentina is renowned for its leather goods. In Buenos Aires, quality leather stores abound; some of the best are Juan Lopez for handbags, Silvia y Mario for coats (and cashmere), and Prüne for bags and accessories.
What to Do
Horses are a vital part of Argentine culture, thanks to the gaucho tradition and near-universal love of polo. If you, too, are taken with the animals, it’s a rare treat to go riding in Patagonia, where many estancias offer day-long or even multi-day horseback riding adventures.
If you’re a bird watcher (and even if you’re not), here’s one group that you probably haven’t seen except in captivity: penguins. In Patagonia, you can get a private viewing of a Magellan penguin colony that boasts 200,000 members, courtesy of the secluded Estancia San Lorenzo. Another feathery treat awaits at nearby Cerro Frías, where you’ll likely see a condor or two.