Ruta Nacional 144km 674, Cuadro Benegas, San Rafael, Mendoza
Any hotel that can combine a championship golf course, a world class tennis facility, a cozy lodge that feels like home, an award winning restaurant, and a boutique bodega is definitely worth a visit. And what a setting — all of it is within 2,050 acres of the rolling foothills of the Sierra Pintada mountain range.
San Rafael is roughly 140 miles south of the bustling capital city of Mendoza, but can be easily and directly accessed by a short hour and forty five minute flight from Buenos Aires. Transportation can be arranged from the San Rafael airport to take you to the Algodon property, which lies about 25 minutes outside of town. At the gate, you will pass through security, and you will be ushered past the vineyards until you arrive in a lush, park–like setting filled with tall poplars and ancient olive and apricot trees. All of the tensions from your travels will begin to fade away as you take in the warmth of the constant Mendoza sun and listen to the many native birds singing away.
You may or may not be able to retain solid cell phone signal, depending on your provider. (Relax…the hotel has stable Wi–fi throughout, and landlines available, so you will be able to keep in touch). But once you begin to really take in the wonderland that you have arrived at, you may be tempted to disconnect completely from technology to connect more closely with yourself and nature.
The accommodations are spread out between two buildings. A highly recommended option is to rent out the 3 bedroom farmhouse villa, which is surrounded by gorgeous lavender flowers and large patios. Although fully updated to include every comfort, the hardwood floors, doors, and windows all remain how they were back in 1921 when the house was constructed, giving it a warmth and charm impossible to match with new construction. All of the rooms in the villa have a fireplace in the room. For a more modern option, you can stay in the lodge, where the 5 available rooms are slightly larger, have wood stoves instead of fireplaces, and have plasma screen televisions. The bathrooms are basic no matter which room you reserve (no rain shower heads nor Jacuzzi tubs), yet are very spacious with good lighting and heaters for your towels. With only 8 rooms total in the entire resort, you can be assured of very personalized service and an incredibly relaxed atmosphere.
One of the endearing qualities of the Algodon Wine Resort is its effort to use the abundant food options that can be found on the property. The olive oil is fresh–pressed from the olives on the land, and the apricots you might find in ice by the pool are also hand–picked from the nearby trees. The food that you will enjoy during your stay will not be the fanciest food that you have ever tried, but is comfort food at its finest, food that will soothe your soul as well as your stomach. It is hard to top an afternoon snack, taken picnic style in the shade of a 100 year old tree, of homemade bread still warm from a clay oven, topped with dulce de leche, local honey, or plum jam.
With vineyards on site that produce Malbec, Malbec Rose, Bonarda, Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, and Merlot, you will need to drink wine at every opportunity to be able to try all of the delicious options. The restaurant, which won the national "Best Restaurant Associated with Wine Tourism" award in 2008, prides itself on offering you traditional Argentine dishes from the campo, or countryside. The food here could be described as "rustic gourmet". For example, dinner on the open–air patio could be juicy steaks from local meat, cooked asado–style in a flame broiling pit, matched with chunky home fries, a simple salad, fresh baked bread, and a bottle of Malbec. Dessert might be homemade ice cream of some of the most unique yet delicious flavors you could imagine, such as basil, or white chocolate and olive oil.
Although Algodon is a place where it would be very easy and enticing to do nothing more than sip Chardonnay poolside or enjoy a massage under the olive trees ($35US an hour), you never have any excuse to be bored. Golf fans can play the 9 hole course through vineyards, lush water reserves, olive groves, and plum orchards (and an additional 9 holes are under construction). All equipment is available to rent, so you do not have to travel with your heavy clubs if you don't feel like it. Tennis players have their choice of 7 clay courts, 1 hard court, and 2 grass courts to practice on. And no stay at the resort would be complete without at least one visit to the on–site bodega, where if you are lucky you can chat directly with one of the award–winning winemakers, or try a preview of the amazing Gran Reserve wine not yet released to the public. Indulge in an afternoon wine tasting, a guided tour, or a wine production class, taking advantage of the fact that you are lucky enough to be in one of the most famous wine regions on earth.
The staff can also arrange a rafting trip at nearby Valle Grande, other wine tours, bicycle tours, or more extensive guided mountain adventures like horseback riding or fishing.
If you fall so heavily in love with the Algodon resort to the point that you want to move right in (it has certainly happened to many guests in the past), consider talking to one of the multi–lingual staff members about investment opportunities. There are lots currently available from a half acre to seven acres for luxury homes overlooking either the golf course or the vineyards, meaning that its possible for you to maintain year round the deep state of relaxation you felt during your stay at the lodge.
Web Address: www.algodonwineestates.com
Total Number of Rooms: 8
Published rates: Room in lodge: $290US per night. Room in villa farmhouse: $260US per night. To rent entire farmhouse $780 per nightReview and photos by Cathy Brown