Costaflores s/n, Alto Agrelo M 5507, Mendoza, Argentina
Nestled within a 55–acre vineyard with gorgeous views of the snow–capped Andes at every turn, serious oenophiles with a penchant for the romantic will be hard–pressed to find a more tranquil setting to share a glass of Malbec than at this Relais and Chateau retreat.
Most visitors travel to Mendoza for one thing: wine. With over 900 vineyards in a relatively small area, (Argentina is, after all, the world's fifth largest wine producer), there is enough to do to keep even the most demanding wine lover happy. Cavas Wine Lodge has been at the heart of wine tourism for years. Even after the opening of numerous luxury boutique hotels in the area recently, Cavas still enjoys a well–deserved reputation of being one of the very few places in Mendoza for serious bon vivants to consider staying.
Mendoza itself is a 90 minute flight from Buenos Aires, or a short 45 minute flight from Santiago. About 25 minutes outside of downtown, Cavas is strategically located to put you within 10 minutes (or an easy bike ride) of a large number of vineyards. Notable neighbors worth the visit are the impressive Catena Zapata, internationally–acclaimed Achaval Ferrer, and charming Renacer. To arrive at the rural wine lodge without problem, Cavas staff can arrange ahead of time for a driver to transport you. If you rent a car, it is best to have access to GPS, as the road signs once off of the highway are not nearly as well marked as they could be.
The entrance to Cavas will take you down a few kilometers of gravel road, weaving through vineyards. Once at the hotel you will be met at your car with a welcome drink and a heartfelt greeting from genuinely warm, English–speaking staff who have been well–trained by the very present owners to make your experience at Cavas unforgettable.
The reception area is casual and inviting, and the colorful lobby, with its grapevine chandelier, commissioned original artwork, large library, and grand piano make it immediately clear that Cavas is not a place that goes halfway on anything. Off of the main building is a spa for enjoying luxurious vinotherapy treatments including wine baths and grape seed exfoliation, and an intimate wine cellar, where late afternoon tastings can be arranged. The pool (perfect for soaking up Mendoza's 330+ days of sun per year), is a comfortable area with great chaise lounges, views of the Andes, and staff who appear seemingly out of nowhere to offer a perfectly chilled rosé.
What makes Cavas stand out from other hotels in the area is the vast amount of privacy it offers guests. Instead of a hotel room, there are separate villas, with the very smallest offering almost 1000 square feet. Each individual villa is far from the others, and found by a trail that wanders directly through the vines — a closer connection with the vineyard would be impossible. Every villa has its own plunge pool, outdoor shower, clawfoot tub, indoor fireplace, satellite television, Wi–fi, and cordless phones. Also, each has a rooftop terrace complete with fireplace (perfect for enjoying a night of stargazing — the skies here are wonderfully unpolluted).
The Grand Villa boasts 3500 square feet, 2 bedrooms each with their own bath, a 700 square foot living room with an additional half bath, full kitchen, outdoor dining area, pull-out sofa bed, and outdoor whirlpool, making it a gracious, well-equipped place to entertain family or friends. To note, only children above the age of 13 are allowed to stay, to help maintain the atmosphere of quiet tranquility that Cavas has become known for. A One Bedroom Villa is also available, with 2700 square feet and many of the same amenities as the Grand Villa.
Mendoza has no shortage of incredible restaurants, but dining at Cavas' onsite restaurant is a treat in itself. It serves up unpretentious, traditional Argentine food, and makes a point to change the menu every three months to be able to offer the highest quality, in–season, local and organic ingredients. Of course all meals are paired with the perfect wine, including those from the hotel's own vines. By giving advance notice, guests can enjoy a candlelit sunset dinner right on their rooftop terrace — guaranteed to be one of the most memorable parts of any Mendoza trip.
So, yes, the buildings are pretty and the location is stunning. But what has kept Cavas at the top of its game is the level of personal service that it provides. The staff knows how to make one feel looked after; not just like one more guest who walked through their doors, but as a person who they want to help have the most ideal experience possible. The place oozes charm, authentic warmth, and character. From occasional tango shows in a quaint amphitheater, to live music accompanied by bonfires, to taking great pleasure in helping guests organize special moments, (for example, a romantic picnic deep in the vineyard), Cavas is much more than just a lovely place to sleep. It's a place where visitors can infuse themselves with the laid–back spirit of Mendoza and leave completely refreshed, sure to take with them more than a handful of lifelong memories.
Review and photos by Cathy Brown
Web Site: www.cavaswinelodge.com
Total Number of Rooms: 14 individual villas
Published rates: $375 — $3,200 BB