1998 GuardiaVieja, Vistalba, Lujan de Cuyo, Mendoza, Argentina
In the short time since its opening in 2010, Argentina's Entre Cielos has made its presence known on the boutique hotel scene. At the World Boutique Hotel Awards Ceremony 2013 in London, Entre Cielos took home two coveted awards: Best Boutique Hotel in South America, and was also a Sensuous Spa category winner for its impressive hamam.
For those travelers not wanting to stay downtown in Mendoza, but also not interested in being too far from urban attractions, Entre Cielos in the suburb of Lujan de Cuyo is about as close to the city as one can be while still being near the wine routes. A mere 10–15 minutes from the epicenter of town, you may be confused upon finding the driveway to the hotel, as to how a sprawling retreat center could be on such a commercial road. Once the gate doors close behind you, the bustle disappears and you begin the journey to the main building, located 400 meters or so from the parking area. At times during our stay, a staffer with a golf cart was readily present to transport guests and their luggage to and from the lobby, and at other times one had to be called for from the nearby security outpost or reception area.
Entre Cielos is modern and sleek, with just enough quirk and artistic touch to not come off as cold. The reception area is large and formal, with knowledgeable staff ready to help set up reservations at nearby vineyards and restaurants, or to organize adventure activities such as rafting or horseback riding. Upon check–in you will be ushered to your room. There is something for everyone at Entre Cielos — from price range to style. So much choice can be seen as either a pro or a con, in that Entre Cielos attracts all types. From young to old, middle class to upper class, conservative to flamboyant, honeymooners to business folk, families, serious wine lovers all the way to those who just got a great nightly rate at an online booking service. It is hard to pin down who exactly Entre Cielos caters best to. You will find a good mix here and it is up to you whether this is a plus or a negative.
Of the 16 rooms available, there are 6 room types available, named after different maturities and styles of wine. The four Young rooms are designed to come off as vivacious and lively, while Classics have strong color and a joie–de–vivre style. The Reserva junior suites are earth-toned and more for an elegant, mature taste, and the duplex suites of the Gran Reserva are meant for demanding connoisseurs looking for a sense of grandeur. The Limited Edition room is something truly unique — a futuristic stand-alone room on stilts above the vineyards. With rounded, flowing forms, it features a bathtub on the terrace and a skylight that offers nightly views of starry skies. The master suite at Entre Cielos is called the Gran Cru and has its own outdoor Jacuzzi, rainforest shower, and vineyard terrace.
ll rooms have Wi–Fi, televisions, safe deposit boxes, and phones. It is worthwhile to ask for a room far from the lobby area, as the acoustics in the hotel allow for sound to travel all too well from passers-by in the hallway. Some difficulties were noted in the keycard access, specifically that at times it took several swipes of the keycard before access was granted to the room. This can be easily remedied by knowing where to reset the sensor — ask staff if you have troubles.
Chances are you won't be in your room much at Entre Cielos. The pool area is large and inviting, the only downside being that there is only one luxurious curtained poolside cabana. It often gets grabbed up early in the day, leaving the rest of the guests with simple, albeit comfortable, lounge chairs with nearby umbrellas to protect from the intense Mendoza sun.
A must for any guest is to make an appointment for the hamam steam bath circuit (one round is included complimentary in your stay). Based on thousand–year–old traditions, the basic circuit consists of 6 stations of 10 minutes each, including two steam rooms, 2 exfoliation rooms, time for relaxation in the warm pool, and time to sprawl out and melt away tension on a large hot stone slab. Additional treatments can be added on, and it is highly recommended to do so. The spa treatments at Entre Cielos are among some of the finest in Latin America. A simple add–on is a volcanic ash clay mask for the entire body, indulgent is a vigorous two person massage, and downright heavenly is a 50 minute massage given with a sensual, airy foam. Treat yourself or a loved one to the "Gea:" 4 ½ hours of bliss which starts with the traditional hamam circuit, followed by a full body clay mask, an aromatic herbal bath, lunch, an oil massage, and ending with a facial and a glass of wine.
After the spa, you probably won't want to hassle with going anywhere, so it's a good thing that the Katharina restaurant is as good as it is. Open from 8am until 10:30pm and offering local haute cuisine, to be enjoyed either inside or on a beautiful patio, the food is as delicious as it is beautifully presented. The motto of Entre Cielos is "viviendo la vida," (living the life), and a meal at Katharina makes it clear that gastronomic pleasures are included in Entre Cielos' idea of what it takes to live the good life. To open later in 2014 is MAS, a traditional Argentine parrilla offering laid–back barbecue.
For those looking for reasonably–priced accommodation for the level of service and amenities offered, with a location close to both downtown Mendoza and the wine routes, the relatively new Entre Cielos is doing a great job of providing indulgent sensorial experiences to its guests through its unique hamam, gastronomy, and beautiful vineyard setting.
Review and photos by Cathy Brown
Web Site: www.entrecielos.com
Total Number of Rooms: 16
Published rates: $280 — $730