Story and photos by Carole Edrich
© Jeremy Hoare
Image–conscious inhabitants of fashionable Buenos Aires are under constant pressure to appear glamorous and eternally young. In the drive to stay beautiful the locals (Porteños) expect and get a lot from their surgeons, gyms and spas. Driven partly by the siren lure of foreign money but also by the demands of wealthier Argentines (who are rediscovering the vacation value of their own country) spa standards are also high outside of Buenos Aires. As a result, the discerning sybarite can find luxurious spas in Argentina that are both destinations in their own right and excellent bases for exploration with treatments a fraction of their cost back home.
Alvear Palace Spa and Fitness Centre, Buenos Aires
Located in its own purpose–built minimalist suite, this newly opened Spa and Fitness Centre has a wide variety of herbal, marine and mineral treatments as well as the full La Prarie product range. Special offerings include 'beauty express' for those with little time to spare for their spa retreat and an acupressure treatment designed to speed recovery from jet lag. As you'd expect from such a high quality hotel, spa staff are well accustomed to meeting ad–hoc guest requirements and costs are not considered constraints. This long–awaited complex also boasts a state–of–the–art techno–gym and highly qualified staff and it will be interesting to see how services develop in response to client requests over its first year.
The Spa at Grace Cafayate, Cafayate inaugurated in 2016, the Grace Cafeyate spa is small but spectacular with a dos individual treatment rooms and a one private treatment circuit for two that includes a Hammam and a private outdoor shower for two with a view of the vineyards. Probably the most impressive is the covered indoor swimming pool also with views of the gorgeous vines.
Faena Hotel and Universe Gym, Spa & Hammam, Buenos Aires
Fashionistas flock to this Philippe Starck–designed hotel which has a spa with an eastern feel, including a stunning blue–light Zen meditation room. While individual treatments are private, the Turkish Hammam, relaxation room and jacuzzi are social places and the terraced outdoor pool is a place to see and be seen.
Treatments are themed around beauty, style and spirituality, with "therapies for the soul" such as pranic healing (to revitalize the body's energy aura), ayurvedic massages (to balance mind and spirit), one–on–one yoga, meditation sessions, aromatherapy and the ever–popular La Prarie range. In addition to regular private treatments the spa has a series of offerings that combine its clientele's desire to be seen and pampered at the same time of which the four–handed reflexology treatment plus sunscreen application by the pool is a great example. There's a stunning freshly squeezed juice menu and glamorous locals with spa and gym memberships frequent the Faena Bar on a Saturday night.
© Hotel Llao Llao
The Spa at Hotel Llao Llao, Bariloche
Although the hotel is in an unbeatable location with sublime panoramas to be seen from every window, the spa is in the lowest floor and some treatment rooms have a restricted view. However, the service and staff are top–notch, the treatment and therapy menu is extensive and the products rich and efficacious. This is a long-running favorite as a spot for a truly relaxing spa vacation in Argentina. Clients are treated to a high level of personal service with custom–blended essential oils and traditional French treatments. My favorite treatment, the Llao Llao Mitotheraphy uses locally grown rose hip oil to tone and condition facial skin and muscles and others speak highly of the specialist massages for golfers and skiers. It is common for guests to continue using the spa's excellent products after their visits and the teas served, which are also custom blended, are so popular with guests that many continue to order them by mail when they leave.
© Jeremy Hoare
Cavas Wine Lodge Spa, Mendoza
This is an outdoor, medina–style spa created by Pondal Malenchini. It is beautifully designed, with holes in the wall to soften the bright desert sun, a fountain in the spa's centre and the sound of water running from open–mouthed frogs to counter the aridity of Mendoza's dry air. That Mendoza is wine country is reflected by the spa menu which includes a variety of lush wine therapies including a crushed Malbec scrub, Bonarda (red wine) bath for circulation, and moisturizing Torrontés wine wrap. Although more regular and conventional treatments are also provided (the four–hand massage is fun) their Olivotherapy range of products (developed from the same olive oil beauty approaches used by ancient Greeks and Romans) are particularly luxurious and also available in all rooms. All Cavas' therapists are fully qualified in medical massage therapy as well as other alternative treatments.
The Best of the Rest
Entre Cielos, Mendoza
The distinction that Entre Cielos brings is the first traditional Turkish hammam in Latin America. Inspired by a beloved hammam in the home of the founders, Bern, Switzerland, the 6,500 square foot facility at the hotel took nine months to build. The self-serve hammam circuit includes pools, a steam room, a mud room, an exfoliation room, and more. The circuit ends in a relaxation room where a table is set with water, juice, and a few small snacks. To foster a private spa feeling, circuit visits are timed by reservation only to minimize guest overlap. Massages (the hotel masseuse was trained by a Swiss hammam master) and skin treatments are also available, some done with products containing grape seed extract.
© Four Seasons
Four Seasons, Buenos Aires
With playful treatments like the two-person tango massage, the Four Seasons offers all kinds of ways to relax in Argentina's capital. Massages, facials, body treatments, even manicures and pedicures, to get your ready to face the high-end crowd in Buenos Aires. The spa features a sauna and steam bath as well as yoga classes on request and other personalized fitness options for keeping in shape.
© Eric Mohl
Los Cauquenes Resort + Spa + Experiences
Los Cauquenes Resort + Spa + Experiences opened in 2005 on a small bay in the Beagle Channel, west of the city of Ushuaia, Argentina. The hotel's spa, which is also open to non-guests, has four treatment rooms (two have water views). The treatment menu includes massages, body wraps, exfoliations, and facials, plus a few indulgent packages. All guests have access to the gym, equipped with all of the major machines (steppers, stationary bikes, treadmills, weight machines) plus kettle bells and free-weights. All guests can also use the hotel's heated indoor pool, the indoor and outdoor Jacuzzis, the sauna, and the steam room.
- Carole Edrich, updated April 2020.