The Rio de la Plata is the widest river estuary in the world and it forms the border between Argentina and Uruguay. Nestled along the riverbank on the Uruguay side, surrounded by vineyards, eucalyptus & pine trees, is Carmelo Resort and Spa. The property was once a Four Seasons and has since been acquired by Hyatt. The resort has always been a destination, but it is now regarded as the best luxury retreat in the area. Driving down a long drive way, the forest gives way to beautifully rustic buildings that almost blend into the trees they look so natural there. Great Balinese doors grant entrance to the lobby which is incredibly beautiful and offers incredible views of the property from the large windows and the large terrace. There are 20 bungalows that are set up in pairs and 24 bi-level suites.
The layout of the property is really quite ingenious. The bi-level suites are situated closer to the middle of the property – closer to the pool & the main buildings, and the bungalows, (10 on either side) are on the outer edges of the property – which is intended to provide more privacy. This smart layout allows for the property to accommodate both families and couples seamlessly as families with children are closer to the main buildings and couples are able to reconnect privately. While I stayed at Carmelo I stayed in one of the bungalows and the room was incredible. High ceilings and cool concrete floors makes it feel like you are in a beach house and large picture windows provide incredible views. The outdoor patio off of the bedroom and the outdoor shower & private garden off of the bathroom are beautiful and incredibly relaxing. I cannot forget the bathtub, I could have spent the majority of my time enjoying it!
The pool is beautiful and large with plenty of lounge chairs and cabanas. The Rio Bar, a beautiful open seafood bar near the pool, serves fresh & light fare. The Mandara Bar located under the lobby is beautiful and serves a variety of interesting cocktails and of course has a great wine collection. For me the highlight was dining at Pura, which serves meals made with local ingredients prepared with traditional South American influences. Dinner here was out of this world and it truly blew me away. Foodies will be very happy here and I highly recommend the grilled octopus – it is the best I have ever had.
Getting to Carmelo can be a bit of a hike, but it is pretty painless if you come from Buenos Aires, which makes it the perfect extension on a Buenos Aires trip! The Buquebus hydrofoil only takes an hour and a half and it is so smooth you can barely tell you are moving without looking out a window. You will get off the hydrofoil in Colonia, a destination in and of itself. One of the oldest towns in South America, half of the town has been designated as a UNESCO world heritage site. Small, stone and clay buildings line cobblestone streets as you wander through this side of the city. Lush vines and flowers grow over most of these homes – the oldest in the city, adding a truly idyllic quality to an already picturesque town. Cafes line shady streets and the view of the Rio de la Plata are the perfect companion while you enjoy a coffee and watch the day pass. Spending a few hours wandering through this beautiful town is a must before you continue on to Carmelo – transportation can be arranged to pick you up whenever you like.
Twenty minutes from Carmelo is the Narbona Wine Lodge, a Relais & Chateaux property. With only 5 rooms, this small estate’s focus is on the vineyard and the farm. Narbona makes a wide range of specialty products aside from wine including jams, cheese, prosciutto and its famous dulce de leche. The owner collects antiques and the entire property is decorated with them, from the antique Model-Ts in a garage off the driveway to the bird cages in the garden and the luggage in dining room. The wine vats however, are shiny copper and stainless steel state-of-the-art behemoths housed in a large stone warehouse. Tours of the warehouse are truly amazing, especially if you are a wine lover. The true gem of the property is the tasting room, located in one of the cellars. A beautiful table is set up along side hanging prosciutto and antique shelves holding dusty bottles of wine. The tasting is paired with house made charcuteire, cheese & jam. While staying in Carmelo, a visit to Narbona is a definite must.
Carmelo is truly a destination for relaxation and lazy, peaceful days. Whether you are lounging by the pool at Carmelo Resort & Spa, luxuriating in your bungalow bathroom or walking around the property you will find yourself in a daze of calm. Should you want to spend a day exploring Colonia or an afternoon and evening at Narbona learning about wine and eating incredible food you will find that the peace of Carmelo permeates. This is a place to truly reconnect with your family, your partner, and the relaxed version of yourself.