The Vineyard Loft

Mendoza luxury travel
The mountains and vineyards of Mendoza, Argentina are spectacular but when enjoyed from Entre Cielos Hotel and Spa they become transcendental. Set on a vineyard at the foothills of the Andes, the contemporary property has 15 rooms and the most unique suite I’ve ever stayed in: The Vineyard Loft—a private tree house hovering over acres of pinot noir vines.

 

luxury travel Argentina
A tree house architecture firm Baumraum was specially brought in from Germany for the perfect pod and the in-house design team completed the fantasy with sleek and seductive interiors. Newly opened this spring, we were amongst the first couples to nest here.

 

Entre Cielos
Views down to the vines and out to the Andes (plus, a welcome bottle of wine) lured us outside for a little terrace time.

 

Luxury hotels mendoza
Here, the view from the Vineyard Loft to the main hotel, designed by Argentine Firm A4 Estudio. Each tower is a duplex wrapped in graphic imagery of figs, mushrooms, cherries—and other flavors of full-bodied wines. The patterns can change depending on the season or vision of chief designer Daniela Wager for architecture that never gets old. The next motif on her list? The typography of wine words.

 

Luxury Travel Argentina
Creators of the first traditional hamam in Latin America, Entre Cielos brings the Turkish bath tradition to a new level of decadence and relaxation. Wrapped in flauta towels we basked in the herbal steam room, exfoliated in the Kese shower, soaked up the vinotherapy in our couples wine bath (yes, I said wine bath), and ended in the lounge chairs of the relaxation room nibbling on fruits and nuts. Heaven is an understatement.

 

luxury travel argentina
Not ready to stir from relaxation mode, we went back to our Vineyard Loft for an extra soak in the outdoor bathtub. You can never have too many bubble baths, especially when bubbly is involved.

 

fine dining mendoza
In the morning, the Katharina restaurant hosts a gourmet buffet breakfast. Fruits, cheeses, eggs to order and cappuccinos were served to perfection amidst the chic décor. When we returned for dinner, we nuzzled up by the fire for a special five-course honeymoon meal, complete with Argentine beef, of course.

 

Entre Cielos ipad by the pool
After our bike ride to the neighboring vineyards, we came back to do a little reading by the pool. Love that the front desk has iPads available for guests to use throughout their stay.

 

room service
We were so sad to leave the Vineyard Loft, we had to order breakfast in bed. It is not easy bringing carafes of coffee and poached eggs down a gravel road and up the stairs of a tree house but the staff didn’t even flinch. Aficionados of service and style, Entre Cielos holds up to its heavenly name.

Have you ever stayed at a truly unique property? If so, where? If not, what would you think about a night here?

Note: Entre Cielos invited us to stay at the property. Our stay was comped; however, all opinions are our own.

Valparaíso: City of Styles


Walking through the neighborhoods of Valparaíso, Chile is like a look at centuries of European architecture painted in a rainbow of hues and graffitied everywhere in between. Until the Panama Canal sliced through Latin America in 1914, this central Chilean city was the most important port town on the Pacific–with every powerful country looking to set up shop on its shores. French, Germans, English, you name it, built here in their own style but today the Chileans have reclaimed the “Jewel of the Pacific” with a flair that’s irresistibly its own.

 

Valparaiso port
Port life is still central to the culture of Valparaíso, with boats pulling in fresh fish for some of the best seafood in Chile.

 

architecture tours
Plaza Sotomayor holds some of the grandest buildings in town including the British-built Queen Victoria Hotel, the American Fire Company, and the Chilean Naval Command Building–quiet the cultural mix.

 

valparaiso travel
Though originally for the working folk, today’s real heart of the town is the neighborhoods stacked up the hill.

 

valparaiso travel ideas
There are few funiculars to get people up the hill in a hurry, but the hundreds of staircases are what really connect uptown and downtown.

 

Valparaiso architecture
Grand houses like this German-style chalet neighbor with French Mansard mansions, make walking tours (we took a great one with “Tours for Tips”) a design feast.

 

valparaiso architecture
Though if we had to pick one signature style, that is pure Valpo, it would have to be these corrugated-metal cuties. The working class would bring this excess shipping material home from the docks to build homes on the cheap. With so many houses made out of scrap metal you would think the city would look like a shanty town but with a bright coat of paint and scalloped trim, it’s resourcefully charming.

 

Valparaiso lady of injustice
If you ever stroll by the Valparaíso courthouse, make sure to give this “Lady of Justice” a closer look. As the story goes, when a Frenchman slept with the wife of the Chilean judge, he was expelled from the country. For revenge, the Frenchman sent this statue of a lady with her scales in a knot and sword sloppily at her side, but it wasn’t until decades later when someone recognized the irony of this prominently displayed art. So embarrassed the town didn’t want to admit their naiveté–instead they explained the Lady of Injustice’s presence outside the court as a contrasting reminder of the fairness within.

 

valpariso architecture tours
In the early 20th-century, Valparaíso slipped into decline and until the 1990s, drug dealers had their run of even the nicest part of town. This former mansion was looted for its marble floors, gold fixtures and crystal chandeliers. Today safety in the neighborhood has been “mostly” restored but buildings like this serve as a reminder of their rough and tumble times.

 

Valpariso street art
Graffiti and bad neighborhoods usually go hand-in-hand but Valpo turned these scars on the town into a mark of pride. Instead of cracking down on taggers, the town decided to outshine them instead. They commissioned artists to cover the city’s walls with inspiring and insightful imagery that has stood the test of time (which in graffiti land is a few short months). Now the art goes well beyond the walls–even gutters get glorified like in the mosaic above.

 

valparaiso street art tours
Pushing the limits of the canvas, this artist uses stairs to paint a port scene and the storm drain for a its ocean reflection.

 

Valparaiso barsQuick Guide: Valparaíso

Walking Tour: Tours for Tips was such fun and so informative—a must do!
Unique Eats: Bijoux Restobar does not have a menu but a chef ready to satisfy your every craving. A truly unique dining experience.
Coffee House: Brighton Cafe is set in a charming cliff-side house for the best views in town.
Bar Scene: Sabor Calor is the chic source for creative cocktails.

For more views of Valparaíso, check out our around-the-world travel blog, HoneyTrek.com

Luxury in the Wilds of Patagonia

Luxury travel ideas

Part of the allure of Patagonia is how difficult it is to navigate. The most extreme and breathtaking landscape doesn’t come right out and present itself, you have to track it down and wrangle it (with a little help from the experts.) For our trip to Torres del Paine, Chile’s most remote and alluring national park, EcoCamp was just the place to call. Their expert guides and luxurious accommodations turned what seemed like an insurmountable place, into an inviting, indulgent, and invigorating oasis.

 

Puerto Natales

The five-star treatment started with a pickup at our hotel all the way in El Calafate, Argentina and shepherded across the Chilean border to Puerto Natales. There we were greeted with another chauffeur who dropped us off at the cutest gourmet cafe to regain our strength and get a taste of the incredible wines and meals to come.

 

luxury travel ideas

Our drive to EcoCamp kept our jaws to the floor the entire ride. The huge peaks, teal lakes, Guancos (a cuter version of the llama) and condors prompted us to ask for photo stops at what seemed like every mile. Thank goodness for a patient driver!

 

luxury travel ideas patagonia
EcoCamp is made of geodesic dome structures—inspired by the strong, agile, and natural homes of a 15th-century nomadic Patagonian tribe. Leaving as little footprint as possible, all amenities are powered by solar and hydro energy and their sophisticated compost system combats nearly all waste created.

 

luxury travel torres del paine

Glamping, as they call EcoCamp’s style of lodging, is a cute way of saying—this is the most sophisticated and glamorous version of camp you can ever imagine. Our honeymoon-worthy Suite Dome had a massive canopy bed with the coziest sheets, a fireplace, and chic lighting to set the mood.

 

honeymoon travel patagonia

Spoiling their honeymooners, the EcoCamp staff left us a huge bouquet of sunflowers, a bottle of champagne on ice, and wrapped presents of local delicacies (the dulce con leche with nuts was my favorite).

 

Luxury travel ideas in Patagonia

To top it off, our room had the ultimate view: the Torres, the steep rock towers that give the park its name.

 

luxury design patagonia

Unlike most hotels, EcoCamp is all about camaraderie amongst fellow glampers. Every night cocktail hour happens in the Core Dome, where everyone gathers for Pisco Sours, a bounty of appetizers (scallops, cheese, olives, meats, the works!), and to recount stories from their day exploring the park.

 

luxury design patagonia

Connected to the cocktail lounge was a cozy dining room serving beyond delicious meals, complete with Chilean wine (all included in the price of the stay). Quinoa gnocci, butternut squash soup, grilled lamb, were just a few of the treats that kept us salivating.

 

luxury travel patagonia
There are infinite adventures to be had in Torres del Paine and your fun, friendly and knowledgeable guide can help make any of them possible. Here is a snapshot of our hike to the Torres but stay tuned for a full dose of the the park’s heart-stopping beauty in Mike’s upcoming blog on HoneyTrek.com.

Note: Ecocamp invited us to stay with them. Our accommodations were comped; however, all opinions are our own.

Colonia’s Style Wars

luxury travel uruguayYou don’t hear to too much about Uruguay, until you hit Buenos Aires. The town of Colonia del Sacramento is a mere hour boat ride from the Argentine capital and is a key player in its colonial history. Set up by the Portuguese in 1680 as port to smuggle in riches to BA, Colonia was so strategically situated that the Spanish got jealous and went to battle to snag the city– 11 times over the course of 150 years. With the perma-flip-flopping of power and nationalistic renovations, Colonia has become one of the most confused yet charming colonial towns in South America– mashed up with the architectural styles from three distinct cultures and one wacky history.

 

luxury uruguay travel tips
We came to Colonia to celebrate our first wedding anniversary so we classed it up a bit with a stay in the romantic La Mission Hotel. Built originally as a house in 18th century, we loved the bright colors, original stone walls, contemporary decor, and central locale.

 

uruguay travel tips
Colonia was originally walled city and with their UNESCO heritage status they got the funds to restore it quiet nicely. Colonia is about 25,000 big and expands well past these walls but the charming historic quarter lies within. We took a fantastic walking tour by the proudest Uruguayan (she is looking for investors to help further spruce up the city a if anyone is interested. Honestly.)

 

uruguay travel
Calle de Suspiros (Street of Sighs)  is said to be the most well-preserved street in town and the best example of the style war between Spanish and Portuguese design. The Portuguese always built with slopping tile roofs while the Spanish underdogs always made quick-dry flat roofs since they never had much time before they were under attack again.
Here are the ruins of 17th century Convento de San Francisco and the renovated lighthouse behind. For a couple pesos (Argentine money is accepted everywhere in Colonia) we climbed up for great views of town all the way to Buenos Aires.

 

luxury travel uruguay
Looking at this crazy expanse of coast and water you are convinced you are on the ocean but oh no, it is the Rio Plata–the widest river in the world. Its main water source is the gush from Iguazu Falls which is so powerful it makes what would be ocean, brackish all the way past the coast of Montevideo. The milk chocolate color, weeping tree-lined coast, and a few islands make it a unique city river.

 

luxury travel, colonia
The irony of the constant Spain vs Portugal battle is that they kept canonballing the town they considered home. In the case of the church, both cultures were catholic and neither had the time to rebuild it fully so the architecture is like a patchwork of Portuguese rock mixed with Spanish stucco and cement filling in between.

 

design travel tips colonia
All the restaurants along the plaza have a amazing seafood and colonial ambiance but for something a little more unique and funky, we went to Drugstore. They couldn’t have fit more colors or art on the wall and the food was just as all over the map–but in the best possible way.

colonia design tips
With the smoggy metropolis across the river, Colonia is supposed to have some of the best sunsets and with a wild rain storm right before sundown, we got the full spectacle in the sky.

Spending the night in Uruguay is a nice getaway from the ber urban BA but if you do a day trip, book the latest boat back so you can catch the sunset and see the candle-like street lights twinkle at night. For more photos from the picture-perfect Colonia del Sacramento, see the slideshow on HoneyTrek.com