Hotel Of The Week: Estancia Colome, Argentina
The highest gallery in the world is about to open - in a hotel. But then the owner of Estancia Colome in Argentina's Andes is a multibillionaire art collector...
Sunday 18 March 2007
You may think the destination hotel is a relatively new concept, yet the idea has been around since the 19th century. Characterised as a property not chosen for its convenience, today it's a misused term - many places billed as destination hotels are frequently within easy reach of an international airport.
Colomé is a true destination hotel. This nine-suite boutique property is set on the highest wine estate in the world in the Argentinian Andes. To reach it my journey began in Buenos Aires, from where I took a two-and-a-half-hour flight to Salta, in the Jujuy province, near the Bolivian border. Next, I went on the drive of my life, a five-hour road journey to Estancia Colomé, just under 8,000ft up in the foothills.
I hired a guide and driver, Esteban Corces, (00 54 387 421 7154; hiridiunn @yahoo.com.ar), who is passionate about this area. After passing through tobacco plantations and towns with gauchos riding down main streets on horseback, the road quickly ascended into deep rainforest, home to puma, monkeys and parakeets.
But it's not only the remoteness that makes Colomé a draw - it's owned by the multibillionaire art collector Donald Hess and his wife, Ursula. And it has a very special USP: at the end of this month it is to open a contemporary art museum - the highest in the world - featuring light installations, drawings and prints by James Turrell.
Hess has turned an 1831 bodega and surrounding 25 acres of vines, planted in 1854, into a highly successful wine estate with a five-star hotel to complement it. The outlook over the Andes is spectacular.
The comfort factor
You may be light years away from civilisation but that doesn't stop you sinking into comfortable leather armchairs that wouldn't look out of place in the swankiest hotel in New York. The two master suites are vast, each with a large private veranda. The seven junior suites are smaller but have the same attention to detail and are set around a cloistered courtyard. There are no TVs, DVDs or CD players in rooms; this is a place of rest.
Walk-in wet room with double sinks, separate showers and gorgeous toiletries.
The food and drink
Breakfast on freshly baked breads, cereals, home-made preserves and local honey. Dinner is similarly sumptuous: we ate fresh greens dressed with honey and mustard sauce, sunflower seeds and shavings of Parmesan followed by piglet cooked in an adobe oven with glazed onions and Amalaya wine. Lunch and dinner costs between £15-£20 per head.
Savvy world travellers, wine lovers, and those looking to buy up large swathes of Argentine land.
The Calchaqui Valley is on your doorstep and there are plenty of walking and mountain bike trails to follow. Horse riding is highly recommended.
One of the suites has full disabled access. Children and dogs are welcomed.
Each suite sleeps two and junior suites cost from £116 per suite per night, including breakfast. Master suites from £147. If you stay four consecutive nights, the last night is free. The price includes use of pool, tennis court, tour of the wine estate and use of bikes.
Estancia Colomé, Ruta Provincial 53, km 20 Molinos (4419) Province of Salta, Argentina (00 54 3868 494044; estanciacolome .com). For further information about Argentina go to destinoargentina.info.
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* The Gramercy (00 1 212 920 3300; gramercypark hotel.com) in Manhattan is more artist's studio than hotel. Huge modern pieces in the public areas include work by Andy Warhol and Damien Hirst.
* Hotel Arts Barcelona (00 34 93 507 1300; hotel artsbarcelona.com), was built around sculpture and pictures by Xavier Corbero, Manolo Valdes, Luis Feito and others.
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