Room Service: The Vines Resort, Argentina
Where wine meets design in Mendoza
In the shadow of the high Andes, west of Buenos Aires is Mendoza. The region is the location for the Uco Valley's first luxury resort – and the latest instalment in The Vines of Mendoza's story. It started out a decade ago as the pipedream of a former American political campaigner and his Argentine oenologist business partner. The company sold private vineyards to wannabe winemakers and its own terroir materialised into something beyond either of their expectations.
The Vines Resort and Spa opened in February, with 22 standalone villas set among the vines that are perfectly at home in the stony topography of the Andean foothills nearby. Making use of local resources, such as rocks from the 500-hectare property, the look is rustic-chic. It blends in with nature but still provides state-of-the-art comforts, which can be hard to locate in rural parts of Mendoza.
The crowning glory of the resort is having Francis Mallmann on board. The Argentine celebrity chef owns a string of restaurants around the country and in Uruguay and brings his flame-grilling experience to Mendoza at Siete Fuegos. His team uses seven open-fire techniques on locally sourced ingredients, focusing on beef but also cooking up other regional dishes, such as salt-crusted chicken with rosemary, garlic and grilled vegetables.
While "spa" forms part of the resort's title, that won't be completed until later in the year. In the meantime, staff can organise for a masseur to visit. However, kicking back in a cabaña next to the infinity pool – which offers a captivating reflection from the mountains – is an equally relaxing way to while away an afternoon.
There are three categories of room at The Vines Location
In the heart of the Uco Valley – the current region to name drop in Argentine wine-making – the resort sits between the Andean foothills and the small town of Tunuyán.
Around 90 minutes from Mendoza airport and 15 minutes from the nearest bus station, this is remote wineland. So it's essential to have a vehicle at your disposal if you want to visit one of around 20 bodegas in nearby San Carlos, La Consulta, Tupungato or further afield (there are more than 1,500 wineries in the province).
Those happy to stay on site can take part in tastings or wine-making at the winery; help out with defoliation in spring or get stuck into harvesting malbec grapes in March. And keen runners happy to take on the 1,300m altitude can follow the 5km and 10km tracks sign-posted through the vines.
Mendoza is rich in natural resources and your gaucho – in this case, a personal concierge – can organise a horse trek up into the foothills to watch the sun rise, or an expedition fly-fishing at Río San Pablo in Tupungato.
Being in Uco is a fabulous opportunity to get close to nature, in or outside the vineyard, and always within the shadow of the Andes.
There are three categories of room at The Vines: spacious and well-thought-out one-bed, one-bed deluxe and two-bed villas. The most sophisticated option's expansive indoor and outdoor spaces might include a rooftop terrace for sunsets and star gazing. Some villas overlook the man-made lake that helps irrigate the thirsty grapes; all have patios and an ample kitchen.
Open the living room's floor-to-ceiling patio doors to reveal a mountain- and vine-facing deck whose panorama takes on warm orange and red hues in the autumn, is then snowy white come mid-winter and bursting with green health by spring.
Deluxe rooms have an outdoor bath tub with a curtain for privacy; all bathrooms include walk-in, rainfall showers and products from bespoke, Buenos Aires-based perfume-maker Fuegia 1833.
Wi-Fi is freely available across the resort, from the winery to the lobby, bar and restaurant.
The interior decor makes full use of natural cream, stone and wood hues, allowing the great outdoors to take the leading role. The propsect of sinking into a comfy leather sofa then curling up under a handmade woollen throw – accompanied by a glass of malbec – makes leaving the villas quite difficult.
The Vines Resort, Ruta Provincial 94 km, 11, Tunuyán, Uco Valley, Mendoza, Argentina (00 54 261 461 3900; vinesresortandspa.com).
One-bed villas start at US$617 (£411), B&B.
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