For those of us suffering the wintertime blues in North America and Europe, local travel offers little reprieve from the cold and gloom. The savvy globe trotter heads across the Equator where summer skies and plentiful sunshine await. With its rich culture and history, Argentina is an ideal destination, so B Beyond ventured south this past December to the capital city of Buenos Aires. In addition to an abundance of live theaters, the city is dotted with numerous museums, landscaped parks and squares, and a variety of architectural gems. Along with the winter sun, we were eager to soak in all that the ‘Paris of South America’ had on offer.
119th Argentine Open Championship
Every December the beginning of the Argentine summer is greeted with the greatest polo tournament of the year. Throngs of polo fans and foreigners converge on the sacred ground of Palermo, the Campo Argentino del Polo, located just ten minutes away from downtown Buenos Aires. This venue has hosted the Argentine Open Championship since 1928, a fitting location for the Sport of Kings as the campo is recognized worldwide as the ‘Cathedral of Polo’.
The social gathering that occurs during this display of top-class polo is all part of the charm. The grounds are prepared in a manner fit for a Hollywood movie premiere, complete with numerous kiosks occupied by familiar luxury brands showcasing their products. A myriad of companies are represented here, including HSBC, Stella Artois, Nespresso, Movistar, La Martina, and Royal Salute Whiskey. The patrons attending the final match on Sunday mingle with local celebrities and dignitaries and everyone flaunts their effortless summer elegance.
Over the course of one month eight of the best teams assembled in the world of polo, all spanning the range of 30-40 goals combined, battling it out for the title of Champion of the most important open final in the world. On Championship Sunday the pitch was in ideal condition despite the fact that over 5 inches of rain had fallen across the city just two days prior. With a matchup of 40-goal La Dolfina versus 38-goal La Ellerstina, the scene was set up for the conclusion of the Polo Triple Crown for 2012. Given the fact that there are fewer than 15 active players in the world with a perfect 10-goal Handicap, to attend a match with 6 of those on the same pitch is to witness greatness personified.
After a riveting 8 chukkas of play, the underdog team of Ellerstina toppled superstar Adolfo Cambiaso and his La Dolfina riders by a final score 12-10. The most valuable player of the event and final was the young and dashing Facundo Pieres who replaced Adolfo Cambiaso as the youngest 10-goal player when he was awarded that distinction just seven years ago.
After the various awards and trophies were handed out at the conclusion of the match the crowd began to gravitate towards the famed after-polo events surrounding the grandstands. With the thrill of a classic behind them the patrons flocked to the Chandon stand where champagne flowed freely and subtle electric beats permeated until sunset.
Ellerstina: Facundo Pieres 10, Gonzalo Pieres 10, Mariano Aguerre 9 and Nicolas Pieres 9. Total: 38.
La Dolfina: Adolfo Cambiaso 10, Pablo Mac Donough 10 and Juan M. Nero 10, David Sterling 10. Total: 40.
If Buenos Aires is considered the “Paris of the South”, then there is but one hotel which exemplifies the joie- de vivre spirit.
Perfectly situated within the Recoleta district’s nostalgic Belle Époque architecture, the Algodon Mansion exudes class through every pore of its French classical façade. Boasting just 10 suites across 4 floors, this boutique hotel assigns 24-hour butlers to each room, which enhances the elegance and feeling of privacy one can expect during their stay in this Argentine masterpiece.
Each room hints at its own storied history with imported dark woods and Italian marble throughout, yet a recent renovation brought with it increased comfort and technology upgrades. The steam-showers feature multi-jet fixtures, and the comfortable soaking tubs emit a warm glow of colorful lights.
In the Ambassador Suite, the sumptuous bed is surrounded by cream-colored suede walls and silk curtains, while ample light filters across the room courtesy of the light well waterfall that travels down five stories in the adjacent lobby.
The crown jewel of the Algodon Mansion is the spacious Royal Suite. Clocking in at a generous 1,300 square feet, this opulent chamber includes a dining room, living room, and a wet bar that serves as a shrine to wine.
When you are able to pull yourself away from the comfortable confines of your room, make your way to the lobby bar, which features a Veuve Clicquot branded lounge. Known for serving the finest Cognacs, this is the perfect spot to whet your appetite, as the in-house restaurant Chez Nous is just across the hall. Just as the Algodon Mansion is the first Relais & Châteaux hotel in Buenos Aires, the famed Chez Nous is the second restaurant in the city to be awarded this covetable distinction.
The restaurant’s limited number of seats allow for an intimate dining experience, which is almost required as the dishes deserve your full attention. The seasonal menu reinterprets traditional Argentine dishes with a French twist, all the while using locally-sourced ingredients.
Additional ingredients are acquired from sister property, Algodon Wine Estates, in San Rafael, Mendoza. This award-winning wine resort provides the restaurant with fruit, vegetables, olive oil, and a multitude of fine wines. As you comb through the menu, seeking out the perfect meal, your server brings a trio of breads that are baked in-house, complimented by a delicious olivebutter tapenade. When in Argentina, you must try the local favorite: empanadas. The Chez Nous version includes a delicate pastry that did not interfere with the gourmet beef filling, while the accompanying chimichurri provided a fragrant focal point.
The staff is far from obtrusive, but masterful at filling your wine and water glass so that it never appears to have emptied at all. Before you know it, the entrées arrive promptly, almost out of thin air.
We dined on free-range grilled chicken with sautéed vegetables and a cut of the legendary Argentine beef, which was surrounded by crisp roasted potato wedges. The portions were quite generous, but we managed to parlay the evening into a nightcap of delicious Dulce de Leche.
The next morning, we took breakfast in the comfort of the oversized King bed, before spending a lazy afternoon relaxing in the summer sun on the rooftop teak deck. When the heat becomes too much, you can easily cool off with a quick dip in the adjacent plunge pool. This penthouse veranda oasis also has a Davidoff Cigar lounge on offer, and a cocktail bar serving refreshments. Across from this playground is the hotel spa, providing the latest treatments and technology from Europe’s finest spas. With an emphasis on organic, noninvasive, and non-aggressive products for the face and body, Le Spa is the ideal retreat for the weary traveler.
The hotel is also available for private events and parties, and has a nice collection of top companies that have taken advantage of this fact, including Chanel, Citibank, and Sotheby’s. Should you require complete privacy for your family and guests, the Algodon Mansion offers you the privilege of renting the entire mansion.
In the winter months, the savvy globe trotter heads across the equator, where summer and plentiful sunshine await.
Buenos Aires is an ideal destination, and Francis Ford Coppola’s Jardin Escondido is the idyllic retreat for those who seek not just comfort but privacy too.
It is no secret that Beyond Black is enamored with the collection of Francis Ford Coppola’s resorts and villas. Blancanaux Lodge, in particular, offers visitors the opportunity to live as Coppola does – when he is not in residence, obviously.
Located in the fashionable and vibrant neighborhood of Palermo Soho, the Jardin Escondido has just six rooms and a single studio on offer. Each room has its own name, composed after members of the Coppola family, as well as a few of Mr. Coppola’s favorite writers. The property is built around a luscious and colourful courtyard encompassed by three levels of gardens and multiple terraces, where plants of all varieties make their home. Coppola’s interior designer wife, Eleanor, was responsible for curating the space, and each room features art from their family collection.
The location of Jardin Escondido is plum perfect, within walking distance to the chic fashion boutiques, restaurants, and bars of Palermo Soho. This sought-after neighbourhood attracts an eclectic mixture of artistic locals and this is abundantly clear as you take in the scenery around the bustling Plaza Cortázar.
Upon arriving you are greeted by one of the home’s long-time staff, who will offer you a refreshing cocktail of your choice – the open bar is within view of the living room and at the ready. During your time there, you will likely run into several other guests, but if you require more discretion, you are free to secure the entire house for your family.
Argentines are a social people, so it was a treat to mingle with fellow travelers and swap our stories. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself joining a Parrilla during your stay. The staff, led by the hospitable Germán Rozo, can arrange an Asador to operate the grill while you relax in the courtyard. This traditional Argentine barbeque is an essential experience not to be missed.
As if you needed more reason to feel like you are being treated to a weekend getaway at someone’s fabulous house, you awake to the smell of freshly baked banana bread permeating throughout the home’s two stories. A complimentary breakfast can be found as you wander down the stairs to the living room, full of pastries, cereals, and eggs any which way you desire.
After a full day of sightseeing and shopping, the perfect remedy for your sore feet is to lounge by the courtyard pool while enjoying the final hours of daylight. In this hidden garden, you are treated to the sound of the songbirds that make their homes in the rainforest atmosphere overhead. As you enjoy sips of the local Malbec wine (selections made by house sommelier Nigel Tollerman), you may catch a glimpse of the staff putting the finishing touches on tomorrow’s breakfast feast. During these lazy days of Argentine summer, a light breeze kicks in and all is well with the world.