Estancia Vik – Uruguay

Estancia Vik. If you have traveled to South America, the term estancia evokes a pastoral scene consisting of rugged rolling countryside dotted with trees, grazing ponies and cows and often punctuated by a great mansion in the center of the pampas.Estancia VIK photo provided by Estancia VikEstancia Vik does not disappoint, situated on 4000 broad open acres in Jose Ignacio, Uruguay. The luxurious Estancia rims the Arroyo and the Laguna José Ignacio, which meet the Southern Atlantic just a few miles away. The Bohemian beach and fishing community of José Ignacio is fifteen miles northeast from the coastal surf town of Punta del Este and two hours northeast of the Uruguayan capital of Montevideo.Estancia Vik countrysideJosé Ignacio has become a chic international winter destination; pristine beaches, endless pampas that bring to mind the boundless horizons of African savannahs. Indigo skies spiked with a never-ending parade of colossal billowing clouds set the stage for the pure white Spanish colonial style mansion, Estancia Vik.  The owners originally designed the estancia as a personal home and realized the potential as a boutique hotel property, lucky for the travelers who discover this property.

The Spanish colonial-style building is a 50,000 square foot structure designed by Marcelo Daglio, art selected by the curator Enrique Badaró Nada and the owners Alex and Carrie Vik. The traditional estancia built of white adobe walls and topped with red tin roofs is a striking visible landmark. Linking outdoors and suites and public spaces, corridors are connected by covered walkways linking several courtyards and tranquil gardens; the sprawling patios provide areas to linger and absorb the peaceful landscape.

A grand combination of sculpture and wall mural installations, each suite an homage to a particular Uruguayan artist; it is the perfect stage for avant-garde South American artwork and original design. A delightful combination of urban chic interiors and rustic outdoor adventure – you could choose to curl up by the sparkling pool or on your suite patio mesmerized by the views, however kayaking on Lake José Ignacio or enjoying a sunset horseback ride through the pampas fields amid cattle and grazing ponies should tempt you from a hedonistic trance.

Estancia Vik Pool SunsetFancy a polo lesson? Check. Yoga class? Check. Ping pong, yes, it seems to be popular at these properties. Check. Wine tasting is offered from the underground wine vault stocked with a collection of over 5000 bottles of vino.

Estancia Vik cavaLate evening supper can be taken family style with other guests or privately amid the patios or in the brick barrel vaulted dining room. Typical South American style barbeque is prepared and served in the dedicated asado galpon (shed) awash in imaginative vibrant graffiti. In Buenos Aires, graffiti is an art form and this asado dining room is resplendent in brilliant color.

The art at the 12-suite Spanish Colonial hotel is superb. Some highlights include the Estancia’s massive living room that showcases a 12-foot tall sculpture of polished white marble by world-renowned artist Pablo Atchugarry. The acclaimed Uruguayan sculptor’s creation rises to meet the 300 square meter ceiling and frieze painted by Clever Lara another leading Uruguayan contemporary artist. This work is a “satellitescape” view of José Ignacio and Uruguay, inspired by Google Earth. Eight very large semi-precious stones in their natural state hang from the walls between sets of glass doors, which the owners discovered in the far north of Uruguay.I MUSSO SUITE  Photo provided by Estancia VikEven the pool has it’s own artistic frame of reference – a night viewing reveals that the bottom of the pool is dotted with fiber optic lights, which mirror the twinkling Southern Hemisphere constellations.

Colorist Carlos Musso painted the Estancia’s unique garden chapel in his beautifully spiritual manner. I was heavenly ensconced in a Musso painted suite; the room adorned with a regal chaise had a half wall of glass doors opening to the pampas where wild ponies grazed. LIVING ROOM  Photo provided by Estancia VikOne would be remiss in carrying on about the art work, the fabulous food, the never ending horizons; the bath tubs and showers deserve a book or two on over the top design concept. I am a certified tribe of the tub girl and I had plans to steal in under the cover of darkness to soak in each and every tub. Deep soaking tubs, one in particular, was finely crafted in the shape of a rowboat, albeit, a hand made wooden rowboat. Marble tubs, rough-hewn crystals carved in the shape of a tub. Showerheads resembled oversize teardrops that softly sprayed a bather. Only the photos or a soothing soak provide the best description.

Even with a property filled with contemporary art, Estancia Vik is a warm comfy home away from home. The white sandy beach and several other impressive Vik properties are nearby. Down to earth sensibilities are important to the owners: organic gardens provide fresh vegetable, a windmill and solar panels help power the estancia. Practical responsible necessities merged with dashing style and breathtaking scenery.

cava     Photo provided by Estancia VikEstancia Vik – a custom contemporary boutique property designed to maintain and enhance the charm of an age-old South America tradition, a magnificent estancia. Coupled with responsible land management, marvelous staff, fabulous dining and showcasing Uruguayan artists – what’s not to love?2 ENTRANCE TO LIVING ROOM  Photo provided by Estancia Vik

Estancia Vik SunsetSunset Estancia Vik

Brilliant in Buenos Aires Floreria Atlantico

Sunny Saturday wandering in the charming Retiro neighborhood of Buenos Aires, streets lined with art galleries and chic antique emporiums, one would never expect to discover a wine and flower shop with a secret underground bar. Floreria Atlantico is an exquisite gem combining all three ingredients in a rare basement location.Floreria AtlanticoActually, I’ve never before seen this innovative combination. Running late for your dinner party? Step in for the perfect gift of fine wine and a beautiful bouquet of flowers, AND pop in downstairs to the hidden cocktail lounge for a champers or distinctive cocktail while your gifts are scrumptiously packaged.

The silver buckets brimming with fragrant tuberose and lilies are intoxicating, the flower shop is a mere prelude to the tapas treats and complex cocktails downstairs in the hidden bar. Venture down the secret stairway to a little slice of cocktail heaven.

Aline Vargas, Renato Giovannoni and Julian Diaz, owner of the celebrated local restaurant 878, opened Floreria Atlantico in 2013, envisioning a speakeasy style. Replacing an unpopular bar in this gentrified neighborhood, the flower and wine shop was an afterthought, a gift to the locals of Arroyo Street.Floreria AtlanticoThe neighborhood during the 19th-century has a shipping history which spawned the   period immigrant bar theme. Discovering a building that at one time was the most important shipping company of Latin America, was an inspiration. Apparently the man who built it intended it to be the tallest tower at that time, wanting it elevated to watch his boats entering and exiting the Plata River. The river port in Buenos Aires was the main entry point of the immigrant boats arriving from the Atlantic.

The menu consists of five sections of classic cocktails enhanced by the founders’ personal signature. The sections are Spain, Italy, France, England, and Poland. There’s also a sixth section in the menu with criollo cocktails, where they mix selected products that reflect Argentina today. This approach incorporates the dining menu as well, using an old ‘parrilla’ grill over firewood to mix distinctive Spanish, English and Italian cuisine.

Cool, chic and clever!

The bar hours:
– Monday to Friday: from 7 pm to 2 am (last call 1:30)
– Thursday: 7 pm to 3 am (last call 2:30)
– Friday: 7 pm to 4 am (last call 3:30)
– Saturday: 8 pm to 4 am (last call 3:30)
– Sunday: 8pm to 1 am (last call 12:30)
– Holidays: open at 8 pm

The flower and wine shop:
– Open every day except holidays from 10am at end of bar
– open Saturdays from 11 am
– Sundays closed

Arroyo 872, Buenos Aires, Argentina

Bar photo by Floreria Atlantico