Amor en Argentina

Continued (page 2 of 2)

In stark contrast to the pace of Buenos Aires is tranquil Mendoza province, a one-hour flight away on Chile's excellent airline, LAN. First stop is Mendoza itself, a city in the shadow of the Andes designed around a series of leafy, serene public squares and streets shaded by sycamore trees. Facing the main square, Plaza de la Independencia, is the Park Hyatt Mendoza, behind whose magnificent 19th-century façade is a modern, stylishly minimalist hotel that ticks all the right boxes for fussy out-of-towners: huge, well-appointed suites; an excellent restaurant with a gleaming open kitchen; and a full-service spa offering such indispensable treatments as the decadent, six-hour-long package created specially for brides.

Wine tasting is, naturally, the activity of choice in this region, and over the next few days, I keep bumping into couples on vineyard-crawls, their faces suffused with the happy glow that comes from being in love… and drinking Malbec at lunch. There is every kind of winery to sample from here, from artisanal (like Carmelo Patti, a two-man operation run by the label's namesake) to industrial-scale (the impressive Vistalba de Carlos Pulenta).

The drive to my last destination, Cavas Wine Lodge, traverses olive groves, rows of vines and trees burnished with autumn color. The arrival at the hotel is arresting: The whitewashed, hacienda-style main house has as its singular backdrop the snow-capped Andes mountain range. My suite, or vignette, is one of 14 adobe dwellings set among the vines and features a private plunge pool, rustically cozy interior and a rooftop with daybed and panoramic views of the landscape. The hotel can even arrange for guests to “sleep under the stars” on their rooftop in summer.

On my last day, I do what any good oenophile would by immersing myself in grape culture… literally. The spa at Cavas has embraced vinotherapy, and its menu includes Malbec scrubs and wine-yeast wraps. As I lie in a claw-foot tub of water stained deep burgundy, I'm filled with a longing to come back and explore Argentina further. Like the antioxidant-rich red-wine extracts I'm soaking in, this fascinating and passion-filled country really gets under the skin.

Faena Hotel + Universe, rooms from $550, faenahotelanduniverse.com. Alvear Palace, rooms from $800, alvearpalace.com. Park Hyatt Mendoza, rooms from $270, Mendoza.part.hyatt.com. Cavas Wine Lodge, rooms from $400, cavaswinelodge.com.

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