Written by hajecj on 25 Oct, 2004
This is a bit of a departure for the Four Seasons, since it was originally built as an independent resort, and the Four Seasons only recently took it over. The resort design is Polynesian, which seems strange in the woods of South America, but…Read More
This is a bit of a departure for the Four Seasons, since it was originally built as an independent resort, and the Four Seasons only recently took it over. The resort design is Polynesian, which seems strange in the woods of South America, but it’s a beautiful spot for relaxing and slowing down. Most of the people I met here were either taking a weekend off after business trips in Buenos Aires or finishing up their heavy duty trips to Patagonia with a few days at the spa to heal their calluses. But with only 44 rooms and quite a bit of space, it never really seemed crowded, even at the weekend.
I made a trip here as an add-on to my trip to Buenos Aires, and if I had to do it over again, I would probably make Buenos Aires an add-on to Uruguay. This part of Uruguay is just beginning to be discovered, I think, and the tourism is much more low-key than in Montevido or on the coast.
The Four Seasons Resort is set quietly in the deep woods, off a small country highway leading up from Montevido, and directly on the banks of the Rio de la Plata. To get here, one must either arrange transportation over land, a bit complicated, or take a short flight in a 6-seat, twin-engine prop plane across the river, which is roughly $200 round-trip. The flight amusingly lands at "Carmelo Intl Airport", which is a grass runway and a small one-room shack that houses customs and a soda machine.
The hotel itself could be a relaxing destination on its own, if you are inclined to take advantage of the spa, the golf course, and the river activities at the hotel. The spa is set beautifully in the woods, and just walking into it was relaxing. A variety of treatments are available. I am not a spa person, so I can’t elaborate much there. The golf course, however, I spent quite a bit of time on. The course is about 3/4 of a mile from the hotel, and you can ask the front desk to send a cart down to pick you up if you don’t feel like a walk in the woods to get up there.
I am not sure how many other people would haul clubs from NYC to Uruguay, but I did, and it was great. I was at Carmelo for five days, and I played all but one day. The course is challenging and long, with a good deal of water and marsh area. I more or less had the course to myself, and the hotel’s director of golf and the pro both offered to play with me. A few mornings, I came out and played early, when the southern winds were up, and returned in the evening to shoot nine on what, when the winds died, was an entirely different course. A few golf adventurers I met here said this was the best course in South America. I will take their word for it--it was very nice.
The hotel has a wonderful and enormous outdoor pool that is almost prettier to look at than to swim in. There is also a long, open stretch of beachfront along the river, but I was not intrigued, as the famously silty brown water of the Plate Delta was not enticing in the slightest. The hotel is happy to arrange horseback rides along the beach or cater dinner in the beautiful pavilion they have along the water, which makes the sunset over the jungles and the river really something special.
Meals at the hotel were quite good, and I found it interesting to discuss the relative merits of Argentinean and Uruguayan beef with the somewhat non-partisan chef. Definitely try the sandwich (I forget the name), which is a nice-sized slice of beef seared in a butter sauce, served hamburger-style on a roll with a fried egg and cheese on it.