Argentina: Town and Country

To experience the essence of Argentina, travelers need only to combine the sights and sounds of Buenos Aires—known as "the Paris of South America"—with a trip to Patagonia, the southern region of the country thats scenery runs the gamut from steppe-like plains to glaciers and the beech- and conifer-blanketed Andes Mountains.

 Llao Llao Resort & Spa in Patagonia is set at the foot of the Andes

The town of Bariloche is home to Llao Llao Resort & Spa, a member of The Leading Hotels of the World. The hotel is an ideal reprieve for nature lovers. Set at the foot of the AndesMountains overlooking lakes Moreno and Nahuel Huapi, the resort offers expansive views of snow-capped peaks and miles of Cyprus trees.

Guests will have no shortage of activities to keep them busy. Whether it's playing golf on the property's 18-hole course, hiking among the dozens of trails, hitting the nearby slopes for skiing or relaxing in the indoor and outdoor pools, the resort prides itself on its adventure components. Activity sheets listing hikes, yoga classes and other activities are distributed to guests daily.

There are eight different categories of rooms, each with its own character and style. Request the SuperiorLake suites; they have the best mountain and lake views, because they are located in the corners of the buildings. Request a room with a balcony. The rooms on the fourth and fifth floors offer expansive views of the surrounding countryside.

Agents can contact Gilda Fuentes (gfuentes@llaollao.com.ar) or Veronica Peralta (vperalta@llaollao.com.ar); both work hard to meet all requests they receive. Fuentes can set up activities such as a private horseback riding trip. Also, Head Concierge Daniel Cosavella (dcosavella@llaollao.com.ar) can arrange for a number of customized services, including private hiking tours, heli-skiing in the El Boson area, private boat tours and romantic dinners at the lake. General Manager Carlos Burgoo has hosted guests such as Robert Duvall and the Clintons.

Alvear Palace Hotel (Junior Suite shown) offers butler service and enjoys a central location

A highlight during our trip to Bariloche was the half-day excursion to Roca Negra. Driving up the mountain in four-wheel-drive jeeps is quite an experience. The road is very bumpy, so travelers will feel a bit jostled, but the ride is worth it for the views from the top. The little café perched on top of the mountain offers stunning views of Bariloche, the surrounding lakes and miles upon miles of the Andes. After an amazing lunch of cheese fondue and an impressive spread of local meats, guests don snowshoes for a walk in the wilderness. This excursion can be arranged by guest services at Llao Llao.

For a true taste of local Patagonian fare, have travelers go to Parrilla de Julian (

590 San Martín Avenue
; 54-2944-433-252) in Bariloche. The array of fresh fish—trout is the restaurant's specialty—and beef served with local spices will prove that one doesn't need to be in a big city to enjoy world-class cuisine.

For a more elegant experience, visit Llao Llao's signature restaurant, Los Cesares. Fare ranges from freshly caught salmon and succulent duck to a variety of savory beef filets. Special wine and food tastings can also be arranged. The more casual Asador Criollo restaurant, also on property, features typical Argentine asado (barbecued meat).

In Buenos Aires, the feel is cosmopolitan: The streets are alive with tango, the country's fast-paced signature dance. High-fashion stores, such as Louis Vuitton, dot the main boulevards, and restaurants serving world-famous Argentinean beef abound.

Buenos Aires is home to the Alvear Palace Hotel, one of the most luxurious hotels in the city and also a member of The Leading Hotels of the World. It is in the Recoleta area, the most exclusive neighborhood in Buenos Aires, where wide avenues, beautiful parks, traditional cafés and commodious mansions reside.

All rooms have private butler service, and the two-to-one, staff-to-room ratio exemplifies the premium placed on service. Opt for one of the Presidential suites, which offer a separate sitting room, dining room and Jacuzzi bath. The premier deluxe suites are also an excellent option—they have flat-screen TVs above the Jacuzzi bathtubs. The best rooms are those on the eighth and ninth floors, which boast vistas of the River Plate, Recoleta parks and

Alvear Avenue
(request rooms 904-924).

Head Concierge Alejandro Noya (anoya@alvear.com.ar) can arrange for private Mercedes-Benz transfers, give shopping recommendations in the areas of arts, antiques and haute couture and arrange private tango lessons with some of the city's top dancers.

The hotel is also a popular site for weddings, which are hosted in any of its 12 ballrooms. Agents may contact Wedding Coordinator Sandra Ofner (sofner@alvear.com.ar). General Manager Olga Petroni plans to launch a spa in the first half of 2007. Rooms are bookable over the GDS and via The Leading Hotels of the World's web site.

One of the highlights of Alvear is the food. L'Orangerie is consistently voted one of the best breakfast buffets in Buenos Aires—the selection of fresh fruits, meats, cheeses, pastries and local dishes is unsurpassed.

La Bourgogne, also in the hotel, is the only Relais Gourmand in Latin America. The legendary wine cellar is perfect for wine tastings, live dinner shows and private functions.

After spending a few days in Buenos Aires, travelers should head south to Patagonia, the vast wilderness, which is primarily national-park land.

Getting There, Getting Around

Book your clients in business class on LAN; the seats are spacious and the service is exceptional. LAN flies into both Buenos Aires and Bariloche. In Buenos Aires, contact Barcelo Company to arrange private tours around the city. Request guide Yanina Barri; her English is excellent and she has an in-depth knowledge of Argentinean history. Suggest the RecoletaCemetery walking tour. Known throughout the world for its rich architecture and the famous personalities buried here, it is an absolutely stunning site and a great way to get an understanding of Buenos Aires' culture and history. Also, be sure to stop at Café Tortoni, one of the most famous cafés in Buenos Aires for its beautiful architecture and paintings.