Travel to Buenos Aires & El Calafate, Argentina
Lisa from our Fox Premier Meetings and Incentives Division had the opportunity to travel to Buenos Aires, Argentina. It was winter in Argentina; however, temperatures were in the mid to upper 50’s most of the week.
Alvear Palace Hotel
The Alvear palace Hotel is a 5 star luxury hotel that combined European elegance with cutting edge technology. The hotel is located in the most elegant area in Buenos Aires, surrounded by some of the best restaurants, boutiques and cultural activities. The hotel has 197 rooms (standard rooms to a variety of suites). We were given Junior Suites that included butler service. Every guest will have fresh arrangements of roses and a fruit basket in their room and this will be refreshed throughout your stay.
The hotel also has 11 meeting rooms that can accommodate groups from 10 to 800 people. The main restaurant in the hotel offers a wonderful white-glove breakfast and lunch buffet as well as afternoon tea. La Bourgogne offer French and international cuisine for lunch and dinner, the lobby bar offers cocktails and sandwiches and light snacks with live music. There is also a cigar bar and 24 hour room service. Other amenities of the hotel include a spa and fitness center and a business center.
After lunch we enjoyed a sightseeing experience of Buenos Aires. Highlights included:
- Various neighborhoods of Buenos Aires – learned about the culture and soccer teams that each neighborhood supports (Argentine people are very passionate about soccer).
- Casa Rosada or “Pink House”. This is considered the Argentinian equivalent of the White House, but not really. The President of Argentina does not live here. In fact, she’s hardly ever there.
- Metropolitan Cathedral of Buenos Aires, where the now Pope Francis used to give mass.
- Recoleta Cemetery – This is one of the main attractions of Buenos Aires. Its list of occupants reads like a Who’s Who of Argentine history and society. The elite, aspiring middle class, friends, enemies and those who contributed to the general welfare of Argentina all share space in a miniature city of mausoleums and monuments (including Evita).
Argentina is well known for Tango dancing. We were taken to Tango Porteno, one of many Tango shows in Buenos Aires. We were given Tango lessons and then enjoyed a wonderful dinner and show.
Tuesday, August 13
After breakfast at the hotel we made our way to Tigre (approx. 45 minutes from central Buenos Aires) where we enjoyed the Tigre Delta experience. Tigre gets its name from virtuous jaguar farmers that had lived in the area many years ago. One thing that gets the attention of most people is the sight and smell of the murky brown water. The Tigre Delta isn’t polluted. It is sediments that give the water its unique smell and color. In fact, locals use it for bathing, doing laundry, cleaning furniture and watering plants – everything but drinking (thank goodness). The water is also safe for swimming. The people of the Tigre Delta live completely different from the people of Buenos Aires. Think of the river as a city road. Not only are there parking lots for boats, but also boats that act as hospitals, supermarkets, police stations, banks, taxis and garbage “trucks.” Moreover, the look and design of the houses are completely based on the water, which changes tide depending the course of the wind. If you’d like to do something educational, there are some worthwhile museums, including:
- Tigre Art Museum- Founded in 1910, this palace-like building was the former home of the Tigre Club. Today it houses an expansive collection of Argentine art.
- National Naval Museum- Formerly the National Navy Workshops, this national monument features paintings, sculptures, naval furniture, flags, ship and airplane models and more.
- Museum of the Reconquista- This museum focuses on the British Invasions of 1806 and the history of Tigre. There’s also an impressive library with specialized collections.
While in Tigre Delta, we visited El Descanso Island (privately owned). El Descanso Island is an area with gardens designed by recognized Argentine landscapers and sculptors. Activities include guided walks, photographic safaris, lunch or dinner functions, wine tasting or just enjoying nature. This is a beautiful facility that is used for corporate and special events.
Afternoon hotel site inspections included:
This hotel is located in the heart of cosmopolitan Buenos Aires. This hotel has a convention center and offers the largest event facilities in the city. The hotel has 742 sleeping rooms. There are 15 meeting rooms ranging in size from 800 to 14,100 sq. feet which can accommodate up to 1,800 people. There are also additional meeting rooms available next door at their sister property, Park Tower (which has an additional 181 guest rooms and suites). This hotel also offers numerous restaurants and bars, several swimming pools, fitness center, tennis courts and business center.
Four Seasons Hotel
Located in the exclusive La Recoleta district, the Four Seasons Hotel is a very ultra-modern property located close to business and cultural attractions. The hotel offers 116 guest rooms and 49 luxury suites, including seven one-of-a-kind suites in the adjacent belle époque-style mansion. Madonna stays in the mansion at the Four Seasons when she visits Buenos Aires. The hotel offers 2 restaurants (one well-known for steak) as well as 24 hour in-room dining. The hotel also features an outdoor pool, spa, fitness center and business center. Between the hotel and La Mansion, there is almost 12,000 sq. feet of meeting space that can accommodate conferences up to 250 people or banquets up to 240 people.
The Emperador Hotel is located in the elegant neighborhood of Recoleta with easy access to restaurants, shopping malls, and art galleries as well as Puerto Madero Harbor. The hotel has 265 guest rooms and suites and features one restaurant with seating in a beautiful solarium.
El Zanjon de Granados
Some historians believe El Zanjon is the site of the first settlement of Buenos Aires in 1536. El Zanjon is a unique urban archeology project and a glimpse into the past. The residence, originally a mansion, had turned into a tenement house by the early 20th century. By 1985 it had been abandoned and walled off, with its ground floor 4 meters deep in debris. Restoration is now complete and guided tours displaying artifacts and images of Buenos Aires over the centuries are available. This is an excellent venue for private receptions and banquets.
Thursday, August 15
By 4:30 am we were out of the hotel heading to the airport in Buenos Aires. We boarded an Aerolinas Argentina flight to El Calafate (3 hours) which is located in Patagonia.
Posada Los Alamos
This was our accommodations for the night. This is a small lodge type property with 144 rooms, including 4 junior suites. It reminds me of a country ski lodge. The hotel is located only a few blocks from the main street in El Calafante where there are plenty of restaurants and shopping. There is one restaurant that offers breakfast, lunch and dinner (located in the building across the street). There are two bars – one located in the main building with the sleeping rooms and the other across the street which has a lounge area with a pool table and beautiful views of the Andres Mountain range. They also offer one large meeting room (can be divided in two) which accommodates up to 500 people as well as four smaller meeting rooms.
This property is located on a hillside with beautiful views of Lake Argentino approximately 2.5 miles from the city center of El Calafate. Windward Restaurant features international and regional cuisine, including traditional dishes from Patagonia. The hotel does offer transportation to the city center as well as a laundry room, room service and a business center. There are several small meeting rooms within the hotel; however, several years ago they built a separate state-of-the-art multi-purpose facility which can accommodate 600 people. This facility can also be subdivided into other spaces.
This hotel is also located approximately 2.5 miles from El Calafante on Lake Argentino. The hotel has 71 rooms, all with king size beds. Other amenities include one restaurant, an indoor/outdoor pool, fitness center and several spa treatment rooms. They also have three meeting rooms, the largest of which can accommodate 200 people.
Glaciarium Ice Museum and Ice Bar
Glaciarium is a modern interpretation glaciological centre, and one of the few Glacier Museums in the world. The understanding of glaciers and environmental awareness are the main subjects. The architecture is quite unique and the façade of the building is reminiscent of the face of a glacier. Exhibits include models, dioramas, photographs, screens, interactive representations, a 3D documentary, and other modern resources. The museum is open from 9 am to 8 pm during the tourist season and from 11 am to 8 pm during winter (May to August).
Located in the basement of the museum is the GlacioBar Branca (or Ice Bar). The glasses, bar, tables, and chairs are made entirely of glacier ice. The average temperature in the ice bar is -10 degrees celsius (14 F). Prior to admission, visitors are given a coat and gloves. This is a must stop!
In the evening we did a site visit to Los Sauces Casa Patagonica which was followed by dinner.
Los Sauces Casa Patagonica
This property opened in 2007 to become the luxury hotel in El Calafate. This is not your typical accommodations. Its original design distributes its 42 suites in 6 houses built on the same concept – a central living with fireplace with tea service, coffee and petit fours. This concept rescues the spirit of “Patagonian Country House” of the rooms of the century making guests feel right at home. All rooms are different in décor and include paintings by Argentine artists and carefully selected furnishings. They are all equipped with the latest technology including Wi-Fi, 42” LCD TV’s and whirlpool tubs. This property also has a swimming pool, full gym and spa.
Friday, August 16
After breakfast we were transported via motorcoach to Los Glaciares National Park. At the national park we would take a short boat ride to the glacier, go trekking on the glacier and go on a balcony walk.
Perito Moreno Glacier
This glacier is located in the southwest Santa Cruz province of Argentina. It is one of the most important tourist attractions in Patagonia. The 97 sq. mile ice formation is 19 miles in length and is one of 48 glaciers fed by the Southern Patagonian Ice Field located in the Andes system shared with Chile. This ice field is the world’s third largest reserve of fresh water. The Perito Moreno Glacier is one of only three Patagonian glaciers that is growing. Trekking on the glacier is not easy, but it was the most amazing thing I have ever had the opportunity to do!
After the glacier trekking adventure we returned to El Calafate and had some time for shopping. We then checked out of the hotel and went to the airport for our return flight back to Buenos Aires.
We returned back to Buenos Aires just before midnight and checked in to the Alvear Art Hotel.
Saturday, August 17
After breakfast we did a site inspection of the hotel.
Alvear Art Hotel
This 5 star hotel is located in a traditional area of Buenos Aires just steps away from famous Florida Street with countless stores. It has 139 rooms, including 2 suites and is very modern (complete opposite from the Alvear Palace Hotel). They have several state-of-the-art meeting rooms that can accommodate groups up to 200 people and a full service business center. Located on the top floor of the hotel are an indoor heated swimming pool, spa and fully equipped gym.
We checked out of the Alvear Art Hotel and made our way two hours outside Buenos Aires to visit an Argentinean Ranch – Rosario de Areco. The owners of the ranch (husband, wife and their seven children) belong to a very old family of conquerors, patriots and pioneers. The family still lives on the ranch where they breed and train Polo ponies (three of their sons are professional polo players). The main house was built in 1892 in a typical colonial style. In the last seven years, the family has opened the ranch to guests for group functions. While at the ranch we viewed the facilities, enjoyed a polo demonstration and had an amazing lunch.
Lisa had an exhausting trip, but one she will never forget!