Travel Diary: Villa La Angostura and Las Balsas

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Villa de Angostura is known for its rose gardens, and was celebrating their annual Garden Festival the weekend we arrived, complete with a parade and musical performances. Smaller than Bariloche town, Villa de Angostura felt more romantic and intimate.

We arrived at Las Balsas in the late afternoon just in time for tea, which we enjoyed on the back porch overlooking their private beach. The hotel was originally a family home, and you can still find many of family’s personal effects around the property, like the impressive collection of fly-fishing flies in the library, and the beautiful hand-painted tile murals in the bar off the living room. The family still returns to the home for a week around New Years, and I was tickled to learn we were staying in one of the “kids rooms”. (Lucky kids!)

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Upon the recommendation of a friend from San Francisco, we decided to stay in the Bariloche area of Argentina’s Patagonia for a week to really soak in the natural splendor. So, for the second half of our stay we drove around the lake to experience Villa La Angostura, and checked into the beautiful Las Balsas Hotel, a member of Relais & Châteaux.

The tone on this side of the lake was very laid back and relaxing. This was in part due to the unusually large and well appointed pool and spa on the property situated with views of the lake. We’d wander downstairs for breakfast, then end up in a lounge chair for half of the day, rotating between the pool, jacuzzi, lake and sauna. I kept thinking this would be the perfect place to begin a honeymoon in South America, when you just want to unwind after a flurry of wedding events! If you wanted to be more active there are kayaks on the beach and the concierge can arrange for a private boat to take you sailing to visit Los Arrayanes National Park, known for it’s dense forest of orange-barked arrayanes trees. (The only place you can see them outside of Japan!)

Las Balsas is a member of the prestigious Relais & Châteaux fellowship of hotels and restaurants, and is an excellent example of their “Five C” motto: character, courtesy, calm, charm and cuisine. True to the Relais & Châteaux emphasis on cuisine, the hotel’s restaurant was amazing. After a few delicious breakfasts (the french toast!) and lunches (I could live on their homemade bread) we decided to mix things up at dinner one night and enjoy our meal by the fire pit down by the beach. It was the best idea! They have a little bench cut into the hillside and brought out a low table for our meal as we watched the sun set over the lake. Once night fell we leaned back to admire a beautiful canopy of sparkling stars.

Thank you to JP and friends at Las Balsas for such a relaxing and magical escape in Patagonia!

xx, SF

P.S. Las Balsas’s concierge, Ignacio, is a member of “Les Clefs d’Or”, an exclusive membership of the most excellent concierges around the world, and was extraordinarily helpful as we figured out how to cross the border into Chile by land on our way to Santiago! Thank you Ignacio!

All photos by David and Stacie Flinner for stacieflinner.com.

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