Eolo accepts invitation to hoteliers’ Olympus

Relais & Chateaux adds a new jewel to its collection

Bonnie Tucker / FST
For those who believe that a hotel should be an important part of a travel experience, this information will be of interest: the Eolo country lodge outside El Calafate (Santa Cruz) has joined the prestigious Relais & Chateaux association of small exclusive hotels and restaurants.
Both parties are winners in this deal. Eolo, built in 2004, will apply details of the brand to the services it gives its guests and its marketing abroad will receive a big boost. And R&C has added to its crown a memorable property in an absolutely unique location. Nestled on the foot of Mount Frías 27.5 km from town and 56.5 km from the Perito Moreno glacier, the hotel shares a 4,000-hectare ranch with just two other neighbors: in the far distance you can make out the headquarters of a trail riding outfit, and the home of the ranch owner (one of the partners in the hotel). From the window of your room you might find yourself looking at a grazing sheep or cow, a fox, or an armadillo.
Eolo offers views of three different Patagonian landscapes from its vantage point above the La Anita Valley. To the left lie the plains and low hills in which the turquoise water of Lake Argentino is set like a jewel. In front is the flat-topped Baguales range typical of the steppe, which encloses a pass to Chile. To the right is the snow-capped wall of the Andes, beyond which the tips of the Towers of Chile’s Torres del Paine National Park are visible. No other hotel in Patagonia – not even the splendid Explora in said Chilean park – can transmit such a feeling of peace and spaciousness. Guests are tempted to spend the day just lounging on the deck to watch the steppe change its look as the day progresses. The silence is absolute. No photo, whatever its quality, can completely convey the feeling of the place.
The 17 suites reflect the spaciousness of the scenery with a décor set by the hues and textures of the surrounding land and the colors of the seasons. The smallest is 38 m2, the largest 60 m2. They and the shared areas (including a heated indoor swimming pool that guests tend to use only if the weather turns inclement) surround a grassy inner compound, protecting it from the wind. The simple architectural style of Eolo suggests a Patagonian ranch house like the ones that were brought over from Europe in a kit at the beginning of the last century. It’s bigger and better, but the comfortable ranch house feeling has been kept intact. The dining room menus are gourmet versions of Patagonian home cooking.
So Eolo fits perfectly into R&C’s quality standards, based on the “five Cs” of courtesy, charm, character, calm and cuisine. Its inclusion in the R&C club is the result of field work done during the unannounced visit of one of the organization’s roaming inspectors. Lodge Manager Rodrigo Braun told travel writers in Buenos Aires that after a two-day stay as a guest, the inspector introduced himself as such and asked: “Would you like to join Relais & Chateaux?” Eolo’s membership will be formally announced at R&C’s international congress in Biarritz in November, France, he said.
Relaix & Chateaux was founded in France in 1964 and its Board of Directors is at present presided by a Spanish hotelier. The association has 480 members in 56 countries on five continents.
Membership has a price, but offers recompenses as well. Braun said that since joining, reservations from Europe and the United States have increased by 20%. This is no mean feat in a country whose hotel industry has been hard hit by the international economic crunch of the past year.
Eolo’s 2009-2010 season runs from September 21 to April 20, with discounts until October 20.
See more at http://www.eolo.com.ar/