The lovely ‘new’ Four Seasons Hotel Buenos Aires, the luxury hotel that has just had a US $40 million facelift, has actually had everything botoxed except its face. Outside, it looks, in the main, just the same.
But the owner has themed this hotel for Argentina’s specials, namely polo and tango, lots of movement. He has brought in art and colour. He has worked with designers from all over the world, especially here.
In front of the hotel, now, five metal horses seem to frolic in and out of fountains. These lifesize works are by a Buenos Aires sculptor, Vivienne Duchini, and they are fortunately cordoned off, to protect them from too many nosy people (but the gal climbed over the fence).
A local couturier, Nathalie Corcias, has designed the employee fashion. Look what the pool attendants wear, flat butcher’s boy caps, floppy overshirts, English Patient-type shorts, all in the same stone colour as the main tower behind, and the marble surround to the pool.
They, the owner and the hotel GM, exuberant Mexican fireball Rebeca Selley, have thought of everything here. Stylish poolside uniforms match the pool towels and covers for the Dedon-type loungers around the pool. A turquoise-edged table, that matches the water, holds sun lotions, daily newspapers, magazines and fruits.
Despite the fact that year-round four out of every five guests are on business, this is also a place for leisure, luxury-level.
Lie by the pool and look up at the blue sky that is so typical of Buenos Aires that it is, with white, the colour of the Argentinian flag.
You also look up at the original Mansion, built in 1920 as a wedding gift, from bridegroom Felix de Alzaga Unzue to his bride Elena Peña. In Louis XIII style, this two-floor beauty must have made a great statement at the time – it was built a full 14 years before the Duhau family put up their Palacio that is now part of Buenos Aires’ Park Hyatt, only a couple of blocks away. Here, the Mansion has some of the 165-room hotel’s best suites, and it is also used for functions.
You know you are in Argentina, here. Bedrooms have leather headboards, and studded-leather panels on the sliding doors leading to bathrooms. You may well be greeted with a welcome mate set.
Mate, what is that, mate? Mate is basically a tea drunk out of a hollow gourd. Here you have a gourd, decorated in alpaca silver. You also have a long alpaca drinking straw, one end of which is a fine sieve.
The set comes with an assortment of dried green yerba mate leaves. Put leaves in the gourd, pour on boiling water, either from the vacuum flask provided or from the bedroom’s Nespresso machine, and let steep. Drink your tea through the straw – the sieve stops any bits of leaf from being sucked up. Clever.
At breakfast, the open kitchen at Elena restaurant becomes a serving area for hot dishes, which include, especially for local people, not only an egg dish of the day but a pie of the day and a Panini of the day.
This is strong-energy food, just right for those going out into the fields, or the vineyards, or for several chukkas of polo. The 14-person long table that is used for dining, in Elena, at lunch and dinner is now a buffet table groaning in masses of fruits, including lots of berries. The Berkel slicer, a feature at other meals, is now very much in use, at breakfast.
Behind the slicer are glass-front display cases, temperature-controlled. Some display entire rib roasts and other beefs, dated so you can see how they are ageing. Other display cases hold smoothies, and yoghurt jars, help yourself to what you will.
A chef has been working the slicer and she already has trays of cold cuts ready. Help yourself, at this luxury hotel at breakfast time.