Uruguay: The Vik Retreats

It was fate. I was all scheduled to go to London in April of 2010, and a volcano erupted in Iceland, disrupting travel throughout Europe.  Since I had this time away already blocked off and arrangements made for my family, there was no way I was staying home.

My oldest brother’s family and some other dear friends from Richmond were living in Buenos Aires at the time.  I was anxious to visit them.  South America is a destination I am selling more and more so I knew this would be the perfect solution.

I didn’t want to travel this far south and visit only Buenos Aires, so I started to search for a unique, nearby Virtuoso property.  As I tell my family whenever I leave them behind, it’s part of my job to scope out new places my clients would enjoy!

Estancia Vik looked incredibly promising.  A 12-room property on a 4,400-acre cattle ranch, it looked gorgeous and elegant and, even better, the owners were in the process of developing a beachfront property just seven miles away.  I contacted the Estancia immediately, only to learn they were full over my time frame.  Incredibly, though, the adorable general manager soon emailed to say he had a cancellation, and a room large enough for me to bring along my sister-in-law and friend from Richmond.

It was the beginning of what has felt like a secret love affair, with a place like no other I have ever visited.  My friends and I enjoyed a marvelous long April weekend at the Estancia, which included a tour of the construction site that was soon to be Playa Vik, the Estancia’s sister property on the Atlantic.  The minute the beach property was finished, I was back.

For the second trip, in January 2011, I enlisted three old friends for five days of sunshine, wonderful meals, riding, beach and pool time.  We had a ball.  Playa Vik had just opened.  Indeed, when we arrived from the Montevideo airport the staff asked if we minded having lunch before checking in; we happily took a table overlooking the beach and enjoyed a fantastic meal, during which we could have sworn we heard hammering and hand-drills from the direction of our suite of rooms.

If so, they perfected them while we lunched.  We stayed in the “Sculpture” rooms – three gorgeous, art-filled rooms with south-facing walls of windows that open straight onto the sea, and one tiny room that faces the other way (I took the penalty box, but even it was chic and comfortable).  We filled our days with long beach walks; shopping in the charming beach town of Jose Ignacio; gallery browsing in nearby La Barra; a trip to the tiny town of Garzon, where a chic crowd of expats led by the Argentine chef Francis Mallmann have begun restoring farmhouses and opening shops and restaurants; lots of laughter, and incredible meals.  The restaurants reminded us of St. Barths – fantastic, fresh food, chic settings, leisurely pace — and, of course, South American hours, with groups still pouring in to be seated a midnight and later!

The staff at both Vik properties are truly special.  They all feel like old time friends to me now, especially as I have remained in touch while planning a number of trips to the Vik Retreats for clients.  Each has returned raving about their experience.  I only hope I can return myself soon – very soon!


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