After our 3 days in the jungle at Awasi Iguazu, we packed up and flew west towards the Andes Mountains to Mendoza, Argentina. We were able to get a direct flight from Iguazu to Mendoza but it made a quick stop in the city of Salta (no plane change). This was much more efficient than having to fly all the way back to Buenos Aires. Steve and I decided we wanted to be a little more independent this part of the trip so we arranged for a car rental. We had a small snafu at the Mendoza airport when they tried to give us a rental car that was a manual stick shift only. Apparently automatics are not very common in South America. While Steve can drive a stick, it’s not his preference, he hasn’t done it in several years and he didn’t want to mess with it while driving in a foreign country where he doesn’t know his way around. After some back and forth where we almost cancelled the reservation and were about to get an uber, they found us an automatic. We were on our way to Cavas Wine Lodge, which is about 45-50 minutes south of the city. Overall, we (meaning Steve), found driving in Argentina pretty easy. It was a little congested in Mendoza but the traffic wasn’t insane and once we reached the freeway, it was smooth sailing. Driving in the wine country is super easy – country roads and no traffic. That being said, getting a rental car is not necessary at all and guests were easily getting cabs and ubers from the hotel (and they are super cheap). If I was doing it again, I would skip the rental car unless you really wanted to do some longer excursions like driving to the Andes for hiking.
Cavas Wine Lodge is tucked away in some vineyards off a side road and is very secluded. Near the end, you’re actually driving on unpaved roads around vineyards until you pull up to their main entrance. The entire hotel is surrounded by grape vines and lush landscaping and trees. This region gets very little rain and is mostly fed by snow melt from the Andes so it’s very dry and desert-like.
We pulled up to the main entrance and the valet took our car and we were given two cold glasses of Torrontes white wine as we checked in. The guest relations person (Barbara from South Carolina, USA) gave us a tour of the property and then took us to our room. We booked the basic Luxury Villa and we were thrilled with our choice. All the rooms are individual villas with plunge pools, rooftop terraces, fireplaces inside and outside and large terraces. All rooms are also very private and secluded. We never saw or heard our neighbors in their villas. Honestly, I kvetched about whether or not we should spend more for a “Vineyard Room” which is set a little further back into the vineyards. I’m glad I saved my money as those rooms are pretty much the same, just slightly larger and set further back from the hotel. I really don’t think they are worth the additional price, though I’m sure they are lovely.
The hotel makes its own wines and owns the vineyards on its property. There are pomegranate trees and flowers all over the property. You hear nothing but the sound of birds. It’s very relaxing and peaceful. It also has incredible views to the Andes Mountains from everywhere you look. The first evening, they were doing a tango show and asado at the hotel that we decided to join and I really enjoyed. The tango dancers are professionals and travel so they are not always available so I’m glad we got to see them. This was the only tango dance I saw during our entire stay in Argentina!
The hotel has a restaurant and spa on the property as well. It only does the asado (traditional Argentine BBQ) once a week but otherwise has a gourmet restaurant on site. They also have a dedicated sommelier who helped us choose wines each evening for our meal. We sampled several Malbecs and some very nice Torrontes, including ones made by the hotel, during our stay.
We loved the sunset views from both our room and the hotel each evening.
I was a huge fan of the design of the hotel. The main building had Neoclassical architecture with columns and porticoes. The design features inside were impressive as well. I loved the main lobby with its “grape vine” light fixture and the painted ceiling of the main dining room was incredible. The owner, Cecilia, explained that the painting is a copy of one that hangs in the Prado museum and is called “The Triumph of Bacchus” by Diego Velazquez but is also known as the Borrachos which means the Drunkards. Obviously, very apropos for a wine centric hotel!
The rooms are a different architecture. Cecilia explained that she wanted the rooms to look very organic and blend into the landscape but also hearken back to the old adobe structures common to the area. I noted that the fireplaces on top also gave the rooms a very modern Gaudi-esque look to them, like something you would see in Barcelona and she said that was also an aesthetic that she and her husband purposefully incorporated. A little old, a little new.
The interiors of the rooms were just as comfortable. You walked into a foyer with couch and coffee table, then a large bedroom with king-size bed and fireplace. Outside was a massive terrace with plunge pool, covered seating, and an outdoor shower. I loved the natural rock wall in the bathroom and we had plenty of space with a separate shower, claw foot tub and double sinks. There were also plenty of plugs and natural lighting so this room was perfect for me. The literal cherry on top was the rooftop terrace with amazing views of the vineyards and mountains.
On our second night, the hotel called and said there was a surprise for us on the terrace upstairs. We walked up there (this was right around sunset) and found a bottle of white wine on ice and a lovely cheese plate. As we had a big, late lunch earlier that day, this was the perfect nibble because we weren’t really in the mood for a big dinner. We sat upstairs on the terrace and watched the sunset behind the Andes. It was a perfect evening.
We had a particularly gorgeous sunset this evening so I sat up there taking photos while sipping my wine. This was probably my favorite part of the trip.
As for dining, we did the asado our first night, just had the cheese plate the second night and we ordered room service (cheeseburger and fries) our last night after a long day of wine tasting and multi-course lunch. We loved the asado dinner they did and would highly recommend it if you visit. It consisted of salad, empanadas, a platter of various grilled meats and grilled vegetables and an amazing dessert of caramel flan. Room service was extremely prompt and very good as well. Breakfast was included in our stay and consisted of a buffet with fresh fruits, granolas, yogurt, pastries and house made smoothies and juice blends and made to order eggs and hot dishes. Their coffee here was excellent as well.
Before the asado dinner they offered the tango show, which was so interesting. The dancers actually perform 5 different tango dances and they are all very different. Some are very slow and methodical while others are frenzied and theatrical. The owner explained the different dances and the music and they even offered a short lesson for guests on the basic tango steps. It’s a very difficult dance, to say the least.
Steve and I also got a couples massage at their spa on the morning of our second day and that was worth every penny (and like most things in Argentina, very affordable). Their spa is small but nicely appointed and our therapists were very sweet and did a wonderful job.
Overall, we LOVED Cavas Wine Lodge and it’s really a toss-up between this hotel and Iguazu. I probably preferred Cavas more b/c I love wine tasting and the environment overall is more my speed and it was far less expensive overall. Plus, those sunsets were unforgettable. Steve and I both agreed that we would love to revisit this area multiple times if we can and we would re-book Cavas in a heartbeat.