Tuesday, May 6, 2014
South American Villa
On a trip to Argentina a few years ago, I found myself drinking a popular bottled water with a picture of a villa on the label.
I didn't realize when I bought my first bottle that I'd be visiting that villa later in the trip.
After spending several days in Buenos Aires, I flew to Mendoza with my friends to tour a few of the famous Argentinian wineries.
On one of the days in Mendoza, we took a day trip into the Villavicencio Natural Reserve, about 60k from Mendoza.
The drive into the foothills of the Andes went from desert to low mountain shrubs within just a few kilometers from Mendoza and as we made the final climb up to the villa, our van suddenly filled with a heavenly scent. Along the side of the road was a field of yellow blooms and their perfume was filling the air.
A little research makes me think these flowers are something called Birdsfoot Trefoil (but, I'm not really sure). All I know for sure is that they are beautiful and they carry a strong and very pleasant scent.
The Villavicencio Hotel opened in 1940 and closed permanently in 1978. During it's operation, it served as a hotel and spa near the location where the spring water that was bottled and sold was found. In 1978 when the World Cup took place in Argentina, well-off families from around the country and the world stayed here during the games.
The building itself is not open to tours but the grounds are full of trails and paths that lead through the gardens and to several mountain lookout points.
The grounds of the property even offered a small chapel where guests could attend Sunday services.
Before we left the area, we stopped at a small countryside pub that used to serve as the kitchen facility for guests of the hotel. It still operates and provides travelers with a little nourishment for their road trip and of course, a large selection of those good Mendoza wines.