Staying in Nahuel Huapi National Park, a two-million-acre wonderland of lakes, rapids, waterfalls, glaciers, and extensive forests surrounded by the snow-covered Andes Mountains, is a tonic for the mind and body, especially if home base is a luxury manse where guests are spoiled at every turn. The story of Bariloche, Llao Llao Hotel & Resort dates back to 1938, when eminent Argentinian architect Alejandro Bustillo was commissioned to build a sprawling timber-walled chalet that would draw visitors to this undiscovered region. Few could imagine that a secluded alpine hotel would survive a devastating fire just a year after its inauguration, and three decades later, a lengthy period of neglect, only to become one of the most iconic retreats in South America. Now a historic monument, the hotel’s original building displays a beautifully preserved clay tile roof, cypress walls, and oversized stone fireplaces. Furnished with antler chandeliers, rolled armed sofas, and rich rugs and draperies, interiors have the look of an upscale mountain cabin. A newer wing, added in 2007, has contemporary lines that seamlessly blend in with the estate’s timeless style and idyllic setting. Everywhere you look are postcard views of glass-like lakes (the hotel is flanked by Lake Nahuel Huapi and Lake Moreno), ancient forests of cypress and myrtle trees, and craggy peaks.
A stroll through one of the forested paths that surround the property is among the simple pleasures intrinsic to this corner of northern Patagonia.
While many guests come for active pursuits like golfing, trekking, white-water rafting, and arguably the best skiing in Argentina, Llao Llao is also the perfect place to simply be, allowing nature to soothe the senses.
A stroll through one of the forested paths that surround the property—where it’s possible to spot woodpeckers, hummingbirds and southern lapwings—is among the simple pleasures intrinsic to this corner of northern Patagonia. For an even deeper sense of relaxation, the hotel’s spa offers an array of treatments using essential oils made from local plants and muds extracted from nearby rivers. Set along a curvilinear indoor-outdoor infinity pool (there’s also a fully enclosed pool for the winter months), the ample wellness facilities are clad in serene blond wood framing wall-to-wall windows overlooking both lakes and Mount Tronador, an extinct volcano turned popular mountaineering destination.
Book a yoga or pilates class to regenerate the body, or just kick back on a lounge chair with an herbal infusion in hand, admiring the scenery. Sybarites will be spoiled for choice, with two restaurants, a lobby bar, a winter garden serving afternoon high tea, and a lakeside cafe. Patagonian cuisine was influenced by the Swiss and German immigrants who settled in the area more than a century ago, and who adapted some of their recipes to the bounty of regional meats and fish. Try Llao Llao’s excellent cheese fondue, veal goulash, or trout empanadas, and don’t miss out on the chocolates brought in from the neighboring town of Bariloche, home to Argentina’s top chocolatiers.