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Polo, Tango, Four Seasons, Opera – the very best of Buenos Aires

Arriving for the first time in Argentina, after a 15 hour flight from Frankfurt to Buenos Aires, I could feel a sense of intangible warmness and I couldn’t help but stare at the most beautiful clear blue sky, which is also the symbol on the national flag. I felt even more welcome and safe seeing the all too familiar Four Seasons logo on a plate, which for me translates as ”welcome home”. 

On the way to Four Seasons, I was rubbing my eyes open (very much jetlagged) to admire a sea of purple blossoming trees which were literally on both sides of the road, even on smaller streets and corner. I later found out, thepurple Jacarandas (as they are called) are Argentina’s natural flow which blossom for 10 days a year and my visit was during these unique 10 days. It really felt special to me1 It was like a sea of the most beautiful purple flowers with some flowers covering pavements like lush carpets. I also have to admit, throughout my stay, I found Buenos Aires to be one of the cleanest capital cities I have ever visited – with an abundance of greenery and impeccably manicured private gardens and parks.

The hotel which was opened as a Four Seasons in 2001 remains one of the finest addresses in Buenos Aires, equally for business and leisure visitors, as well as locals dining or attending events. One of the beautiful surprises of the hotel, was its private outdoor swimming pool, a true oasis in busy Buenos Aires. Behind the contemporary, immaculately white tower building, I was to discover La Mansion, a spectacular Renaissance mansion which was a private residence of a private wealthy family since 1920. La Mansion only has 8 rooms and a presidential suite (the largest luxury presidential suite in any hotel in Buenos Aires). 

Apart from the Sunday Brunch, THE best brunch in town, La Mansion is host to the most exclusive events in Buenos Aires, one of its key attractions features being a  separate, ‘’palatial’’ style entrance from a lateral street. During my stay, with the occasion of a luxury event, La Mansion metamorphosed itself into a fairy tale setting, with a white Christmas tree, red carpets, most intricate lighting and a classic music stage set up by the pool, in the garden between the two buildings of the hotel. I couldn’t help but come down from my room to see the happening. As I was walking on the lateral street where the La Mansion has its main entrance, I was mesmerized by the live classical opera music which almost made me feel like I was in a dream… (click here to see a short video of a unique 1920s party organized at La Mansion)

Run by Rebeca Selley, one of the five women general managers of all 89 Four Seasons hotels, I could see her touch in every single detail of the hotel. First of all, during my stay, besides the hotel running a 100% occupancy, the lavish event in La Mansion and pop star Britney Spears staying in the hotel in town for her concert, Rebeca was everywhere every single minute. Her team call her by her name and I could not help but notice how loved and admired she is. Without having a ”gender issue”, I was so impressed with her softly spoken manner, perfectly elegant yet sober but very firm at times. Her hard handshake reminded me of a recent movie I saw in which Meryl Street plays Margaret Thatcher, the former PM (a movie based on her authorized biography) and always connected to everything that was happening in the hotel. Her work goes beyond passion and being professional, the Four Seasons is her home !

While she was so excited to tell me about the latest Discover Argentina treatment , which was about to be introduced (a journey throughout Argentina with each part of the body representing a different region the country), I saw her bend down and try to clean a rubber scratch on the marble floor, probably from a rubber shoe. Her touch was everywhere throughout the hotel, including the restaurants.

At the Four Seasons Buenos Aires, I probably had my best breakfast, EVER! Would you believe I would wake up earlier in the morning to go for breakfast, when the restaurant was not so crowded and I could enjoy the provençal set up, with huge jars of Dulce de Leche, Argentina’s national sweet, a natural creamy blend of the finest caramel with fresh milk….the breads, the patisserie…just felt like in my grandma’s home. And not to forget – I had the most tasty, sweet fruits, which I have never found in Europe or Asia, from strawberries, mango, watermelon to pineapple and blueberries.  

And then, there was Sandra, the Chief Concierge, whom I could never than enough for arranging me to see so much of Buenos Aires in less than 3 days. She would not only have the best contacts, but I was always amazed how she would be busy with four or five guests at a time but still reply to my emails which I was sending from my room. She booked me to attend the opening game of the Palermo Argentina National Open, THE most prestigious polo event in the world, with the best polo players worldwide attending. It was such a special experience…almost impossible to put into words – the energy and the connection between the player and the horse is almost like between two human beings. I was trying to compare with duo tennis, the horse being a player by itself. I learned that not only players could score, but also horses, as they might kick the ball.

People in Argentina worship horses but in a different way than Indians worship cows. For Argentinians, horses are almost humans, close friends, buddies. One of the guides shared with me that sometimes when a horse and a player get injured, the horse attended to. Like in every walk of like, there is a business factor attached to it. There are private clinics and most sophisticated hospitals where horses are taken care of, either to recuperate or further train. I also learned about specialized companies in Argentina which do cloning and genetics to develop the most pure DNA.

On one of my city private tours, I went to Boca, the famous district where the tango movement started. I was not aware tango was started by immigrants in Boca, a neighbourhood which was one of the poorest of the city. The light wooden houses painted in the most vivid colours are a testament to the history of tango. There were live tango acts at every corner, in every cafe, some souvenir shops playing tango music too. Again, it felt like being in a movie…imaging the simple yet so fulfilled lives of those who lived the early days of tango, which for Argentinians is more than just a dance, is their most sophisticated way of expressing their feelings, almost like a second mother tongue.

To me, probably the most impressive building of the city was the Opera House, which has been beautifully restored. Some of the most famous international performers have performed here, the ”stage” being known as THE most important one in all South America.

Back at the Four Seasons, every day I would be surprized by a small detail, unseen or un-experienced at other hotels. The housekeeper must have noticed I was running out of my toothpaste, which otherwise is not a widely available one. I found a brand new one by the sink. Such ”language” in hospitality is unique. To mention another such special detail, knowing my preference from other hotels for natural, ideally organic products, the SPA made me a beautiful gift, a full set of LA NATURA, an American brand known for the high quality of its organic certified products. I enjoyed every bit of it.

On my departure, I was so glad to learn from Rebeca that the rooms are soon undergoing extensive refurbishments and I even made a suggestion. Of course, this is a matter of taste! The rooms indeed, are the largest of any luxury hotel in Buenos Aires, however, I felt their design slightly cold. But, all the Four Seasons essentials were there: the perfect bed, high speed wi fi, a large working desk with all plug adaptors, a huge bathroom with separate marble and glass enclosed shower, large bathtub etc etc

And there is so much more I wanted to see and experience but I promised myself that I shall be back, SOON !

Oliver Petcu

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