The hotel, spa and casino in the heart of downtown is a posh home base for a Mendoza wine country exploration.
By Kelly A. Magyarics
I say Mendoza, you say…Malbec. Yes, this Argentinean region is most known for its red wine, produced from an obscure Bordeaux varietal of which copious amounts are found in the States on wine store shelves and on many wine lovers’ lips when ordering in a restaurant. I recently traveled to South America to explore the wines of Chile and Argentina and stayed four nights in the heart of Mendoza at the Park Hyatt Mendoza, located in front of Plaza Independencia, one of the city’s historical landmarks. For this property, Hyatt Hotels & Resorts restored the original façade of the Plaza Hotel, a 19th-century Spanish colonial structure. A new seven-story building was constructed on the site that houses six floors of guest rooms as well as the spa and adjacent casino.
Park Hyatt Mendoza has 186 guestrooms, including 135 Park and 11 Park Deluxe rooms, two Park suites, 24 Andes rooms, a Governor Suite and a Presidential Suite. All are decorated in a contemporary style with small touches meant to reflect the local culture. Standard amenities include a 32-inch LCD television, free wireless high-speed internet, bottled water, DVD player, mini bar, oversized marble bath, work desk, safe and video on demand.
I stayed in a standard room, which I found to be well-appointed and comfortable (especially the bedding). A glass-enclosed rain shower that also housed the tub was a welcome sight each morning (though the water pressure could have been a little stronger). But several details in the room hinted at design choices that were more about form than function. The closet and dresser, for example, were located inside the bathroom on adjacent sides of a heavy mirrored door — a bit of an inconvenience, especially when you had to remove clothes out of each side.
On the Park Hyatt’s top floor you’ll find Kaua Club & Spa, the hotel’s center for relaxation. Five treatment rooms are joined by a health club with exercise equipment and men’s and women’s locker rooms with a whirlpool, sauna, steam baths and a cold plunge pool. (Hotel guests are invited to use the spa facilities — you don’t have to book a treatment to do so.)
I attempted to book a reservation for a Mendoza Wine Body Glow (when in Rome, I thought…) but was persuaded by the front desk attendant to book an Oriental Massage instead. I returned the following day, and was escorted to the small but well-appointed locker room to don my robe and slippers. I waited in the relaxation room — with its lounge chairs, magazines and newspapers — until my therapist was ready for me.
The Oriental Massage was billed as a treatment that involves kneading and a lot of stretching (I was picturing some version of a Thai massage). I told my therapist that I prefer heavy pressure, but in reality the massage ended up being more of a medium-pressure Swedish style, with fast strokes and minimal stretching. While I had an early morning appointment and appreciated that the massage was an invigorating start to the day, I didn’t find it to be quite as therapeutic or relaxing as I had hoped. (Traveling around to the region’s wineries and tasting all those great wines for a week is hard work, after all.)
The spa offers 33 treatments in all, including those for face, body, massage and nails. You can either book while staying at the hotel or online. Kaua also offers its own line of beauty products for purchase, including (not surprisingly) white and red wine shampoos. So in-between sipping Malbec, you can wash your hair with it.
The Vines Wine Bar & Vinoteca is the hotel’s wine bar, which has a great selection of the local juice. But after tasting my fair share of Malbec, Bonarda and Torrontès each day, I craved a cocktail or a beer. My travel companions and I opted to hang out late night at lobby lounge Las Terrazas de la Plaza. You can grab a table inside but we preferred to get some fresh air and linger on the large stone patio out front. Depending on who’s mixing drinks that night, the caipirinha can be really great or just OK. We ordered them on subsequent evenings and seemed to get a different one each time — sometimes with muddled lemon, other times with muddled lime. The potency varied as well. The bar seemed to be a bit more consistent with the mojito, which was fresh and aromatic.
Breakfast at the Park Hyatt is served on the main level at Bistro M, buffet-style. Don’t miss the croissants and other pastries filled with dulce de leche. (The caramel spread is super popular all over Argentina — you can even snag little glass jars of the stuff from your table for a mid-afternoon pick-me-up, as they are set out along with jam and honey.) The juices — tangerine, carrot, grapefruit and orange — are also a must. I started each day with a slice of tortilla, some tomatoes and cured meat, fruit and a café con leche.
For lunch and dinner, Bistro M’s open kitchen, wood-fired oven and eclectic menu offer a wide selection of the meats for which Argentina is famous, as well as Italian dishes with a regional touch (remember that many Argentineans are of Italian descent.) Grill Q — Parrilla Argentina serves a wide variety of regional food including asado and empanadas.
The three-level Regency Casino is decorated in a contemporary style, with 612 slot machines and 25 game tables, including Roulette, Black Jack, Caribbean Poker, Texas Hold ‘Em, Dice and Punto y Banca that are open from 2 p.m. to 6 a.m. daily. (The lower level, which houses most of the slot machines, is open daily from 10 a.m. to 6 a.m.) The Salon Privé caters to the high betters. Ambar Living Bar features cocktails, dining and live shows. Full disclosure: my gambling luck is non-existent, so I didn’t even walk into the casino during my stay.
Kelly Magyarics, DWS, is a wine and spirits writer and wine educator in the Washington, D.C. area. She can be reached through her website, www.kellymagyarics.com, or on Twitter and Instagram @kmagyarics.