After checking out of the Alvear Palace Hotel in Argentina, I made my way over to the Park Hyatt Palacio Duhau on Avenida Alvear. On the way, I heard loud drums and people shouting, for a moment I thought I was in the middle of a major uprising. After all, this is Buenos Aires and protests are quite common. As I got closer to where the drums and shouting were coming from, I discovered it was a small workers’ protest, much to my relief.
Entering an oasis of peacefulness and beauty, the hotel feels like it has two personalities; there is the old Palace entrance on Avenida Alvear and the more modern tower on Posadas Street. The two areas are accessible above ground through the beautifully serene gardens and courtyard, or via an underground route, built with travertine marble and serving double duty as a contemporary art gallery. The underground gallery is called “Paseo de las Artes Duhau” and showcases paintings and sculptures by local and Latin American artists.
My stay at the hotel was spent in the Park Suite, found in the modern Posadas building. The suite features large windows and views of the gardens and Palacio façade. It's absolutely gorgeous; I have one of the best views in the city. The suite is modern and divided into a living space, bedroom area, and workstation. A separate area is devoted to a dressing room, marble bathtub, and a rain shower. One can describe it as belle-époque elegance meets tech-savvy modernity and comfort enhanced by Park Hyatt luxury service. There is nothing more soothing than a perfectly appointed room to restore one’s equilibrium when so many miles from home.
I had planned to experience the Wine and Cheese offering at Vinoteca, but unfortunately feeling ill from a meal consumed in San Telmo the previous day, I could only look at the Cheese Room with longing. Opening the doors to the room, the cheese smells assaulted my senses. The room is stocked with the best artisanal regional selections by the Maître Fromager. Outside the room, tall climate-controlled glass towers contain over 7,000 bottles of the best Argentinean wines. Looking over the wine labels and the setting of the room, pangs of disappointment kept creeping in as the tour guide and host, Pilar Pose, Public Relations, Director of Palacio Duchau, explained the menu.
Pose and I settled in at the Palace's Piano Nobile Salons for a light afternoon tea and conversation. The tea sweets are elegantly laid out buffet-style. Nibbling on savory bites and pastries, you cannot help but admire the view the of the famous Palace Terrace. The Oak Bar, adjoining the Piano Nobile Salon, is one of the top places for visitors and hotel guests to have a pre-dinner drink or nightcap.
Pose filled me in on daily life in Buenos Aires and stressed that its not easy, especially with rising costs of goods and services, and the erosion of the Argentinean Pesos' value. It's not the first time I've heard this from residents and it explains why the black market currency exchange is flourishing. Most Argentineans are desperate to exchange their pesos for more stable US dollars.
Ahín Wellness & Spa is located on the lower level of the hotel. In the Mapuche language, “Ahín" signifies a welcoming ceremony for the visitor. Services include a diverse menu of wellness and health therapies, from massages to beauty, face and body treatments. The facility’s amenities include private suites with special tubs, treatment rooms, a hydrotherapy room and a state-of-the-art fitness studio. The spa services are first class and once you see the around 82-foot heated swimming pool, you just may never want to leave. I must admit, it is a one of the most beautiful pools I’ve seen in a long time.
Breakfast is included in your stay and is served at the Gioia Restaurant and Terraces. There is a buffet spread featuring breads, juices, cereals and fresh fruit. There is also a menu to order additional items, like fresh egg and omelets. Arriving late for breakfast, close to the official closing of the service, the staff was already clearing up, I quickly ordered poached eggs with toast and the staff was happy (for the most part) to oblige. Gioia Restaurant is open all day, offering light bites between breakfast, lunch, and dinner service. On Sundays, a lavish brunch is served on the terrace.
Guestrooms at the hotel start at USD $500, and booking a suite is well worth the experience, plus you receive access to butler service. This came in handy when the butler sent one of the hotel staff members to the drug store to pick up medication. Service at the hotel is one of the best I've encountered in my travels. The staff is notably friendly and can’t seem to do enough to make your stay more comfortable.