What do you get when three Swiss families emigrate to Argentina?
Entre Cielos, a boutique hotel at the foot of the Andes with its own hammam, wine loft and vineyard.
This article was published in SWISS International Airlines’ board Magazine March 2014 issue on Sao Paulo. We feel flattered ;-)
Cécile Adam and David and Daniela Wäger all shared a vision: to create their own paradise on earth. The only question was where. Various locations – France, Thailand, Panama, Uruguay – were considered and rejected.
In the end they opted for the famed Mendoza wine region in Argentina: partly because it was the only part of the Country with a growing tourism sector and a limited selection of luxury accommodations, and partly because it’s just a truly beautiful area.
Argentina, aquí vamos!
And so, in August 2009, the three partners bought a plot of local land and moved together with their families – 14 people and a containerful of possessions – to Argentina. What’s even more amazing is that while the threesome were certainly talented individuals, none of them had any previous experience in either winegrowing or the hotel trade. All they had to take this courageous step was a passionate enthusiasm for both activities.
The location the trio chose for their new venture – in a suburb of Mendoza, on excellent Malbec terroir, in the midst of a vineyard with fruit trees and poplars and an open view of the Andes – gave them the firmest of foundations for their small luxury hotel. All they needed now for their 100 x 800-metre plot (complete with an abandoned old winery) were concrete plans.
Here the team had very clear ideas. For the winegrowing side they secured the services of
oenologist Hubert Weber, a Swiss national who had been living in Argentina for the previous 15 years. But to turn their building plans into reality they opted for local architects. In an ultra-short tender process of just 48 hours, it was the small practice of A4estudio that prevailed: the contemporary leanings of its two innovative directors, who drew their Inspiration from the sculpted concrete blocks of artist Donald Judd, swayed the Swiss at once.
When it came to the construction, the venture saw its toughest times. “Dividing the Project into a conceptual and an implementation phase was about the only conventional Thing about it!” co-lead architect Juan Manuel Filice recalls. The Swiss clients’ high demands proved a real challenge for the Argentinians. The Family spent seven days a week at the site, following the work in every detail. “I remember the famous ‘Monday meetings’,” Juan Manuel smiles. “We could always talk things over during the week; but they used to make a huge list of all the changes and other things they weren’t happy with over the weekend!”
The language was a further obstacle. The family members would speak Swiss-German to each other; the project leaders would communicate with the architects in English; and the architects would issue the instructions in Spanish to their workers and suppliers. Not surprisingly, drawings and diagrams often proved an equally (if not more) effective way of getting meanings across. Comprende!?
“Looking back,” Juan Manuel Filice recalls, “I think they were the most demanding clients
we’ve ever had.” But the extremely tight deadlines and the intensive collaboration also proved an invaluable experience for the young architectural team, and one that they have since been able to channel into other projects as well.
Entre Cielos – Viviendo la vida
By 2011 the site had been transformed into the unique Entre Cielos boutique hotel, with its 15 individual suites, exclusive wine loft, two restaurants, swimming pool and whirlpool. There’s even a hammam, too, making it the first traditional hamam spa in the whole of Latin America. The name is well chosen: Entre Cielos really is a little bit of heaven on earth. Nestling cosily amid the vines, it offers every imaginable comfort for viviendo la vida – coming, relaxing and enjoying life’s sensual luxuries.
The place has already won numerous awards. It was selected as 2012’s Best New Boutique Hotel in the World, beating off strong international competition; and it was also named Winner of Travellers’ Choice, Best Boutique Hotel in South America and Sensuous Spa for 2013. Congratulations!
Read our detailed review here and get some more impressions from our stay at this all stylish boutique hotel: