Exterior Lounge at Casa de Uco, Mendoza, Argentina

Casa de Uco

Family-owned and -operated, Casa de Uco occupies a lush 800-acre property—nearly 200 of which are vineyards—in the Uco Valley, in the foothills of the Andes Mountains. Set among bucolic lagoons, the resort is a architectural marvel; the eco-friendly hotel makes use of natural materials and even boasts a rooftop garden, which doubles as an open-air observatory. The hotel restaurant is helmed by a local chef from Mendoza, who takes great care in the sourcing, preparation and presentation of the hotel’s farm-to-table dishes.

The 16 rooms and suites feature the same clean aesthetic as the rest of the hotel, with crisp white linens and sand-colored wood walls. All of the suites boast a wall made entirely from glass, which provides a breathtaking panoramic of the region’s landscape. Currently, all rooms are situated in the main hotel building, but plans are underway to construct stand-alone villas scattered throughout the vineyards.

Although it is wine country, Casa de Uco has many activities for those who don’t want to spend the day going from tasting to tasting. Guests can play tennis, enjoy the pool, spend an afternoon in the spa or hike or go horseback riding in the surrounding terrain. Those looking to experience the best vintages and some adventure can embark on a horseback wine tasting.

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Exterior View - Cavas Wine Lodge, Mendoza, Argentina

Cavas Wine Lodge

The last leg of the 40-minute journey from the airport to Cavas Wine Lodge is an unpaved country road into the heart of viticultural Luján de Cuyo. Thick curls of dust and the steady crack of gravel signal the approach, and upon arrival, guests are welcomed inside a whitewashed Spanish-colonial style building.

They will sleep in freestanding adobe villas between rows of Bonarda, Malbec and Cabernet Sauvignon. From the main building's terrace, only their distinctive triangular chimneys are visible above the vineyard canopy—like so many sunlit fins above water. The villas are linked to it and to each other by trails through twisting vines and dangling grapes. Founders Cecilia Díaz Chuit and Martín Rigal wanted the vineyards to blend seamlessly into both the property's design and the experience of their guests; when Cavas opened in 2005, there was simply nothing like it.

Since it opened, other hotels have popped up, especially further south in the Valley de Uco. But Cavas remains the most soulful of Mendoza's wine country properties. Its staff knows all guests by name and can recommend (and arrange) all sorts of adventures in and around wine country: Tastings at the area's best vineyards, of course, but also hiking, biking and horseback riding in the nearby Andes mountains, including to Aconcagua, the world's tallest peak outside of the Himalayas.

The villa interiors feel relaxed and contemporary, with natural tones, eclectic décor and colorful touches, but on Mendoza's golden afternoons, it's outdoor space that matters most. In addition to plunge pools and ivy-covered garden showers, all 17 villas have finished rooftops with wood-burning fireplaces and rapturous 360-degree views of wine country. This is where siesta-hour often finds guests reading or sun-worshipping with a bottle of Cecilia's Becquignol rosé; after dark they'll be back for fireside stargazing (if they haven't stayed to watch the sun melt into the mountainscape). For an evening off from the restaurant commute, the hotel will even set up a rooftop dinner table for two.

The main building itself houses a handsome library, the lodge's namesake "cava" or wine cellar, its restaurant (the kitchen packs a decadent picnic basket) and a Moorish-style "vinotherapy" spa, where guests can book Torrontés wraps, Bonarda baths and crushed Malbec seed scrubs.

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Suite at Entre Cielos, Mendoza, Argentina

Entre Cielos

The Swiss family that purchased the 20-acre plot of land about 15 miles outside the city center built the hotel, hammam and spa amid a vineyard that now produces the house Malbec. Holistic living is a key concept here, though one aligned with a sybaritic lifestyle. The hotel restaurant, Katharina, is noted for its haute cuisine, there is a six-circuit hammam to detoxify from a day (or two or three) of wine drinking, and the manicured gardens and art-filled grounds are among the loveliest you’ll amble through in all of Mendoza.

Each room is unique in its design, with a mix of contemporary, brightly colored furnishings against a backdrop of wood and stone. There are six room categories denoted by wine vintages, starting with Young and going up to Grand Cru. A Limited Edition loft is, appropriately, the only one of its kind –a honeymoon suite set in a white capsule above the vines, and some distance away from the main building. While it has a cool location and an outdoor hot tub with unobstructed mountain views, the loft itself is small and not as luxurious as the lesser room categories. Ask for a pool-facing room, as the alternative view is of a parking lot.

There are some caveats – first, the hotel only takes children over the age of 12, which shouldn’t be a problem if one is even considering Mendoza as a destination, as wine country is not the most family-friendly destination. Second, the room design has a few quirks that, while not a deal-breaker, diminish its luxury quality. The disparity in the two possible views is one example. Another is the duplex categories whose bathroom windows face other duplex bathroom windows – a jarring misstep for anyone who isn’t an exhibitionist. More than anything, it feels like the rooms were designed with form over function.

Still, the hotel is clearly a labor of love and it is the best luxury option close to Mendoza.

Living Room at The Vines Resort & Spa, Mendoza, Argentina

The Vines Resort & Spa

Before they dreamed of opening a hotel, Michael Evans (a California transplant) and Pablo Gimenez Riili (a Mendocino winemaker) co-founded The Vines of Mendoza—a co-operative whereby enthusiastic amateurs from around the globe could become long-distance vineyard-owners and even winemakers. Vineyard shares would include a small parcel of prime terroir on their Uco Valley estate, along with access to its state-of-the-art winemaking facility and expert team. Almost ten years later, Evans and Gimenez Riili have 135 members, many of whom fly in throughout the year to plant different varietals, participate in the harvest or develop new blends with the staff's assistance. Until recently there were few hotel choices here, but as of early 2014, co-op members can have a luxurious sleep within steps of their grapes. And so can we; The Vines Resort & Spa is open to owners and oenophiles alike.

While the villa tally at The Vines is currently only twenty-two, it is a "resort" in the truest sense—and one with an even richer profusion of amenities than the moniker typically suggests. There's a destination restaurant that draws starry-eyed epicures from hours away, a knockout pool with heart-stopping Andes views and a glass-walled fitness center that's ensconced in the vines, but also elevated, giving joggers the illusion that they are floating over a vineyard-sea. The spa offers a collection of exclusive products by niche perfumery Fueguia 1833 (villa bathrooms are already stocked with the company's sublime soaps and shampoos).

As if this resume needed any further padding, there are also possibilities of harvesting alongside the property's agronomist, private blending lessons with the in-house oenologist and networking with Mendoza's wine cognoscenti. The project's consulting winemaker, Santiago Achával of Achával-Ferrer, opened a satellite winery in "Winemakers Village", a sort of artists-in-residence program for local winemakers—a venue where they can experiment and share ideas, both with each other and the resort's guests.

Though the property's layout gives it something of the feel of a resort community, with paved sidewalks linking strands of adjacent villas, interiors offer unqualified peace and plenitude. Furnishings are plush and contemporary, done in a quiet wood and stone palette that draws the lush colors of the western skyline inside through massive floor-to-ceiling windows. The softly distressed leather sofas, draped in sumptuous textiles from the north—and the fireplaces laid with hand-cut stones found on property—could redeem the dreariest of afternoons. But cloudless days are far more likely here, and sprawling decks are equipped with every imaginable convenience for outdoor living, including enormous sunset-facing tubs and fire pits where Francis Mallmann's parrilleros can choreograph a private asado.

This is not the kind of hotel where many things get lost in translation, but just in case, the resort assigns a "gaucho" to each guest. Equal parts personal concierge, camp counselor and generous host, your gaucho will coordinate a behind-the-scenes cooking demonstration with the chefs at Siete Fuegos, teach you how to drink mate like a local, and make sure you're awake—and sufficiently bundled in ponchos—in time for your sunrise horseback ride.

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