This is the first time I’ve seen a personal sauna and steam room inside a hotel suite. It’s an impressive offering and suggests a level of investment in line with other luxury offerings in Mendoza. But some of the more subtle touches might hit harder for wine lovers. I later found out that the signature scent of the hotel – a pervading aroma of sandalwood, leather and cedar – was created and blended by the Argentine winemaker herself.
The Susana Balbo Winemaker’s House and Spa Suites was unveiled in 2022 by Susana Balbo and her daughter Ana Lovaglio Balbo. The use of the word ‘house’ is significant: this was the home of Ana Lovaglio and her family for several years before its conversion to a luxury spa retreat. The house now represents the nucleus of the hotel, with seven guestrooms ranged around it and designed to blend sympathetically into the surrounding landscape. Located in Chacras de Coria, a traditional winegrowing area of Mendoza turned upscale neighbourhood, it’s no surprise that the nods to winemaking continue elsewhere.
As well as a steam room in each suite (three of which also have a dry sauna), rooms come with a supersized bath fashioned from a concrete egg. With a focus on wellness, various treatments and rituals are available in-room – plus, all guests receive a 15-minute complimentary massage upon arrival – and a ‘wellness butler’ is on hand to talk you through the options. Each of these treatments pays homage to the local craft, with grapes featuring in the creams and must in the mud wraps. Naturally, there’s a fully stocked wine fridge with Susana Balbo wines in each room too.
Nods are also given to the local culture. For example, a swimming pool with loungers, sofas and firepits is flanked by the obligatory Argentine parilla. And each booking includes a visit to the Susana Balbo winery in nearby Agrelo, as well as lunch in the winery. For adventurous travellers the hotel also has a private seaplane and can organise tailor-made visits throughout Argentina. One of the most notable aspects of the hotel, though, is a staff made up largely of women – who were effortlessly attentive throughout my stay.
The Balbos’ personal art collection plays a central theme, particularly the ‘Tree of Life’ by local artist Sergio Roggerone, which was especially commissioned by the hotel and greets guests in the main entrance on arrival. The piece represents ‘seven elements’ that represents the seven stages of life, such as the trunk that shows growth through the years, and the flowers that represent strength and femininity, entrepreneurship and women’s empowerment. These elements that specifically relate to the Balbo family, are echoed in works of art found in each of the seven suites, as well as on the seven- and 14-course tasting menus.
At LaVida restaurant, Mendoza-born Flavia Amad oversees the kitchen, bringing experience accrued at several Michelin-starred restaurants in New York, and from work as an apprentice with Anthony Bourdain and Daniel Boulud. I sat in the private dining room that overlooks the kitchen for a tasting menu focused on local ingredients and wine pairings. Highlights included a beetroot dish that was crunchy, earthy and sweet, while duck breast with sweet brioche, swiss chard and delicate sesame oil was a great match for Susana Balbo’s signature Cabernet Sauvignon 2020. Of course, the substantial wine list includes Susanna Balbo wines – but it also offers a well curated list of other Argentinian expressions, as well as several international options. Ana Lovaglio says that for her and her mother, it was important that the hotel serve as a showcase for great wine – as well as, above all else, feeling like a home away from home.
Prices start at USD $800 per room per night