Italians have their villas, the French and Swiss have their chateaus, and The English have their manors. In the Argentinian countryside, these lavish country estates are known as estancias.
About an hour’s drive south of Buenos Aires, the luxurious Estancia Villa Maria awaits on 1,542 perfectly manicured acres. With it’s eleven well-appointed suites, elegant common rooms and gourmet restaurant, Villa Maria was named one of the best traditional hotels in the world by Forbes Traveler and one of the best estates in South America by Travel + Leisure Magazine. Built in 1927 by renowned Argentinian architect Alejandro Bustillo, Estancia Villa Maria has swapped ownership among several families.
While touring the hotel, we were offered a buffet of activities to enjoy. On the menu: horseback trail riding, a carriage ride, bike riding, and croquet, to name a few. After settling into our room, we sipped on coffee by the warm fire, preparing ourselves to brave the cold outside.
The elegantly sophisticated grounds, equally as impressive as the stately manor, were designed by famous landscape architect Benito Carrasco. Despite the bitter cold (the staff contended that it was the coldest day of the year), palms and other verdant trees flourished.
The afternoon found us on a family trail ride, led by the sweet, shy resident gaucho. The horses seemed to be more interested in the grass (eating it) than they were on touring us around the property. The relaxing ride brought us down tree tunnels, through horse-strewn pastures, and alongside beautiful buildings, fountains and statues. Gluttons for punishment that were are, we dovetailed our trail ride with a horse-drawn carriage ride. The nice gaucho provided warm wool blankets, which actually helped keep us pretty toasty.
The cozy restaurant, a true fine-dining establishment, surprised with gourmet, three-course meals. The food presentation was stunning, similar to what we experienced at Tegui or Osaka.
Although there were a couple of other families at Estancia Villa Maria, it felt like we mostly had the place to ourselves. Talking to some of the other guests, we discovered that they were from Buenos Aires, and they often visit many different estancias for vacations or weekend getaways. Many Argentinians are very serious about horse riding as well. There was a girl who came specifically to ride and jump. She seemed very professional with her very own helmet and riding garb. I think if I was from Buenos Aires, I would frequent estancias often, too.
Check back next Movie Monday to see some funny videos from the family horse riding adventure. Do you have any stories of experiencing a country estate?