[JOSE IGNACIO, URUGUAY] — This is my FIFTH trip to this perfect little beach town, in the perfect little hotel — Posada del Faro. This last time in late February of 2014 where I finally dragged two couples that are my best friends and world travelers…and after years of hearing me yammering on and on about Jose Ignacio, they finally got to experience it firsthand. I think it’s a good sign that my friends Jim and Paula sent me this VRBO rental the week after we got back to start thinking about when we can go back again…and stay longer. I pretty much guarantee that the next post you see from me from here will be at this spectacular house on the beach.
When you think of beaches and beach towns in South America, most people think of Brazil. (Which is awesome in itself!) But few are aware of this absolutely stunning windswept and wave-laden peninsula just 40 minutes of the Miami-like high-rises of Punta del Este. And there’s a reason why the place is crawling with Brazilians, not to mention Argentines and well-heeled people from all over the world. The word is spreading.
It just gets better year after year. While I’m certain the local population thinks it gets more crowded, more expensive and losing its “secret”, they sure are welcoming to Invaders like me. For a world class destination, Jose Ignacio has one of the shortest high seasons anywhere. Before Christmas: empty. But literally on December 26th, the cars start streaming in. From Buenos Aires. San Paolo. Rio. France and Italy. And The Hamptons. People that you see in the news (or look like they are) come from all over. To me, that’s when it’s too nuts and not the time to visit. Everything doubles or triples in price through January, then starts to taper off. But during those several weeks, it is complete chaos. Dinner reservations are impossible and you need to know what’s going on and have connections. Seems like everyone in the world is there. Live music events, radio station promos, South American lifestyle TV shows, all descend on those pristine beaches and it is like Fashion Week in New York or Art Basel in Miami. But then, literally, one week later and nearly everything changes. So timing is everything. And to me, mid February through very early March is when you need to time your visit.
You can read more about Jose Ignacio in my other posts, places to stay and things to do. This is just an update of pictures to demonstrate that all is right with this protected treasure. Each time I go back, it feels more and more like putting on a nice pair of faded jeans, loose in all the right spots and comfortable as all get out. In this little town are some of the greatest beaches, dirt roads, few housesm, but some of the best eating in all of South America.
The word is catching on. Here are several recent articles that give the lowdown…and certainly better written and better shot than my amateur dribble. A repeat of the world-famous La Huella restaurant, one of the best restaurants I’ve ever been to, in Bon Appetit. Travel & Leisure. In the New York Post, Modern Luxury in Jose Ignacio about the new, cool-but-out-of-place Hotel Vik. TripAdvisor. A great article on Fathom’s excellent website, which gets better every month. The British version of Conde Nast Traveller. Conde Nast Traveler about what’s jumping in Maldonado, the surrounding state in Uruguay.
I don’t sleep well. When I wake up in the middle of the night…nearly every night… I think of the the waves you hear from Posada del Faro and it lulls me back to sleep.
You should go here.
The newish Playa Vik hotel. The Viks have built a total of three hotels in the area, each special in its own way and they have a great publicist — you see articles everywhere. Great architecture and art, but to me, doesn’t fit in with the low key vibe and architecture of the rest of the town.
Lu Huella — pronounced La Hu EE sha — the central focal point of everything in Jose Ignacio. You build you day…and week…around when and how often you can go back to this amazing restaurant.
Jose Ignacio is all about “rustic elegance”. The streets may be unpaved, the vibe low-key, but there is a lot going on here. On any given day, in any given restaurant, you might hear four to five different languages spoken.
Everything in Uruguay is about cooking with fire. You will be amazed at the variety of different food-cooking-devices used to cook your food. All amazing.
This last summer/fall, Jose Ignacio put on it’s first food festival in the center park in town, with all the local restaurants creating their own booths and serving delicious edibles. A Taste of Jose Ignacio. One fixed price, all you can eat. I expect it will repeat again. We heard there was an unseasonably cold and rainy month all though February of 2014, so Guzman from La Huella ralleyed the troops in town to celebrate the return to normal weather…and give a sunny boost to the whole town.
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