Punta del Este, Uruguay has long been a playground for the South American elite, if only for six short weeks each year. From December 26th into early February, the rolling hills and low-key villages that surround the city, and create the more broadly defined “Punta” are buzzing with a chic set of regulars from across the region and beyond.
The Fasano Hotel and Las Piedras Villas, opening in mid-December, is a luxurious take on the area’s famous chacras, or large, leisure-oriented ranches, combining a boutique hotel and serviced bungalows, private residences, and the family’s trademark restaurant and lounge - all featuring sweeping vistas of the Atlantic in the distance below. The resort has all the requisite amenities of a “leisure ranch”, and then some, including an equestrian center, polo fields, and an incredible spa.
There is also a marina and a 3km-long stretch of beach, both set along on the Arroyo Maldonado. The project was designed by the incomparable Isay Weinfeld, the brilliant architect and filmmaker who designed most of the group’s famous restaurants, the original São Paulo hotel and who is working on upcoming Fasano properties in Salvador and Trancoso, Bahia. Weinfeld’s rich, warm blend of the classic and contemporary has defined the Fasano aesthetic, but in Punta, the property’s unique charm and character come from the land itself.
The resort is spread across a vast 1,185-acre parcel, gently sloping down towards the ocean and riverbed in the distance. It’s a captivating, arid, landscape punctuated with small ponds, fruit trees and a seemingly endless array of giant boulders, many of which have been incorporated into the resort, and inspire its particularly apropos name.
The centerpiece restaurant and bar was originally a farmhouse, fashioned by hand from the site’s large stones by the previous owner. The structure is now expanded with a brilliantly juxtaposed concrete box, just one example of how Weinfeld blends the rustic and the modern to deliver the signature Fasano style to Punta del Este. Look no further than the stunning swimming pool for other example of how he places the guest in situ by using nature as a design element.
Weinfeld’s 205 newly built residences are a tasteful addition to this incredible landscape, beautiful modern boxes that use local stone and rich-hued indigenous woods, and have sold for millions. And unless you’ve purchased one of these elegant homes, or are seriously connected, chances are slim that you’ll be able to secure a reservation this year. The eagerly awaited resort has been booked solid since the restaurant’s soft opening last season. But not to worry, Punta is a perennial hotspot, and there’s always next year.
[Photos: Las Piedras Fasano]