Park Hyatt Buenos Aires: Heaven on Earth
For my year-end vacation to South America, I specifically saved the best for last: two nights at the esteemed Park Hyatt Buenos Aires. Since the hotel was selling base rooms for over $500 a night on the dates I wanted to stay there, I decided to redeem 30,000 Hyatt points for two nights, which is quite a bargain if you ask me. However, since I redeemed my points last April, Hyatt has increased the points required for this property to 18,000 a night. However, after staying here, I definitely feel that 18,000 points is still a steal for this property.
Last time I was in Buenos Aires, we rented an apartment in hip neighborhood Palermo Soho through apartmentsba.com and had a great experience. However, since this was only two nights, we decided to splurge and go for the Park Hyatt. I personally love the Park Hyatt brand - mostly because they are sophisticated, but not stuffy. The furnishings are modern, but not so contemporary you feel like you are in a laboratory. Service is impeccable and their locations are usually prime.
The Park Hyatt Buenos Aires Palacio Duhau is located in the Recoleta, which is a tiny neighborhood kind of like the Upper East side without the unbridled snobbery and traffic. In general, I feel like Buenos Aires is a mix of Paris, Los Angeles, Madrid and NY- which is a perfect combination of some of my favorite cities. I knew the experience was going to be memorable when I started to get emails from both the front desk and butler (concierge) staff a week before check-in, asking if I needed anything during my stay. I let them know when I'd be arriving and asked if they could get me reservations at La Cabrera for a Thursday night at 10pm. They could only get a reservation at 6:30pm, which is the equivalent of eating the early bird special, so we decided to pass and swing it on our own.
We flew Aerolineas Argentinas from Punta del Este to local airport Aeroparque Jorge Newbury, which is much closer to downtown than EZE. The short flight was uneventful and once we were gouged for the $140 reciprocity fee that the Argentinean government charges tourists from counties that charge Argentineans similar fees, we were on our way. The only good thing was that we could pay the fee with a points-earning credit card, unlike the $140 Brazilian tourist visa fee, which has to be paid with money order and done in advance.
The cab was quick, about 15 minutes and a flat fee of somewhere around 50 pesos ($12.50 US). We were dropped off at the old building entrance on Avenida Alvear and I was immediately impressed with the beauty of the hotel. The older section is actually an old palace and you can enter through a staircase or through a small door on the ground level and take the elevator up.
We were immediately greeted and told it would be about 45 minutes until our room was ready. It was about 12:30pm, so we were several hours early for check-in, so I just wanted to drop our bags. The agent could not have been more pleasant and then slipped in â€œThe wait will be worth your while- we've upgraded your room four times to a very nice suiteâ€. Well worth the wait, indeed.
We walked around the neighborhood on the dry, hot summer day and ended up getting lunch and vino tinto at a gourmet cafÃ and when we returned an hour or so later, our room was ready and our butler Jessica met us in the lobby to take us there. She brought us outside to the courtyard where we walked down to the main building. The courtyard area was immaculately landscaped and there was a fountain running down the center.
Walking through the courtyard, we came to the new building where the majority of hotel rooms are located. The new building is extremely modern and immaculately kept. The restaurant is located there as well as the business center and gym. We realized there was another lobby where we probably should have checked in, but I personally liked touring the old building on arrival.
The entire time Jessica was telling us about the property and complimenting us on our Spanish, which I appreciated. I studied Spanish in college and take every chance I can get to brush up on my skills.
We arrived on the 5th floor and upon walking into the Park Executive Suite, I was impressed by its sleek decor. The wood floors were pristine and the entire suite was furnished with neutrals and dark browns. I won't spend too much time describing the suite since I have so many pictures and even a video, but overall I was extremely impressed by the space and furnishings. And especially because I only spend 30,000 points for two nights- even taxes were included.
Click here for a video tour of the suite.
In addition to the amazing suite upgrade, as a Hyatt Diamond I also received the following amenities:
1) Free pressing for two shirts
2) Complimentary bottle of Malbec
3) Fruit plate each day
4) Breakfast for two at the restaurant completely comped
5) 4pm late check-out
6) 4 one liter bottles of water replenished each day
It was almost sinful how spoiled I was- I honestly didn't want to leave. Everyone at the hotel was extremely polite and they bent over backwards to accommodate our requests.
The balcony was a nice addition and it was nice drinking a bottle of Malbec before heading over to Palermo Soho for dinner and nights out on the town. I also really appreciated that there were US outlets at the desk so I could easily charge multiple electronics.
The bathroom was also top-notch, with a marble shower with rainfall shower. The Celedonio toiletries were nice and they had tons of personal amenities like Q tips, makeup remover pads, combs, nail kits, sewing kits and more. There was also an electronic scale, but I sure as hell didn't want to use it after my steak and wine parilla splurges.
While the Park Hyatt is in Recoleta, getting cabs was easy and they were really cheap - about $8 to go across the city to Palermo Soho, where most of my favorite restaurant and bars are located. For this trip we only had two nights and ended up eating at La Cabrera and Don Julio, bost amazing parillas.
I went to La Cabrera two years ago and it's now even more popular than ever and they opened a new satellite restaurant down the block to handle the increase. We didn't have reservations, but they accommodated us after an hour wait, which was fine since we killed time at the bar across the street. What I love most about La Caberera were the mollejas (sweetbreads), which were huge and absolutely delicious. I never order them in the US, but La Cabreras are too legendary to pass up.
Don Julio had better steaks and atmosphere in my opinion.
Speaking of great meals, the hotel breakfast was also memorable. We went for the full spread since it was comped and everything was fresh and tasty. The restaurant is bright and sunny and if it weren't raining, I would have liked to sit outside.
Before we left, I wanted to do one more walk through of the property and found an underground tunnel that connects the two buildings. The halfway is lined with great art pieces and sculptures. There was also a flower station where you could see the hotel florists working on arrangements.
The hallway ends with a spiral staircase that takes you into the old building, where there is a cigar/whiskey parlor, piano lounge, outdoor patio and other salons. Everything was immaculately clean and open to guests to explore and lounge in.
The worst part about the stay was leaving! Though in the matter of fair reporting, I have to say my only criticism would be that the hotel does not have a pool. Besides that, I really can't think of any other issues I had with the hotel. The staff was competent and friendly, housekeeping was efficient and kept the room immaculately clean and the hotel went above and beyond in recognizing the Hyatt Diamond benefits. From a points junkie perspective, I couldn't have been happier.
For anyone considering a stay, think of opening a Hyatt credit card - you get two free nights at any hotel and if you are a Hyatt Diamond, the two nights are in a suite. And if you are considering switching your loyalty to Hyatt, check out my 6 reasons why I love being a Hyatt Diamond.
I don't want to sound like too much of a Hyatt cheerleader, but I was really blown away with my experience at the Park Hyatt Buenos Aires. With so many hotels downgrading service and refusing to honor loyalty program benefits, I really have to give credit where credit's due. And to leave one of the best hotels stays I've ever had and get a zero balance folio (besides some incidentals) from the front desk is just one of the reasons why I'll continue to leverage loyalty programs and points in the future (and one of the reasons why you should too!).