Sunday, February 3, 2008

Villavicencio

Villavicencio Hotel RuinsThis post is part of the two day Alta Montaña trip we took out of Mendoza. Read the post here for an overview of the trip.

In the village of Villavicencio is an old abandoned hotel whos image adorns the labels of millions of water bottles served up in Argentina. Villavicencio is by far the most popular mineral water in Argentina.

Villavicencio Bottle

This place was our first stop on our 2 day Alta Montaña drive out of the city of Mendoza. (check out this earlier post for the complete route.)

According to the New York Times, a french company purchased the rights to land surrounding the hotel and its mineral water. The company is working hard to preserve the integrity of the springs and so has chosen to keep the Hotel Termas Villavicencio closed.

At one time the Hotel and spa were frequented by Argentina's high society until its closing in 1980, when it shut its doors for good. However, you can still tour the lush grounds by foot. And there is a lot to see.

Villavicencio Hotel

The extensive gardens are beautiful even if the hotel looks well faded and in ruins. There is even a small chapel built in 1941 behind the hotel.

Finally, there is a small restaurant and gift shop at the bottom of the road up to the hotel. It is a great place to get a quick snack, though we wouldn't recommend eating lunch there. I actually recommend driving a couple of hours up over the top of the mountains here and having lunch at a a parilla attached to an old silver mine.

The road above the hotel turns to a dirt road and starts to snake and wind through a series of large switchbacks. There are frequent overlooks with beautiful views of the hotel and the Villavicencio valley below.

Villavicencio View

The locals call this part of the road the Caracoles de Villavicencio, or "the snails of Villavicencio." I is a fitting name because you will be stopping every few 100 meters to appreciate the view. Also, the steep dropoffs and blind curves will have you slowing way down.

1 comment:

seeandoh said...

I was searching for a Mineral water label when I stumbled upon your blog. Great site to visit Dave. Villavicencio is a great brand and the location of the mountain spring is breath taking. My family is looking for a place to re locate permanently. How much finances will it take to settle down in place like yours. We want to live in a quiet peaceful country side where is there is no pollution, the air is pure and there are humble means to survive. Please let me know if there is a chance to live a second life in Argentina.