The incredible Uruguay and the romance of Fasano Punta Del Este

There are horses on the highway in Uruguay. Horses with people on them wearing majestic boots and big brimmed cowboy hats. Not a few horses, mind you. Uruguay’s half a million or so horses are a way of life in the sleepy South American country below Brazil. They speed through the streets as cars carelessly drive by. Coming from California where the freeways are 8 lanes of ash colored cement, I found this completely charming. This is why we travel, of course. Our journey reveals whole new worlds that delight, spark and sometimes boggle the mind. Uruguay as a whole country that does, and the wonderful Fasano Punta Del Este resort within it is a good reason to visit now.

It takes about two hours by car to reach Fasano Punta Del Este from the main city of Montevideo, and it’s a drive you’ll be happy to take slowly. Much of Uruguay reminds me of Napa Valley or Southern France, but a South American version of rolling vineyards, idyllic stone houses, grazing sheep and cows, and endless land. Indeed, as soon as you turn off the road to the gates of the Fasano Punta Del Este resort, between the Vina Eden, Deicas and Bodega Garzon wineries, the stunning enormity of the property begins to unfold.

The Fasano Punta Del Este resort sits on 1,190 acres of a preserved ranch and is a world unto itself. The landscape is beautifully still, filled with white and gray rocks jutting out of the ground, towering pine trees, fields of yellow grass, and views of the Pacific Ocean in the far distance. The terrain must have inspired renowned Brazilian architect Isay Weinfield, who designed the property in 2010 for the Fasano family. Legend has it that Brazilian gastronomy patriarch Rogerio Fasano once gave Weinfield a brick as inspiration for their first property, the Fasano Hotel located in Sao Paulo, Brazil. For the Fasano Punta Del Este resort, the same timelessness of design continued. Rustic while being contemporary, all the buildings within the resort are as durable as the earth itself, but are extremely exciting in the way brilliant architecture achieves. Cracked concrete, sharp geometric lines and wood paneling carry over to all 32 bungalows. The result is a Louis I. Kahn meets Uruguayan chakra (rando), and it’s unforgettable.

There are many spots to enjoy the magical essence of Fasano Punta Del Este. One of my favorites was in the underground pool located inside the spa. There’s something heartwarming about a wall-to-ceiling window, a beige interior and views of greenery as far as the eye can see. Upstairs in the main building, the casual Las Piedras restaurant expands into a huge sunset patio that seems to be called by God every night. A bonus is seeing the people, all of whom appear in a wonderful Ralph Lauren ad. I also loved the equestrian center, full of horses with coats glistening in the late afternoon light. And for later in the evening, which Brazilians simply call dinner time, the property’s famous main restaurant, Fasano Restaurant, is a dream of Italian cuisine by candlelight.

Sometimes I feel a bit sad leaving places that transport people like the Fasano Punta Del Este resort. The good news, at least with the Fasano brand, is that there are nine more properties to visit and two more under construction, including the Fasano gem Cidade Jardim in São Paulo. I take this as a sign that I should book another South American adventure, if not for the horses in Uruguay, at least for another escape from Fasano.

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