It’s the best of both: the big city romance and heady mystique of Buenos Aires paired with the laid back, rural charm of the countryside in Carmelo. Though in two different countries—Argentina and Uruguay, respectively—these two Four Seasons properties are just across the Rio de Plata river from each other. And the one-two combo makes for an ideal South American family vacation.
That’s why we asked Felicitas Mendieta, sales director at Four Seasons Hotel Buenos Aires, to sit down with Mariana Planes, sales and marketing coordinator at Four Seasons Resort Carmelo, Uruguay, and charlar (chat) about Carmelo’s Kids For All Seasons* kids’ club.
FM: ¡Buenos días! Let’s get down to it… Why Carmelo?
MP: It’s ideal for families. We are a 44-hectare resort surrounded by nature on the shore of the river. We have secluded beaches, a lovely pine forest, eucalyptus, vineyards and grassy plains. Families can hike, bike, go fishing, spot birds and catch lizards—do things you can’t do in the city. It’s very pastoral, safe and peaceful.
FM: Do you get to sample Uruguayan culture?
MP: Yes! For Argentines (60 percent of our guests), it’s different though similar, so they feel comfortable here. For Americans, they get a taste of South American culture. We have our own unique local traditions. For example, Uruguayan Carnaval in February is quite different from the Argentine version. Kids staying at our resort can learn how to play drums Uruguayan style. Families can try our Mate, the typical tea.
We offer very professional and warm, personalized attention. Lots of our staff are locals—from nearby Colonia, Carmelo or Montevideo. People here are quiet and courteous, open and easy-going; very simple and very kind—that’s the spirit of the Uruguayan. There’s something about our culture that makes you stop and relax a little bit; to not be in a hurry all the time.
Guests can take a city tour of Colonia del Sacramento, just one hour by car, one of the oldest cities in South America and a UNESCO heritage site. The city was the site of many battles between Spain and Portugal and has South America’s only bull fighting ring.
FM: Tell us about your Kids For All Seasons* club?
MP: The kids get to play beach games, tennis, golf, go fishing for Mojarras (small river fish) at the golf course or the beach, join a sandcastle contest. They also do arts and crafts, and things like puppet or mask making, making chocolate truffles and decorating sweets. One staff person works with kids five to eight; another takes the older kids. We have a small park here, so there’s plenty of outside play, too.
Last year during Carnaval, we gave Candombe lessons: typical Afro-Uruguayan folk music with drums. And during Carnaval every night we put on a different event. There was a parade, dance and Candombe show. Children got to take a class, then dress as candomberos and dance and play drums in the parade. It was fantastic!
FM: What’s your goal with the kids’ club?
MP: For the whole family to be happy. Because when my child is happy, I am happy, you know? We have a team committed to providing great experiences for the kids—to make them feel like little kings and queens.
FM: What’s the most popular thing for kids?
MP: Playing golf with the family in the natural setting. The course is perfectly nestled in the rolling Uruguayan countryside, winding around lakes, past wetlands and native trees, and grass outcroppings.
FM: If a family is journeying a long way to your resort, should they combine a Carmelo with a Buenos Aires stay?
MP: Absolutely! Buenos Aires is the gateway to Argentina, Uruguay and Chile, right in the middle of South America. Carmelo makes a nice, relaxing destination at the end of a trip. Buenos Aires is a lot of fun: a very sophisticated and attractive city; a mix of Latin culture with European flavour. And of course it’s the city of tango. There’s lots to do with kids.
FM: Can you suggest an itinerary including the “best of South America” family to-dos?
MP: Of course! Here it is:
FM: What’s your favourite time to visit?
MP: Our season is November to March, but I would say fall (March and April) because we have very mild weather: it’s no too hot and not too windy.
FM: What’s new?
MP: This year we’ve started golf classes for kids five and older.
FM: What else fun outside?
MP: Windsurfing, kayaking, canoeing, a sunset cruise on a small sail boat that departs from a private port. Puerto Camacho is one mile from resort and you can bike there. Horseback riding. Stargazing is lovely because our stars in the southern hemisphere are different and it’s so dark here in the countryside. We can arrange for an astronomer to give a short talk about our constellations.
FM: What’s not-to-be-missed?
MP: Our homemade pastries with Dulce de Leche. Uruguayan steak with salsa criolla, sweet potatoes, tomatoes and quince; barbecued chorizo (sausage); and Chivito (a traditional sandwich with very thin-sliced beef).
Read more on Carmelo, Uruguay in Four Seasons Magazine.
Read more on Buenos Aires, Argentina in Four Seasons Magazine.
*Kids For All Seasons (KFAS) is a Four Seasons complimentary recreational and educational program for children of resort guests. Most KFAS clubs are designed for youth four to 12 years old, and open daily from 9 to 5. (Younger children can often join KFAS with a nanny or parent, or resorts can arrange for babysitting.) But details vary from property to property, so check the resort’s website for more information.
Not your average camp, the VIP offerings are pretty extraordinary—for example, at Four Seasons Resort Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt, following an educational talk by a diving instructor, kids get to make their own aquarium featuring the exotic creatures of the Red Sea, such as flying fish and parrot fish.
Co-authored by: Felicitas Mendieta
Born and raised in Argentina, Felicitas Mendieta is a sales director at Four Seasons Hotel Buenos Aires. She has worked in sales and marketing for 23 years, and three years ago started her own consulting business focusing on the hotel industry. Felicitas has both a graduate degree in marketing and a law degree from Universidad de Buenos Aires. In her free time, she enjoys reading, swimming, yoga and astrology. Felicitas lives in Buenos Aires with her husband, four-year-old son John and six-month-old kitty Quincy.
Mariana Planes is sales and marketing coordinator at Four Seasons Resort Carmelo, Uruguay. An Argentine, Mariana has made her career with Four Seasons, including stints in various positions at Four Seasons Hotel Buenos Aires and Four Seasons Resort Carmelo, Uruguay. Mariana has a passion for dancing, biking and hiking in the forest. She lives in Carmelo with her Uruguayan husband and her four-year-old son.
View all posts from Mariana
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