By Tiffany Ryes, International Banker
For luxury travellers in search of satiating their refined tastes and thirst for good wine, an opulent holiday by acres of precious vineyards may be just the thing.
There’s nothing quite as enchanting as waking up in one of the world’s greatest and most majestic wine regions. Gazing out from a well-appointed suite and onto rolling hills of high-quality grape vines is a dream in itself. Add this to dining on superb food paired with an even more superb Pinot noir or Chardonnay, toasting with some of the best bottles of Champagne, or simply sampling the most magnificent vintages—and you have the makings of the wine-lover’s perfect luxury holiday.
Castello Banfi – Il Borgo (Montalcino, Tuscany)
Highly lauded and recognized for its excellence in winemaking and hospitality, Castello Banfi – Il Borgo represents everything to love about wine. History, legend and the legendary are mixed together in this luxurious estate.
Towering over its idyllic vineyards, this ancient Tuscan castle-on-a-hill rose in the 1700s. The surrounding stone hamlets provided homes for wine farmers working for their noble landowners. Today, more than 300 years later, the historic architecture may have been unchanged on the outside, but the interiors have undergone a series of renovations to provide all the modern comforts and luxuries.
Inside Castello Banfi – Il Borgo, guests will find well-preserved vaulted ceilings, stone arches and exposed timber beams. These beautifully contrast against sophisticated amenities such as contemporary furniture, high-end fixtures, Nespresso coffee machines, rainfall showers and flat-screen TVs.
The property provides exclusivity, with only two spacious rooms and 12 junior suites. Each of these accommodations was uniquely designed by renowned Italian interior designer Frederico Forquet. From each room’s unique color scheme down to the last detail, guests can enjoy top-notch comforts, especially with ultra-soft beds and premium Italian bedding. Guests in the hotel’s famed Poggio all’Oro Suite are particularly offered a wine-lover’s treat. They have exclusive access to a private wine cellar of rare vintages accompanied by a complimentary sommelier service.
Guests can stroll among lush gardens and olive groves or relax with a glass of wine by the pool. There are also hot-air-balloon rides for guests to take in the beauty of the whole estate from the skies. Other activities include bike rides, private cooking lessons, vineyard tours and wine-tasting.
For that well-loved Tuscan dining, the hotel has two restaurants, Taverna Banfi and La Sala dei Grappoli. The former is located in an old wine cellar and serves traditional Tuscan staples, while the latter offers refined dishes al fresco. Both have sommeliers to offer superb Castello Banfi wine pairings. There’s also L’Enoteca, a wine bar offering the entire range of the estate, from the San Angelo Pinot Grigio to Brunello di Montalcino and SummuS ed ExcelsuS.
The Vines Resort & Spa (Mendoza, Argentina)
Nestled at the foot of the Andes, in the heart of Argentina’s premier wine country, is the ultimate retreat for wine lovers: The Vines Resort & Spa.
Offering laid-back luxury, The Vines initially provided sanctuary to vineyard owners of the surrounding estates. Now it offers five-star lodging to all guests drawn to the beauty of the Argentinian countryside and who are seeking the finest wines in the region.
The resort and spa features 22 expansive villas with one to two bedrooms and full kitchens. Each of these ample spaces also houses fireplaces, spa bathrooms, floor-to-ceiling windows, rooftop terraces and outdoor soaking tubs. The gems of these rooms, however, are the private, priceless and spectacular views of the vineyards and the snow-capped mountains beyond.
The low-lying villas embody their own brand of rustic luxury, juxtaposing natural, locally sourced materials in their furnishings with modern lines and luxurious details. This can be seen on the massive stone fireplaces, bare concrete walls, hardwood floors and wooden furniture. So while the color palette of each villa is understated, guests can still experience unmistakable luxury because of the villa’s scale and the attention paid to each pristine detail of the rooms.
The luxury extends to the well-trained staff guiding guests through the resort’s facilities and helping them with activities that include horseback riding and yoga, as well as the much-applauded wine-tasting and wine-blending. For those seeking gustatory delights, celebrity Argentinian Chef Francis Mallmann prepares exciting takes on classic Argentine dishes over the seven flames that is the restaurant’s namesake, Siete Fuegos. Dishes can be served as guests look over at the majestic Andes and sip on any of the hundreds of the estate’s exquisite high-altitude wines.
Hotel Marqués de Riscal (Elciego, Spain)
Think Frank Gehry, and images of the Guggenheim and El Peix appear, among his many architectural masterpieces. So it’s no wonder that Hotel Marqués de Riscal is also an ultra-modern design marvel that puts the medieval town of Elciego in La Rioja, Spain, on the map when it comes to epic hotel design.
A shiny, multi-colored, rolling metal creation amidst the rolling hills of rustic country houses, Hotel Marqués de Riscal is a highly sought-after luxury destination that is close to the hearts of wine-lovers from all over the world. This is particularly true because it’s nestled right at the heart of Spain’s wine-producing area, and the hotel infuses wine not just in its cuisine, but also in its exceptional spa offerings.
For those who want wine beyond drinking and food, the in-house Spa Vinothérapie Caudalie offers an experience unlike any other. It injects its local wines into many of its treatments, such as crushed Cabernet for face and body scrubs. Guests can also soak in and indulge in the infamous Red Vine Bath for a heady sensation and a stunning afterglow due to the grapes’ natural antioxidants.
Diners are always welcomed with a bottle of wine, a prelude to more vintages as they sample the best of modern Spanish cuisine in the Michelin-starred restaurant of Chef Francis Paniego, Restaurante Marqués de Riscal. Another equally delightful option is the 1860 Tradicion, which has a more traditional menu paired by a spectacular wine list.
Vina Vik (Millahue, Chile)
Glinting as a golden-hued gem in the midst of an 11,000-acre vineyard, Vina Vik offers a wine-loving luxury traveler an experience unlike any other.
Removed from the old and rustic, Vina Vik is like a sparkling new treasure unearthed from the grape vines themselves. But let this not trick you—the hotel’s location was painstakingly chosen to ensure the best possible quality of grapes for winemaking. Luckily, guests are also afforded with a majestic view of the snow-capped Andes and a picturesque spread of the Chilean countryside. What is even more amazing is the beauty that Vina Vik holds within.
This is because Vina Vik is designed also with art in mind. That is why a stay in the hotel offers something like a visit to a surrealist art gallery, with canvas, sculpture and stylized furniture weaving through the luxe-modern interiors of the property. And if that’s not enough, the outdoors also serves as a work of art framed by the building’s glass walls and open walkways. Meanwhile, the 22 avant-garde rooms invite guests to soak in all the art and natural beauty, as there are no televisions to distract them. There’s no shortage of activities, however. Horseback riding through the lush landscape can keep guests occupied outdoors, while indoors, a games and lounge area provides an array of activities to pass the time.
Opting for one of the four master suites, guests can enjoy a 180-degree view of Millahue. The main attraction in these suites, however, comes from the hammock-style bath designed by Antonio Sequi, which allows guests to soak in after a day of wine-tasting and just enjoy the panorama.
Forget about sun, sea and sand. Wine, dine and more wine is all that matters to those who are looking for the ultimate vacation that will satisfy their discerning tastes for exceptional accommodations, and most importantly, their even more discriminating tastes for wine.