We picked Cavas for 4 nights in Mendoza because we wanted the most outstanding hotel in the Mendoza region. By outstanding, I mean, the nicest rooms, best service, best private tours, a hotel outside the city actually set in the wine region and good food. Cavas fulfilled our expectations but didn't necessarily exceed them. Our room was wonderful: private pool, outdoor jacuzzi, double outdoor showers, a master bath with double sink, double private toilets, double showers and plenty of closet space, a bedroom and living room and an upstairs rooftop terrace. We booked a standard room but I don't know if this was an upgrade or not. Everything felt new and perfectly decorated for the setting. We could have spent all four days just hanging out in the room taking in the vineyard setting and snow-capped mountain views. But you don't go to Mendoza just for pool-side lounging so we ventured out for 1 day of mountain hiking in Vallecitas (highly recommended if you're decently fit!) and 2 days of wine-tasting as well as 2 nights of dining out on the town (plus one night in the hotel restaurant and one night by the fire on our rooftop star-illuminated terrace).
We organized all our adventures through the hotel: we used their drivers, let them organize our wine-tastings, our hiking adventure (through an independent guide) and our dinner reservations. I did not get the all-inclusive package and I think that was the right choice, as we didn't eat all our meals at the hotel and we did some off the beaten path things. I thought the prices for these services were more or less reasonable, I guess the peso to dollar exchange rate you get will have an effect on your perspective of value.
There are 4 drivers so you will not always get the same one. We found the driver Federico's assistance with our wine tour critical - the hotel concierge had not gotten completely right the type of experience we were looking for on the first day and on day 2 Federico was critical to ensuring that we visited the type of wineries we most wanted to see. I was very grateful for his advice. Basically we asked for small, independent wineries with very high quality wines and our first day was one small but not great winery with an excellent guide, followed by a really long lunch at a mediocre winery and then lastly a really great winery. So day two we wanted to skip the long lunch and the mediocre wines and get straight to the high quality, small production family-owned locations and Federico made that happen.
In general, as far as wine tasting goes, the hotel can arrange whatever you like, but you have to be very specific with them about what you want to see and follow up to make sure your locations have truly been confirmed, because at least in our case, including once an itinerary had been sent to us and the day before it turned out that two of our scheduled locations were in fact not confirmed and our itinerary had to be adjusted to different hours.
Another driver, Maxi, was very friendly, sweet and even went out of his way to pick up something at the grocery for us one night while we were at dinner.
The two highest quality wineries we visited were Achaval Ferrer and Cobos - they're a bit bigger than the others we saw but the wines are much higher rated. We also enjoyed visits to Bressia (owner's sons gave the tour), Carmelo Patti (owner tour he's quite the character), Mendel, and Montequieto. Our long lunch the first day was at Ruca Malen, which was lovely (very good food and nice outdoor setting) but the wine was terrible.
One general criticism that I have about the way they arranged the tours is that they set up both days entirely in Lujan de Cuyo and didn't even offer us the option of heading to Valle Uco or Maipu Valley. It turns out they could have taken us to Valle Uco (it's only an hour) but since we didn't find out about this until very late, we didn't get to go there. Although Lujan is generally more the center of the action, Valle Uco is supposedly very beautiful because it butts up against the mountains and there are a couple of great producers out there we regretted not seeing. So I guess my feedback there is that they should try to offer guests the option of one day in Valle Uco if they like and one day in Lujan and if they don't want to do it that way then fine two days in Lujan, but at least explain the options.
As far as the hotel dining goes, I thought the food was pretty good but not as good as the restaurants we went to in town. Service was spotty - some servers were wonderful but there was one auxiliary server who was outright hostile. Additionally, not once at breakfast did they get our egg order correct even though we are both fluent spanish speakers (literally: we ordered veggie omelets no cheese no ham and got veggies on the side with ham and cheese inside the omelet the first three days in a row, then on the last day I gave up and just ordered a ham and cheese omelet and received a veggie omelet no ham no cheese - it was comical!)
Mendoza itself is about 30-40 minutes from the hotel and the airport even further. We went out to Francis Mallman and Azafran, both of which were excellent, though Francis Mallman is the one you absolutely cannot miss - the most amazing outdoor wood fire grilled steaks in a lovely interior garden setting. A classic Argentine experience. The town of Mendoza is kind of cute, but I don't think I would take a city tour if it means sacrificing being in the countryside. What we did do in Mendoza that I highly recommend if you want to save a *ton* of money is have dollars wire transferred to you from abroad. This allowed us to benefit from a a 9 peso to the dollar exchange rate versus the official rate of 5.6 to the dollar, saving us a ton of money on our hotel bill and wine purchases and it is completely legal (you can wire transfer up to 5k in USD per person from abroad through a company called Xoom.) You have to go to a small shopping center called the Galleria Tonsa to pick up the money where there are a few shady characters hanging around looking to change dollars with tourists but we didn't have any trouble whatsoever at the location where we picked up our money and it's right in the city center where it's safe enough.
We made use of the Wine Therapy spa plan (2.5 hours) and it wasn't that expensive but it wasn't that great either - the bath in particular was like bathing in purple food-colored water and in our case it was chilly. A hotel of this calibur should look into bringing in a spa like Caudalie to run their treatments or else just offer massages in the room and skip the rest. Frankly if I'd known, I probably would have just spent the same time enjoying the patio instead.
I have two additional minor complaints: there was a angry security dog patrolling the fenceline outside our room the entire duration of our stay and every time we went out to our patio or pool he barked at us incessantly and almost without pause. We kind of got used to him, but it seems like the hotel should come up with another solution for any possible security issues that does not involve guests listening to him howl at the moon all night and bark at guests all day. My second complaint is that we were originally offered the option of a tango show and dinner one night, but then a big group came along and booked it exclusively and the hotel pulled their offer on us so we weren't able to see the show. I think if it had never been offered up as an option I wouldn't have cared, but once I had it in my mind, I was disappointed that they pulled it out from under us and didn't reschedule it for other guests a different night. Although big groups are money makers, all guests should receive equal opportunity on things like wine tastings and special events and in general I felt like we weren't really on the concierges' radar screen during the entirety of our stay, that it was actually the drivers (who are not necessarily the experts) that did all the tour planning for us. So you need to be demanding about what you want them to do for you in advance if you're not going to be happy just going with whatever options are presented last minute.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- The Cavas Wine Lodge is located amid the snow-capped Andes Mountains and the fertile, green vineyards of Mendoza. It is the fist hotel in Mendoza dedicated to wine and all its secrets. Guests are drawn to the Cavas Wine Lodge for its privacy, tranquility and unmistakable romance. Guests are encouraged to indulge in wine, food, luxurious spa treatments and the surrounding natural beauty. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Cavas Wine Hotel Agrelo
- Cavas Wine Mendoza
- Cavas Wine Lodge Mendoza/Lujan De Cuyo, Argentina