Eolo is a small (17-room) specialty lodge located about 30 minutes outside of El Calafate. It is called "Spirit of Patagonia", and I have to say, it does capture that. Perched high on a hill with panoramic views of the lake, the estancia on which it's located (Estancia Alice), the "big sky country" desert plateaus and mountain peaks beyond. One side of the hotel has views of the mountains of Los Glacieres Park visible on a sunny day. There are Herreford cattle that roam right outside your bedroom window day and night, jackrabbits are bolting left and right outside the window while you eat, caracara turn over rocks looking for something to eat, and even a gray fox paid us a visit one night. Nice place, though the price is a crazy, at up to $1125 for a corner room. You can stay at one of the nearby estancias for about $300/night and have the same experience with a bit less luxury. Keep in mind that the "great views" you read about are desert landscape - no trees, no forest, no green, no mountains for the most part - just a desert valley with plateaus beyond, mostly flat scrub with a lake far in the distance - but this is what 95% of Patagonia looks like, so you do get a feel for it for sure. The hotel makes good use of floor to ceiling windows to emphasize its hillside location. The clientele seem to be almost entirely American with a few Europeans - they admit they never have Argentine guests - so if you want a nice cultural mix, this is not the place.
LOCATION - Eolo is a place to be alone, to be at peace, to relax. If you want to experience El Calafate itself, this is not the place - 30 minutes outside of town. It is totally in the boonies, there is nothing else around. For seeing Perito Moreno, it cuts about 30 minutes off your commute each way (about 1 hour from the glacier), but of course if you're spending your entire day away from the resort (10-12 hours in most cases, then why pay $1100 a night for a room and dinner?
ROOMS - We had a corner room, which had panoramic 180 degree views of the Patagonian steppe and the lake beyond. The views were certainly nice, but you had to have your curtains closed in the morning because the sun was so hot shining in, and in the evening because if you didn't then you'd wake up at 3:30 AM with the sun in the morning. And of course, without a TV in the room, and a beautiful resort around you, not much time spent in the room to enjoy the view anyway.
The bed was very comfortable, but the pillows were hard and too large, quite uncomfortable. There was a desk and ample storage space. No TV, but there was a phone. There is no Air conditioning (open the windows), but there is a controllable steam furnace for heat. The bathroom is nice enough, but for $1100/night we weren't expecting a standard narrow-body shower-tub combo with a cheap shower curtain or the world's cheapest hair dryer. Overall, you're only paying for the view from the room and a bit more space, and the rest of the hotel has great views anyway, so I don't think there was anything to justify the price. That said, if you don't care about value, the corner room is definitely the one to get.
FOOD - The dining room has great views toward the lake, and you can sit and watch the rabbits, foxes, caracara, cattle and horses roaming around living their lives while you eat. Dinners are served from a set menu heavy on meat. The first day they did a typical Patagonian Lamb BBQ which was to die for. Every day the dinners were very well prepared and varied. Lunch you just had a set menu with a few options that never changed, which was disappointing, but the food was of good quality. They do a good job of ensuring the hotel is empty all day long (saving them the money of serving you lunch) so if you stay for lunch you are usually dining alone. Food is always 4 course, and you leave full.
The breakfast was a real disappointment - strictly three-star stuff, poor fruit selection, croissants, cereal, and cold scrambled eggs in a bin with bacon so thin it tasted like skin. They say they start serving at 6:30 AM, but that's just when they start putting the buffet together. We had nothing but cold cereal. By 7:30 AM the croissants finally arrived, also a slice of Oscar Meyer ham and cheese. We couldn't stay long enough to see the eggs actually arrive. But, at least the milk was cold for the cereal - they leave it sit out for hours without replenishing it, so by later in the morning you have warm milk for the cereal and cold eggs. I asked for fresh eggs one time and the lady actually argued with me that the eggs weren't cold and when over to check. There is no service at breakfast - you get your own coffee, and there is no offer for anything outside of the buffet. Apalling for $1100/night.
Alcohol is not included in the exorbitant price of the hotel, and it is very expensive, so if you like to have wine with your gourmet food at a high priced resort, prepare to shell out, especially if you're staying for 4 days like we did.
SERVICE - The front desk staff was always helpful and pleasant, speaking good English. Housekeeping was excellent, always cleaning your room while you were at breakfast, and always turn down while you were at dinner. Service through the rest of the hotel was almost nonexistent, especially during the day. Serve yourself breakfast, buffet not being completed until well after an hour after supposedly it started, never being replenished.
The wait staff spends most of their time back in the kitchen doing who knows what, and rarely come out unless they're already serving you. One time we came for lunch and sat for 20 minutes waiting for someone to come, nobody ever did. We had to walk to the reception to ask for someone to serve us lunch, but there was nobody there either. We finally asked a housekeeper and after a while someone came out of the kitchen to serve us. We had to go back into the kitchen to find someone to serve us at the bar, and then even when they knew we were there, we sat for an hour with empty glasses without a sign of life, finally having to go back into the kitchen again to ask for a refill.
The service at dinner was mixed - sometimes good, sometimes not, but always pleasant and enjoyable. Really terrible restaurant and bar service though. For $1100 a night, there should always be someone there to take care of you, no matter what. It just seemed like except at dinner, everyone at the resort was taking a nap. We met the manager when we checked in, but then never saw him again the rest of our 4 day stay.
EXCURSIONS - The resort advertises "included excursions" but really all you have is a 2 hour horseback ride, use of bikes and a birdwatching walk. Everything else you have to pay extra for. We did the longer 4-hour horseback ride (extra) up Cerro Frias, which was really nice. The guide, Roberto, was excellent - told us all about the environment, very social, and the horses were well trained, well cared for and strong. We rode through herds of wild guanacos, had 180 degree vistas of the Patagonian steppe and Glacier Park. This was the moment that we really felt "the spirit of Patagonia".
Just keep in mind that if you plan to only be in Calafate long enough to see Perito Moreno and go mini-trekking or Big Ice, then you might as well save your money and stay in town because you'll only be at Eolo to have dinner and sleep. We hired a driver one day to take us to the glacier. We were there at 8:00 AM and had the whole place to ourselves for 1.5 hours, and only a few other people until the tour buses arrived at 11:30 AM. You could hear the glaciers cracking and creaking, watch massive ice falling into the lake, really "feel" the glacier - all by yourself without the masses. The resort made arranging excursions effortless, we really appreciated that.
AMENITIES - There are few amenities here. Restaurant, small bar, TV room (only 1 TV on the property for 17 rooms), small pool and a spa that required 1-day advance reservations because nobody is onsite, they have to come in from El Calafate. Other than bikes you can use, that's it. Not a place for you if you have a short attention span. There is wi-fi throughout the hotel which worked surprisingly well.
We enjoyed our stay at Eolo, and we really did leave feeling we enjoyed "The Spirit of Patagonia" during our 4 days. We were happy we stayed on an Estancia instead of Los Notros in the park or a hotel in town, though we thought the high price wasn't justified by the amenities or the service in many cases. Certainly room for improvement, but the place is so serene, the guide is so nice, the views so wide and the dinners so good that it's hard not to enjoy your stay.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- EOLO - Patagonia's Spirit, Relais & Chateaux, is located within an "estancia" of 4,000 hectares (10,000 acres) between El Calafate, Argentina, and the Perito Moreno Glacier. With only 17 room, it offers the most exclusive accommodation of the area with a remarkably complete experience, affording a comfortable and luxurious window onto Patagonian life. Eolo.... Luxury of the simple thing! ... more less
- Reservation Options:
- TripAdvisor is proud to partner with Booking.com, Expedia, Orbitz, Travelocity, Priceline, Hotels.com and World Independent Hotel Promotion so you can book your EOLO - Patagonia's Spirit - Relais & Chateaux reservations with confidence. We help millions of travelers each month to find the perfect hotel for both vacation and business trips, always with the best discounts and special offers.
- Also Known As:
- Eolo - Patagonia`s Spirit Hotel El Calafate
- EOLO - Patagonia's Spirit - Relais & Chateaux El Calafate, Argentina