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“Spirit of Patagonia - True, but Room for Improvement”

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EOLO - Patagonia's Spirit - Relais & Chateaux
Ranked #1 of 70 Hotels in El Calafate
Certificate of Excellence
Level Contributor
675 reviews
128 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 1,857 helpful votes
“Spirit of Patagonia - True, but Room for Improvement”
Reviewed February 1, 2012

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.

Room Tip: Corner Suites have great views and lots of light - very nice, but if you're not going to be in y...
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  • Stayed January 2012, traveled as a couple
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10 Thank Johann&Sandra
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (98)
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English first
Milan, Italy
Level Contributor
117 reviews
28 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 71 helpful votes
Reviewed January 18, 2012

I stayed in Eolo from the 2nd to the 5th of January 2012
The days spent in your hotel have been within the best in my life: the location, the hotel, the room, the restaurant, the excursions, and especially the staff, everything was perfectly set, in order to provide a fantastic experience.
Rooms are big, and well furnished, common areas make ou feel you are in an "estancia" of the highest level, the view from the big windows is very very nice on the surrounding mountains, food is at gourmet levels and everybody makes you feel you're unique.
Will be back!

  • Stayed January 2012, traveled as a couple
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2 Thank Andycnv
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
London, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
3 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 7 helpful votes
Reviewed January 16, 2012

Stunning hotel (except for the small pool). Unique/ relaxing view. Our biggest complain was about the service at the restaurant. It was so slow that didn't allow us to enjoy our meals. You would ask twice for a glass of wine and they will bring it well after the starters. Many of the guests shared our view and given the price paid we were all expecting a different service. I would also add that the atmosphere at the restaurant is rather formal and stuffy - not what you would expect in Patagonia.

p.s. - I would NOT recomend to stay at this hotel if you have children of any age.

  • Stayed January 2012, traveled with family
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Helpful?
3 Thank ChiaiaLuna
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
sydney
Level Contributor
167 reviews
29 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 73 helpful votes
Reviewed January 14, 2012

Agree very stunning location and great staff and food (except for breakfast - no muesli and only weary scrambled eggs and bacon). The rooms were nice but didn't like the fact that there was no a/c. ("open a window") and the heating (centrally, not individually controlled) was on at about 30c. Stifling. Our room (no.5) was on the ground floor with lots of noise from other guests passing by to the restaurant. Room walls are thin and I could hear toilets flushing in neighbouring rooms. The pool and sauna were ok but you have to walk through the restaurant to get back to your room. Pretty embarrassing if you decide to go for a swim/sauna at 8pm and have to pass diners in your spa robe! I was feral after our fab Bariloche experience and booked a mani/pedi. Us$130. Sat in little side room on a regular armchair with my feet up on a dining chair. Not exactly 5 star treatment for the money.

Plus side? Really lovely staff and best lunches and dinners.

Room Tip: Don't get ground floor room on restaurant trail.
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  • Stayed January 2012, traveled solo
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1 Thank goldieSydney
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
London, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
54 reviews
29 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 60 helpful votes
Reviewed January 8, 2012

My husband and I had a fantastic couple of days at Eolo in early January. Everything was superlative, from the stunning location and view, to the comfortable and relaxing rooms and common areas, to the exquisite food and warm hospitality.

Rather than echo what many others have already said, I have two suggestions for those considering staying at Eolo -

1) Stay for at least 3 days/nights - We wanted to stay for 3 days/nights but decided because of flight times and the expense to stay for 2 days/nights. From an activity perspective this gave us enough time to visit Perito Moreno and do a horse ride, but it would have been nice to have another day to either choose another activity/excursion or just enjoy Eolo which is really beautiful. I would stay another day just for the food, which was by far the best we had in all of Argentina! And it's included in the price.

2) Activities/excursions - I highly recommend the Perito Moreno Minitrek. You strap crampons onto your shoes and actually walk uphill and downhill on the ice for 1.5 hours. It's not easy and takes a little getting used to, but it's not difficult either, though it requires a certain level of fitness. And it is an incredible experience to be on the ice and surrounded by the glacier. You can choose to take a private hotel car to the glacier or the public transport option, which is cheaper. We chose the latter and were very happy with it.
I also recommend the 2 hour horse ride at Eolo. The horses are gentle and well trained, and the guide, Roberto, is knowledgeable and incredibly nice. It's a lovely 2 hours and a wonderful way to explore the area around Eolo.

We loved every bit of our trip to Argentina and Eolo was definitely a highlight. If you're thinking of going to see the glaciers, stay at Eolo. It is a truly special place and it will stay with you long after you have left.

  • Stayed January 2012
    • Value
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Helpful?
Thank Pokkstar
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Brussels
Level Contributor
24 reviews
20 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 20 helpful votes
Reviewed January 7, 2012

Stayed at Estancia EOLO just before Xmas. The moment you walk past check-in and into the lobby salon the view hits you and you can't speak for a few moments! Wow. What a place. Couldn't see another structure for miles. Just the steppe, Lake Argentina, a few cattle and a giant valley encased by mountains. This hotel is quite expensive but I felt it was worth every dollar. All meals, soft drinks, coffee, tea are included in the room rate (alcoholic drinks extra). We arrived about 2 pm, were given a tour of the hotel and shown to a large room with a comfortable bathroom and a view that took the eye right to the very bottom of the valley of Estancia Anita, facing the sunset. Since lunch is served until three we were still in time for a three course menu, one of several excellent meals that were to follow. Service is friendly and very professional. After lunch I asked what we could do ... take a walk reception said. There are no paths but 5000 hectares of steppe to explore. Walk in the general direction of the lagoon, I was told, there should be a lot of birds in that area. After two hours of walking leasurely downhill we still hadn't reached the lagoon. I must say we stopped many times to take pictures, to creep up on hares and birds, to search for condor feathers, to examine all the cadavers (including a calf), lying around in what must be a murderous environment for the wildlife at any time of the day or night. Because of the inclination of the terrain we couldn't even see the lagoon anymore. I am not sure whether my words even begin to describe the vastness and glorious emptiness of the space in which this hotel is situated. So in the end we turned around for another two hour plus walk, up the slope towards the hotel, majestically sitting on top of a hillcrest. Just in time to take a shower and then dinner (we were too late for teatime, with British style scones, sandwiches and a choice of exotic teas). After dinner, we watched the sun go down from our bed through the scenic window (sunset in December is between 10.30 and 11 pm ... it doesn't get really pitch dark until past midnight ... and the sun is back around 4.30 am). The only comment I have about this divine Relais & Chateaux property (I would feel bad calling it a criticism) is that the choice of foods at breakfast was poor compared to the lavish lunch and dinner options. But this being said I felt very sad that we had to move on since the hotel was fully booked for Xmas (return transfers to El Calafate airport are also included in the price). No time to climb up the mountain and see lake Argentina from the other side, no time for a decent cabalgada (horsebackriding gaucho style), no time to have another go at reaching the lagoon, no time for more feather 'hunting', no time for the pool and sauna, missed out on the traditional weekend parillada ... but what memories to take back. I could write a poem about the 24 hours we spent in this splendid environment! Hurry to go see for yourselves !

Room Tip: All rooms have a fabulous view but corner suites have double views.
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  • Stayed December 2011, traveled as a couple
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Helpful?
1 Thank SniggyBrussels
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
New York, New York, United States
Level Contributor
6 reviews
4 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
Reviewed January 2, 2012

We stayed in two very different hotels in the El Calafate area: Eolo and Hosteria Alta Vista. Both were were well outside of Calafate and both were visible from the other across the great expanse of the Anita Valley. While entirely different, we enjoyed both immensely. Eola was luxury... the rooms were spacious with modern amenities and un-parraleled views. The hotel restaurant served us some of our best meals in Argentina. If you are looking for luxury in the midst of the Patagonian wilderness, you must stay at Eola... if you are looking for adventure and hominess, look at Hosteria Alta Vista.

  • Stayed December 2011, traveled with friends
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Helpful?
Thank Kit J
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about EOLO - Patagonia's Spirit - Relais & Chateaux

Property: EOLO - Patagonia's Spirit - Relais & Chateaux
Address: Ruta Provincial 11 Km 23, El Calafate Z9405DHC, Argentina
Phone Number:
Location: Argentina > Patagonia > Province of Santa Cruz > El Calafate
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Kitchenette Restaurant Room Service Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
#1 Romantic Hotel in El Calafate
#1 Luxury Hotel in El Calafate
#10 Family Hotel in El Calafate
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$$$
Hotel Class:4 star — EOLO - Patagonia's Spirit - Relais & Chateaux 4*
Number of rooms: 17
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 
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Also Known As:
Eolo - Patagonia`s Spirit Hotel El Calafate
EOLO - Patagonia's Spirit - Relais & Chateaux El Calafate, Argentina

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