LUGARES MAGAZINE Nro. 93
By: Cristina Viturro
Photos: Nacho Calonge
At a certain point along Route 82, south of Bariloche, a splendid panorama opens to view of Lake Gutierrez, framed by the mountains. A short way beyond this point, facing a bay, a white wall indicates the entrance to the Arelauquen Golf & Country Club.
After going through the security checkpoint, the road opens onto a meadow frequented by local birds (black-faced ibises and upland geese), then it goes up the side of Cerro Otto through the forest, passing newly built houses and others that are under construction, and keeps climbing until it opens out and turns to the right: here on high neither woods nor houses can be seen, simply the golf course and an elegant hostelry.
Far away one can see the waters of Lake Gutierrez, the southern flank of Mt Catedral and distant snowy peaks. The five-star hostelry, inaugurated in mid-July, covers a wide area of the 700 hectares of land it is on, a large part of which forms an ecological reserve for the exclusive use of the owners of this "Country Club" and its guests.
The Club has Bariloche's only Polo fields plus a heliport, and is building a marina on Lake Gutierrez. In addition to its tennis, paddle and squash courts, at the beginning of November, it is inaugurating the "jewel in its crown": the 18-hole golf course designed with advice from "Chino" Vicente Fernandez.
The building is a harmonious synthesis of warmth and elegance, conceived by a Bariloche architect, Pablo Masllorens, and decorated by Carlos Pellegrini, who took advantage of local Patagonian wood varieties (such as the Santa Cruz lenga) to use them in the furniture and carpentry, giving each floor a different color basic motif. The rooms are 23 in total, with five main suites, one with a view on Lake Gutierrez and another seven overlooking the Otto.
The Arelauquen premises are a good setting for cycling, trekking and horse riding, enabling one to get to know the place and enjoy its various lookout points. The open air activity can be rounded off with workouts in the perfectly equipped and professionally supervised gym, in the beautiful in-out heated pool, and in the spa, with its Jacuzzi and sauna.
The restaurant, named El Talisman, like the ranch-house the Belgian investors Burco also own in the Corcovado area, deserves a chapter of its own. Here in the Talisman (Talisman), I met chef Marcos Mallmann. Yes, he is a nephew of the great Francis. At his 24 years of age, and after working in all his uncle's restaurants and running his own catering firm, Marcos offers a cuisine featuring all Argentina's typical foods, mainly the Patagonian ones. Thus, the menu offers mutton spare ribs with a coating of pistachio nuts, Italian sorrentino ravioli with lake trout filling and a mil feuilles of Patagonian mushrooms, with morilla berries, pine tree mushrooms and champignons from Chubut.
The restaurant is open to the general public and also has a standard sample menu at reasonable prices. Another option is to visit it at teatime and, while you're at it, enjoy sunset over Lake Gutierrez. At the "Piedra de Habsburgo" (Hapsburg Rock), Arelauquen is given high marks, together with El Refugio, a restaurant on top of Mt Otto: during winter, you get there by snow-cat and enjoy fondue. In summer a good option may be to get there on horseback to have barbecue or enjoy a tea, with the wonderful view of Lake Nahuel Huapi and Mt Catedral in the background.