If you’re feeling isolated at Sacromonte, the hotel is doing its job. Set on 250 acres in Uruguay’s Sierra de Carapé, it’s a place where sheep are tailed by gauchos and cell phones rarely catch a signal. Which is precisely the point. Peruvian businessman Edmond Borit teamed up with architects from Montevideo’s MAPA to design this dream getaway, a coalescence of great wine and enchanting nature. The vineyard came first, followed by a series of 645-square-foot modular cabins (dubbed “shelters”) that disappear into the landscape, their mirror-clad façades a reflection of the surrounding cliffs and grassland. The property is still a work in progress: Four shelters were unveiled in late 2018, and eight more will follow in 2020.
Sacromonte is located in Maldonado, about 90 minutes west of Montevideo’s Carrasco International Airport. Renting a car is essential, as you’ll want to explore the local wineries and olive oil producers, as well as sleepy towns like Pueblo Edén, home to the charming Capilla San Isidro Labrador church and sweets shop La Casita de Chocolate. Winsome José Ignacio beach is just 45 minutes south, while celebuchef Francis Mallmann’s natty-rustic Restaurante Garzon is 80 minutes west.
Room to Book
It varies by the season. In winter, book the Lake shelter to see frost blanketing the lower fields and mist rising off the water. In fall, the Vineyard shelter offers a front-row seat for leaf peeping, with the grapevines putting on a stunner of a show. Each cabin is decorated with cow skin rugs and leather butterfly chairs. Floor-to-ceiling windows showcase 180-degree views, so keep your eyes peeled for wildlife like boars, foxes, armadillos and gray brocket deer.
So-called “landscape amplifiers” dot the rolling hills. Visit the open-air A-frame chapel at the edge of the vineyard or follow a rugged walking trail to a trio of oversize kaleidoscopes. Peer inside to see the sweep of nature shattered and reflected back. And a great table that can seat 50 crafted from a single piece of timber and set upon marble blocks from a nearby quarry tempts you to arrange a private outdoor dinner with Mother Nature as the guest of honor.
Good to Know
Sacromonte is an epic destination for oenophiles: The 12-acre vineyard and artisanal winery releases limited-edition bottles of tannat (the flagship grape of Uruguay) and Bordeaux-type blends of marselan, merlot, syrah, cabernet sauvignon and cabernet franc with vines imported from French nurseries. (The grapes have taken beautifully to the north-facing cliffs and mineral-rich soil.) Book a formal wine tasting at the great table or pop open a bottle in the privacy of your shelter and do your sipping under a blanket of stars.
Q+A with Andrés Gobba
Founding Partner and Director, MAPA
How do you choose building materials that enhance the natural landscape?
A remote landscape pushes your limits because you don’t have the same resources you would in a city. That is why we opted for prefabrication. The shelters were built in a factory in Montevideo and transported to the site for mounting. The chapel, kaleidoscopes and great table were prefabricated at a factory in Portugal, shipped overseas and mounted here in one day. In terms of sustainable materials, we use a lot of cross-laminated timber; it’s a super material and certified carbon eater.
What’s your favorite part of the property?
Nights in the shelters are amazing because you feel like you’re camping — you can actually see the stars, you know? At the same time, you’re in a comfortable and safe place. It gives you a sense of being outdoors while inside.
What are your travel essentials?
I have a passion for pens and notebooks, so I always carry a black Moleskine and a good fountain pen. The last one I loved was a brass pen from Kaweco. The brass develops a nice patina over time, which happens in architecture as well.