What To Do In Punta del Este, Uruguay

Hotel Fasano Punta del Este's General Manager, Maria Victoria Lorenzo, Highlights The Year-Round Charms Of This Sophisticated South American Coastal Destination

Maria Victoria Lorenzo

General Manager, Hotel Fasano Punta Del Este

After working with various boutique lodgings in remote, rugged locations—with stints in rural New Zealand, Chile's Atacama desert, and Patagonia in her native Argentina—hospitality expert Maria Victoria Lorenzo got the call to head up the Fasano Hotel in Punta del Este. "In some ways it felt like moving to a major city," she says, comparing Punta del Este to some of her more remote posts. "The area is relatively small and very peaceful, especially in the off season, but there are world-class restaurants, luxury brands, art galleries, and so much more." And yet it's the quieter side of the region that appeals most to Maria Victoria—the vast pastures, rolling hills, and wooded forests. "The hotel is right in the middle of the countryside, a tucked-away setting that feels familiar to me, and it’s also near the ocean, which I'm learning to love."

Maria Victoria Lorenzo, general manager of the Hotel Fasano in Punta del Este. Photo courtesy of Maria Victoria Lorenzo.

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Explore Punta del Este, Uruguay With Hotel Fasano Punta del Este's General Manager, Maria Victoria Lorenzo

Fashionable South Americans and international jetsetters have long known about Punta del Este's sandy beaches, sun-kissed beauties, and lavish private parties. And while this hedonistic scene is certainly alluring, the eastern coast of Uruguay is also filled with bucolic charms, seen in secluded candlelit restaurants, vineyards, and miles of unspoiled pastures. This is our definitive list of what to do on your next trip to Punta del Este.

Punta Del Este Art Scene

Visit These One-Of-A-Kind Ateliers

Just outside the boho-chic neighborhood of La Barra, the Fundación Pablo Atchugarry (Ruta 104, Km 4.5, Maldonado; +598-4277-5563) hosts concerts, screenings, and exhibitions by everyone from Le Corbusier to emerging local artists like Rita Fischer. This non-profit arts center was founded by Pablo Atchugarry, a Uruguayan artist who gained international recognition with a series of massive, intricately shaped abstract sculptures carved out of marble. Mr. Atchugarry, who splits his time between Italy and Uruguay, can often be seen chipping away at 24-ton rocks in a workshop next door. Over in Punta Ballena, a tranquil neighborhood that tumbles down a series of seaside cliffs, Casapueblo (Calle Mar de Liguria, Punta Ballena; +598-4257-8041) is a Gaudí-esque structure designed by beloved local artist Carlos Páez Vilaró. The distinctive whitewashed building, full of curves and oddly shaped turrets, includes a series of rooms dedicated to the life and work of the late painter and sculptor, a café with spectacular sunset views, and casual hotel rooms.

The undulating bridges that connect the main peninsula of Punta del Este with the boho-chic neighborhood of La Barra. Photo courtesy of the Tourism Office of Maldonado.

Punta Del Este Restaurants

Dining Experiences Worth Traveling For

Most food lovers—even those who’ve never set foot in Uruguay—have heard of La Huella (Calle de los Cisnes, José Ignacio; +598-4486-2279), a highly acclaimed yet notoriously laid-back restaurant perched on the sand dunes of José Ignacio. The locally-sourced food, mostly cooked over an open fire, is as unfussy as it is delicious: try the grilled corvina served with cast-iron-baked fingerling potatoes. To reach Narbona (Ruta 104, Camino del Golf, La Barra; +598-4410-2999), set in a leafy estate planted with vines, patrons must drive through a series of narrow gravel roads. The reward is a vintage-inspired restaurant and gourmet shop inside a gorgeously restored 1800’s farmhouse fringed by verandas. Interiors feature brick walls and wooden cabinets stocked with Narbona’s own red wines (produced on the country’s west coast), which pair especially well with hearty dishes like mushroom risotto and breaded lamb chops. In downtown Punta del Este, the elegant La Bourgogne (Avenida Pedragosa Sierra, Punta del Este; +598-4248-2007) is a perennial favorite whose menu reads like an ode to classic French cuisine.

The veranda at the Fasano Restaurant, one of the great dining options in Punta del Este. Photo courtesy of Fasano Hotels and Restaurants.

Punta Del Este Beaches And Beyond

Surf And Turf Experiences

During the high season months of December, January, and February, Punta del Este is a beach lover's paradise, with about 30 miles of coastline offering everything from placid shallow waters to perfect waves for surfing. Every year, the Fasano Hotel sets up a seasonal waterfront club at a nearby beach—the moon-shaped Montoya Beach is a favorite—where guests can lounge on comfortable daybeds, order cocktails, and survey the scene. Sports enthusiasts will be spoiled for choice in the area; there's surfing, kitesurfing, jet skiing, sailing, hang gliding, golfing, and polo. No self-respecting South American socialite would miss one of the champagne-fueled polo matches that take place at the Punta del Este Polo & Country Club (Ruta 10, Km. 172, Punta del Este), or at the Fasano's own private field.

One of Punta del Este's Atlantic beaches during the high season. Photo courtesy of the Tourism Office of Maldonado.

Punta Del Este Shopping

For Those With An Eye For Style

Punta del Este has a handful of international luxury retailers like Carolina Herrera or Tommy Hilfiger, which stand next to an increasingly sophisticated crop of regional brands. Rotunda (Calle 20, Esquina 27, Punta del Este; +598-4244-9182) is one of Uruguay's most fashion-forward boutiques, home to minimalist, often monochromatic clothes and accessories that flatter men and women of all ages. Nearby Magma (Calle 20, between Calle 28 and 29, Punta Del Este; +598-4244-1273) stocks a curated selection of trendsetting South American brands like Jazmin Chebar, Doma, and Ay Not Dead. Celebrated Argentinian interior designer Pablo Chiaporri opened Paul Beach House (Avenida Eduardo Victor Haedo, Km.162.500, La Barra;+598-4277-0300), a treasure trove of refurbished vintage finds and distinctive brick-a-brack.

The Hotel Fasano Punta del Este occupies a 1,000-acre rural estate near the ocean. Courtesy of Fasano Hotels and Restaurants.

Uruguay Wineries

There's A Thriving French Grape Here

Local winemaking dates back to the late 19th century, when Basque immigrants introduced a French grape called Tannat to the region, which adapted especially well to Uruguay’s warm summers, cool winters, and ocean breezes that flow unobstructed through rolling hills. More recently, along with a strong focus on quality, local vintners began planting Sauvignon Blanc, Albariño, and other varieties. Just north of Punta del Este, sample a vibrant methode champenoise rosé at Viña Eden (Ruta 12 Km. 26, Pueblo Edén; +598-4410-3841), a modern winery that cuts a striking figure among the windswept grasslands of this mostly rural area. Clad in weathered steel and glass, the angular building has a minimalist décor that enhances the sweeping vistas outside. One hour east, Bodega Garzón (Ruta 9, Km. 175, Garzón, Maldonado; +598-4224-1759) is a state-of-the-art winery designed by Argentinian architects Bormida & Yanzón. The sweeping 200,000-square-foot building, which sits on an elevated plateau surrounded by endless rows of vines and native palms, includes a gorgeous glass-walled restaurant with open-flame grills designed by celebrity chef Francis Mallmann.

The rolling vineyards at Bodega Garzón in Maldonado, an hour away from Punta del Este. Photo courtesy of the Tourism Office of Maldonado.
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