In Mendoza, pioneering Argentine wine producer Susana Balbo welcomes visitors to her first hotel.
There are few people in Argentina who aren’t familiar with the name Susana Balbo. In 1981, she became the first woman in the country to graduate with a degree in enology, and slowly became known as the Queen of Torrontés for her innovations in working with the native white grape.
Since then, Balbo has blazed a trail in viticulture and beyond, establishing one of the country’s most successful wineries, dabbling in politics (she was elected to one term in the Argentine National Congress), and serving as the first Latin American woman to chair the W20 Summit (an advisory board to the Group of Twenty economic forum).
Now Balbo and her daughter, Ana Lovaglio Balbo, have opened a wellness-centric boutique hotel — the first in their budding hospitality empire — set within their family’s former home in the leafy Mendoza suburb of Chacras de Coria. Unlike other high-end wine resorts in the region, SB Winemaker’s House & Spa Suites doesn’t have an on-site vineyard or views of the snowcapped Andes. But it offers what few hotels can: intimate access to one of Argentina’s leading wine-making families in a soulful, art-filled setting.
The Spanish-style property has beamed ceilings, arched windows, and paintings and photographs from the family’s private collection, including works by Latin American heavyweights such as Julio Le Parc and Sebastião Salgado. Guests gather on the pool-facing terrace to enjoy chef Flavia Amad Di Leo’s hot-off-the-parrilla classics like bife de chorizo con provoleta, or sirloin with grilled cheese.
While Argentina’s carnivorous diet may have you craving a glass of Malbec, you can’t stay in the house that Balbo built and not develop a taste for her Torrontés. This is Argentina’s most popular white grape (and the source of its signature dry wine), which Balbo is credited with refining and popularizing. Order a bottle, or try a creative Torrontés-forward cocktail dreamed up for the hotel by mixologist Flavia Arroyo.
Arranged around the property are seven stand-alone guest rooms, each kitted out with spa-style amenities like steam rooms, saunas, and private gardens with heated lounge chairs and firepits. Wellness butlers are on hand to set up welcome massages and draw baths in the suite’s deep stone tubs — oval-shaped to echo the concrete fermentation vats in Balbo’s winery, just a half-hour from the hotel.
For adventurous guests, the hotel can arrange seaplane trips to the wilds of Patagonia or the watery ecosystems of the Iberá Wetlands: a game-changing way to see the sights. What’s next for the duo? Ana and Susana are already dreaming up a Mendozan mountain lodge.
A version of this story first appeared in the October 2023 issue of Travel + Leisure under the headline «Stay Awhile.»