The family-run, lakeside Villa Beluno is where the wild beauty of Patagonia meets supreme comfort and a heartfelt welcome
On the southern shore of Lake Nahuel Huapi in Patagonia stands Villa Beluno, the dream of Cristina Lopez. Built in the Italianate style of traditional 19th-century vaquero ranch houses, the hotel is testament to Cristina’s desire to build a home large enough to welcome her extended family. Now, the residence entertains guests from all over the world.
“At first, my mother only dreamed of having her own restaurant or teahouse,” says Sabrina Lopez, Cristina’s daughter and the hotel’s Sales Manager. Cristina’s dream developed when her husband bought an idyllic 40,000-square-metre plot of land next to the lake on Peninsula San Pedro, a stone’s throw from the city of Bariloche. Within 12 years, by 2019, she had not only built her teahouse, but also a five-star boutique hotel encompassing 14 suites, a spa and two restaurants offering some of the most enticing cuisine east of the Andes.
“Cuisine is one of our main attractions,” explains Sabrina. Villa Beluno’s restaurant, Avellana, offers Italian- and French-inspired dishes with a regional twist and ingredients from the hotel’s hydroponic greenhouse, while the Patisserie offers exclusive, irresistible treats. All of the cooking is supervised by Cristina, who oversees her team of chefs as if she is a mother preparing a family meal. “It has never been a business for her,” says her daughter. “She acts like it’s her house and people are coming to visit.”
Guests can expect a rich array of activities as they step from the hotel into the mountainous landscape beyond. In winter, the slopes of the Cerro Catedral await skiers, while in summer, boat tours criss-cross the lake. Hikers can explore the innumerable trails and inlets cutting across the countryside, welcomed back to the hotel at dusk with a lakeside meal of Argentinean asado.
Sabrina and her mother hope guests will be drawn back to the hotel long after their initial stay, in the same way that a son or daughter returns to the family home. That was also, in the end, Cristina’s dream. “My mother feels like a mother to all the guests who pass through Villa Beluno,” says Sabrina. “Our goal is that guests look back on their stay not simply as a visit, but as if they were visiting their own family.”