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Palacio Duhau - Park Hyatt Buenos Aires

Bruce Sanderson
From the Print Edition:
Cuba, May/June 2007

It's the 1930s and Buenos Aires is a gateway for grain and cattle that bring wealth to the city's elite. Among the most majestic of the opulent mansions that line Avenida Alvear is the Palacio Duhau. And you are the guest of the house—at least it can seem that way when you bask in the belle époque grandeur of the Park Hyatt hotel, part of which is a restored palace, which served as the home of the wealthy Duhau family from 1934 until 1997.

Elegantly returned to its original glory, the palace is now the jewel of the new Park Hyatt that opened its doors in 2006. It features 23 rooms, including 12 luxurious suites. Original works of art, primarily from Latin American artists, evoke cultural and social images of the city.

A foyer bedecked with travertine marble, dark wood and leather leads to the Salon Baccarat, with its exclusive Baccarat chandeliers and modern furniture to offset the classical design.

Flanking the Salon at one end is La Biblioteca, a sunny room ideal for a casual meeting or afternoon tea. At the other end is the Oak Bar, a cigar-friendly bastion of masculinity, with its interior of seventeenth-century carved oak panels brought from a castle in Normandy. Sink into one of the high-backed chairs and relax with one of the two dozen Cuban selections from the humidor housed in the Duhaus' former safe.

The adjacent Piano Nobile salons are more feminine in style. Molding trimmed in silver leaf and large windows overlooking the garden invite you to enjoy the formal tea service.

The palace links to a 17-story tower via a sloping garden that offers a unique sanctuary in the middle of Buenos Aires. On the former banks of the Rio de la Plata is an area for alfresco dining and sitting in the shade of a magnificent rubber tree. If the palace reflects Buenos Aires' heritage and wealth, the tower, with its 142 rooms and 27 suites, represents the modern design consciousness of the city. It's sleek and minimalist, from the marble lobby to rooms focused on clean lines and blond colors punctuated by chocolate browns and blacks.

An underground passage that also connects the palace and tower functions as an art gallery featuring contemporary Latin American artists. At the end of the Paseo de las Artes lies the Ahin Wellness Center and Spa, named for the Mapuche Indian tribe's ritual ceremony for honoring guests, which the spa does with two standard treatment rooms and two spa suites, a short-course pool and a fitness center.

Climb a circular marble staircase to the palace foyer and the French-inspired Duhau Restaurant. After dinner, relax in the Vinoteca, where sommelier Marcelo Rebole will pair one of the cellar's 400 selections with artisanal Argentine cheeses.

The Palacio Duhau - Park Hyatt Buenos Aires is a luxurious new addition for visitors to this dynamic city. Located in the upscale Recoleta district, it's steps from some of the best shopping and only an inexpensive taxi ride away from the cultural attractions and top restaurants.

Visit www.buenosaires.park.hyatt.com

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