José Ignacio
Overview

The tastes of international jet set change faster then you can dial room service. Last decade’s must is this decade’s dust, as is the case of José Ignacio superseding Punta del Este as Uruguay’s chicest coastal destination. Punta made headlines as a playground for the likes of Frank Sinatra’s Rat Pack and Brigitte Bardot in the 1950s, but today, exclusive José Ignacio keeps an under the radar profile, designating it for those who are truly in the know (even Shakira is keeping quiet). Like many South American hot spots (Cartagena, Trancoso), it has risen from a small, unassuming fishing village to an uber cool getaway for the globetrotting elite, particularly over the Christmas and New Year’s holidays.

If Buenos Aires is the Paris of the continent, then José Ignacio is its Hamptons – with a dash of Saint Tropez added for good measure. The hip hub of this town is Estancia Vik; a twelve-room property curated by modern Uruguayan artists, and its sister property, hyper modern Playa Vik. The influence of the big sky, sweeping pampas and raw Atlantic Ocean lend this destination a rusticity that sleek city dwellers crave, and the Vik properties incorporate José Ignacio’s natural richness in to their high design. In the village itself, dirt roads are lined with modest low-rise houses and boho-centric shops. Nightclubs may be banned and parties may have to shut down at 2AM, but there is no one stopping you from drinking ‘till dawn in the dunes. In fact, if you’re with the right group, it will even be encouraged. Or, you may prefer to rise early for a morning of upper crust activities (polo, tennis and kite surfing among them), earning yourself an afternoon of indulging in José Ignacio’s signature dish – asado.

Coastal glamour is done in an understated way down here in the land of the gaucho - straw fedoras and linen baby doll dresses over Eres suits will look spot on for a day soaking up the sun on Playa Brava, while for an evening out at El Garzon, chambray shirts, crisp denim and chunky wool fisherman’s knits are the perfect mix of comfort and class. While rental cars are advised, other preferred modes of transportation are horse, bike or foot, so your favorite worn-in boots and flat leather sandals will serve you well.

If you yearn for cool, calm and chill with all the creature comforts of fabulous five star travel, there is a chilled glass of sangria and a sunset in José Ignacio calling your name. Andele.

Stay

Where to stay

Indulge

Indulge

Travelers flock to José Ignacio for the cuisine, a draw second only to the beaches. Considered the best restaurant in Uruguay and among the top in South American, Parador La Huella should be booked for your first lunch (reservations are necessary during high season), as you may want to return everyday thereafter. Famous for its asado (open pit barbeque), sushi and clerico (white wine sangria), feel free to post up barefoot for a three hour plus beachside meal that will take you past dusk. Continuing your gastronomic itinerary, El Garzon (also an inn), is celebrity chef Francis Mallmann’s South American masterpiece. Grilling is still the predominate preparation, but here the infernillo method is employed – adding hot eucalyptus wood fires both above and below the fresh fish, meats and vegetables while cooking. Expect to be transported – the drive and the (cash only) price tag are worth it. At Lucifer, Mallmann protégé Lucia Soria’s nearby spot, you will get a truly ‘home style’ meal – the resto is in the garden of Soria’s home. With six tables scattered in the shade of fruit trees, intimacy makes the already fantastic flavors taste even better. Marismo is a lively spot for out of this world slow-braised lamb and addictive caipirinhas, complete with a beach fire pit. Casa Suaya’s Sal y Pimienta is a sure bet for date night and a wonderful place to end your journey.

Explore

Explore

Accessible only by boat, a day trip to La Caracola, run by the La Huella team, is not to be missed.  This private club is located on an otherwise deserted island and has a max capacity of twenty. The main structure is a lesson is clean beach house design, and each visiting group is also entitled to a personal tent for extra beach time before indulging the impending asado feast, which often turns in sangria (some say the freshest, crispest in the world) soaked late night dance party. Back in Jose Ignacio, have your choice between two main beaches: Playa Brava or Playa Mansa. On Playa Brava, $40 beach chair rentals attract models in itsy bitsy bikinis and the men who admire them. Bring your own towel for a free ticket to the show. On quieter Playa Mansa, you can catch the best sunset view in town, as well as a visit the historic lighthouse. Windsurfing, kite surfing and fishing entertain the active, while polo, tennis and whale watching make for Instagram worthy moments.

SHOP

Where to Shop

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For such a small town, there is no shortage of shops. From boho boutiques to eclectic galleries and museums (Atchugarry Foundation, Galeria Los Caracoles, Casa Pueblo, Zuloaga, Galeria Sur and many more), Jose Ignacio is not a bad place to have your luggage lost.  Mutate, which means ‘astound yourself’, offers vintage accessories and furniture (mostly from the 1940s) and both men’s and women’s styles. For handmade jewelry and beach ready ensembles, stop by El Canuto. Takkai also channels the laid-back beach vibe, and Manga Rosada is the local go-to for colorful (and tiny) bikinis. Sister Solnicki, home of everything sequined, bejeweled and metallic, has additional locations in London, New York and St. Tropez – enough said. Sentido, Bajo el Alma, Santas Negras and El Camarin are also excellent places to drain your bank account.

Shop the Destination

Yestadt Millinery Fringy White Fedora $345.00
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Lisa Marie Fernandez Tie-waist linen top $475.00
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LoveShackFancy Tiered floral-print cotton mini skirt $255.00
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LoveShackFancy Mia Cropped Ruffled Floral-print Cotton Top $215.00
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Gas Bijoux Creole Porto Massai Wrapped Hoops $185.00
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Alexis Calypso Ruffle Mini Dress $450.00
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Raye Edita Heel $158.00
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FRAME Le Cutoff Forton Shorts Denim $198.00
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Miguelina Pamela Striped Linen Wide-leg Pants $395.00
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Lisa Marie Fernandez Mira off-the-shoulder ruffled printed bonded swimsuit $430.00
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Zimmermann Prima polka-dot linen and cotton-blend jumpsuit
$530.00
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Carrie Forbes Youssef small crocheted cord shoulder bag $290.00
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Solid & Striped Brigitte Lemons Bikini Top $90.00
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Solid & Striped Brigitte Lemons Bikini Bottom $90.00
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Roberi and Fraud Doris Sunglasses $250.00
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