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.