Interior Design

Gaucho Groove

Issue 4 - 2016
Words by Oliver Bennett

The sleepy coastal town of José Ignacio in Uruguay is fast becoming Latin America’s centre for hip hospitality – and one hotelier has created a paradise for design lovers there

Issue 4 - 2016
By Oliver Bennett

The sleepy coastal town of José Ignacio in Uruguay is fast becoming Latin America’s centre for hip hospitality – and one hotelier has created a paradise for design lovers there

On the salty road to José Ignacio you start to exhale and relax. At this laid-back seaside settlement there’s a landmark lighthouse, hand-painted wooden signs, dunes, whitewashed cottages and Pacific breezes that soothe the mind and ruffle the hair.

This bohemian village, population 300, has become part of the extraordinary uptick in Uruguayan tourism. A magnet for barefoot travellers, it’s even being called the new St. Tropez, a cool counterpoint to glitzy Punta del Este up the coast. And much of its success is due to Alexander Vik, a Uruguayan-Norwegian art collector and investor who, with his wife Carrie, has built a handful of resorts locally in the past four years under the banner of Vik Retreats.

Bahia Vik is the latest. Located on Playa Mansa, one of José Ignacio’s two beaches, it both reflects and reveals its environment: a glass wall facing the ocean, casitas with planted roofs, dunes, grasses, succulents, salt and oxygen. It’s wonderful to gaze out upon – and of course, to use the black granite infinity pool and fire pit – but the interior is equally enchanting. Bahia Vik is the exemplary hotel-as-gallery, including work by James Turrell and Anselm Kiefer as well as lots of Uruguayan art. Typical of the Bahia is the Legrand Living Room in the Titanio Bungalow, featuring the work of Marcelo Legrand, and the Lopez Lage Suite which is devoted to the more geometric work of Fernando Lopez Lage. It’s a heady mix that responds to building, setting and nation.

 

 
The Kike Badaro Suite at Estancia Vik, in which the celebrated Uruguayan curator Kike Badaro explores cultural movements and the transformation of the American peoples

The vibrant colours of Fernando Lopez Lage illuminate Bahia Vik’s Lopez

Some six miles inland the Viks have another retreat, Estancia Vik, and here the mood shifts. It’s a white Spanish colonial-style ranch, rangy and whitewashed: Uruguayan architect Marcelo Daglio’s take on the beach house, with added polo. Similarly, within the resort, Vik has peppered the 11 bungalows with art. In the Musso Suite there’s a fresco by Uruguayan painter Carlo Musso. The Game Room has an enigmatic, engine-like sculpture by Roberto Piriz of interlocking wooden shapes, while the Kike Badaro Suite includes a work above the bed that suggests cultural exchange. Uruguayan artists such as Juan Burgos and Javier Abdala complete the mix.

As the Viks are passionate about their artists, they offer guests the chance to take some home: for example, fashion designer Jason Wu acquired a Legrand drawing on a recent visit. These are amazing edifices for a town which has only had electricity since 1984, and which is now planning its first international art fair, Forma. Remember the name.


 
Scott Dunn offers 7 nights in a suite at Estancia Vik or Bahia Vik from £2,226 per person, including flights and private transfers. Call 020 8682 5030.

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