Review: Patios de Cafayate

Review: Patios de Cafayate

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Patios de Cafayate is a boutique Starwood property located in Cafayate, a town in the wine country of Salta province. It’s a beautiful property with only 30 rooms in a great location – the landscapes surrounding Cafayate and on the drive down from Salta city are stunning (check out our Salta trip review). We were excited to stay here on our trip to the northwest, particularly since we were able to use those hard-earned Starwood points to pay for it.

We arrived and were greeted very warmly by the front desk staff, then shown to our room. We walked through an interior courtyard connecting to several other patios (go figure, considering the name) and a grand common room with a view out to the pool. Our room was massive and beautifully decorated.  The hotel used to be the family home of a winemaker, and the winery still operates next door, on the same property.  As such, the hotel sits in the middle of vineyards, making for a beautiful view.

Despite the idyllic property and location, from our perspective it seems that management is missing the mark on a couple of basics that could make Patios truly exceptional. Instead, it feels like a pretty building that’s trying to be a hotel but not quite getting there.  Here are a couple of observations that lead us to think that:

Overall feel of desertion

We noticed right away that the hotel feels deserted, as we’d read in several other reviews – there were almost no other guests, and we seldom saw hotel employees while we were there. Most of the rooms are located along a long, grand corridor, and only every 3rd or 4th light down the hallway was turned on – strange. We went to sit in the main salon one afternoon and spent a good 10 minutes trying to figure out how to turn on the overhead lighting, to no avail.

Main salon Patios de Cafayate image

The main salon, which looked out onto the pool, was lovely and furnished with antiques. If only we could figure out how to turn on the lights . . .

On our first day, the main salon and other sitting rooms were completely silent – no people, no music playing – which made it feel that much more like we were trespassing somewhere we shouldn’t be. The second day (when we made use of the living room), a TV in one of the adjoining salons was blaring music from the 40s. It seemed like they were trying but just hadn’t figured out quite how to pull off the ambience they were going for. The lack of lights, music and other people gave the hotel a feel that it wasn’t really open for business.

Spider guts (yes, seriously)

When we arrived, we were shown to our upgraded room and were impressed with the size and the quality of the furnishings.  The room was quiet and looked out onto the lawn and beyond to the vineyards. The walls had been painted a beautiful sage green color and highlighted the classic crown moldings (which I love!) and the high ceilings.

Room at Patios de Cafayate image

Pretty nice digs, huh?

However, it appeared that the hotel had a spider problem (which we’d seen mentioned in other reviews on TripAdvisor), and evidence of such problem was left smeared on the walls in both the bedroom and the bathroom. We’re not sure if this was carelessness or an intentional warning to other spiders that may dare to follow.

Spider guts image

I'm pretty sure I can make out a leg . . .

If the purpose is to scare off other potential invadors, it’s not working – found another fallen soldier in our shower in the morning.  If it’s just a lack of attention to detail, I might suggest that the relatively marginal effort it would take the housekeeping staff to wipe up any such “messes” would more than pay off by improving the experience for guests staying there (especially those who, like me, don’t exactly love spiders).

Hot tub/spa

On our first afternoon, we took a walk around the property to explore and found the spa – a relatively modern-looking building located to the side of the main hotel. We were excited to take advantage of the lovely indoor hot tub, so we ran back to our room to change into our suits and came back. The water in the hot tub wasn’t warm – the woman working in the spa said she had turned it on/up when we first came (we’re not quite sure which), but even 30 minutes later the water was only lukewarm. Which I guess is ok, because it was less like a hot tub (you know, the kind you would SIT in) and more like a pool of warmish water 5 feet deep, with no seats – guess this is a standing-room-only tub?

Spa at Patios de Cafayate image

Hotel hot tub was pretty (though not hot, nor did it have seats) - apparently it's actually a standing-room-only warmish tub. Or, possibly another Devil's Throat...

While we were waiting in vain for the water to warm, we relaxed on the fancy-looking lounge chairs . . . where we noticed all the cobwebs gracing various surfaces in the spa. The floor-to-ceiling windows were streaked with dirt and cobwebs, and the lounge chair next to us had cobwebs hanging off the back.

Windows in spa at Patios de Cafayate image

The late-afternoon sunlight streaming through would have been lovely . . . if not for the shadows cast by all the dirt and grime

And the otherwise-classy-looking candle set on the table next to us (as well as the others placed around the room) was not lit and instead seemed to be a repository for old garbage – yuck.

Table with candle at Patios de Cafayate image

Looks nice, right? Perfect for relaxing and enjoying some of the local wine

Um, ok . . . but you could have just brought in a garbage can

Breakfast

Breakfast here was better than we’ve had at other hotels in Argentina (sometimes no more than coffee and bread). There was a buffet with various meats, cheeses, fruit, cereal, as well as coffee/tea/juices. And as soon as we sat down, the server brought out a lovely 3-tiered tray of baked goods and offered us eggs made-to-order (which were pretty tasty and a nice touch)! The cookies included in our baked goods tray (yep, cookies for breakfast) were the same ones we’d seen at the small coffee/tea set up in the main salon in the afternoons.  We were a bit confused by the little cups of ketchup and other unidentified sauces in the middle of the trays of meats and cheeses, but maybe that’s just an effort to cater to international tastes – we’re not quite sure.  Despite that, it was pretty good and gave us enough to go on for our wine tastings later in the day.

Value for money (or Starpoints, in our case)

This hotel was priced at $240/night or 12,000 Starpoints. As we are currently unemployed with no near-term income prospects, we opted for the Starpoints. In retrospect, though, we’re not sure it was worth it. We’ve previously paid only 6,000 points/night for a room in the W New York over the busy holiday season, which would have cost ~$600/night if we’d paid in cash. It’s unclear why the ratio of points to cash is so different here than it is elsewhere, or if it was just this hotel in particular, but this didn’t seem to be the best use of our Starpoints.

Our takeaway

Overall, we’re glad to have had the experience of staying in Patios de Cafayate. It was a lovely retreat in a beautiful location with thoughtfully-appointed rooms. The lack of attention to detail we’ve noted here would be relatively easy to fix and would make all the difference between the pretty good stay that we had and the truly phenomenal experience this hotel could provide. Maybe we caught them on an off-week or during the slow season, but it would be great to see this hotel really take advantage of all it has going for it.

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