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Hot List 2008

Los Sauces Casa Patagónica, El Calafate 
$$$$

1352-1370 Los Gauchos

El Calafate
Argentina 9405

Tel: 54 11 4348 5189

A single night at Casa Los Sauces costs three times the average monthly wage of an Argentine worker—ironic, considering the hotel is owned by the country's left-leaning president, Cristina Kirchner, whose private retreat sits mere yards from the hotel's eight-acre lawn, itself bravely coaxed from the Patagonian steppe. Providing high levels of comfort in such hostile terrain is expensive, of course: The three iron-roofed houses, modeled on traditional Patagonian sheep farms, are updated with underfloor heating, power showers, and impeccable insulation. Guests are met at the airport by a personal assistant and a driver and whisked straight to their room, where yet more assistants await, clutching champagne. The 18 ample accommodations are decorated with flowery throws and antique furniture, and open onto a private sitting room with a vast fireplace. Rise at dawn for a clamber on the Perito Moreno glacier, 50 miles to the west, or summit one of the nearby peaks accompanied by in-house guides toting a gourmet picnic. Blissful, light-filled evenings are spent gazing at scudding clouds while relaxing in the well-equipped spa or wavering between the king crab and the lobster in the exemplary restaurant.

When to go: March through April for the Andean forests' fiery autumnal display.
Which room to book: Any standard suite; the premium suites' modest extra space doesn't justify the additional cost.
Information may have changed since date of publication. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.

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