After an epic journey from Copenhagen to Uruguay, I’m finally here, in Latin America’s famous beach-resort town of Punta del Este (aka “Punta”), and have been here for four days now, and I can confirm that it’s bliss!
Punta del Este is a gorgeous town on the southern tip of Uruguay where all the rich, famous and beautiful people of latin america come to “be seen”. I was expecting Brazilian models and Argentinian actresses to be strutting their string-bikini-clad stuff on the beaches, but I soon realised we’ve just missed the peak season. Tourists invade by the droves during the summer months, and then it turns into a ghost town for the rest of the year. Owning a business would be heaven – earning your annual income within three months and closing for the rest of the year!
So, if the sound of splurging on a glamourous holiday sounds like your style, then a visit to Punta between December and February is for you. During any other time of the year you will pay a quarter of the price for your accommodation, the weather will be mild, and many of the hot spots may be closed, but it’s great for a peaceful retreat.
The main part of town is easily explored on foot. There are two different types of beaches on either side of the length of town: one offering surf-lover waves, the other for leisurely sunbathers.
Casapueblo is gorgeous, and a must-see if you have a free morning. Especially in the winter so you can cosy up in the tiny restaurant with a beautiful view of the ocean. If you haven’t watched the video above, please do, and you’ll see a quick little tour inside the quirky gallery of Carlos Páez Vilaró.
The most bizarre-looking attraction is the giant hand emerging from one of the beaches. It’s called Los Dedos, which translates to “The Fingers”, and I was told that it was built to pay tribute to those lives lost out to sea. At all times, you will find people snapping photos at the sculpture – it’s definitely the most iconic feature of Punta.
Pardon the poker pun
Mantra Resort Spa & Casino
As for accommodation, I’m staying at Mantra Resort Spa & Casino, the host of the Latin American Poker Tour (the reason I’m here). The resort is in La Barra, which is the town next to Punta del Este. It may be out of the way, but it is a beautiful, clean, comfortable and peaceful resort. The gym blew me away with the amount of new equipment they have including full pilates machines, and a separate ‘Spin’ room where they hold regular classes (although I never made it to one). The spa looks excellent (I didn’t make it here either) and the hotel staff were exceptional. They helped me hire a car, which was delivered to the hotel within minutes of me asking.
The pool area is simple, but offers a beautiful view from the restaurant at breakfast. I’m staying in a junior suite that has a spacious lounge room separated from the spacious bedroom with a decently sized bathroom.
Hosting from Mantra Resort, Punta del Este
The only downfall is the overpriced meals that you’re almost forced to have because the resort is in such a secluded area that there’s no other nearby options – not at this time of year when everything is closed in town anyway. The buffet for lunch is $25 USD for just the salad bar (including basic pasta) or $45 USD if you want to add any real food. Dinner will cost you around $50 also. Room service is grossly overpriced: a piece of overcooked salmon cost $40 and a risotto cost $48. A small bowl of soup is $18.