This magical 50-acre contemporary off-the-grid oasis is one of the best places to stay in Uruguay. It’s just minutes from international jet-set hideaway José Ignacio and the rustic art-gastronomy village of Pueblo Garzón.
Connecticuters, Jamie and his family came to Uruguay on the trail of chef Francis Mallmann, who runs a restaurant in the tiny nearby village of Garzón. They fell in love with the food, the people and the landscape and the “days filled with vineyards, horses and beaches” says Jamie. After discovering a small cabin on land which recalls the rolling plains of Tuscany, they contacted an award-winning local architect to remodel it to US standards into a minimalist, totally self-sufficient, three-bedroom two-bathroom vacation home to be close to everything the area offers.
The sensation is being in the middle of nowhere, but in reality you are minutes from some of Uruguay’s most feted beaches and restaurants. And further east along Ruta 9 lie Uruguay’s most unspoiled beaches in Rocha. So Smokewood is a wonderful base for day tripping. And at the end of the day, return to sit around the firepit and watch the sun set, a fiery orange, leaving you with the solitude of the Uruguayan interior and the luminous Milky Way.
Alternatively, Smokewood has absolutely every amenity for a wonderful complete retreat (that number 3 of the ‘20-5-3’ rule). It’s ideal for summer or winter with guaranteed peace and privacy.
Stock up on food and wine before you come and spend your days walking your private fifty acres, reading, swimming and relaxing in nature (we saw armadillos (tatu), a mother with seven baby ñandus—South American ostriches—and spotted countless colourful birds).
Cooking fans will adore Smokewood. Experience cooking at the enormous outdoor covered grill (called a parrilla) with deck and serving your party at the table built around a tree so you’ll always have shade. The kitchen is remarkably well-equipped (walk-in pantry, three types of coffee maker, I could rave on)—another indicator your hosts are from the US.
What you should know
Hundred percent off the grid Everything is solar powered with a fail safe generator and plentiful water from a natural spring.
Off-road The property is a 10-minute drive off the main highway on a gravel country road. You need to get out of your car to open and close four sets of cow gates.
Given the name, we expected to follow sign-posts to Garzón This is not the case. The property is twenty or so kilometres past the Garzón exits just over the border into the department of Rocha.
Jamie and family have thought of absolutely everything from an onsite laundry room to hammocks, yoga mats, binoculars, telescopes, sun hats and beach towels.
Excellent internet Internet is 30 mbps and there’s even satellite TV.
There is a caretaker and all guests have immediate and ongoing access to the manager, Brenda.
Things to do close by
- The beachtown of José Ignacio (art galleries, shops, restaurants, supplies) (25′)
- The art and gastronomy village of Pueblo Garzón in summer (25′)
- Garzón winery (50’)
- José Ignacio Film Festival (JIIFF) January 14-22 2023
Convenient location Two hours from Montevideo’s Carrasco airport and one hour to Punta del Este Airport. Easy day trips to Punta del Este and CasaPueblo, and Uruguay’s wild Rocha coastline including Cabo Polonio National Park and Punta del Diablo.
Book via Airbnb, email email@example.com or WhatsApp Brenda +598 99 272 599 (she speaks great English)
500 USD per night in high season
350 USD per night with a 3-night minimum off season.