The Fasano Las Piedras is an unconventional, sprawling resort with lobby, restaurant and bungalows spaced a considerable distance from each other along meandering paths. Inside the lobby, a series of drawing rooms lined in bookcases, vintage photographs and antiquities lead off from the one-room reception. Unlike the Fasano's Rio property, which the family joined mid-development by designer Phillipe Starck after the departure of Argentine hotelier Alan Faena, Las Piedras is all Fasano, with all the old-world Italian glamour of the original Sao Paulo property but with a country edge of worn leather sofas and industrial lamps among rafter ceilings and wide-plank wood floors.
The size of the property is best captured on the lawns surrounding the main lobby, facing a panorama of pampas that will eventually be home to a nine-hole Arnold Palmer golf course, polo field, horse staples and some 50 private villas (available for purchase). Guest rooms are a bit of a walk from the main lobby, unless you can get a ride in one of the electric carts roving the property. Rooms are contained within 32 freestanding, modernist bungalows of raw concrete designed by architect Isay Weinfeld, who's at work on the Fasanos' other new hotel, in Boa Vista outside Sao Paulo. It's a second joint development with JHSF.
While most North Americans come to Punta del Este for the beach experience, Brazilians consider it more of a country getaway. It's a 15-minute drive from the beach, and days can be spent along the free-form rock pool with outdoor bar or in a private lagoon with sand beach, where water skiing will have to suffice until the hotel's private beach club is unveiled. Getting to hot spots such as Jose Ignacio or La Barra, the closest village to the Fasano, is a slight inconvenience requiring a rental car or transportation arrangements through the hotel.
Dinners are enjoyed in the casual Las Piedras all-day restaurant or hilltop Fasano Restaurante occupying a promontory a short drive from the main reception. A mix of jagged, modern architecture and classic midcentury Italian design features vintage seating arrangements and a large glass-enclosed terrace with period patio furnishings and banquette seating positioned to catch the sunset. Despite its youth, the food is exceptional. The grilled octopus, homemade penne with white cod and classic veal chop with buttery gnocchi rivals the best in Punta del Este.
Most hotels here close from March to October. Fasano Las Piedras will remain open year-round, with room rates dropping to $600 to $850 per night and the formal eatery offering scaled-back service from April through October.
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