Former love nest of an Argentinian ballerina re-emerges as a secluded hideaway created by an ‘out of the box’ innkeeper for a very special kind of traveler
Casa Wirth, a well preserved colonial mansion in the historic quarters of Salto, on the banks of the Rio Uruguay, is the latest South American escape for seasoned travelers in search of offbeat, pathfinder destinations.
Each one of the five guest rooms of Casa Wirth, within the 12,000 square foot property is furnished with flair and refinement, maintaining the original colonial style, unfussy rather than plush yet tastefully furnished, with individually designed bathrooms and of course free Wi-Fi. It’s not as luxe as the Waldorf Towers in New York, where Wirth was the Executive Director, or the Hassler in Rome, where he grew up, yet bringing a unique sense of refinement, an almost obsessive attention to detail – and a long, distinguished pedigree.
Savvy travelers will recognize the name Wirth, an iconic name revered in Italy and Switzerland and boasting a heritage of five generations catering to the rich & famous for the past 100 years. The Bucher-Wirth families’ innovations began with the Bürgenstock Estate in Switzerland and in good pioneering tradition Peter ventured into Mexico with the first Relais & Chateaux in South America, the Casa de Sierra Nevada, in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, which he sold 10 years later, when he moved to New York City.
Now, Peter Wirth has returned to Latin America and has zeroed in on Uruguay and the 250-year-old city of Salto (population 104,026).
Built by a wealthy Uruguayan landowner smitten by a beautiful Argentinian ballet dancer, this Sleeping Beauty of a Casa is within a 12,000 square foot estate, in the center of Salto, a quiet, private oasis for relaxing and recharging, a place that combines Swiss/Italian hospitality with a unique Uruguayan charm. The faithful staff, Abel and Veronica, are happy to prepare your breakfast, make up rooms, wash clothes or iron a dress for the evening stroll on Avenida Uruguay. They’ll prepare special meals, even a traditional Uruguayan asado, or barbecue on the 6,000 square foot garden. All the guests have to do is kick back, pluck a passion fruit from a tree in a garden fragrant with orchids and roses or settle into an armchair in front of the quematutti, or open fireplace.
Casa Wirth Exclusive: The World of The Gauchos
The Uruguay of vast pampas, home of the traditional Gauchos (the local cowboys) begins just 30 minutes by private car from Salto. Estancia Don Pipo is the real thing, a 2,470-acre ranch with more than 100 Criollo and Arab horses and a herd of 400 Angus cattle.
Casa Wirth has an exclusive relationship with the estancia’s Swiss owner, who welcomes Peter’s guests for horseback riding, walking or bird-watching tours. They can visit for the day, stay for a special campfire asado, or overnight in one of the traditional gaucho cottages. Estancia Don Pipo is a wonderful opportunity to experience the world of the gaucho – and it’s available on request to guests of Casa Wirth. On weekends guests can bathe in the 104º pools of the neighboring Estate Termas de San Nicanor.
6 Other Things to Do on a Day in Salto
1 Join the locals for the evening stroll along Avenida Uruguay
2 Have lunch in Argentina – it’s just a short ferryboat trip away (remember to take your passport along)
3 Check out works of local artists at the Museo de Bellas Artes
4 Work out at Salto’s exclusive Club Romero’s gym, free of charge for guests at Casa Wirth
5 Tour a winery, go paragliding, visit the pilgrimage site of Padre Pio, tour the colonial architectural landmarks, the plazas and cobblestone calles of Salto, Garibaldi’s San Antonio battlefield – the Casa staff will be happy to make all the arrangements.
6. Take a relaxing day and swim in the 104º hot water pools, discovering the 12,000 acre estate Termas de San Nicanor.
Price is also enchanting, $US85 a night per double room with breakfast and fresh local orange juice.
Guests can also reserve the entire Casa for their exclusive use — up to 10 guests, no minimum guest amount, you can be 2, 4 or 6, there is a private kitchen, and full staff (gardener/handyman and housekeeper/ cook): just $US390 per night.
How do you get to Salto? First, catch a flight to Montevideo or Buenos Aires. Transportation then can be arranged by either private plane, (international airport in Salto allows direct flights from Brazil or Argentina) chauffeured car or rental car to Salto, approximately a five hour drive.
For reservations, log on to www.casawirth.com — and check out all the inviting photos for both Casa Wirth and Estancia Don Pipo.
OVERVIEW ; Casa Wirth is a 5-bedroom boutique Inn located within a 12,000 square foot property in the center of Salto, Uruguay’s second largest city (pop. 104,026). It opened in  but its history dates back almost 100 years and illustrious owners who used it as their family home. Present owner Peter Wirth is a scion of the Bucher-Wirth families who created some of the most famous grand hotels in Europe (most notably the Hassler Hotel in Rome). The antique-filled Casa is part of a 12,000 square foot estate and comes with a patio and sun terrace, a fully-equipped kitchen, and dining room/living room with fireplace, all for the use of guests. Casa Wirth has an air of refinement and privacy that some guests have called “a touch of Wirth in Uruguay.” www.casawirth.com.