Peuma Hue review
An invigorating retreat in the Argentinian mountains
The Quick Read: This well run and lovingly kept rural estate on the shore of Lake Gutierrez in Nahuel Huapi National Park makes a wonderful base to explore Patagonia and get back in touch with yourself either alone or with friends or family. It’s set in a valley and surrounded by mountains and forest, so you can hike on trails straight from the door, go riding on paths criss crossing the estate (which has its own stables), kayak across clear lake waters or just roam around as you please. One to one yoga and tango classes, massage, fishing, climbing, guided hiking and excursions can be arranged. The food is organic, either home-grown or locally sourced, and carefully prepared by a thoughtful and enthusiastic chef. It’s not a dedicated ‘retreat space’ but its setting and atmosphere makes it feel like one – come to retreat as deeply or as lightly as you need to.
More on the property: Peuma Hue is the culmination of a 15-year project by co-owner Evelyn Horter who, after twenty years working as a psychotherapist and partner in an adventure travel agency, bought 500 acres of overgrown land and began creating a place where, in her words, natural beauty would be the background for a healthy, peaceful and meaningful life. The result is stunning. While the opposite lakeshore of Nahuel Huapi, some 25km away, is crowded with hotels, this estancia gives access to hiking trails, to wilderness for horse riding, and to a pristine lake with nobody else around. Peuma Hue means ‘Place of Dreams’ in the local dialect and it really is an idyllic place to lose yourself in nature. The massive rawness of the mountains, the gentle waters lapping against the shore, the vast coihue forests and big weather combine to make it quite exceptional – read a word from the queen on her stay.
More on the wellbeing activities: You can arrange your own pick-and-mix retreat at Peuma Hue all year round and make it as energetic or relaxing as you choose. Do plan your own retreat activities before your arrival, to ensure the teachers and therapists you need are booked and on hand.
As well as hiking and horse-riding, you can opt for lake fishing (seasonal), kayaking, sailing and rock climbing. If you stay full board, hiking, horse-riding, kayaking and dinghy rides across the lake are included in the price. There are horses and trails suitable for all levels of experience and you will find yourself immersed in nature, seeing sights unreachable by vehicle.
Meanwhile, back at the ranch, you can learn tango with local teachers or enjoy one to one sessions in yoga. Therapist Ronnie Pruden comes in to give bodywork in the comfort of your bedroom, and also offers classes in Breema, a mixture of partner yoga and Thai massage and a gentle mind-body practice perfect for travel weary bodies. You can read about our experience of Ronnie here. Classes are held in a naturally light, wooden floored room (with a fireplace for chilly mornings) in a small recreational building next to the main house, or the non-denominational temple which is tucked away in the trees and where the occasional music recital takes place.
Peuma Hue doesn’t have a swimming pool but who needs one when you have the lake on your doorstep? Naturally there is also a sauna – perfect for those fire-ice experiences when the snow comes – and a fire-heated hot tub. Peuma Hue also run Yoga & Nature retreats at the turn of each season with yoga, mindful walks, massage and healthy meals – ask them for up to date details.
More on the inside: The estancia is all about nature – inside as well as out, so it has a clean, spacious, elemental feel, both in decoration and furnishing. There are wide flagstoned floors and huge stone fireplaces, deep sofas to sink into and classic fire-side armchairs in warming orange and red fabrics. Mapuche indigenous art and plenty of books are liberally sprinkled through the lodge. Large windows drench the place in light and give incredible views.
More on the bedrooms: There are several places to stay – the bulk of the rooms are in two houses. Walls and beams are made from tree trunks, and massive windows blur the divide between inside and out. Poplar House has the largest suites, with stunning views from the more spacious upstairs rooms. The master suite has a bathroom with a glass roof and a double jacuzzi. But smaller rooms are equally comfortable and spacious. Evelyn has decorated all the rooms with items collected on her travels and handcrafts made by the local Mapuche people.
The Radal House is slightly simpler in design – as with Poplar House, the upstairs rooms are more spacious and have better views. If you’d rather not share your space, opt for Creek Cabin – it has a double bedroom plus two beds in the living room. Another private (and even more magical option) is Mountain Cabin, a mile up in the mountains, surrounded by trees.
More on the outside: It’s a good ten-minute drive from the main road to the estate and you soon feel far removed from the rest of civilization. The track passes through picture book pastures grazed by cattle and sheep, along with the occasional pheasant and hare, and woodland. Inside the gate the vista opens up into grassland with the various buildings thoughtfully placed around the lakefront.
There are 500 acres in which to lose yourself – or just stay close to the estancia and gaze at the lake and mountains. The lawns are dotted with lines of huge poplar, willow and fruit trees and a fire-heated hot-tub sits next to a pretty stream running down to the lake. There’s a sauna too.
Food & drink: Food and wine are selected and served with care, attention and flair. Everything is fresh, home-made and mainly organic. Breakfast centres around fresh home-laid eggs, homemade bread, cake and jams, plus fruit salad, cheese and ham. Homemade chocolate truffles await you on your bedside table each night.
For lunch (usually served between 1 and 2) a typical starter would be bean and vegetable salad or carob bread with blue cheese and tomato chutney. Mains could be slow cooked lamb wrapped in a crispy dough, or ricotta and cheese agnolotti.
From 7pm pre-dinner drinks are accompanied by platters of canapés. Dishes might include freshly caught lake trout, Argentinian beef, rose hip ice cream and liquor, displayed and garnished to perfection on Alfred Meakin plates. Food is prepared in a separate building but plated in the kitchen of each house so you are able to watch the chefs at work, presenting each dish.
The helpings are generous, so do feel free to ask for half-sized portions if you want. Everything is optional – if you’d like a simpler menu just ask.
Fellow guests: Peuma Hue generally attracts professionals – a mix of families, couples and solo travelers. It’s an ideal place for anyone who enjoys nature and wants to experience Patagonia in comfort and peace – you can retreat as deeply or as lightly as you need to.
Costs: You can opt for a full board plan which includes breakfast, lunch, tea or cocktail plus dinner with wine and activities such as trekking, guided horse riding, kayaking and boat rides. The bed and breakfast plan includes your room plus a generous buffet breakfast. A superior double room, full board with activities, costs $315 (£205) per person per night low season and $410 (£267) in high season. The same room bed and breakfast costs $170 (£108) per person per night low season and $210 (£134) in high season. There is a 50% single supplement.
You can get 4 nights for the price of 3 during low season (April-Nov, which is Autumn/Winter) and 7 nights for the price of 6 during high season. Upgrades are sometimes available. Bring your own group for a retreat and, with a minimum of 6 people, you’ll benefit from a discount.
Yoga classes cost $35 (£22) per person (for four or more people) or $130 (£83) for a one to one class. Massage and Breema sessions cost $80 (£45) for 60 minutes. Breema classes can be arranged (also for four of more people) and are priced on request.
What’s lowly: There’s no dedicated yoga studio or treatment rooms. You may need to work around other guests if you haven’t pre-arranged all your activities.
Getting there: Peuma Hue is about 50 km from San Carlos de Bariloche airport (to which you can get direct flights from Buenos Aires’ Jorge Newbery airport) and about a 40 minute drive from the bustling town of Bariloche. Peuma Hue can arrange to collect you from either place; transfers to the airport cost $100 (£65) and to Bariloche $90 (£58), both one way for up to 3 people.
Reviewed by Sarah Garbett
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