It's David Galland from Casey Research, and La Estancia de Cafayate. I'm writing today about this rapidly growing community in the scenic northwest of Argentina.
Specifically, it is my great pleasure to invite you to enjoy our version of a "film festival" featuring a collection of short videos by New Zealand filmmaker Dennis Brooks, Jr., made on site in Cafayate earlier this year.
- And it's with special pleasure that I formally invite you to attend Estancia Games, the season-opening social event for owners and guests at La Estancia, this November 10 – 15.
In a moment, I'll share specifics on the event, as well as answer commonly asked questions about La Estancia de Cafayate.
But first, to our film festival!
The Brooks Videos
For five days this past March, Dennis Brooks, Jr., accompanied by a freelance crew out of Buenos Aires, roamed the 1,200-acre wine and sporting estate of La Estancia de Cafayate shooting footage, including interviews with community members.
Following are the first of what we anticipate will be a larger collection of short videos resulting from Dennis's video shoot. Together, they provide an "on-the-spot" perspective of life in this beautiful, self-sustaining corner of northwest Argentina that's hard to communicate with the written word alone.
As you watch, I think you'll get a good sense of the passion and vision of the principals and the 250 individuals from 30 different countries that are now part of the La Estancia community.
||Video #1: The Master Planner.
In the first of our four short videos, La Estancia's master planner, Santa Barbara-based architect Jack Zehren, sets the stage by describing in his signature laid-back fashion the key features of La Estancia's master plan against backdrop videos of the amenities.
||Video #2: If I Could Live My Life Again.
An early-review cut of Dennis's vision piece for La Estancia was recently sent around to positive reviews from community members, who felt it did a good job of capturing the spirit of this extraordinary place. The final video includes some new scenes of La Estancia de Cafayate.
We'll get to our next video, featuring Doug Casey, momentarily. But first a quick intermission to provide details on the November Estancia Games event you'll hopefully be able to attend.
Your Personal Cafayate Adventure
The Estancia Games event, which officially kicks off the Argentine summer season at La Estancia de Cafayate, takes place over five days, starting on the evening of November 10 with registration and dinner al fresco on the picturesque plaza, finishing with a day of leisure on November 15.
In case you're unfamiliar with the biannual events at La Estancia, these limited-attendance affairs attract participants from all over the world, many Casey Research subscribers and guests.
While the members of the La Estancia community tend to be highly individualistic, that they share a certain world-view makes the events especially collegial and friendly. This aspect of the events, and the community, is hard to overstate. People arrive as complete strangers and by the end of the first day have made fast friends.
As to what to expect, the schedule is kept very relaxed to allow you to take full advantage of the world-class amenities on the stunning 1,200-acre estancia... to tour the valley and surrounding area... and to enjoy lively conversations over leisurely meals at La Estancia's excellent restaurant or in one of the many outdoor cafés on the town's quaint plaza.
Speaking of amenities, you'll have the full use of them all, including...
Then there's the everyday activities of wandering around the colonial town, visiting the many vineyards/bodegas now putting Cafayate on the map for wine aficionados around the world, touring local archeological sites, hiking trails previously used by the Incas, and much more.
- The exceptional, Bob Cupp-designed 18-hole golf course, the longest in South America. A teaching pro is standing by to help you with your game, and golf clubs are available if you wish to leave yours at home.
- The world-class Athletic Club, featuring a fully equipped gym, resistance pool, squash court, professional masseurs, steam rooms, hot tubs and more. Yoga classes during the event are open to all.
- Tennis. The latest amenity to be added are three new courts built to the highest USTA standards.
- Horse riding, featuring Paso Peruano horses. These horses have a remarkably smooth natural gait that allows them to "fast walk" pretty much all day without tiring. As an aside, architect and community member Jack Zehren is a world-renowned breeder of Paso Peruano horses.
- Polo. Whether you are an experienced player or would like to take a clinic, a full-size polo field and horses await. A polo tournament will be held during the event that experienced players are welcomed to play in. Everyone else is invited to share a glass of champagne on the sidelines and cheer for their favorites.
- The Heath Club restaurant and bar. The beautiful Jack Zehren-designed clubhouse offers some of the best food in the valley, in a wonderful setting overlooking the picturesque mountains surrounding Cafayate.
Once there, you'll understand why Salta province in northwest Argentina, home to Cafayate, was named a "Must See" destination by the staff of Fodor's travel guides in 2010.
Then there are the social events, including two cocktail parties, a traditional asado lunch with Doug Casey in a private home in Cafayate, an al fresco lunch in the La Estancia vineyards (the estancia's vineyards produce enough grapes for 200,000 bottles of wine) and a gala Farewell Fiesta.
Based on the universally rave reviews from the hundreds of people who have journeyed to Cafayate to participate in past events – many of whom subsequently decided to join the community as property owners – your Cafayate adventure will create memories to last a lifetime.
- And, to top it off, the event includes a half-day Casey Research Conference, featuring Doug Casey and friends, including currency specialist Frank Trotter, Casey Report contributor and international estate planning expert Terry Coxon, investment educator Susan "Kung Fu Girl" Fuji, technical analyst Dominick Graziano and others.
Of course, while at La Estancia, you'll have the opportunity to look at property at your leisure, but in a completely no-pressure environment. Only by visiting can you decide whether or not the lifestyle in La Estancia is right for you. But even if you decide it isn't, you will still have had a truly exceptional holiday far from the daily grind.
More about the logistics of the event in moment, but for now let's get on with our film festival, with a video interview with Doug Casey.
||Video #3: The Doug Casey Interview.
Many people refer to La Estancia as "Casey's Gulch," in reference to Doug's driving vision of the place.
In this next video Doug explains why, of all of the places in the world, he chose Cafayate as location of this retreat for like-minded people to enjoy the best that life has to offer, far from the maddening crowd.
A Brief Background on the Town of Cafayate
As you'll discover when you visit, despite its remote location, Cafayate is a very successful little town. That success is readily apparent in the number of excellent restaurants, shops, boutique hotels and a modern new wine museum. In addition to the natural beauty and exceptional climate, there are a couple of other key reasons for this success.
An important aspect to the town's success, in which La Estancia de Cafayate is certainly a factor, is that Cafayate literally has zero unemployment. And, as a successful town, it has other important facilities, including dedicated fiber optic cable for Internet and a well-equipped and staffed new hospital, only four years old.
The Quebrada. The road to Cafayate from the Salta City airport initially leads through several interesting but otherwise unremarkable small rural towns, before entering a zone dominated by large expanses of agricultural land.
But then, as you enter the canyon (in the local parlance, Quebrada) and the greenery morphs into dramatic multi-colored rock formations, the real adventure begins.
While you'll have to see it for yourself, in my opinion, the drive belongs on the same scale as driving through the Grand Canyon, if you could. No matter how many times I've driven it, the fantastically colored geological formations never fail to inspire awe.
Though the staffers at Fodor's found much to do and to like about Salta province, nothing else quite compares to the hour-long drive through the Quebrada, which each year attracts thousands of tourists from Argentina and around the world (mainly Europe).
Emerging at the other end of the Quebrada, the road gently descends into the Calchaquí Valley where, nestled among an ocean of vineyards, is the town of Cafayate.
The steady stream of sightseers driving the Quebrada is what initially provided the impetus for the opening of a wide array of excellent cafes, shops and tourist activities in Cafayate. Then, over the years, the local amenities helped the town to also become a favorite vacation spot for Argentines from all over the country.
Thus, while the town is remote and therefore retains its very authentic charm, its success as a destination ensures that you'll still find the amenities necessary for the good life. And what a life it is!
- The Vineyards. While I don't have the specific data at hand, since Doug and I started spending time in Cafayate about eight years ago, the growth of the town's wine industry has been unmistakable.
Long considered one of Argentina's top growing regions, in recent years it has become second only to Mendoza in importance.
The reasons for its success include an ideal growing climate – warm days and cool evenings – the soil, abundant fresh water and, of late, the local Torrontés, an aromatic white wine that has begun attracting an international following. Argentina's signature Malbec variety is also grown in Cafayate.
As a consequence, there has been something of a land rush in recent years, with a number of bodegas from Mendoza moving in to buy land and plant vines. To provide just one example, the highly regarded Piattelli vintners from Mendoza are spending $12 million to build a massive new wine-producing facility that, when opened in the next few months, will produce almost one million bottles of wine annually. Acknowledging the vibrancy of the town's tourist trade, the new Piattelli bodega also includes a gourmet restaurant (making a total of five in town).
In other words, despite being remote, Cafayate is not only a thriving town (with rising property values), it's a town where living the good life is not just possible but a way of life. It's where the Argentines go for holiday, as well as an increasing number of international travelers.
In fact, as you sit sipping a glass of fine wine at your favorite outdoor café, you'll be surprised at the number of different languages you hear spoken. As a result, foreigners don't attract any special attention... unlike in most small towns in places well off the beaten path.
About Its Remote Location
While visiting Cafayate is always a delight as a tourist, if you require the excitement of a big city, it would be a poor choice as a place to live. That's because Salta City (pop. 530,000) is a three-hour drive and Buenos Aires, although one of the world's great cities, is a two-hour flight from there.
Yet for the members of the community, Cafayate's remote location offers considerable advantages as a place to spend the Argentine summer (winter in the Northern Hemisphere), or all year round, for that matter.
I'll address traveling to Cafayate in the Q&A section below, but for most people it will take the better part of two days to get there. But once you are there, you are there... and you'll be very glad you are.
- Authentic Culture. Per my comments above, while Cafayate has a thriving (but still modest) tourism business, the remote wine-growing valley remains steeped in local culture and traditions. On one memorable night during a festival there, as I returned to my hotel after dinner, I was treated to the sight of thirty or so gauchos in full regalia galloping down a main street on the town plaza... a scene that wouldn't have been out of place 100 years ago.
In a world where everything has become digitized and homogenized, it is a very special treat to be able to spend time each year in a town where life moves at a measured pace and meals are still leisurely affairs complete with lively conversations and a glass or two of wine.
As you can only discover by visiting, it's a place where stress slips away and, in no time, you wake up one morning feeling refreshed and reconnected with the simpler aspects of a life fully lived. I know that may sound like something you might read in a travel brochure, but it's sincerely how I feel when I'm there. And it's why my family and I are moving down there this fall.
- A Self-Sufficient Region. Pretty much everything you eat or drink in Cafayate is grown or produced within the region. The economy of Salta province revolves around agricultural self and Cafayate sits on a large aquifer of exceptionally pure water (La Estancia itself has seven fresh springs, with such high-quality water that bottling it for sale is under consideration). Not to be dramatic, but the rest of the world could pretty much blow up, and the town would hardly miss a beat. And to add to this self-sufficiency, we have planted over 600 fruit- and nut-bearing trees in the La Estancia community, so figs, olives, pears, peaches and more are just a quick picking away.
- No risk that it will become overrun anytime soon. Like other charming but remote towns such as Aspen, Cafayate's incredible scenery and rich lifestyle are attracting people who like the fact that the town will never be a destination for weekend holiday-makers looking for bars serving 2-for-1 Jell-O shots. (Though, to be fair, during the Argentine holidays, the place is positively hopping.)
Especially if, like members of the La Estancia de Cafayate community, you plan on spending a number of months enjoying the wonderful lifestyle there.
And that brings me to our final video, one that is highly relevant to me personally, starting with the fact that I am the interviewee. In it, I describe the connection members of the La Estancia community feel with each other, the driving force in our decision to build our house and to begin spending November through May each year in residence in Cafayate.
The Community at
La Estancia de Cafayate
In our final video today, I share my personal feelings about what distinguishes La Estancia de Cafayate from any other lifestyle community I have ever visited: the very interesting collection of people who have decided to spend some or all of each year there. The wonderful amenities and the ability to bypass winter in the Northern Hemisphere are just icing on the cake!
As an aside, even though I'm a minor shareholder in the company that developed La Estancia, I paid full retail for my property, the unfinished garage of which is shown here. (Note the high quality of construction.)
With two other partners, I also purchased a house in town, and one of the Grace Hotel villas scheduled to open in La Estancia next March. So, when I describe my passion for Cafayate, you know I'm very much putting my money where my mouth is.
That concludes our "film festival." I hope it piqued your curiosity and that you'll seriously consider joining Doug and me, along with the conference faculty, community members and guests for the better part of a week enjoying the best that life has to offer.
Please note that there is a modest $300 per person event fee charged to help offset the costs of staging the event, but that's a small price to pay for what will almost certainly be one of the most exhilarating and enjoyable vacations ever.
- As always, attendance at these events is strictly limited, and the better hotel rooms in town go quickly, so if you are interested in attending, please reach out to Dave Norden, who helps coordinate these events, at dnorden@LaEst.com at your earliest convenience.
And, who knows, you might even decide to make La Estancia de Cafayate a part of your life, in which case this could be the first step on an adventure that literally lasts a lifetime!
I hope to see you this November 10 – 15!
P.S. While Dave Norden or another member of the La Estancia team are always available to answer your questions, following are answers to some of the most frequently asked.
♦ ♦ ♦
on La Estancia de Cafayate and Cafayate
Q. How many properties are there in La Estancia? How many are left?
Excluding the Grace Villas, there are a total of 396 residential properties available in La Estancia de Cafayate. Of those, 251 have been sold, leaving only 145 available.
Q. Where are most of the owners from?
Community members come, literally, from around the globe – from 32 different countries. The countries with the largest representation within the community are the United States, Canada and Argentina.
Q. How far along is the project?
Essentially all of the infrastructure and the bulk of the amenities have been built – and, as promised, to world-class standards. While the funds are available to finish out the remaining facilities, specifically the social club, the kids' club and the social pool, the decision was made to phase those in over the next two or three years to allow time for the community in residence to grow to the point where they would see adequate usage.
Importantly, the community itself is quickly coming together, with residents and visitors year round and especially during "the season," when owners are looking to escape the Northern Hemisphere winter.
And, families with children will be pleased to hear that starting this November, the International Institute for Academic Excellence, founded by community members, will be offering educational programs for children in residence, as well as adult classes in Spanish.
Q. How many houses have been built?
So far, 20 houses have been completed, with another 20 either in construction or in the advanced stages of planning and more on the way.
In addition, the 5-Star Grace Hotel and Residential Villas complex, featuring 12 hotel rooms and 20 private villas on the property, is well advanced and on track for a scheduled opening in March of 2013.
When you consider that as recently as 2007, the property of La Estancia de Cafayate was essentially a horse farm, the progress that has been made is quite remarkable.
Simply put, the project is a resounding success, property values have been on the climb, and so the risks inherent in an earlier-stage development have been all but eliminated.
Q. What's involved with traveling there?
Of course, it will depend on where your journey starts. For most, however, it will involve an international flight to Buenos Aires. If you are coming from the States, there are direct flights available from JFK, Newark, Atlanta, Miami, Washington DC, Houston and Dallas. Typically, the flights leave in the evening and arrive the next morning.
One significant advantage for North Americans traveling to Argentina, versus to Europe or Asia, is that because it is close to the same time zone as the East Coast, jet lag is not a factor. Instead, you sleep on the plane and arrive the next morning ready to go.
The next leg of the journey requires flying to Salta City, which takes about two hours. Many travelers like to break up their trip by spending a night or two in Buenos Aires, often referred to as "the Paris of South America," before continuing on to Salta City.
Once at Salta Airport, you are ready for the extremely scenic drive to Cafayate, about three hours away. You have a number of options available, including a "remis" (essentially a taxi), a private car and driver, or a rental car.
This is a good time to mention La Estancia's dedicated concierge service. Whenever you are ready, they will work with you to book your flights within Argentina, your transportation and your hotel room in Cafayate.
As mentioned elsewhere, Cafayate has some great boutique hotels, but not very many, so the better hotels tend to sell out quickly ahead of these events.
The best bet is to reach out to Dave Norden at dnorden@LaEst.com and let him know you are interested. He'll get you signed up and then connect you with the Cafayate Concierge, who will take it from there.
Q. The dates for the event are November 10 – 15. When should I plan on arriving/departing?
Typically, most event participants will arrive in Cafayate a day earlier, on November 9, so that they have a bit of time to settle in and adjust to the calming ambience of the place. Most will depart mid-morning on November 15 or 16, in time to make an afternoon flight out of Salta, then connect with their international flight that night out of Buenos Aires.
Q. Every now and then, I read about Argentina's government odd policies. Should I be concerned?
The current government of Argentina (and many that preceded it) have odd ideas about how an economy should work. As a result, at this writing inflation in the country is running somewhat over 20%. This is actually a boon for dollar-based individuals as their money goes much further in the country.
As far as the rest of it, the "Five Flags" model can be helpful in keeping things in the proper context. Specifically, individuals looking to diversify globally (a very smart move, in our opinion) would do well to earn a living in one country, that's the first flag. Then have your residence, or a second passport, in another. That's two. Keep your investments in a third (or more). Have your bank accounts in a forth.
And then spend your time in a really wonderful fifth country. That's the fifth flag, and where Argentina belongs. As a non-citizen, the government will have almost no interest in you – other than to hope you have a wonderful time and keep coming back.
Q. If I have more questions, where can I get the answers?
For general information, including a schedule of events for the Estancia Games event, visit www.LaEst.com. We would suggest, however, that if you are interested in attending the event, drop Dave Norden an email at dnorden@LaEst.com and let him know so he can pencil you in and send you additional information, including a registration link.
Remember, these events always sell out, and the best hotel rooms go quickly, so mark your schedule for November 10 – 15 and begin making your plans today for what will be the trip of a lifetime!
|For more information and to learn more,
please visit - www.LaEst.com