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I arrived in Montevideo, Uruguay, to beautiful, sunny weather. After grabbing our bags, my partner, Gustavo Rangel, and I set off for José Ignacio, the Hamptons of Uruguay.
When we finally arrived at the Estancia Vik José Ignacio, we were greeted by the resort’s two friendly resident dogs. It’s a much more intimate setup than I’d anticipated, with only 12 rooms in the entire retreat — each of which is named after a local artist behind that particular suite’s decoration. I stayed in the Marcelo Legrand room, a lovely space complete with hand-laid wooden flooring and a mix of modern and traditional Uruguayan decor. I especially loved Legrand’s mural of “reversible” art, which includes over 40 of the artist’s colorful, vibrant works in miniature.
This story first appeared in the April 21, 2010 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
The next day, I went horseback riding with Christina, one of the ranch’s guides. As a first-time rider, I was nervous to climb into the saddle — but once I got the hang of it, it was surprisingly easy! We walked all around the José Ignacio beach, checking out a tiny hut decorated with colorful children’s artwork and visiting a bunch of local vendors selling souvenirs. I picked up some pretty wooden boxes that will look right at home in my studio, plus a whitewashed candle holder for the balcony outside my office for the summer.
The resort’s executive chef, Marcelo, threw us a welcome barbecue, where we were joined by the hotel’s other guests — and foodie that I am, I offered to help cook. We whipped up a 20-person feast of short ribs, lamb, provolone-stuffed peppers, homemade salsa and pistachio-topped rice pudding. All the vegetables and herbs we served were hand-picked from their backyard — talk about eating fresh!
I had told the Estancia staff how much I loved my suite’s Marcelo Legrand artwork, and they arranged a visit for me from Legrand himself! We chatted about his process and inspiration, and I bought one of Legrand’s large-scale murals for my studio back home. The vibrant colors are so similar to the ones I favor for my own designs — it’s the perfect souvenir of my time in Uruguay. That afternoon, I enjoyed lunch at La Huella, a restaurant down by the shore that’s perfect for people-watching. We imbibed a few Caprioskas — a delicious drink of lime, sugar and cachaça rum — and snacked on fish with homemade onion tarts.
On our last day in Uruguay, we got a chance to stay at the Playa Vik José Ignacio, a beautiful (and still under construction!) beachside branch of the resort that will officially open in June. The villas themselves are perfectly aligned with the hills on which they were built, and the infinity pool in front leads straight off into the sunset.