We travelled to northwestern Argentina to experience a distinctly different part of the country, where pre-Columbian settlements still thrive and the conquistador mark is seen more clearly than anywhere else. We flew into San Salvador de Jujuy with the intent to explore the province for a few days and then head south to Salta. We had made reservations at the Termas de Reyes Spa and Hotel, and since we were staying for three nights we got a courtesy pickup from the airport.
The driver who picked us up from the airport gave us a short tour of the major landmarks in San Salvador de Jujuy before taking us to the hotel. He shared a lot of information about the area as well as the history of the hotel. Termas de Reyes’ location is amazing, perched on the side of a mountain in a river gorge. The name Termas de Reyes alludes to the hot springs which were considered sacred by the Inca emperors who conducted pilgrimages to bathe in the thermal waters. We found out the resort had been built as a health spa in the 1940s and Eva Peron converted it into a sanatorium for children where she occasionally taught classes. The current owner is the son of one of the original hotel employees, a driver, and grew up in the hotel. By this time we had figured out our driver was not an employee at all but the hotel owner himself. He had made his fortune in trucking and one day, when the hotel was a wreck and the government was selling it for a song, he bought it on a whim and renovated it. Now he enjoys slipping out of his office once in a while to drive hotel guests around as a humble driver, just like his father.
Once we got to the hotel, the staff was very polite and helpful. They gave us a quick tour of the facilities while our luggage was taken to our room. Our room had a great view of the gorge and the bed was very comfortable (I’m very picky about beds because I have back problems). The hot water in the bathroom comes from the hot springs, making it unfit to drink but the cold water was potable. We slipped into the complimentary bath robes and headed down to the spa.
The first impression was something out of a classic James Bond movie. The spa is beneath the main lobby of the hotel and is built around the mountain, giving it a panoramic view. We had free access to all the facilities including private thermal bath cabins with a view of the gorge, sauna, and fully equipped gym. Amazing as that was, I think the best part was floating in the open air thermal pool and enjoying the smell of wild herbs and pine trees wafting down the mountain. On the third day of our stay, rain clouds had descended to engulf the hotel and swimming in the hot pool while getting sprinkled with cold raindrops was amazing.
The restaurant surpassed our expectations, both in quality and price. We stayed at the hotel for four nights so between the two of us we tried pretty much everything, and liked it all. We especially enjoyed the pepper sauce steak and the humitas which is a regional dish. We drank some delicious white wines called torrontes which were decently priced at around 10 dollars per bottle. Torrontes is the specialty of Cafayate in neighboring Salta province, which we visited a few days later. The service in the restaurant was excellent, perhaps even too good. Our waiter would appear every time our glasses were half empty to refill them. I’m just not used to someone filling my glass for me.
During our stay we also went on two of the excursions offered by the hotel, one to the Salinas Grandes salt flats and the other to the Quebrada de Humahuaca. Each excursion departed around 9:00 am and returned around 6:00 pm, giving us plenty of time to relax in the spa which is open every day until 9:00 pm.
Overall it was an amazing experience and a good deal to boot. We ended up staying an extra day because we liked it so much. I would certainly stay there again and I recommended it to all my friends.