Saddle Up: You Can Still Catch Polo Season in Buenos Aires

November marks the beginning of the South American summer and the beginning of the end of Argentina’s high-speed—and high-style—polo season

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Ellerstina vs. La Aguada at the Hurlingham Club in Buenos Aires, on Nov. 3, 2012

November marks the beginning of the South American summer and the beginning of the end of Argentina’s high-speed—and high-style—polo season.  While many key matches have already been completed, global polo’s most important contest, the Argentine Polo Open Championship, arrives in Buenos Aires from Nov. 17 to Dec. 8. Held in the posh Palermo district’s Campo Argentino de Polo, and dating back to 1893, the three-week-long series lures nearly 100,000 polo fans to view the Sport of Kings’ most regal horses and players. And as Argentina’s glamour-filled season proves, there’s plenty of action off the field as well as on. Here’s how to make the most of it.

The new, 11-room Hub Porteno inhabits a meticulously restored former mansion and restaurant in Buenos Aires’ exclusive Recoleta neighborhood, close to Evita Peron’s pilgrimage-worthy tomb. Along with generously sized rooms, a sleek rooftop lounge and the Nuevo Argentino restaurant Tarquino, Hub Porteno also serves as a base for a series of specially designed Argentinian experiences, including the seasonally appropriate Polo and Gaucho excursion. This day-long itinerary is set on a working estancia in the nearby Pampas and includes basic horsemanship training, introductory polo lessons with a local champion, an actual polo match, and an après-game parilla or traditional barbeque.

A trio of local fashion brands—La DolfinaLa Martina and Etiqueta Negra—offer stylish and wholly original sportswear that evokes polo’s classically chic lifestyle.  All three boast spacious shops in Recoleta and throughout Buenos Aires, while both La Martina and Etiqueta Negra, which sponsor their own polo teams, are increasingly available overseas. Colorful, iconic polo-shorts, sturdy leather-goods and warm- and cool-weather sportswear are staples of all three collections.

Fueguia is a year-old parfumerie with an elegant Recoleta flagship boutique and laboratory-like HQ in the groovy-yet-genteel Palermo Viejo district. Owner Julian Bedel has a background in both philanthropy and luxury branding, both of which come together at Fueguia.  Many of the over 600 ingredients used in Fueguia’s nearly two-dozen unisex scents and scented candles are sourced from France, but Bedel has also partnered with agricultural institutions in Patagonia, Peru and Paraguay to sustainably grow native herbs and botanicals. With itsmoody mix of eucalyptus and rosemary, the countryside inspired Pampa Humeda is particularly appropriate for polo season. All Fueguia fragrances and candles come in sturdy wooden boxes handmade from reclaimed Patagonian hardwoods, and a small line of personalized fragrance blends is also available.

Martin Bonetto / Faena Group

A scene from the Rojo Tango show at the Feane Hotel + Universe.

Tango is to Argentina what Flamenco is to Spain—an expression of history and culture rendered through movement. While tango clubs abound throughout Buenos Aires, the Rojo Tango Show at the futuristic Faena Hotel + Universe in the river-front Puerto Madero district takes tango to sexy new levels. Set in an intimate, Philippe Starck-designed theater, with lithe dancers and an exuberant live band, Rojo Tango is tango with a Cabaret twist accented by classic cocktails and a traditional Argentine dinner. Art fans should arrive a few hours early for a spin around the newly opened Faena Arts Center next door, which pairs regular exhibitions from global big-shots with shows by local up-and-comers.

While much of Buenos Aires heads for Atlantic Ocean coastal resorts each summer, an equal number make for estancias—or rural ranches—two to three hours outside of the capital.  Near the town of Salto is Estancia La Fortuna, a working farm anchored by a six-room, 110 year-old French-inspired casa principal. Originally founded in 1873, this former family estate was carefully restored by ownersHernan Javier Olmedo and Massimo Iannni, the latter a long-time hotelier who helped develop the Armani Hotel brand and London’s new Cafe Royal hotel. Here, in Argentina, the duo, along with a team of local chefs, gardeners, ranch-hands and gauchos, have created a stylish property where days are spent hiking, swimming, bird-watching, and horseback and carriage riding, followed by evening meals of regionally-sourced produce and wine, and late-night film screenings in the on-site cinema. Decorated with South American and European antiques, Estancia La Fortuna is typically rented as an entire property, though individual rooms are intermittently available on weekends throughout the year.