Pano 15 photos head NNJ3
San Carlos de Bariloche, ARGENTINA
Many times compared to the Phoenix, the Llao-Llao Hotel has a history that combines the Bustillo brothers’ pioneering strength with their marvelous architecture and the imposing beauty of an incomparable setting.
It was 1935 when Exequiel Bustillo decided to build a huge hotel in to attract tourists with strong purchasing power to the brand new Nahuel Huapi National Park. Located in a fairy-tale place, this superb architectural work was designed by the gifted architect Alejandro Bustillo, who also created other important works throughout the country, such as Mar del Plata’s boardwalk, Hotel Provincial and Casino. His project was selected among others because the architectural style it proposed was best suited for the area and not, as many people thought, because he was a relative of the first President of the National Parks’ Board of Directors.
Another view of the Hotel
The building work began in 1936. More than five thousand trees were cut down, causing a profound environmental impact in a wooded area that would soon become known all around the world for its green grasslands. This is how the Llao-Llao was born. Its name refers to a famous fungus that grows in the native ńire and coihue trees. Entirely built in wood and stone, with larch tiles on the roofs, the first hotel also had a telegraph, a post office, a office of Banco de la Nación, a drugstore and even a nearby golf course, designed by Alberto Del Solar Dorrego. They made best use of the magnificent views of the surroundings, designing balconies, terraces and windows from where it was possible to appreciate the marvelous nature stretching out all around.
On New Year’s Eve 1938, the first social ball was carried out in its reception rooms, which were “dressed in brilliant clothes”, as the papers of the time stated. But the official inauguration was on January 8. The commercial operation was given to the Buenos Aires’ Plaza Hotel, then considered the best in the country. Due to an efficient management, shortly after the hotel was already considered the most prestigious by Argentinean society. Whole families traveled there with their chauffeurs and babysitters to spent long seasons at the hotel, which offered service areas, intercommunicated rooms and a highly intense cultural and social life. But despite Bustillo’s hopeful visions, the Llao-Llao was marked by tragedy. On October 29, 1939, the hotel was completely devastated by a fierce fire. On “La Nación” newspaper, Manuel Mujica Láinez declared that the accident should be a cause for “national mourning” and wrote: “The first news are trying in vain to convince us that there is nothing left of those long wooden galleries, and of those rustic but sumptuous ball rooms...”
The Hotels entrance
The disappearance of the hotel came as a terrible blow to the Bustillo brothers; however, it was not hard enough to crush their spirit, and they were immediately embarked on its reconstruction, with more vigor than ever. One year later, in a truly record time, on December 15, 1940, like the Phoenix springing from the pyre, the Llao-Llao opened its doors once again. The outbreak of war in Europe favored the arrival of an increasingly exclusive international tourism that found some comfort in this heavenly place. Important national and international personalities stayed in its rooms and took great delight in the surrounding majesty.