Jose Ignacio

Trip Start Apr 15, 2009
Trip End Jun 17, 2009

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Flag of Uruguay  , Maldonado Department,
Saturday, June 6, 2009

Jose Ignacio, the new beach town for the international A-list

According to British Harpers Bazaar, Tattler, and other charters of "cool," the tiny village of Jose Ignacio is THE place to go to get away from the paparazzi. The magazines must be right, as there were no certainly paparazzi in sight last Wednesday when we visited.

Fifty miles from Piriapolis, around the mouth of the Rio de la Plata at Punta and up the Atlantic coast, Jose Ignacio is an unlikely jet-setter hot-spot. Twenty years ago, the few houses here did not even have electricity.  The biggest "attraction" in town was the lighthouse warning of the rocks that guard the beaches.  But the residents would have been able to enjoy the quiet beauty and remoteness of this little peninsula. 

This remoteness, combined with proximity to the prestige of Punta del Este, has made Jose Ignacio a magnet for the rich and famous, as well as the "simply rich."  Please go to and click on "experience Casa Suaya" to get a glimpse of the contrast between the remoteness and the high-style that defines Jose Ignaco.  Our photos do not capture the essence of the place as well as this link.

There is an air of chic about the town, even though most of the roads remain unpaved, and electric lines often spoil the views.  Very expensive houses, some quite well designed, are being built along the dirt roads and overlooking the sea.   A few small shops offer elegant artworks and household furnishings.  Mostly, however, Jose Ignacio is a place for hanging out on the beach, dining, and partying.

One of the best-known and most popular restaurants is La Huelle.  Literally built on the sand dunes, it's a funky kind of place that certainly has more style than elegance.  During the day, outdoor decks provide terrific views of the water.  For our night-time visit a few days earlier, the weather was cold, and we sat inside next to the fireplace for drinks and dinner on a coffee table.  (Casual dining at the coffee table is much the fashion in Punta!) 

Today, mid-week during the off-season, with neither celebrities nor paparazzi to distract us, we visited a couple of real estate offices to check on the cost of land and houses.  We were told that beach-front lots are priced at $80 per square foot - that's $3.5 million U.S. dollars per acre.  Obviously, this is not the spot for a low-cost retirement.
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