Originally opened in 1921 as the Hotel Casino Carrasco by Uruguayan visionary Alfredo Arocena, the newly renovated and rebranded hotel and resort complex has undergone a 75 million US dollars facelift to reopen as the luxurious Sofitel Montevideo Casino Carrasco & Spa.
Albert Einstein, Federico García Lorca, Getúlio Vargas, Felipe González and François Mitterrand are just some of the notable guests who have visited or stayed in this building during its history, which was declared a listed national heritage building in 1975.
The Municipality of Montevideo (IM, for its acronym in Spanish) acquired the Hotel Casino Carrasco in 1915 and decided to close it down in 1997, however in 2009 after an open call for tenders, the IM entrusted investment group Carrasco Nobile and Sofitel with the challenging task of bringing the building back to life.
RESTORATION, ART AND DESIGN
The Carrasco building has links with France that are rooted in its very conception. French architect Gaston Mallet (working together with Jacques Dunant, from Switzerland) created a majestic, daring and enduring project that transports us to France as soon as we catch sight of it. One hundred years after its foundation, the project came into being which is consistent with the building’s history, respectful of its surroundings and committed to providing excellent service.
The star of the restoration process is the piano nobile, the main floor of Sofitel Montevideo Casino Carrasco & Spa, where architects and restorers worked with scalpels, brushes and trowels to lay bare the original finish: plaster-based stucco, tempera painting and fine 18 and 22-karat gold leaf.
The key features of the decorative concept for Sofitel Montevideo Casino Carrasco & Spa, which are highlighted in different areas, are the tango, the texture of leather and a colour palette combining the red of the ceibo flower (the national flower of Uruguay), the gold that was recreated on the walls and the hues of the Rio de la Plata. The architecture of the piano nobile provides a visible history on walls, ceilings and stained glass, but the atmosphere immediately conveys us to the present.
Art welcomes guests to Sofitel Montevideo Casino Carrasco & Spa even before they enter the lobby. Sculptures and works of art by national artists are exhibited throughout the Tea Gallery. La trama, a majestic mural by well-known Uruguayan artist Ignacio Iturria, produced especially for Sofitel Montevideo Casino Carrasco & Spa, is a prominent feature in the Salon du Chef, a further example of the links between Uruguay and France. This room is intended for the celebration of private parties offering special and differentiated gastronomic services.
ROOMS AND SUITES
The strongly residential mood that characterizes the building is clearly perceptible in each of its 93 rooms and 23 suites, which all enjoy a privileged view of the river or of Stella Maris Church, where the eucalyptus trees and the houses in this residential area portray a picture of another era. In the rooms, stained graphite brown walnut was used for the furniture, doors and closets. Ochre and moss-green feature strongly in both upholstery and drapes, which provide a striking contemporary look. Leather is conspicuously present in the modern and unconventional lines of the furnishings. Each room suggests a different atmosphere, creating a harmonious balance between the pleasure of feeling at home and the exquisite sensation of being elsewhere.
The connection between Uruguay and France is also stressed in the 23 suites, which were given names associated with the world of Franco-Uruguayan art and culture. The majestic Imperial suites were named after the capitals of the two countries whose culture is blended in this building: Paris and Montevideo. Guests approach these cities through colours, textures, images and objects that display the most fascinating features and characteristic aromas of their identity.
FOOD AND WINE
Restaurant 1921 – In honour of the building’s history, and to keep it alive, the year of its foundation was chosen as the name of the main restaurant. Thus, 1921 is a blend of all that is classic in French cooking and creates its own identity based on an understanding of local produce. The cuisine of French chef William Porte preserves the essence of each component, respecting its flavour, aroma, texture and special features. The service in 1921 is attentive and professional, while sommelier Federico de Moura—winner of the best Uruguayan sommelier award for two consecutive years—offers food and wine pairing by harmonizing select wines with Porte’s creative and contemporary cuisine.
Thays Lounge Bar – Named in honour of the French landscape artist and architect who designed the neighbourhood of Carrasco, this lounge bar offers guests a remarkable setting with imposing stairways and the striking yet sober hues of its décor.
A prominent and daringly-shaped bar provides a seductively splendid and hyper-modern accent that constitutes the focus of attention. The Thays offers an opportunity to sample champagne, wine, a range of cocktails and a broad variety of liqueurs to accompany a carefully chosen selection of stylish appetizers.
The Tea Gallery – In the afternoon, tea served in the best French style is a pleasure in every sense with a menu including Patisseries Les Parisiennes, scones, croissants, hand-made chocolate and delicious macarons. In the tea gallery, guests are surrounded by works of art and have a clear view of the river in a very relaxing setting.
ENTERTAINMENT, WELL-BEING AND MORE
Casino Carrasco – A novel form of state-of-the-art entertainment for guests at Sofitel Montevideo Casino Carrasco & Spa, with over 400 slot machines and the chance to place bets at poker, blackjack, baccarat or roulette at unusual tables covered in red and gold mats. At the casino, Alfredo Bar pays homage to the heart and mind of the man that imagined Carrasco: Alfredo Arocena. The menu includes sushi, seafood appetizers, tapas, starters, main dishes and a variety of desserts suited to enjoy a break in the evening’s entertainment or a special night out.
So Spa Sofitel – An open invitation to well-being and the enjoyment of new experiences. Treatments are created exclusively for So Spa and are based on natural Uruguayan products, in addition to Sisley, the well-known French line. Harmony, serenity, relaxation and personalized service constitute the hallmark of an immersive and alluring atmosphere that guests experience as soon as they enter So Spa. The choice of music, of coverings and So Spa’s exclusive tea are accompanied by the opportunity of choosing from among a variety of full treatments that blend elements from around the world, with a strong component of the best provided by Uruguay, together with the spa’s sophisticated French service. Mate tea, tannat wine and amethysts feature extensively in these original and exhilarating treatments that appeal to the five senses.