November 15-17, 2018
Room Rate: $330 USD
When I started planning my trip to Argentina, Iguazu Falls was at the top of my list of places to visit. Naturally, I was thrilled to find the hotel in the park was a Sheraton hotel!
You can imagine my disappointment when in September 2017, I received an email from SPG informing me that the hotel was leaving the Starwood group, effective the end of the month, a mere 2 months before my check in date. The good news was that they would honor my reservation. The bad news was, no SPG perks (including elite qualifying nights!). Since there were no other Starwood or Marriott alternatives nearby, I decided to keep my reservation at the property, which, upon my arrival, I found was renamed to the Melia Iguazu (and is now part of the Spanish Melia Hotels & Resorts group).
Neighborhood: Iguazu National Park
Bar and Restaurant On-Property: Yes
Room Rate Range: $250-$350 USD
Before arriving at the hotel, you’ll have to purchase a ticket to the park, which cost 500 Argentinian Pesos (ARS), which is about $29 USD. Be sure to let them know you’re a hotel guest, so they can get you the correct ticket, since you’ll have to go through another checkpoint to access the hotel. As a hotel guest, if you’d like to leave and enter the park, you can do so without having to purchase a ticket every time you return, just be sure to have your room key and ticket handy.
We pulled up to the building, which looked unusual in contrast to the lush greenery around it. It looked more like a space ship rather than a nice villa to compliment the park.
We were pulled away from the beaming heat and welcomed into the (freezing) hotel lobby by the bellhop. The lobby opened up into the bar area, from which you could peak at the waterfalls in the distance! A nice welcome into the property.
We were pointed over to the front desk, which was located in the next room, and were promptly assisted by a desk agent. He was polite and quick to help us get set up. As we arrived at around noon, I was a little worried that we’d have to sit around waiting for our room to be ready, since I had no SPG perks to help me with early check in, but he let me know our room was ready. As he gathered our keys and paperwork, he let us know breakfast was included in our room rate, and asked if we’d like to upgrade to a falls view room. While I was thrilled to have breakfast included (another SPG benefit I was concerned about not having at my disposal), I passed on the falls view room since I figured we should be gazing at the falls from the park itself and not our hotel room (though I was certain an upgrade would have been on the horizon had this still been a Sheraton!).
We made our way up to the third floor, where I found one of the last remnants of the property’s Starwood past – the third floor was labeled “SPG” – the floor they assigned to SPG guests.
While the area right off the elevator was bright with natural sunlight, the hallway itself was darkly lit. Our room, 331, was located just a few doors down from the elevator.
Fortunately, the room was lit nothing like the hallway and was bursting with light, thanks to the sliding doors that lead out to the balcony.
In a nutshell: the room was very bare bones. It had all the things you’d expect of a standard hotel, but no real extras. It was lacking in any real style, and had a clinical feel to it.
I can see why though – for most travelers, this hotel is a means to an end – they’re here to see the falls, not sit in the rooms.
The king-sized bed had white linens, nothing that felt extravagantly soft, just your standard cotton linens (though after a long flight from New York the bed did admittedly feel pretty heavenly). The pillows were remarkably flat – I had to sleep with two under my head just to feel remotely comfortable. The leather headboard looked well maintained though – no chipping from age like I’ve seen at other hotels. There were no outlets accesible right next to the bed – you’d have to move the side tables to access them.
Next to the bed was a small sitting nook with a chair, table and lamp. Not really anything one could get comfortable on, but it was something to sit on, I suppose.
The TV was installed on the wall opposite the bed, right over a long counter, which I have to imagine was once intended to double as a desk – but there was no desk chair in sight. In fact, the only chair in the room was the one next to the bed. Very odd.
At the end of the counter was the mini bar, which was stocked with sodas and a few beers. A few glasses were stocked in the shelf to the right of the fridge.
There were no drawers in this room, so if you’re looking to unpack, you’ll have to do so in the closet, located in the entryway. In the closet were the safe, hangers, and an extra pillow. No bathrobes though, which I was a little let down by.
Much like the style-less room, the bathroom was equally unremarkable. It looked a little dated, though appeared to be clean.
The sink area was average sized, not particularly spacious, but had enough counter space for two people’s toiletries.
The counter had a magnifying mirror (no light though), an international outlet, a towel bar, a small dish with shampoo and conditioner, and a couple bottles of water to brush your teeth with. I particularly found the towel bar handy since I often stay at hotels with gorgeous countertops and nowhere to hang a used towel.
The shower/tub was separated from the counter by a piece of glass that only covered half the tub. That meant when you used the shower, the bathroom floor was lightly flooded. It was annoying, but it would have been worse. The shower’s water pressure was not particularly fantastic, and on a couple occasions the water went from warm to cold, mid-use.
That being said, the towel rack, which hung over the tub, was thoughtfull placed, and was perfect for hanging damp clothes on (from venturing too close to the waterfall).
Now I know I said the room was lacking in amenities, but there was a bidet. That being said, this bidet didn’t loo particularly… fresh (at a lack of a better word). On one hand, there were no shortage of hooks in the bathroom, which I very much appreciated.
The lobby had a funny mix of furniture – a mix of older looking velvet and leather seats, to a more modern looking business center (the wooden dividers very much have that Sheraton Link business center look). It felt a little mismatched, but the small nooks of seating are always nice in lobbies.
The pool area was nicely laid out – one shallow one, and a larger one that wrapped around the bar area. There was plenty of lounge chairs and umbrellas, and the area always looked busy with guests during our stay.
On our last day, after a day of walking around, we decided to spend the afternoon by the pool. Our pool day was cut short when the winds started to come in and the clouds filled the sky. We found an entrance to the spa, and asked if we could walk through to get back to the hotel.
The employee at the front desk was incredibly helpful – he showed us around the spa, which had a gym and a studio space. When I asked about pricing, he apologized and said right now they aren’t offering any services because of the transition, but we were welcome to use the spa pool.
The spa pool is made up of a number of stations, with water jets set up in different formations, offering different experiences at each station. Think of it as a pool meets jacuzzi. They typically limit guests to 30 minutes in the pool, but since the spa wasn’t operational, he invited us to use it for as long as we’d like, and let us know they were open until 8:30 if we’d like to come back again before the end of the day. He handed us a couple robes and disposable slippers and told us to let him know if we needed anything else.
The spa pool was. A-mazing. Not sure if they usually charge for guests to use this (or if it’s complimentary for anyone who pays for a spa treatment), but it was a nice treat after a couple days of trekking through the park.
As I mentioned earlier, breakfast was included in our rate. Breakfast was served buffet-style, and while the setup was average sized, in terms of offering, it was made up mostly of carbohydrates
There was no shortage of sweet pastries, bread, meat, and cheese, which was refreshed regularly during the breakfast service.
The buffet did have a few hot items – scrambled eggs, bacon, egg whites with cheese, egg whites with spinach, beef stew, and potatoes to name a few. There was also an omelette station, which Brian placed an order at.
The buffet also included cereal, fresh cut fruit, more bread (with a side of jams and preserves), and a juice bar (topped with a bottle of sparkling wine, for those in a boozy brunch mood).
The dining area was divided into two areas – the main dining room, which was in the same room as the buffet set up, and a smaller room, which was located right by the restaurant entrance. We were seated at the smaller dining room both days, which we much preferred – plus we had an unobstructed view of the falls from our table.
The mushroom and cheese omelette Brian ordered came out perfectly cooked (or at least that’s what he said) – not too dry, right amount of cheese, and overall, very tasty.
After a full day of exploring, we were too exhausted to leave the hotel and venture outside for food, so we had dinner at the bar both nights (the main restaurant wasn’t open until much later and we were too tired to stay up thanks to jet lag). We lucked out and snagged a table outside, though there’s plenty of seating inside if that’s what you prefer.
We’re always down to try local beer when we travel, so we had Quilmes, which was light and easy to drink. Our beers were served with popcorn while we waited for our food. The cheeseburger came out better than we expected – juicy and well seasoned. I guess we shouldn’t have been too surprised – this is Argentina, after all. The pizza was also slightly better than expected, though far from fantastic. The crust was thing and crunchy, so if you like pizza like that, you might like what they serve here. It was covered in cheese though, and I don’t know how you can go wrong with that.
On our last night, they cleared some tables inside and had a couple tango dancers come out and perform a show. A nice touch, especially for those whose only stop Argentina is Iguazu.
If you’re staying on the property, I imagine you’re here for one thing. Iguazu Falls. And for that, you can’t beat its location (at least on the Argentina side). Located right within Iguazu National Park, the falls are literally steps away from the hotel. Access to the falls as soon as the park opens is pretty incredible.
My feelings about the hotel are a toss up. The service was polite, but the rooms were very bare bones (especially considering the price). I loved the pool and spa, but the food was so-so. At the end of the day, most guests stay at the property for its location, and the average person will likely not return, so there’s very little incentive to spruce up the rooms or serve the best food in town. Given the proximity to the falls, I would certainly recommend the property to anyone visiting, entirely for convenience.
Hotel Appearance: 6/10 – The hotel exteriors could certainly have been more charming. Building looked outdated, and interiors were nothing special.
Room: 4/10 – Too-soft pillows, basic amenities, plus a super clinical feeling. Pass.
Staff: 8/10 – Friendly, polite, and helpful. Staff was still working some of the kinks out due to the change in management.
Location: 10/10 – You can’t stay closer to the falls.
On-Site Amenities & Hospitality Services: 7/10 – Things were in flux while we were there, but I did love the spa pool.
Overall Rating: 35/50 (70%) ★★★★★