To find one of the most famous hotels specialized in wine tourism you have to travel to the province of Salamanca in Castilla-Leon, Spain, where you will find the Hacienda Zorita Wine Hotel & Spa. The former winery turned luxury hotel is located in the epicenter of the Douro Valley, an wine region that dates from the 13th century. The serene waters of the Tormes River— a major tributary of the Douro River— run through the property, which was once a Dominican farm founded in 1366. Even Christopher Columbus stayed in one of its cells when he was still an unknown sailor looking to finance his epic journey.
As a tribute to the Great Navigator, the renowned Spanish architect José María Pérez González, known as Peridis, designed a beautiful vaulted cellar to keep the best wines of the house. The dome, which has the shape of an inverted ship, evokes the legendary caravels—the Pinta, the Niña and the Santa María that accompanied Columbus on his adventure.
Today the farm is a comfortable luxury hotel of 40 rooms featuring suites, rooms and villas furnished with beautiful Provencal furnishings. They come with a private cellar stocked with bottles from Marques de la Concordia Family of Wines Collection that are available for the guests.
The villas—which have a private garden and charming views of the vineyards—are equipped with every imaginable luxury. The suites in the Big House have a living room and a relaxation area with stunning views of the Tormes River. Hacienda Zorita is also famous for its lavish spa, set in an old mill where guests are pampered with treatments based on wine and grapes.
Interior designer Mercedes Pérez de Castro and architect Nacho Lliso, alongside landscape master Fernando Valero, handled the transformation of the hacienda. The modern interior design, contemporary furnishings–as well as local antiques–create a harmonious combination of simplicity and finesse. The decor includes a selection of Dominican religious art, abstract paintings by Carmen Pombo, a collection of photographs by Luis Asin and inspiring graphics by Cristina Santander.
Haute cuisine also finds a delightful home at Zorita’s Kitchen Restaurant, praised by the Slow Food movement for its “farm to the table” philosophy. Led by Michelin-starred Chef Victor Gutiérrez, Zorita’s Kitchen—with branches in London, England and Stavanger, Norway —serves delicious and authentic Spanish cuisine paired with wines from its cellar.
In the evenings, it is a pleasure to stroll through the vineyards and come close to the organic farm of Hacienda Zorita. With 300 acres of oaks, and vast wheat fields, the hacienda is an ideal place to observe specimens of the almost extinct Verata goat and African water buffaloes, which produce the milk used to make their tasty mozzarella cheese. ■