Estancia Los Potreros – Interview with Kevin Begg, owner of the Estancia
Estancia Los Potreros is currently closed to guests due to the covid-19 situation, but will be ready to welcome guests once borders open and flights resume. Pre-bookings can be made, without the requirement of a deposit.
While the world is still relatively locked down, The Sybarite aims to provide wonderful stories of travel destinations far and wide, that can be booked on our platform today. Our editor speaks to Kevin Begg, the owner and host of the traditional ‘estancia’ (a cattle ranch) Estancia Los Potreros in Argentina. On his cattle farm, surrounded by cattle, horses and dogs, he tells The Sybarite all about a stay at the Estancia, wonderful stories of the estancia’s origins and why his horses and the ‘Los Pots’ kitchen are the shining stars of this unique location.
Tell us a little about the history of the Estancia.
The area where the Estancia is located was originally used to produce horses and cattle, for their hides and for beef. My family came to this area in the 1920s – my grandfather and father moved here when my father was young. When my family came to the area, they slowly began converting the farm to an Aberdeen angus farm which is what it produces now. My grandmother started taking paying guests after the war. These were usually British expats coming from Buenos Aires who would come for a month long stay. One of the attractions to the Estancia was (and still is) the cool evenings in mountain ranges of where we are located, as opposed to the extreme heat in Buenos Aires.
What brought you back to the Estancia?
I grew up on the Estancia but moved to England, where I worked in the city of London and for City institutions for about 20+ years. In 2001, I came back to Buenos Aires for business, at which point the farm was no longer taking guests. Argentina is a melting pot of many cultures and therefore offers a bit of everything. The main immigrants came from Spain and Italy over 100 years ago, which has created a very friendly and lively population. People, as I have, fall in love with this country. At the Estancia Los Potreros we try to emanate all the aspects of the friendly and easy manner of Argentinian culture.
How has the Estancia changed over the years?
The Estancia initially had no electricity.. So a lot has changed! The Estancia is currently 85% self-sufficient. In the last three years we have introduced solar as part of our dedication to become more sustainable and self-sufficient. This is partly out of necessity, but it has actually become a huge draw for clients, as has our organic farming practices. What we try to do is to modernise while staying true to and keeping the essence of the tradition and the history of the Estancia.
What is your favourite corner at the Estancia?
This changes daily. I personally love riding to the little corners of the farm I haven’t been to in many years. It keeps the mind fresh, the love for the Estancia whole and allows me to tell stories to the guests that I haven’t thought of in years! In the house, I love going to see the part of the house I grew up in, which is not actually where the guests stay..
What does a typical day at the Estancia look like for you and your guests?
Firstly, and most importantly, we are still a working cattle ranch that still honours the traditions and ways of life of historical Estancias – so this is something that our guests can fully immerse themselves in.
Breakfast is a family affair in our large eat-in kitchen. Our kitchen has gained immense popularity over the years, and we start the day with homemade bread, yoghurt from the Estancia and fruits from our trees.
How the day progresses depends on what is happening at the Estancia, every day is different! Guests who spend a week with us will experience a different side of Estancia life every single day. We go to see the cattle, check on the heards, check on the horses, go on beautiful nature walks and rides (the Estancia has some beautiful waterfalls on the property).
In the evenings, guests partake in the Gaucho Games or Gymkhana Games. In these, Gauchos show the new horses they are training and show the guests our different breeds.
Your kitchen (affectionately known as Los Pots) and the cuisine of Argentina is very popular, what kind of food does it make and what is your favourite?
Argentina is known for its meats, so this is very popular at our Estancia – we produce the beef ourselves, a business that is now totally organic and run in a very sympathetic manner. Amazingly, however, we get a lot of vegetarians! Everyone is of course welcome. In the evenings, the chef will take the guests to see what they make in the kitchen and get guests involved. We often host cooking lessons. I must say my favourite meal has to be the gnocchi. Gnocchi is traditionally served in Argentina at the end of the month, as it requires only a few ingredients. The tradition says that if you leave some money under your placemat it will bring you good fortune. But if you truly look into my heart, I cannot say no to some delicious sweetbread.
The Estancia has wonderful stables. Must one be able to ride or can they learn at the Estancia?
The Estancia owns about 120 horses, and on a normal summer day we have about three rides a day going out. We also offer polo – although we aren’t a polo Estancia like many others are – it is something we get enough demand for to be able to offer. When it comes to the level of expertise – we say explicitly that whatever level of rider or polo player you are, we welcome you to come ride at the Estancia. We have many different breeds of horses, so for horse lovers, we try to ensure that they get the change to ride a different breed of horse every day. My horses are fantastic and I am proud to show them off. For beginners, rides are super safe and are always accompanied by two guides. We prefer and encourage freedom in riding as opposed to rigid lessons.
In a post covid world, where do you see the future of the Estancia?
We are currently working hard on keeping the Estancia running and up to standards, even though we do not have guests. Before lockdown, we were full and had built a great reputation, particularly in the horse riding world. What we would love it to expand as much as possible. That is not to say, expand in terms of the number of guests, as we believe it gives a much more authentic experience to keep the guest numbers smaller. But to be able to offer our guests an experience outside of prime season of October – March, which is the Argentinian summer. Winter, from April – October, offers exceptionally cold nights, which can be quite a surprise to some! We hope that everything returns to normal soon, and we can offer our guests a wonderfully authentic Argentinian stay at the Estancia Los Potreros.
Enquire about booking your stay at the Estancia Los Potreros with The Sybarite today.