Argentina native Haydee Pampel likes taking groups to her homeland, especially Buenos Aires. She has planned a number ofand pharmaceutical programs, bringing attendees from South and North American locations to the European-flavored city, known for its entertainment, culture, shopping, and a healthy selection of luxury accommodations.
Pampel, who is an independent planner and president of Chicago-based MeetingsLink, offers a wealth of advice for United States — based planners new to Argentina, including the following:
Start with a good. “There are some incredibly fabulous venues, shows, fairs, and things that people will love, but unless you ask, nobody will tell you [about them],” she advises. Even though she spent her first 21 years in the country and visits often, she continues to discover new venues and destinations, such as Argentina's wine district, which can add interest to a program.
Because of government regulations designed to help Argentines through a struggling economy, hotels tend to give more favorable rates to local booking agents than to foreign organizations, another reason why a relationship with a local DMC is important.
The devalued Argentine peso has made entertainment and dining bargains, but hotel rates have not dropped proportionately. Also, Argentine businesses will accept U.S. dollars in payment, but Pampel recommends paying for as much as possible using credit cards.
The seasons south of the equator are the reverse of those in North America. During the summer — December through February — temperatures in Buenos Aires can climb to 95 degrees and rainfall is at its peak; in the winter months of June, July, and August, the thermometer can dip into the 40s.
Pampel's must-do's in Buenos Aires include taking in a good tango show, dining on Argentine beef at a parrilla (grill), and visiting the open-air antique market that takes place in the historic San Telmo district every Sunday. “Everybody I have ever taken there has loved it and wanted to go back,” she says.
In addition to Argentina's wine country, Pampel says groups looking for an authentic experience can visit a traditional ranch, either for the day or overnight. “You can go horseback riding, experience the very gentrified ranch life of Argentina, and observe demonstrations of gaucho horsemanship and dexterity — it's completely different from the United States,” she says.
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