The influx of wealthy tourists along with the installation of a food processing plant in 2000 is a godsend for local residents, who had been hoping for a restoration of a rail link that was abandoned when a wheat mill shut down.
“There is a change in the outlook for people,” says local Mayor Fernando Suarez.
“The village is finding a new direction.”With the town’s transformation, more people are seeking to build homes, in some cases hiring local residents for upkeep. Some of those investing, according to locals, include British art dealer Martin Summers, Mick Jagger’s tailor and a top executive of the New York Times.
This has caused a jump in land prices, so a lot of 400 square meters which used to sell for $1,000 now can go for upwards of $30,000.
The transformation of this modest village began eight years ago when renowned Argentine chef Francis Mallmann opened a hotel and restaurant on a site where a grocery store used to be.
That attracted some well-heeled visitors and started a trend in the village of dirt roads and lush tropical vegetation.
Today, the streets are lined with luxury cars, high-end restaurants and boutiques and plenty of visitors from around the globe willing to spend $170 for lunch or $780 for a hotel room with rustic charm during the high season of December to February.PUEBLO GARZON: It is a dusty village of 200 nestled in Uruguay’s back country, with no obvious architectural attraction, which most tourists would drive through without a second thought.
In the town, which had been a stop for travelers in the mountains and the site of wheat mill, visitors can dine on smashed gigot of lamb, magret of duck with malbec juice and varietal wines from the region.
Suarez said this is not a problem because “those who come here respect the essence of the village.”
But others like Veronica Deliotti, a restaurant worker, wonders if the small town atmosphere is disappearing.