It is often said by residents of the fashionable coast that extends east of Punta del Este that for the real Uruguay experience visitors must venture inland to the countryside that flanks the beach. Nowhere is this more true than at Fasano Las Piedras, a 480 hectare estate that has been transformed into the latest resort from Brazilian hotelier Rogerio Fasano and family.

Once the home of the local Braun family, Las Piedras was never a traditional estancia. Instead of a farmhouse, the family constructed their home and a guesthouse using rocks built into a hillside, so that they were hidden from view to the casual observer. It is here that renowned Brazilian architect Isay Wienfeld, who designed the original Fasano hotel in Sao Paulo and worked on its sister property in Rio de Janeiro, began his work by leaving the two structures architecturally intact, adding only new interiors and outside decking to what is now the hotel’s main reception and bar respectively.

Similarly fused into the vast planes of pasture that overlook the Maldonado river is the spring-fed swimming pool, made entirely out of rocks, and a gastronomic Italian restaurant that is secreted in a granite hilltop at the highest point of the compound.

Conscious that his signature style of sleek concrete boxes did not blend seamlessly with the rugged natural landscape, Weinfeld eschewed one large hotel building in favour of adding a series of 32 bungalows that appear to have “landed naturally” on the estate. Constructed from a mixture of reclaimed stone and wood in contemporary lines, inside they are filled with a combination of 1950s Brazilian design and rustic accents in the form of sheepskin rugs and acres of polished woods.

As travel aficionados have come to expect from Wienfeld’s work for the Fasano family, the result is lesson in relaxed sophistication. Though it is now appearing on lists of 2011’s most exciting new hotels and is only 15 minutes from the achingly hip beach village of Jose Ignacio, Las Piedras has gone beyond the fashionable to define contemporary Punta del Este life at its finest.