Tucked away on the Atlantic Coast of Uruguay, the charming town of José Ignacio has become one of South America’s most exclusive tourist destinations over the last three decades. Its serene beaches, shabby chic aesthetic, and carefree elegance have attracted a host of international celebrities, each contributing to the town’s unique allure.
One of the earliest renowned visitors to José Ignacio was Argentine chef Francis Mallmann, who opened the enchanting restaurant Posada del Mar in the late ’70s. His second establishment, Los Negros, quickly became one of the most sought-after spots in South America, helping to put José Ignacio on the map for discerning travelers. Last December, Mallmann returned to open the beachfront open-flame restaurant Chiringuito Francis Mallmann, further cementing his affection for this special place.
In more recent years, the town has attracted an impressive roster of celebrities. Among them are globally renowned figures such as Shakira, Naomi Campbell, Elon Musk, and Mark Zuckerberg. Not to mention the likes of Leonardo DiCaprio and Katy Perry, who have enjoyed strolling the wind-whipped beaches in relative obscurity.
The town has also become a hotspot for the European elite. Regulars include Giuseppe Cipriani, son of the Harry’s Bar founder, Paola Marzotto, daughter of stylist Marta Marzotto, the Italian princess Bianca of Savoy, and the French prince Pierre d’Arenberg.
Furthermore, José Ignacio’s appeal isn’t limited to the culinary and entertainment industries. Artist James Turrell traveled to José Ignacio to install one of his Skyspace installations, while Norwegian-Uruguayan businessman Alexander Vik and his American wife, Carrie, have opened three design hotels in and around the town, showcasing contemporary Uruguayan art.
This is by no means an exhaustive list of all the celebrities who have visited José Ignacio in the last 30 years, but it gives a taste of the town’s undeniable magnetism for those seeking a blend of tranquility and exclusivity. One thing is clear: José Ignacio, with its gravel roads and grassy dunes, continues to attract those who have seen the world and want to get away from it for a while.