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Lucire: Volante
chile


Where ‘Land’s End’ is just the beginning

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‘The way we power and manage property is built into the hotel’s design. With water recycling, our grey water goes out to a local plant, and then is used to water the pampa around us. Though we cleared the plant life from the construction site before we broke ground, we pulled samplings of those plants and took them to a greenhouse where we cared for them for a year before starting to replant them.’

The crescent-shaped hotel camouflaged by the rustic landscape is truly sublime on the inside. Every room has the same spectacular view of Torres del Paine as the public areas. The décor, though minimalist, is also at once elegant and cozy.

Accents include stunning art glass doors in the bathrooms, fur rugs and Chilean handcrafts juxtaposed with European bath furnishings and bedding. Factor in the sound of the Antarctic winds at night and lighting that mimics candlelight. What results is the perfect ambiance for snuggling and cuddling, particularly after a long day on the trails or a horseback ride on the pampa with gauchos from Estancia Cerro Guido.

Purcell adds that Tierra Patagonia’s concept as an ‘all-inclusive’ resort makes it an ideal choice for travellers who want to focus less on planning and more on immersing themselves into this striking location. He also notes Tierra Patagonia’s approach to the all-inclusive vacation is a far cry from what one would think of if Club Med came up in conversation. For example, guests need not worry about getting to the resort from the airport, buying passes and permits required to get access to the national park and booking dull or kitschy activities. All meals and artisanal cocktails are fresh and made to order.

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Adding to the appeal is the fact that staff and guides are young, energetic and well-informed about the park’s highlights, hiking trails, wildlife and safety precautions. Though first impressions of Torres del Paine can be as daunting as they gorgeous, less athletic types may initially be leery about leaving the hotel right away and go exploring on their own or feel stranded in the middle of nowhere. Purcell and his team, in fact, have engineered ways to quickly get visitors into the heart, soul and spirit of the place no matter how athletic they are.

‘For travellers who are globally savvy, sophisticated and enjoy going to museums, we accommodated them with a prolific library, including books that focus on the plants, animals and indigenous cultures of the region,’ says Purcell. ‘We not only want to accommodate adventure travellers, but also people who want to take part in the great outdoors but are not necessarily 100 per cent outdoorsy. In addition to rigorous hikes, we offer activities that involve geology, anthropology and bird-watching. Our guides are experts in these various topics, so we can match our guides to our guests and get them exploring, learning about the intricacies of the area and the native cultures.’

Tierra Patagonia offers a prolific menu of hikes that range from expert level climbs to solid workouts to easy strolls past the park's many geological highlights, flora and fauna. They also have customizable half- and full-day hikes that integrate catamaran boats and van transport for experiences that nicely balance of brisk walks and relaxed nature discussion.

The treks selected for my group’s five-day stay brought us face to face with an eagle, as well as close encounters with Lago Grey’s glaciers, Aonikenk (native Indian) cave paintings, imposing lenga forests, guanacos (llama family), foxes, hares and ñandu (a Patagonian ostrich). Sudden changes in weather added an extra blast of adrenaline-inducing euphoria.

Purcell is also quick to point out some of the most interesting discoveries are right outside the front door of the lodge or tucked neatly inside. ‘Guests may want to do their first hike on a trail we’ve set up right outside the hotel that will take them to the shore of Lake Sarmiento, where they will find some interesting animals and geological formations, such as trombolites, which you will only find in a very few places around the world, including pockets of Australia, Spain and Mexico,’ he suggests. You also need to allow yourself downtime inside the hotel so you can lavish in its in-house spa (which uses Chilean products with indigenous botanicals) and the atmospheric swimming pool, where you can while away an entire afternoon and still feel you've successfully found bliss at the ends of the earth. •

 

Many of the fine restaurant dinner, culinary experiences, winery visits and the bike and walking tours for this and the Casa Marin feature were arranged by Santiago Adventures, who have won the hearts of foodies and other discerning travellers through their custom tours to Santiago’s mountains, coast and vineyards. Our tours range from active day tours, in the Santiago region, to specialty tour packages throughout Chile. They were instrumental in ensuring that we were exposed to the best food and drink the city and surrounding area had to offer.
   For more information, especially with winery tours, bike expeditions and connections to companies like Paseos en Bicicleta and Foody Chile, please visit www.santiagoadventures.com.

 



‘We not only want to accommodate adventure travellers, but also people who want to take part in the great outdoors but are not necessarily 100 per cent outdoorsy. In addition to rigorous hikes, we offer activities that involve geology, anthropology and bird watching. Our guides are experts in these various topics, so we can match our guides to our guests and get them exploring, learning about the intricacies of the area and the native cultures’

 

 

 


Elyse Glickman is US west coast editor of Lucire.

 

 

 

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