HIGH-END DESIGN MEETS NATURE IN CHILEAN PATAGONIA
At the southernmost tip of South America, just around the corner from the end of the world as most of us know it, the elements collide to design and refine the uniquely rugged and alluring landscape that forms Patagonia, capped by the Chifres and Paine Massif. Dotted by lakes and snowy mountains, sea fjords and forests, caves and glaciers lodged in crevices way before civilisation was concerned with the best angle for a selfie, this is still a spot on Earth where exposure to nature leaves one spellbound.
On a windy day, powerful gusts slice through the valleys, skimming bodies of water and treetops with gusto, in a testament to the vitality that helped shape the dramatic topography. The notion that we’re only a tiny and passing blip on this planet rings true all day long out here. But, thanks to some exceptional properties, the humbling experience can be coupled with creature comforts: great architecture and interior design, mouth-watering cuisine, roaring indoor fires, countless bottles of wine and panoramic spas. It’s a match made in Chile.
Although the Patagonian region spans Argentina and Chile, and both sides of the border have their own remarkable and world-famous sites, the Torres del Paine National Park is in the latter and there’s plenty to see and do in and around it, making it an ideal area to explore far and wide from – even to the monumental Argentinian Perito Moreno glacier, if planned accordingly.
Inside the park, declared a Unesco Biosphere reserve, while the Explora hotel’s white angular monolith speaks to a snowy colour palette, Tierra’s elongated sinuous structure plays homage to earthy tones and wood, and the Relais and Châteaux Awasi boasts fourteen independent pavilions dotted in a private reserve. All three have spectacular settings – it’s hard to find a bad site in the Park – and were designed to constantly remind guests of their privileged and unparalleled location by way of unperturbed, breath-taking views.
Staying outside the park comes with the benefit of being a shorter drive from Puerto Natales, a colourful and sleepy port town with quaint restaurants like Aldea, serving up deliciously fresh organic ingredients in a menu that changes daily. The Singular lives up to its name, as it’s installed in a beautifully refurbished National Historic Monument building that from 1915 to 1971 that was home to the Frigorífico Bories, a cold storage plant and testament to the region’s past.
Remota is even closer to town, in an all-black, angular building, which contrasts with its cosy and polished interiors. And, last but not least, Patagonia Camp holds 20 heated and fully equipped luxury yurts on Lake Toro, which despite their making no reference to local architectural style, offer a remarkable experience and quality services.
Since Patagonia is no secret to avid travellers, all properties have a wide selection of excursions that cover trekking, kayaking, cycling, bird watching and activities around the wonders of the National Park, the Milodon Cave and the Serrano and Moreno Glaciers. But, all that checked off the list, I left my heart in a lesser-known area: Sierro Baguales. Close to the Argentinian border, where the contours are more docile, yet no less beautiful and exhilarating, where there are weirdly formed rock piles, grassy pampas and the gaucho lifestyle seems untouched, the pleasure of walking or horseback riding all day without crossing other travellers will be an eternal favourite.
Camila Belchior is the former Innovation Director and Editor at Bamboo Magazine and a freelance writer. Her specialities are culture, art, design, architecture, travel and lifestyle, and her work can be found on Bamboo, ArtForum, Frieze, Flamingo Lens, Wallpaper*, Time Out and Travel+Leisure, among others.