Awasi Patagonia is formed from 14 luxury cabins, in heavenly isolation on the edge of Chile’s Torres del Paine national park. Solitude and adventure are offered in equal measure, thanks to a private guide for each guest who’ll craft your stay into exactly what you wish. The lodge is impeccably designed, but with a natural setting so spectacular, they almost needn’t have bothered – the views of the opposite mountains in this immaculate wilderness are unforgettable. And you’ll be able to enjoy plenty of them, since vast windows are the order of the day. No wonder it won in the Above & Beyond category at the Mr & Mrs Smith Hotel Awards 2017.
Get this when you book through us:
Early check-in and late check-out (dependent on availability), and an experience with the hotel's chef
Noon, but flexible, subject to availability. Earliest check-in, 4pm, also flexible where possible.
Double rooms from £1405.99 ($1,960).
Rates include all meals, transfers and excursions.
The Awasi Foundation is involved in several conservation projects in the local area. Guests can do their bit by joining Awasi guides in their puma conservation tasks.
1 May to 1 October every year.
At the hotel
Free WiFi in communal areas, private guides and 4WD vehicles. In rooms: minibars, hot tubs, iPod docks, Nespresso machines and L’Occitane bath products.
Our favourite rooms
Each of the 12 wooden villas is as spectacular in reality as they look in the pictures, with fireplaces, outdoor hot tubs and windows showcasing the Torres del Paine, as well as cosy sheepskin rugs, wool blankets and wood-burning stoves. Groups should book the Master Villa, which has two bedrooms and bathrooms. For the most privacy, opt for the cabin furthest away from the main lodge.
Bring alpaca-wool ponchos, straw chupalla hats and – depending how seriously you’re taking being in the land of the gauchos – a pair of bombacha trousers.
The villas and their bathrooms are accessible for wheelchair users. There’s no spa, but in-room massages can be arranged and each suite has an outdoor hot tub.
Over-10s are welcome; extra beds can be added for 50 per cent of the room rate (subject to availability).
Children must be 10-or-older to stay at Awasi Patagonia. Older children will appreciate the soaring natural beauty and enjoy the activities on offer.
The Master Villa, which has two bedrooms, two bathrooms and room for an extra bed.
Children aged 10-and-older are allowed in the restaurant at any time of day.
As much locally sourced, seasonal food grown on-site is featured in the hotel restaurant’s menu. Everything that can be is recycled or composted, including grey water, and the hotel offsets its carbon emissions. The hotel's construction used local woods that match the surroundings and the hotel is officially carbon neutral – the forest areas protected and maintained by Awasi more than offset the emissions generated by the three lodges. Every lodge is also involved in conservation efforts through the Awasi Foundation. Since Awasi Patagonia borders the Torres del Paine National Park, the foundation established a ‘natural corridor’ by leasing land from neighbouring farms, effectively increasing the amount of protected land. Awasi guides help monitor the puma populations and keep hunters away – even during the off-season – and the foundation also works with scientists and researchers to gather information about the behavioural patterns of several native species.
As close to the vast windows as possible, especially in daylight; those peaks in the neighbouring national park never get boring.
Keep it casual – you’ll be switching to slippers for supper at the main lodge.
The chef does a brilliant job of using as much locally sourced produce as possible and, despite the isolated setting, you wouldn’t know it when it comes to sustenance during your stay. If you can bear to, having seen them grazing as you approach the estate, try some guanaco (a local breed of lama) in steak or tartare form. The seafood is also impressive, especially the region’s hake and the crab pie. At breakfast, there’s a juice bar ready to whizz up energising blends, as well as a hot-food menu and a spread of cheese, meats and mounds of guacamole.
There’s a bar area in the main building, with more wood panelling, cow hides and splashes of colour, as well as some informative displays in case you’re feeling studious; black and white photographs depict the development of the hotel, and encyclopaedic illustrations assist in identifying local wildlife. The resident mixologist will helpfully suggest his own specialities or shake up your own.
Breakfast is served from 7.30am until 10am; lunch is between 1pm and 3pm; dinner is from 7.30pm to 10am.
Estancia Tercera Barranca, Torres del Paine, Región de Magallanes y de la Antártica Chilena
Torres del Paine
This is a remote, untamed part of Chile, so don’t expect driving times to be short…
Non-stop flights operate from major European hubs, Mexico City, Bogota, and select US destinations, including New York, Dallas, Atlanta, Houston and Miami. There is a direct flight from Santiago to Puerto Natales, the closest airport to Awasi, run by LAN and Sky airlines; free transfers can be arranged from there to the hotel (1.5 hour drive).
Expect the distances in this part of the world to be epic – the nearest town, Puerto Natales, is a two-hour drive away. When you finally do arrive, there’s free parking on-site. A 4WD is recommended.
Worth getting out of bed for
Guests are appointed a private guide and a 4WD vehicle to plan their programme of excursions, the most unmissable of which is the trek to the base of the Torres del Paine; it requires plenty of graft, but the views at the end more than make up for it. For those who prefer someone else to do the hard work for them, book a driving tour or horseback ride, where the sights will be equally spectacular and your legs don’t have to do anything. For an abridged version of a famous local trail and a chance to see the highlight of the extended route, head to the Valle del Francés and its monumental glacier; the excursion also takes in a catamaran trip across Lake Pehoe.
We begin, as usual, with what I call 'a self-guided tour of the local area' – what Mrs Smith calls 'getting hopelessly lost, again, you blockhead.' It’s not so wretched, though, because the area in question is the spectacular Torres del Paine National Park and around each corner lies another stunning vista – here a sparkling lagoon, there a mighty glacier, and now here’s another sparkling lago… oh, wait – we've just come ‘round in a circle. Not to worry, I say: I can always break out my pigeon Spanish and ask the locals for direcciones. The trouble is the only locals in sight are the flamingos fluttering in the shallows. 'If only I knew flamingo Spanish instead!' I quip. (Mrs Smith didn’t find it funny, either.)
We drive and drive and drive, with hope and petrol draining in equal measures. At long last, we meet our saviour – a gormless looking guanaco pottering by the side of the road. 'Stop!' screeches Mrs Smith, whipping out her phone and bracing herself for an Instagasm. The two of them become good friends over the next several minutes of posing and pouting, while I sit puzzling over the map and trying to convince myself that the fuel gauge is just about still on the right side of zero. The shoot goes on until a jeep bearing Awasi's gecko logo thunders into view on the horizon. 'We're saved!' I gasp, feeling very much the Robinson Crusoe, except wearing beige chinos and a bumbag. 'And it's all because we stopped to say hello to Gordon!' says Mrs Smith, before adding '…the guanaco,' which presumably is meant to be explanatory but to my mind merely confirms that she is in fact, a lunatic. We flag down the jeep and explain our predicament in the least desperate manner we can manage, and from then on follow our escort's every move.
An embarrassingly short time later, Awasi comes into view – a scattering of honey-coloured cubist lodges among billowing golden grasses and wise old lenga trees on the hillside. We sputter up the last stretch and free-wheel into parking space at the main lodge. After long hours on the road, it takes about three seconds – or, the time I need to swap my slightly sweaty brogues for wonderfully obligatory guest slippers – to relax. Any lingering anxiety evaporates with a swipe of a hot towel and a sip of welcome tea, and we begin to absorb our surroundings. Inside, it’s an artful combination of clean modern design and rugged natural materials; outside… well, just look at the pictures. It’s a wonderland. We toast our arrival – and Salvatore the bartender – with a signature calafate berry cocktail, and decide on somewhere to sit. The ball chair with the hammock-style netting certainly looks cool, but can it really be comfortable? Oh yes, it really can.
Next, to freshen up before dinner. At our lodge down the track, we’re given the what’s-what tour, starting with the walkie-talkie for calling reception. Mrs Smith will tell me later that we were also shown the window-side bath looking towards the three needle-like ‘torres’ across the valley, the log fire for when the weather throws a wobbly and the wooden hot-tub outside, which is all ours unless a rogue puma pops in for a dip. But I've already stopped listening. A walkie-talkie! Never mind reception, I’ve got Eighties action heroes to impersonate.
Two hours later – after several imaginary Hollywood hostage crises that could only be resolved by me and my walkie-talkie – we head to the restaurant. I happily order a sublime chunk of Patagonian lamb paired with a velvety Chilean malbec. Across the table, however, Mrs Smith is looking as white as a sheep. She reads and re-reads the description of the (very) local speciality: guanaco. She’s a committed carnivore, and an experimental one at that, but is feeling decidedly uneasy as she thinks back to her fluffy friend from earlier in the day. I try to lighten the mood. 'Do you think it’s “Gordon bleu”?' Mrs Smith didn’t laugh. (She did eat it, though. Guanaco’s a bit like venison, if you’re interested.)
I’m not sure if it’s the grape juice going to her head or just that I look da bomb in these slippers, but after dinner Mrs Smith suddenly comes over all enamoured. We sway lovingly back to our lodge, arm in arm under the southern stars, and bundle each other inside. There’s only one thing on her mind, apparently, which is lucky because there’s only one thing on my mind, too. 'So… are you thinking what I’m thinking?' she asks, in that voice that only comes out on holiday. But I’m already on the walkie-talkie and I’ve got a situation to neutralise downtown and… oh, I see. 'Roger that.'
Next morning, it’s obvious that we could quite happily while away day after day in the main lodge’s lounge. We’d have a fine time gawping at the scenery, occasionally sloping onto a new sofa and playing the odd game of ‘How many sheepskins?’ in any given pile. But hang on, that’s not the point. Nobody comes to Awasi just to veg out – there are spa hotels for that, and most of them aren't up a hill hundreds of miles from the middle of nowhere. So we have a breakfast meeting with Alex, our all-action personal guide, and together we map out an itinerary from the reams of excursions on offer. Over the next few days we’ll take in all the wonders of this most wondrous land, from jagged-tooth mountains and milky blue lakes, to cavernous skies filled with the kind of cloud formations most geography teachers can only wet dream about. This part of our planet is almost uniquely isolated, untrodden and pure. Even as we follow lightly in the boot-steps of explorers past and present, I can’t help but hope it stays that way.
When we check out, two things are clear. First, that they’ve topped up our petrol, so there’s no excuse for not leaving, goddammit. Second, that Awasi is much, much more than a hotel. Beyond the fine furnishings and exquisite food and drink – hell, even beyond the walkie-talkie – its greatest asset is its infectious, inescapable sense of adventure. Over and out.