Latin America

Luxury in the Wilderness, by Best of Patagonia

written by | Posted on October 1st, 2011

Also outside Calafate and situated at the end of the north arm of Lago Argentino is Estancia Cristina (estanciacristina.com), and if seclusion is the new luxury, this estancia is the ultimate indulgence, because just getting here requires a 4-hour boat trip, sailing past icebergs and the huge Upsala Glacier. Guests stay in 12 rooms—spacious, country-fresh with large beds and huge bay windows opening onto Cerro Norte. On tap is excellent food, friendly service and lovely wines. One- and 2-night packages allow a choice of trekking, a 4WD trip, or horseback riding, and right at the estancia there’s a soaking tub, an onsite museum, English gardens and birdwatching. Call for rates.

Direct flights take you from El Calafate to Ushuaia, the southernmost city in the world, and departure port for cruises around the tip of the continent and those going beyond to Antarctica. Just outside town, Las Hayas Resort Hotel (lashayashotel.com) commands a sweeping view of the city and the Beagle Channel. The property has 92 rooms, decorated with tapestries, upholstered walls, and big, bright bathrooms. A sumptuous lounge stretches the length of the building. Here, you find a clubby bar, the gourmet Luis Martial restaurant and fireside sitting area. A glass-enclosed walkway leads to an outstanding spa, pool and indoor squash court, and hotel guests have membership at the local golf club. Double room rates with breakfast start at $345.

chile When adding Chile to Argentina, consider crossing the Lake District by boat from Bariloche to Puerto Varas, or taking a scenic drive between Calafate and Puerto Natales. Alternately, of course, there is good flight service to their air gateways from Santiago.

In charming Puerto Varas, the elegant Hotel Patagonico (hotelpatagonico.cl) overlooks—through large panoramic windows everywhere—Llanquihue Lake and the Osorno Volcano. The hotel’s 91 rooms (including 10 jr. suites, two master suites) are fitted with beautiful handcrafted furniture, large modern baths, satellite TV and Internet access. Guests dine on Chilean and Mediterranean specialties in two restaurants, and enjoy a spa, gym, and heated pool. The hotel organizes rafting, windsurfing, kayaking and fly-fishing, and has a children’s club for younger guests. Superior double room rates start at $215, suites start at $360.

Treat clients to a few days in an idyllic natural spa. Set in a tranquil sea inlet in northern Patagonia, Puyuhuapi Lodge & Spa (patagonia-connection.com) is a special place, combining beautiful sea, forest and snowcapped mountain views with a top-notch thalassotherapy center offering thermal pools, pampering massages and seaweed treatments. Despite its remote locale, the lodge offers all that you’d expect from a small luxury hotel: fine cuisine, cozy accommodations and friendly service. Beyond relaxing, there is plenty to do: hike through the forest, kayak through island-filled channels, go fly-fishing, or take a catamaran trip to the spectacular San Rafael Glacier. For the best experience, book a 3-night package including transfers in/out from Balmaceda airport, two nights at the lodge and one night in Loberia del Sur, excursions, full board and spa. Three-night packages start at $1,540 pp dbl.

For those not coming overland from Argentina, the air gateway is Punta Arenas to Puerto Natales, which will be hometown to the stunning The Singular Patagonia (thesingular.com/puertobories), opening in November. It occupies the extensive premises of the former meat packing factory, renovated and declared a National Monument. Dining and sitting areas have grand views of the fjords and gardens, as do 57 guestrooms measuring 500 sq. ft. They are elegantly rustic, with large beds, a small living room, spacious baths and WiFi. The expedition-style hotel offers two private reserves, rich in flora and fauna, that are exclusive to guests. Other excursions include boat trips in the fjords and expeditions to Torres del Paine National Park. At the end of the day, or anytime, guests can enjoy a world-class spa and heated pool. Double room rates start at $330 pp dbl (all-inclusive).

by sea The tale of two countries can be most easily told by Cruceros Australis (877-678-3772; australis.com), the cruise line that unites Argentina and Chile with itineraries that follow in the wake of Charles Darwin, who sailed in the sub-Antarctic waters aboard the HMS Beagle. The company’s two cruise ships—the 64-passenger Via Australis and the 210-passenger Stella Australis— are designed to navigate safely and comfortably in rugged areas such as Patagonia and Tierra del Fuego, visiting different sites—Cape Horn, Magdalena Island, the Beagle Channel, “glacier alley.” They cruise on 3-day itineraries between Ushuaia and Punta Arenas and 4-day itineraries from Punta Arena to Ushuaia. Three-night sailings start at $1,124 pp dbl; 4-night sailings start at $1,540 pp dbl.

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