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By Rhonda Reinhart | Photo: Courtesy of Tierra Patagonia | July 13, 2018
For a remote resort in Chilean Patagonia, at the southernmost tip of South America, imperceptibility is its greatest asset.
One of the first things you notice about Tierra Patagonia is that you almost don’t notice it at all. Situated on the shores of Lake Sarmiento, to the east of Chile’s Torres del Paine National Park, the 40-room resort doesn’t just blend in with its surroundings. It appears to be part of the landscape itself. Tierra Patagonia’s architect, Santiago-based Cazú Zegers, calls the hotel’s relationship to the land a “love affair.” “When I got to this spectacular site,” she says, “I thought, how can I make a building here without spoiling the place?” Set on 185 acres in a remote area of southern Chile often referred to as the bottom of the world, the hotel is surrounded by shrub-covered pampas where native wildlife such as guanacos, ñandús and foxes roam. Behind it, the majestic snowcapped Paine Massif looms. “Sketching the landscape of the site, I realized that the topography was shaped by the wind—soft dunes of sand that the strong wind that came from the glacier left,” says Zegers. “With this idea, I thought that the hotel should be like another dune of the landscape.”
Spanning 200 feet, the low-lying irregular-shaped structure is paneled in locally sourced lenga wood, the weathered finish of which helps the building disappear into the terrain. “The hotel is practically imperceptible to the human eye,” says Miguel Purcell, managing partner of Tierra Hotels. “This allows the fauna in the place to continue developing practically without any impact.” The architect and developer took great care to protect the flora as well. “During the construction of the hotel, all the plants where the hotel is located were removed and kept in greenhouses,” Purcell says. “At the end of the construction period, these plants were replanted in the vicinity of the hotel.” In addition to showing respect and care for the land, this gentle blending of the man-made with the natural world had another purpose: “Our intention was to create spaces with an aesthetic that emotionally connects guests with the beauty of their surroundings,” says Purcell. “That is why Tierra Patagonia is in total balance with the landscape, to be the starting point for those who want to venture into the end of the world.”
The hotel’s pristine environment is an adventurer’s paradise; guests will most certainly want to venture out. Visitors can explore the area by foot, bike, boat or horseback, with experienced guides leading the way. From scenic voyages—including a sailing expedition to Grey Glacier on the western side of the national park—to challenging full-day hikes, excursion lineups can be customized based on skill level and special interests.
After an active day spent in the outdoors, guests will be happy to return to the comfort of Tierra Patagonia’s homelike interiors—but even there, nature isn’t far away. Every guest room looks out over Lake Sarmiento and offers dramatic mountain views, as do the communal living room, dining room and Uma Spa. When creating the interior spaces, designers Alexandra Edwards and Carolina Delpiano let the landscape and architecture lead the way. Minimally decorated with a soothing, neutral palette, the inside of Tierra Patagonia features the same lenga wood used on the building’s exterior, in addition to other local products. “The region has a lot of wool and sheepskins,” says Edwards. “All of the hotel textiles are made with sheep’s wool from the area.”
The designers also pay homage to Patagonia through art, enlisting artist and artisan Mauricio Cofré to create a large sculptural boat made with thousands of pieces of wood collected from rivers and lakes in the area. “In our work, we try to make a good combination of providing guests with a beautiful and cozy shelter from the elements and then telling them a story about the local culture in a subtle manner, using design elements, materials and colors,” Delpiano says. Rates from $897 per person per night based on double occupancy, including accommodations, all meals, house wines and cocktails, one all-day or two half-day guided excursions, and airport transfers from Puerto Natales or Punta Arenas, 800.910.0865