Tierra Patagonia brings together adventure and comfort at the end of the world
El viento—the wind—is a constant presence in Patagonia. It pushes me along hiking trails; shapes glacial waters into spiraled, ghostlike sculptures; and shakes my camera when I try to get a perfect shot. The wind howls, whines, whispers and sedates. It also inspires—as it did for the sleek and elegantly rustic Tierra Patagonia resort.
Both the exterior and interior design reflect the hotel’s connection with the surrounding environment
Crafted to resemble a windswept sand dune and constructed of glass, locally sourced stone and lenga wood, the hotel sits on the shores of Lake Sarmiento, at the foot of the 450,000-acre Torres del Paine National Park. While the exterior of this low and curvy structure is a protective shell, its interior offers a peaceful respite from the elements. When I arrive at night in total darkness and drenching rain, I am instantly reinvigorated. Soft lighting, a muted color palette and the faint earthy scent of the lenga wood greet me. A circular fireplace warms the soaring great room, an area that comprises dining, bar, lounge and library areas. A large hand-painted map hangs on the wall, depicting the attractions of the region.
Every moment in Patagonia is a delight to the senses.
After settling into my room, a stylish, cozy cocoon with uncomplicated furnishings and modern amenities like a deep soaking tub, I meet head guide Natalia to learn about the excursions. The bartender hands me a pisco sour made with a local berry that grows on the calafate bush and explains a legend. “Anyone who eats the berry will return to Patagonia,” he says, though I am dubious, since it has taken me close to 24 hours to get here from New York City.
The next morning I understand why people trek to this remote landscape. Out my window I can see the stunning Paine Massif, a collection of sharp peaks that is the centerpiece of the national park. Steps from the hotel is Lake Sarmiento, ringed by 47 miles of sandy shoreline accented by white thrombolites—rare calcified rock formations. Movement in the pampas draws my attention to a group of nandus, ostrichlike birds, pecking their way through the wispy mounds of grass and shrub. I am mesmerized by the show.
(Left) Chilean guanaco admiring the peaks of the Torres del Paine National Park; (Right) Cascading water in Torres del Paine National Park
Every moment in Patagonia is a delight to the senses. After breakfast, guests set out for daily excursions. An all-day trip takes us on a boat ride across Lago Grey, a glacial lake where blue icebergs bob in the frigid water. Trekking is one of the most inspiring ways to see Patagonia, and I follow my guide up steep, sandy terrain, spotting puma tracks, and reach rolling fields covered in prickly shrubs known as mother-in-law’s cushion. We see wild horses, startle dozens of large hares and watch condors ride the wind. The reward for our effort is a panoramic view of a dark turquoise lagoon peppered with angry waves.
Back at the hotel, Carmen, who provides a serious deep-tissue massage, softens the roughness of Patagonia. The intimate Uma Spa, located at the hotel’s far corner, boasts a heated indoor pool encased by two walls of glass. The lounge chairs lined up next to the pool serve as the perfect place to escape, reflect, listen to the wind and watch the clouds move over the mountains.
No matter what the elements of Patagonia throw at you during the day, the nights promise fine cuisine and Chilean wine. Guests at Tierra Patagonia have the option to dine alone or join others at a communal table. Chef Rafael Figueroa delivers creative menus that offer a selection of local meats, seafood from the Strait of Magellan and Beagle Channel and vegetarian options. After dinner, there are plenty of nooks and places (hanging basket chairs, soft seats covered with sheepskin) where guests can relax, read or connect to the world via Wi-Fi. When it’s time to retire, I find that sleep comes easily. I edge under the covers and fall asleep listening to the resonant voice of el viento.
Kim Fredericks is a well-published freelance writer and avid adventure traveler. She has contributed to Robb Report, Forbes Traveler, Cowboys and Indians and Fitness. She also serves as an About.com guide and a correspondent for Jetsetter.com and Domain-Vacationhomes.com.
- Courtesy of Tierra Patagonia
- Courtesy of Tierra Patagonia
- (Left) © Ekaterina Pokrovsky/Shutterstock (Right) © Sebastien Burel/Shutterstock