Four of the best properties in Patagonia
The Singular Patagonia – Puerto Bories, Chile
I have rarely stayed at a more unique or fascinating property than The Singular Patagonia. Overlooking the feisty waters of the Last Hope Sound near Puerto Natales in southern Chile, The Singular was originally a “frigorifico” or cold storage and processing facility for the region’s sheep industry. The dilapidated building was restored as a hotel in the mid 90’s, taking almost 10 years to complete. Much of the original machinery is still in place, and it speaks deeply to Patagonia’s rich heritage and of a bygone era in the area’s fascinating history.
Through some very fortunate timing we managed to be the first guests to dine in “El Asador” on the final night of our recent Patagonia Expedition. This standalone stone building on the shores of the Sound celebrates the meat and grill culture of Patagonia. Lamb, salmon, guanaco and beef dishes created by Executive Chef Laurent Pasqualetto were cooked in front of us on open fires. Together with a thorough tasting of some remarkable Chilean wines, it made for a festive and fun evening.
Awasi Patagonia – Torres del Paine, Chile
This Relais and Chateaux property is an intimate and private retreat well removed from the busier sections of Torres del Paine National Park. The focus here is on sublime rooms, food and service, as well as personalised excursions with private guides and vehicles. Over and above easy access to the National Park, Awasi also encourages guests to explore and hike more remote “off-piste” routes such as those in the Baguales Mountains.
Each of the 12 private villas has an outdoor hot tub fuelled by fire, which is lit long before you arrive back from your day’s mountain excursion. After a reinvigorating lunch (and some more of that Chilean wine!) nothing is better than letting the limbs loosen as you ponder the granite tower spires at the centre of Torres del Paine. Don’t forget to keep a look out for the sub-adult puma which regularly wanders through the lodge.
Aguas Arriba – El Chalten, Argentina
Aguas Arriba is an owner-built and run lodge on the shores of Lago del Desierto near El Chalten in Argentina. The setting for Aguas Arriba is spectacular as it sits amongst the ancient Lenga forest and peers over the turquoise lake to the iconic peaks of Monte Fitz Roy. Owners Pato and Ivor personally see to custom designing each guest’s stay in this secluded refuge, and a fly-fishing trip with Ivor to one of the lake’s hidden bays is as good as it gets for fishing enthusiasts.
The journey to get to Aguas Arriba gives you a sense of the remoteness of the property. An hour’s drive on a dirt track following the course of the Rio de las Vueltas from El Chalten is followed by a boat transfer across the lake. Once you’re in the lodge, sipping a Malbec and overlooking the Vespignani glacier, you really are the only people as far as the eye can see.
Eolo – El Calafate, Argentina
Set on a working Estancia, Eolo evokes the Patagonian spirit through its décor, cuisine and the sensational vistas in all directions from the lodge. It’s perfectly located to visit El Calafate town or the new Glaciarium museum, and just 30 minutes’ drive to the area’s premier drawcard – the Perito Moreno glacier. Hiking and horse-riding trails literally lead from the doorstep of Eolo, and the bird watching on the 3,000 hectare property is excellent.
The distant views of the Paine massif in nearby Chile and the seemingly resident condors buzzing in front of the lodge are special, but the real winner here is the Asado evening hosted by Eolo’s head chef. Patagonian lamb is slow-cooked Gaucho style over a fire for four hours, carved, served and paired with Argentine Malbecs. Possibly the best food experience anywhere in Patagonia.