Awasi is more than just a hotel – it's a luxury adventure experience that allows you to discover the wild, untamed beauty of Patagonia on your own terms.
Sometimes while traveling you get the chance to experience something really amazing, different than anything you've ever experienced before that just takes your breath away. For sure, travel exposes you to new experiences in different parts of the world. But it is difficult to surprise the worldliest travelers. However, we were blow away by the Awasi hotel in Patagonia.
Part of the magic of Awasi is its location – sitting deep in the heart of Patagonia – hours from any town, surrounded only by stunning, natural beauty. But there is more to it than that. It's the experience of simply being somewhere so remote yet so lavish that sets Patagonia apart from other luxury resorts. It's the unique architecture that fits perfectly into its surroundings. It's the food, which is as good as any dish you'll find in London or New York. And it's the personalized service you'll receive, where you'll feel that anything you could ask for is possible. We went to Awasi with high expectations, and yet, we still found ourselves overwhelmed by the experience.
A Customized Patagonia Experience
One of the most distinct features of Awasi is that no two guests have the same experience on the property. Everything about your stay is customized to you. Want to ride horses along the river? No problem. Fancy a traditional cookout with some local gauchos? It can be arranged. Ready to hike deep into the most remote corners of Torres del Paine? Your guide will be waiting for you. This "everything is possible" attitude is not only what sets Awasi apart from other resorts in Patagonia, but makes it unique among resorts worldwide.
Awasi provides every guest with a private guide and SUV. This means that you have complete freedom to explore whatever you want, whenever you want. Your guide will plan your days with you alone, and they will happily accommodate your desires and requests. The hotel is all-inclusive, so you don’t have to factor in costs when making your plans – all you need to do is decide what you want to do with your experience.
Our guide, Jose-Thomas, was able to craft the perfect 4-day itinerary for us. When we first met him, we mentioned that we hoped to ride horses, a lot of horses, and that while we really wanted to see Patagonia, we did not want to spend hours and hours hiking to do it. With this, he simply smiled, and immediately started providing ideas for how he could make sure that we experienced the beauty of this remote corner of South America – on our terms.
Awasi is An Architectural Gem
The rugged and remote character of Chilean Patagonia is easy to fall in love with. The grandeur of Torres del Paine National Park, one of the largest parks in Chile, is breathtaking. Crystal clear lakes, expansive glaciers, and the distinctive peaks of the Paine mountain range all combine to create a landscape second to none in South America. Amidst all of this beauty is Awasi, a small 14-villa hotel located on a hill overlooking the park.
All of the buildings are designed to blend into their environment. They are said to be inspired by the old wood cabins built by local ranchers, who would use them to survive when driving their cattle across the vast, inhospitable pampas. While drawing from these traditions, Awasi manages to feel modern, and to create an authentic and idiosyncratic space.
At one end of the property there is a main lodge which contains the lobby, reception, bar, and restaurant. From here dotted across the hill are the villas – each quite far apart from each other, and with trees between them. This gives you the feeling of being alone in the wilderness, uninterrupted by the other guests.
Every detail is meticulously planned out. The foyer for example, had seating where you could take off your shoes and put on a pair of slippers. After a long walk out in the cold, it was such a welcome comfort to be able to change instantly out of your dusty shoes and into a cozy pair of slippers. Once inside you could spread out on the comfortable furniture and enjoy a good book in the warm glow of the lamplight.
The hotel's environment inspires the decorations and incorporates things found on the grounds such as wood, branches and acorns. Local textiles and black and white photos of the staff adorned the walls. It is a big, open space with large windows letting the light in and allowing great views of the landscape. You could easily spend an hour or two gazing out across the plains towards the mountains, or alternatively venture onto the deck to experience it from outside.
Our Private Villa
The villas are equally well designed, with an architectural style mirroring that of the lobby. Each is made from local wood and built on stilts to minimize their impact on the environment. The main room was spacious and featured a large double bed offering a spectacular view over the towers of the Torres del Paine massif. It was a joy each morning to wake up and gaze out the window, watching the clouds roll over the scenery.
A second seating area centered around a real wood burning fireplace, which when lit in the evenings created a romantic atmosphere while ensuring we were completely toasty as the cold Patagonian winds blew outside.
But perhaps one of the most unexpected aspects of the villa was the traditional wood-heated hot tub. Each day before we returned to the villa from the day's activities, the team at Awasi would ensure the hot tub was ready for us. Let me tell you, the mixture of crisp mountain air and the steamy warm water was absolute bliss! Sitting there with a bottle of wine letting the bath massage the tiredness from our muscles was the perfect way to wind down after being out in the country all day.
During our downtime, we would sometimes wander around the grounds outside our villa. Doing this reminded us just how close to nature we were. One night, while using our flashlight to get back from the restaurant, we almost bumped into a guanaco feeding outside. On another occasion, Chris went out to photograph the sunrise and discovered fresh puma tracks going right around our villa -- amazing, even if slightly scary!
Appreciating our surroundings was the best way to use our time – after all, when would we have the chance to experience this again? It meant that we didn’t mind the lack of TV, or that the wifi only worked sporadically in the main lodge (the Awasi website describes it as an ‘internet detox’). We had come to get away from those things, and our days were so full of adventure that by evening, all we wanted to do was rest anyway.
Gourmet Dining At Awasi
Without fail before bed, however, we would look forward to the evening meal at the restaurant. Awasi has made gastronomy a huge factor in its overall experience, and everything the chefs created was delicious. Top chef Federico Ziegler leads the kitchen and combines fine dining principals with local traditions. He sources his food as locally as possible, and designs plates that use the ingredients endemic to the area. He might use the meat of the local guanacos for example, or perhaps he might make a ceviche from fish caught in the nearby sound.
The menu at the restaurant changes daily according to what is available and what you request. One night I asked for a salad and the chef prepared it in front of me – and it was one of the best I have ever had! Without fail, everything on the plate was arranged so artistically that you almost felt guilty for eating it! Given my curiosity about the local cuisine, the Chef even gave me a crash-cooking lesson in Patagonian cuisine.
The drink menu at Awasi is also of the highest quality. The cocktails are clever and sophisticated, having all been created by the in-house and highly trained mixologist, Manuel Bastias. Many of the drinks prominently feature local herbs and spirits, creating unique flavors impossible to find elsewhere. Should you prefer something a bit more traditional, Awasi also has an extensive wine list curated by a knowledgeable sommelier, who will happily pair glasses with each course Chef Ziegler prepares.
Patagonia is a massive region, occupying a large portion of the South American countries of Argentina and Chile. To try to explore it thoroughly would take a lifetime. If you believe locals, a lifetime may not even be enough time to even see all of the beauty that Torres del Paine contains. It's this reason alone that makes having a knowledgeable guide help you plan the perfect itinerary for your trip helpful.
At Awasi, you are in total control of where you go, when you go, and what you do when you arrive. Having your own car and guide lend you complete freedom to explore this incredible landscape on your own terms.
After letting our guide know that we wanted to explore the area on horseback, he quickly arranged several horses for us at local ranches. Those days on horseback in Patagonia were some of our fondest memories of our time in South America. From traversing the hills and streams as we made our way to Mirador Cuernos with its spectacular views of the region, to following a Gaucho through the pampas as we crossed the border of Chile into Argentina, we knew we were having a unique experience that was created just for us.
Our favorite trip, though, was out to a remote spot that Jose-Thomas knew. It wasn’t a specific destination you'll find in any guidebook – but it's a beautiful place, hidden deep in the Sierra Baguales. There, with no one else around except the wild guanacos and horses – Jose-Thomas surprised us with a picnic complete with salad, smoked salmon, cheese, and plenty of wine. Needless to say, it was a our favorite afternoon of the whole trip – and somehow our guide knew it was exactly what we wanted even though we never said a word about it!
Getting to Awasi
Just getting to Awasi is an adventure. With no real "road" leading to the property, we forded a river in our 4x4, and with the dramatic mountain backdrop it felt like we were in a scene from an action movie! On more than one occasion herds of wild guanacos or flocks of rheas (a sort of South American ostrich) blocked our path to the hotel. But that is exactly what you'd expect in a place as wild as Patagonia.
When you are this far from civilization, getting to and from the hotel is not a simple task. You won’t find any public transport here, and hiring a taxi would cost a small fortune. To accommodate you, Awasi offers a collection service and will arrange to meet you at the airport. This will likely be at Punta Arenas, around four hours away, so make sure you coordinate your plans with the staff before arriving. All you need to do is tell them where and when you arrive, and they will take care of the rest.
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