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Two Sides of ChileMay 11, 2010 By: Joe Pike Travel Agent
For adventure travelers, Patagonia’s lakes, mountains and glaciers are the draw
When we visited Chile last month to attend the USTOA 2010: Out of Country Meeting, we were relieved to see two gems and perhaps your best sells in this country—Santiago and Patagonia—survived the recent 8.8-earthquake unscathed. Here are some highlights from our visit that could lead agents to some instant, lucrative sales.
One of Chile’s newest hotels, W Santiago is a sleek, trendy 196-room luxury hotel with silver and red adorning its halls and rooms. We stayed in a Superior Standard Room, #810,which has Wi-Fi, a 40-inch flat-screen TV, a bathroom almost half the size of the bedroom and 24-hour room service.
Some great nightlife is just blocks away from the resort, a chic bar at the hotel welcomes guests until the late hours and delicious dishes can be ordered at all hours of the night. We suggest a stay here after a few days in Patagonia when you are ready to resume ties with the world. Agents should contact Sales Executive Matias Berstein at [email protected] with queries.
Grand Hyatt Santiago is probably one of Santiago’s classier hotels, but the atmosphere is not nearly as vibrant as the W’s. There are 310 rooms and suites. We stayed in Room #508, which was spacious, had a nice living area, a king-size bed and terrific views of the city.
For bookings, agents should contact U.S. Sales Manager Álvaro del Campo (011-562-950-1234, [email protected]).
Sightseeing in Santiago
We first made our way to Santa Lucia Hill, a small area on top of a hill overlooking the city and home to several beautiful, historical statues with the Palmera de Canaria being the pick of the lot.
After a short hike to the top of the Santa Lucia Hill, we took in views of the city, which reminded us of our trip to Havana last year. We visited the Presidential Palace, official residence of Chile’s president from the mid 19th century to the mid 20th century. Among the notable stops of the day was at Santiago’s famous Catedral Metropolitana de Santiago, which was simply breathtaking.
Hotels in Patagonia
We spent our second and third days in the Puyuhuapi Lodge & Spa, one of Chile’s best hotels. To the right of the lobby is a small bar with a fireplace, couches and just about any top-shelf liquor and wine you’ll need to relax before waking up to—or winding down from—a physically demanding day.
The hotel organizes a variety of excursions, included in the room rates, from both long and short hikes to the top of a hill in a national park where, on a sunny day, you are treated to spectacular views of a glacier, to kayaking as you take in mountain views and the sight of a sea lion or two if you’re lucky.
|With no Internet or TV in the rooms, Puyuhuapi Lodge & Spa ensures a quiet getaway|
Once you’ve had some adventure, reward your body with a dip in any of the hotel’s hot and cold springs. There are about five of them, including an indoor pool. Tip: Forget a “quick dip” as most don’t get out of the water until their hands and feet look like prunes.
There are 30 rooms here, including 29 Superior Rooms and a Captain’s Chamber—the hotel’s best room. We stayed in Superior Room #205, which had oversized windows and a balcony with terrific views of the water. None of the rooms has Internet or TVs, ensuring a complete getaway. This property suits affluent, travel-savvy and moderately fit couples who don’t mind a bit of adventure. Agents should contact Claudia Aguirre, sales manager for the U.S. at [email protected] with queries or call the hotel at 011-562-225-6489.
Still in Patagonia, Travel Agent moved into the impressive Hotel Loberias del Sur for the fourth night and fifth day. The lodge has 60 single and double rooms. Our Superior Room, #211, was basic but had all the essentials—from a king-sized bed to a TV.
The hotel organizes trips to Lake San Rafael, visits to Aiken Park (an ecotourism reserve), city tours of Coyhaique and Puerto Aysén, and horseback riding, fishing, rafting and trekking. Agents should contact U.S. Sales Manager Pilar Oyarzun (011-562-231-1902, [email protected]).
We boarded the catamaran, Patagonia Express, for the second time in two days and took an eight-hour ride along the aptly named Iceberg River to see a portion of a gigantic glacier spread over 1.8 kilometers wide and 15 km long. Although you stop a good distance away from it, the area of the glacier is about 14 degrees below zero, so layers of clothes, ear muffs and a good scarf are needed. Make sure your camera is running on a full battery as the immense cold can drain it quickly.
In what was one of our most memorable Latin American experiences, the catamaran took us to within 50 yards of the glacier, but the two Zodiacs onboard took us even closer. The bright blue and white slab of ice looked as though it didn’t belong there as it was flanked on both sides by green mountains. The trip becomes even more surreal, when the slab breaks up. One can imagine the sound of a canon firing and sight of a battleship sinking. A small piece of ice gives way and then the larger surrounding pieces begin to crumble along with it. It’s well worth the arduous trip.