Virtuoso Life - September/October 2017 - 150
For adventurous souls, Patagonia's pull
is as powerful as the moon's.
Chilean comforts: Remota's
spa pool and (right) salmon
with mushroom risotto.
BACK IN OUR HOTEL ROOM THAT EVENING, I stared out at the churning
sound, then noticed two wool ponchos hanging from
brackets on the wall where a TV would have been. I
nearly wept with gratitude. There was no Wi-Fi in the
rooms either (although there was in the lobby), and
after a year of daily TV news whiplash, getting away
from it all - literally - had taken on new meaning.
I wandered up to the heart of the lodge, a soaring
space of unfinished concrete with a ceiling of raw
two-by-fours inspired by Patagonian sheep-shearing
barns, and fell into conversation with a lively young
woman. Her name was Jennifer Coll Luddeck, and
she turned out to be the hotel's general manager.
I loved that even though she ran the place she was
dressed in jeans, a fleece, and suede riding boots.
"We have a word here, 'salvaje,' which means a
little bit wild," she said, smiling, as the wind - now
gusting close to 60 miles per hour - screeched and
the windows shook. "I think Patagonia is a little bit
salvaje," she observed, adding that Germán del Sol,
the great Chilean architect behind both Remota and
the groundbreaking Explora properties, wanted the
V I RT U O S O L I F E
building to feel "alive," so he designed the structure's outer shell to flex imperceptibly.
"Is this much wind normal?" I asked a waiter, as
he cleared away our guanaco carpaccio later. The
walls creaked, the pendant lights swung, and I noticed fellow diners leaning in to hear his answer.
"Sí." He smiled and shrugged, as if to say, THIS,
señora? This is nothing!
THE NEXT MORNING, we drove an hour and a half north to Tierra
Patagonia Hotel & Spa, a low-lying glass-and-wood
structure set on the shores of Lake Sarmiento, a 20minute private van ride from Torres del Paine National Park. At first, the rugged landscape seemed
reminiscent of Montana or Wyoming. But the farther we drove, the more otherworldly the beauty
grew: condors soaring, doe-eyed guanaco grazing,
long-legged ostrichlike birds (nandu) sprinting, a
handful of humble estancia buildings with flat tin
roofs, and an armadillo with tiny ears and an armored shell scurrying down the road like a tank.
Tierra, designed by another celebrated Chilean
architect, Cazú Zegers, is a poetic interpretation of
this mythic setting. Evoking an old fossil, or perhaps the bones of an animal collected by Darwin,
it's built almost entirely of native lenga wood. Walk
to the edge of Lake Sarmiento, turn, and look back,
and the building's spine blends seamlessly into the
terrain, the wood's silvery sheen fading to reveal
swirling clouds reflected in glass.
Inside, an undulating ceiling composed of thin