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The Tierra Chiloe, Chile
The hotel is isolated, situated on the edge of a small bay on the eastern side of Chiloe Island, the second largest island off the South American coast after Tierra del Fuego. The island is about 180 kilometres long but a narrow 50 kilometres wide and is flanked on the eastern side by a gulf filled with smaller islands. The region is temperate, with warm summers and comfortable, if cool, autumns. While the temperature doesn't drop too far in winter, it does pour with rain - sometimes non-stop for weeks - making the warmer months the best time to visit.
The Tierra's dramatic design overlooks the water and every one of the 12 rooms offers a beautiful view of the countryside. The hotel's architecture, with its sharp angles and large windows, gives it a futuristic, modern look in stark contrast to the quaint, colourful cottages the locals live in. Despite the sci-fi looks, the hotel is made of wood and the interior's exposed boards are reminiscent of a Scandinavian lodge. The open-plan dining room and lounge on the ground floor offer the same gorgeous views as the bedrooms. There's a relaxation room with a sauna and spa and a small library (also with views). The hotel has become increasingly popular over the last year and, as a result, 12 more rooms are being added. Work is due to be finished in July 2017.
The view is gorgeous, overlooking the rolling hills of the islands and the water. There's no one to be seen for miles - just black-necked swans or perhaps a local fisherman tending one of the mussel farms. The room is spacious and warm and focused on the view, which can be enjoyed from your bed. The bathroom is elegant and includes a large spa bath and L'occitane toiletries. I'm welcomed with a pair of locally-made woollen slippers provided as a gift.
As my first destination in South America, this is a perfect place to unwind and adjust to the new time zone. The atmosphere is relaxed, which suits the nature of the island and its residents. Heavy doors on the bedrooms means noise is minimal and there's a cosy atmosphere in the common dining and lounge area, where chillout music is the soundtrack. While the hotel offers plenty of activities for guests (see below) there's no obligation to do anything. With meals and drinks included, you don't really need to leave.
All meals are included at the Tierra, but even if they weren't it's doubtful you'd want to eat anywhere else. The meals are top notch and based around local ingredients. This means plenty of fresh seafood and vegetables. My first dish on arrival is Magellan mussels, simply prepared with mayonnaise, lemon and beets, and they're among the best mussels I've ever tasted. Other dishes include grilled salmon, clam chowder and crab claws, though chicken, pasta and lamb also appears on the menu. Lunch and dinner meals are three-course, but the selections are limited to a couple of options a course at each meal.
While you could spend your entire stay within the hotel and its grounds, Chiloe has plenty more to offer. Visiting the island is like stepping back to a simpler time. It is idyllic in the traditional sense of the word. Most locals either run small farms or fish for a living, which means plenty of terrific local produce (food sold in the local markets must, by law, be produced organically), as well as gorgeous locally made handicrafts. The Tierra Chiloe is all-inclusive right down to the excursions, with the hotel's guides taking guests on tours of the area. This includes cruising in the hotel's boat, as well as a day trip visiting some of the UNESCO World Heritage-listed churches on the island, all of which have their own unique design characteristics (there are 19 in total). The hotel also offers a visit to a local organic farm where we are given an opportunity to taste the produce at its freshest and get an insight into local life.
Chiloe and its surrounding islands offer a distinct culture unlike that found on mainland Chile. The Tierra Chiloe is an excellent place to unwind for a few days. It offers the "getting away from it all" feel that resorts have, as well as opportunities to enjoy cultural experiences.
Though the hotel is luxurious, the island itself may leave you pining for a simpler life.
How to get there
LATAM flies from Sydney to Santiago via Auckland with connections to Mocopulli Airport on Chiloe. The hotel will transfer guests from the airport. See www.latam.com
See and do
The South America Travel Centre can create tailor-made itineraries including accommodation, transfers, activities and domestic travel across the continent. See http://southamericatravelcentre.com.au/
The hotel itself, with its striking architecture and luxurious interiors.
There's not a lot to do within walking distance of the hotel - besides relax.
The all-inclusive rate at Tierra Chiloe, including meals, open bar, transfers and excursions, vary depending on the length of stay, but a minimum two-night stay starts from $US1200 ($1580) a person. See http://www.tierrahotels.com
Take a look inside the Tierra Chiloe in the photo gallery above.
The writer travelled as a guest of South America Travel Centre and LATAM.