Tips for trips to Patagonia…
When in Patagonia do as seasoned travelers do: choose Las Torres Hotel.
There are so many reasons, but here’s my story of why I loved Patagonia and my stay at Las Torres Hotel.
#1. No Ordinary Hotel
This place is steeped in history.
In 1979, its founder, Antonio Kusanovic Senkovic, the son of Croatian immigrants, bought the beautiful Cerro Paine ranch to begin his cattle breeding business. The farm business, located right at the foot of the majestic “Torres del Paine” mountain range, not only was prosperous, but attracted many tourists enchanted by the extraordinary beauty of the place.
To accommodate them, in the early 90´s Mr. Kusanovic and his wife, decided to build 9 rooms with a small restaurant.
In 1997, when Mr. Kusanovic passed away, his wife and four children continued his legacy in the hotel.
Today, Hotel Las Torres Patagonia is the only hotel to own land inside the park and amazingly still maintains the principles of its founders: “to share the warmth of the people and customs of Patagonia”.
#2. Stunning Location. Utter Tranquility.
The hotel is situated right in the heart of the national park, at the foot of The Torres themselves and is the starting point of main long and short trails.
In all honesty, Las Torres really is a place of dreams. Or, better said, a place where dreams come true.
I was there towards the end of the autumn, and also the end of the tourist season. I experienced summer, winter and autumn, all in one day. Yet, I had to pinch myself at the wonder of it. The spectacular array of colors was spellbinding.
From the window of my room I could see the lengas, ñires and other Nothofagus trees turning into yellow, orange and fire-red on the mountain slopes. As you’d imagine, the sight, especially against the backdrop of Patagonia’s famous granite spires was brilliant.
I remember Gerard Manley Hopkins words: “The world is charged with the grandeur of God…”
Perhaps he too has visited this place.
#3. Gourmet Food
I am a gardener and a self-proclaimed foodie which means I am picky about what I eat.
Luckily, I was pleasantly surprised by the quality, variety and finesse of the meals I was served during my time at Las Torres. So much so that I insisted on taking a photo with the chef. I had to congratulate him in person.
To my surprise he was a young Chilean, whose smile was bigger than his ears.
Well done, my boy! Even the picnic lunch was 5*!
Day after day, I was served delicious samon, juicy steaks, hearty soups, full bodied wine and delicious Calafate cocktails!
Even better, many ingredients were sourced directly from the hotel’s organic garden which is opened to visitors on a daily basis. The hotel aims to one day supply all of its fruits and vegetables. With the help of dedicated volunteers guided by the love and knowledge of the full-time gardeners on site, I am sure it will succeed.
After a day on the horse or a challenging hike in the wild south, coming back to a hearty delicious meal was much needed!
Don’t expect to lose any weight while staying with Hotel Las Torres. You can try, but you will fail.
For the food alone I would return time and time again.
#4. Unique Excursions
With 300 and more horses on the property, guests can spend their days riding in the surrounding valleys.
The horses are a beauty. All stout-hearted, sensible and super-fit. Mine included.
In fact, I was told that Arocito, my horse for the day, even won a medal for good behavior. Better be true!
I have never been on a horse before and galloping across the pampas and through the lenga forest was something that gave me the frills and…the thrills.
At the beginning of the trip, the young, but very knowledgeable guide assured me that saying hi to the Magellanic woodpeckers, Austral parakeets and Chillean flickers from the top of Cerro Paine will be something I will never forget.
He also advised me that when I ride ll of the muscles should be relaxed and all of the joints should be loose. Correct. But when there was a great deal of rapid, slightly hair-raising, downhill riding, relaxation was a bit hard to achieve. However, I decided to trust Arocito. After all, Arocito was a good old horse that must have done something right to reach the venerable age of 27. Keeping a tight rein, I closed my eyes and thought of Patagonia. I was in a place I have wanted to see for years. I knew that I will spend my next few days suffering of saddle sores. I could feel the pain. But I also knew that I will spend the rest of my years dreaming of this day.
At Las Torres they cater for complete beginners to more advanced riders.
If you are not into horses, do not worry. There are so many other excursions you can choose to join.
They even offer a wonderful lake cruise to the imposing Grey Glacier together with the fullest introduction to Torres del Paine National Park in the shortest amount of time.
And Grey Glacier is… well, do get me started.
Maybe I’ll tell you just a bit about it.
The Grey Glacier is 28km in length and covers a total surface area of 270km. Its frozen walls are almost 35m high.
Do I need to say more?
Seeing all that turquoise compressed ice was mind blowing!
With a pisco sour mixed with glacial ice, the Grey drink, I stared at the glacier.
It was one of the most incredible things I have seen in all my travels.
#5. All Inclusive Stay
Who doesn’t love all inclusive stays?
A room with a view, a bar and restaurant with a view, all meals included, 20% discount spa packages, park entrance fee covered, transport from Puerto Natales or El Calafate to the park and back, dozens of half-day and all day excursions, bilingual guides and the list can go on.
While staying at Las Torres, I just asked and I did receive.
#6. Dedication to environment
This is an important bit.
With 175,000 visitors each year, a figure that’s increasing by over 10% per year, the park has suffered three major forest fires, each of these started by travellers.
The trail system and roads are in need of repair, yet the ability to do so lacks both financial and human resources.
Thankfully, there are places like Las Torres.
The hotel is passionate about protecting the wilderness of the park.
Since 2004, it works in partnership with a not-for-profit organisation called AMA (Agrupacion Medio Ambiental) to make sure the park remains sustainable into the future. On top of critical conservation activities such as trail maintenance and waste management, AMA also engages in scientific research and provides essential educational services. They regularly work with Chilean schools to improve environmental awareness through “expeditionary” programs. They also manage the hotel’s Interpretative Centre, where they host scientific lectures, documentary screenings and other events to share unique insights with the wider public, employees and travellers.
Hats off to Las Torres!
#7. The people
Did you ever stay in a 5-stars resort, yet you felt as if you were staying in a 3-star one?
Well, I did. It felt awful. Wasting both precious holiday time and lots of money on something I’d rather forget, made me grumpy. And it’s no fun being grumpy when all you dreamed of was your yearly luxury escape.
Luckily, Las Torres is not a 5-star hotel. It’s a four-star hotel that exceeded my highest expectations.
And this was even more true about the people running the place.
From the bell boys to the restaurant staff, the gauchos, the animated guides ( shhh, Veronica and Pablo are the best), the staff at Las Torres impressed me. They joked with each other, had fun like one big happy family.
They were clearly on a mission to share the local traditions of Patagonia with every single traveler that came through the doors of the hotel.
Their love for their job and country was inspiring.
I could continue raving about Las Torres, but the bottom line is, join any of our trips to Chile and experience its beauty yourself.
Patagonia is a cool place. So choose a cool hotel. Stay at Las Torres.