Pucón, Chile: Hotel Antumalal
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AddressKm 2 Camino Pucón - Villarrica Pucón, Región de la Araucanía , Chile +5645/441-011 Antumalal.com
The Main Lounge Fireplace: Forego the fireplace in your own room for a night and cozy up to the smoldering hearth in the main lounge, enclosed by glass walls overlooking Lake Villarrica.
Spa Antumaco: A new spa was added to the pool area in 2011, and half the kidney-shaped pool is enclosed in glass so that can swim from indoors to the outdoors.
Adventure: Explore the extensive grounds, either with a local birdwatching guide or on your own. Find the small beach or cliffside lookout and your own private adventure in the process.
Termas Geométricas: Arrange an excursion through the front desk to Termas Geométricas, hot springs designed by Chilean starchitect Germ´n del Sol, best known for the Explora and Remota eco-hotels. Like Antumalal, the springs feature clean geometrical lines integrated into the thick of nature.
- All rooms with panoramic view of Lake Villarrica and fireplace
- Walk in closet with digital safe
- Flat screen television
- Tennis court overlooking the lake
- Antumaco Spa: Heated Swimming Pool, Sauna, whirlpool
- Homemade chocolate in-room gift every evening
Pucón is known as an adventure destination. The charming little town tucked into the foothills of the southern Andes in Chile's Lake District (sometimes dubiously referred to as northern Patagonia by ambitious tour operators) is a springboard for trekkers armed with walking poles intent on climbing the smoking volcano that overlooks the area. There are also skiers, similarly equipped, traveling downhill instead of up, hikers and horseback riders threading their way through the thick forest of prehistoric monkey puzzle trees that surround, and various breeds of rowers drawn to the pristine lakes and rivers nearby. So, what is an ode to Bauhaus doing buried in this wilderness?
Rony Pollak fingers the Star of David she wears around her neck as she tells me the story of the hotel. The daughter of Czech immigrants who fled Nazi occupation in the 1930s, Rony now runs Hotel Antumalal with her son, Andrew. In 1938, her father convinced the Chilean government to help fund his vision: a modernist structure paying tribute to the Bauhaus school of design, comprised of separate glass boxes lodged within the forested hills just outside Pucón's town center. He enlisted Chilean architect Jorge Elton, a student of Frank Lloyd Wright, to design the building.
With its 23 guest rooms, each equipped with a working fireplace, original mid-century furniture and plush sheepskin rugs, Hotel Antumalal was "green" before the term existed: it has its own hydroelectric plant and uses recycled energy from a transference system to heat the thermal swimming pool. Only fallen wood is gathered for the guests to use in their fireplaces. I stayed in one of the ground-floor mountain-view rooms, with wide panoramic windows looking out onto the picturesque Lake Villarrica. The second-floor rooms offer spectacular sunset views, but aren't quite as swanky.
Exhausted after a day in the great outdoors, I take the staff's advice and kick back with a pisco sour out on the terrace as the sun sets over the lake. Later, I tuck into a hearty meal of Patagonian lamb with creamed barley in the hotel's restaurant, Parque Antumalal. (Depending on the season, the menu might also feature gamey venison, or grilled southern hake, but always prominently features vegetables from the greenhouse or gardens.) At night, the sky above the volcanic Mount Villarrica glows a soft orange in the distance, its geothermal percolations making the nearby mineral-rich rivers and streams ideal for thermal baths—I'm looking forward to a soak the following day. Guess it's not all sport and adventure out here, after all. —Chantal Martineau
In the Area
- La Cocina de Elisa: In the nearby town of Curarrehue, enjoy a traditional meal prepared by a member of the Mapuche tribe. Elisa Cea Epuin, a local cook and baker, runs a pastry shop and restaurant on the main square, called La Cocina de Elisa, where you can sample piñones, the large pine nut-like fruit of the monkey puzzle tree, maqui berries, which could be the world's next superfruit, and other Mapuche specialties. La Cocina de Elisa, Plaza de Curarrehue, IX Región
- Fishing on the Lake: Take a traditional rowboat out for an authentic fly fishing experience. The hotel arranges the expedition for experts and novices alike. If you've never done it before, your guide will teach you; if you're an old pro, you can nerd out together. Afterwards, take your catch back to the hotel for a fresh-caught dinner.
- Trawen Restaurant: Translating as "meeting place" in the Mapuche language, the restaurant Trawen is a local favorite, specializing in wholesome organic food. Try the the house special of krill-stuffed trout. 311 O"Higgins, Pucón, Chile; +5645/442-024