Whole Life Magazine

August/September 2012

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Page 37 of 51

ExtrEmE Southern Exposure Eco-adventure meets luxury at the newly opened Tierra Patagonia resort By Elyse Glickman E landscape, that feels like it is coming up out of the ground," resort general manager christopher purcell informs me after check-in, over empanadas and calafate pisco sours (made with an indigenous berry, high in antioxidants) in the airy, quietly elegant lounge. through the expanse of glass, the setting sun against torres Del paine's iconic "skyline" rock formations and lake sarmiento bathed us in a warm pink hue. major expedition, even with a driver waiting at the puerto arenas' airport arrival gate. the continuing journey involves a gorgeously austere four-hour ride over rugged, flat terrain. and then suddenly, tierra patagonia seems to rise out of the ground and materialize in the middle of nowhere. "our team of architects and designers wanted to create a building that was impressive but could also blend aesthetically and seamlessly into the Given that tierra patagonia borders southern chile's torres Del paine national park and unesco biosphere reserve, getting there is, in itself, a tion traditional hotel architecture can impart on a landscape like this," he con- tinues. And indeed, visitors in the resort's first year compared the aerodynamic shape of the building to a wind-blown dune, a bird's wing or an airplane, though none of those were the inspiration for the structure. Cazu Zegers, one of the project's principal architects, says he focused on a design loosely based on "an old fossil, a prehistoric animal beached on the lake shore, like those studied by Charles Darwin." Its unique construction resists the powerful nighttime winds and blends with the natural geologic flow of the pampas. "Native lenga wood was sourced locally from a sustainably managed "We wanted to create something that is opposite to the visual contamina- forest in this area," notes Purcell. "Instead of clear cutting, our construction company took only upper branches. The interior designers worked primarily 38 wholelifetimesmagazine.com with natural materials and handcrafts collected mostly from Chile." Although plant life was cleared from the construction site before they broke ground, cuttings from the plants were taken to a greenhouse to be nurtured and replanted using recycled water from their dedicated system. But there is more here than the intelligently fanciful structure from the architectural team of Zegers, fellow architects Roberto Benavente and Rodrigo Ferrer, and interior designers Alexandra Edwards and Carolina Delpiano. A major part of Tierra Patago- nia's mission is to shift the paradigm of an "all-inclusive" travel experience. In addition to paying one comprehensive fee for all aspects of their hotel stay, there is no worry about airport transfers or finding the right excursions, and the staff takes care of all necessary passes and permits required to enter the national park. No detail has been overlooked in ensuring the concept within the structure co-exists co-tourism has become so commonplace, even with less-athletic types like me, that the idea of going to the "ends of the earth" to discover a new paradise feels like a cliché. the newly opened luxury resort tierra patagonia is anything but that. it offers, quite literally, a new perspective on the world.

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