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Marzo 2013

Adventure Hotels of the World: The Singular Patagonia

The Singular Patagonia in southern Chile’s Puerto Bories (5 km outside of Puerto Natales, the gateway to Torres del Paine National Park) is in a class by itself. The former lamb processing facility is now part luxury hotel, part museum—a hip and modern LEED Silver certified building and historical relic. All rooms overlook Última Esperanza Sound with the big mountains of southern Patagonia lining the horizon. And the restaurant offers some of the best food in Patagonia, including local specialties lamb (not surprisingly) and king crab.

Puerto Bories once was the lifeblood of the region—it was the sheep industry that catalyzed the growth of nearby Puerto Natales. For over 70 years during the 20th century, the buildings of the current hotel served as a lamb cold-storage facility where millions of sheep were processed, frozen, and exported as meat and wool to the European markets. Soon after the factory closed it was declared a National Historic Monument. The Singular Patagonia hired a local architect and tastefully restored the facility while preserving much of its infrastructure, opening its doors in 2011. When guests walk from their rooms to the restaurant, for example, they pass through open areas of original industrial machinery with lighting and informational panels. Baggage is taken from the front desk to the lower level via funicular.

Greater Puerto Natales is the hub for Torres del Paine National Park, located less than two hours to the north. As such, the Singular is geared toward adventure, operating a range of guided day trips including trekking in Torres del Paine, horseback riding, kayaking, and condor watching. We opted for a half-day boat trip up Última Esperanza Sound to Bernardo O’Higgins National Park. Along the way were views of the Cordillera del Paine from afar and a hike through the park to the base of the beautiful Serrano glacier.

The Singular Patagonia is worth designing a trip around. For those who frequent luxury hotels, the Singular Patagonia will not disappoint—it’s as tasteful and unique as any in the world. For those on a budget, the hotel is a perfect place to reward yourself after a long trek (access to the Wellness Spa is free for guests). At the least, those staying in Puerto Natales should consider a trip out to the Singular’s restaurant and bar, which is perhaps the hotel’s most beautiful space. Make sure to visit the undeveloped loft for local artwork and sunset views.

Switchback Travel is now covering the great adventure hotels and lodges from around the world. We will strive to include a range of styles and price points to best accommodate all of our readers.

Adventure Hotel Ratings:
The Singular Patagonia

For 2013, guest rooms at the Singular Patagonia start at $390 USD per night. Full board including all meals and activities starts at around $1,100 USD per night. It’s worth noting that for tourists in Chile, published hotel rates include all taxes. This varies greatly from neighboring Argentina, where all hotels charge a hefty 21% IVA (value-added tourist tax) on top of published rates.

Location ***** (5/5)
Puerto Bories has the premier landscape views in the area and the Singular is situated on it’s own stretch of waterfront property including a dock for day trips. Those going into Puerto Natales can take a short taxi ride, walk, or use free bicycles provided by the hotel. The Singular Patagonia also has two private reserves at Sierra Baguales and Punta Jamón set aside for conservation and use by hotel guests.

Adventure ***** (5/5)
Guided trips at the Singular are varied (each day a handful of different trips are offered) and extremely well run. All activities are included with full board; those booking a room only have the option to pay per activity. Day trips are with a small group from the hotel and the difficulty level is somewhat dependent on others. Those looking for a specific activity not offered or a particularly rigorous day out should speak with the hotel staff—they will try to accommodate you or arrange for a local guide. And there is the option of booking a room only and planning your own adventure activities.

Comfort ***** (5/5)
All 54 rooms face Última Esperanza Sound and have excellent views (if you have a choice, the third floor is best). The rooms are comfortable and modern but not overdone, and the bathrooms are exceptional. Make sure to walk the hotel grounds and go to dinner with enough time to enjoy the surroundings, both inside and out.

Sustainability ***** (5/5)
LEED Silver certification, particularly in such a remote corner of the world, speaks highly for the Singular’s commitment to the environment. Among the hotel’s strong points are construction (much of the existing building structures were maintained), use of regional materials, reduced energy and water consumption, and free bicycles. In addition, the Singular recently launched a reforestation initiative with Chile’s CONAF to bring more native trees back to Puerto Bories including the Lenga, Coigüe, Alamo Negro, Retamo and Abedul.

Overall ***** (5/5)
The Singular Patagonia is part of new wave of luxury accommodations in Patagonia, but nobody does it better. The hotel is a destination in itself with a wide range of day trips, or a luxury stopover for those on a longer trip. All things considered, the Singular Patagonia is the cream of the crop for adventure hotels not just in Patagonia, but anywhere in the world.


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