The Atacama Desert in Northern Chile has been a bit of a secret destination for those who love stargazing and other-worldly hiking terrains. It is home to ALMA, the world’s largest radio telescope and many hotels in the area have their own telescopes and guides to lead their stargazing experiences. This is also the place to climb sand dunes, indulge in hot springs and hike through salt flats and the aptly named “Moon Valley.” Awasi, a Relais & Chateaux property, has created the ultimate luxury oasis for those who want to explore this adventure destination with a more bespoke approach.
Inspired by pre-Incan ruins, the property’s 12 suites are circular and use natural building materials, such as adobe and stone. You can expect a spacious suite that incorporates numerous indulgent touches, including heated floors, incredibly comfortable beds, a private outdoor patio and shower and a very well-stocked mini bar.
The main reason guests travel to the Atacama is for the incredible outdoor experiences that come with spectacular views. Ambitious guests can arrange for two outings a day. Awasi is unusual in that each group or family is assigned their own guide. This means you can tailor your adventures to meet your individual needs. Some terrific options include a hike to the hot springs, a visit to the salt flats with their resident flamingos, a serious hike on one of the areas volcanoes, or a more leisurely hike to a cactus-filled gorge or boulders with petroglyphs.
Everyone’s favorite nighttime activity is stargazing; a short drive will take you to the property’s telescope, where you will be amazed by the night sky. In addition to hikes, there are biking and horseback riding options.
After all that activity, you can expect a warm welcome back to the property where you can relax by the outdoor pool in the afternoon or sit by one of the many fireplaces in the evening. And since you have been so active, you will feel zero guilt as you indulge in some of the most amazing food and wine. (Many guests choose to forego a full day activity just so they can be back for the Awasi lunch!)
Awasi has an on-staff mixologist who creates a new, terrific cocktail every evening and sommelier Alvaro Alarcon Aliaga will recommend the best Chilean wines to go with your meals. Food is one of the highlights of Awasi. The quality of the local ingredients and the creativity of chef Juan Pablo Mardones are truly outstanding. A typical dinner might include a starter of palm heart salad, green chili soup with walnut cream or smoked trout crudo. Main courses could feature homemade pasta with mussels, lamb with cauliflower and almonds or some of the best steak I have ever eaten. The amazing kitchen staff is always happy to whip up an
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The ethos of the hotel company Our Habitas is sustainable practices in natural settings with a dose of relevant luxury mixed in. So it makes sense that its latest property is Our Habitas Atacama in San Pedro de Atacama, Chile in the pristine, unique Atacama Desert known to be the most arid non-polar landscape on earth but one also with lunar rock formations, salt flats, volcanoes, geysers and hot springs, a cornucopia of dramatic nature. The hotel opened its doors a few days ago.
I remember the day back in 2014 when I’d just settled into my new apartment in Santiago and a powerful earthquake rattled the walls. I leaped up from my couch and ran for the door, while all the Chileans in the room just sat still and laughed at me, confident in Chile’s strong building codes and unfazed by the regular tremors.
In every corner of Japan, there are echoes of Ghibli film settings. The country’s most successful anime studio launched in 1985, and its films have become emblematic of Japan’s offbeat, inventive character. It’s no surprise the opening of the Ghibli Park in November 2022 proved so popular. Tickets are released three months in advance but, almost a year on, they’re still like gold dust due to high domestic demand. There are no rides at the park either. Instead, it’s been designed as a place to “take a stroll, feel the wind, and discover the wonders”, according to its founders.
If you’re lucky enough to make it to the southernmost part of South America, you’re lucky indeed. But as you follow the snow-capped peaks descending from high desert to windy Patagonian moors, which side of the Andes should you stick to?
Santiago is a spectacular city, with terrific museums, outstanding food and an awe-inspiring view of the Andes. Just steps from each other, the W Santiago and the Ritz Carlton offer two terrific lodging options. Below are highlights from each property.
There was a time when accommodation options in Japan tended to fall into three categories: glossy international chains, dull homegrown business hotels and basic ryokan (traditional inns), which despite their atmospheric tatami mats and wooden sliding doors were often light on comfort and mod cons. But new options abound, particularly for the cultural traveller.
andBeyond (&Beyond) is an award-winning experiential travel company that has been offering some of the best African safaris, lodges and adventure trips for three decades. They are known for their commitment to sustainability and guest engagement, as well as high-levels of luxury, service and creature comforts.
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