T+L Reports: Chilean Waterworks
Published: April 2009
When Germán del Sol learned about a forgotten manuscript discovered 20 years ago amid the remains of a sunken 17th-century Spanish galleon, he became a man obsessed. The chronicle told of a creek on Mount Villarrica, a snowcapped volcano, where the local Mapuche Indians luxuriated in thermal waters. "We found the stream half-buried under natural debris after eleven years of searching," says del Sol. "After much digging, we uncovered more than sixty thermal springs along fifteen hundred feet of the creek bed." The conclusion to the architect's quest is Termas Geométricas (www.termasgeometricas.cl; admission $16), in southern Chile's lake country. Best known for conceiving the ultramodern Explora lodges in Torres del Paine National Park and the northern Atacama Desert, del Sol created an ingenious network of boardwalks that distributes both hot water and visitors to 17 slate-tiled pools. Skiers, river-runners, and nature lovers who populate nearby resorts in Pucón and Villarrica can have asoak, then gather around an open fire in a quincho. Beneath that thatched pavilion, del Sol has built an eco-conscious snack bar, where the only lights after dark are the stars overhead and the candles beside the pools.