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Patagonia Inside Out

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Photo: Frédéric Lagrange

Altiplánico Sur, Puerto Natales, Chile

A further testament to the pace of development in Puerto Natales is Altiplánico Sur, which is a two-minute walk from Remota and opened about the same time. Owners Maite Susaeta and Juan D’Étigny have made something of a habit of opening properties near Exploras; their first hotel was in the Atacama Desert, and their next project is on Easter Island, where Explora also has a new property under way. With 22 rooms, Altiplánico Sur is smaller and more pared-down than the Explora in nearby Torres del Paine, not to mention less expensive.

Altiplánico is a bunker hotel—a semicircle set into a hillside, its roof covered in grass blanketed with dandelions and its façade faced in "bricks" of turf. According to Susaeta, who designed the place, the goal was to make it largely disappear into the landscape, and for the most part that is the effect. Whether you enjoy the underground feeling when in residence is a matter of taste. The dominant decorative features inside are concrete (concrete walls patterned in two textures, concrete bed platforms and modular night tables) and metal (modern wrought-iron chairs, steel-and-glass tables), softened here and there by a sheepskin throw rug or a driftwood lamp. Some will find the smallish rooms, reached via long, dark, curving hallways, a lesson in Flintstones chic; others might call them a new-wave cellblock. Even those in the latter group will appreciate the large window facing the water in both the bedroom and bath (all rooms have good views, but those closest to the central hall of the property have slightly better ones).

Much less of a full-scale hotel than Remota, Altiplánico offers a set daily menu (the food is just okay, and few people avail themselves of it, given the better offerings in town), and you’re on your own for excursions. Most guests here are traveling as part of a group and therefore have their days planned for them; the minuscule but friendly staff can point you toward the many operators in Puerto Natales if you want guidance. This being Patagonia, you’ll be unlikely to go wrong.

Nathan Lump is the travel editor of the New York Times magazine T.


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