Luxury holidays to Chile

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Responsible tourism

Responsible tourism: Luxury holidays to Chile

Environment

The two hotels in the Lake District and Patagonia Camp in the Torres del Paine National Park have been selected for their commitment to preserving the environment and adopting sustainable practices. As a tour operator we always try to recommend properties that reflect our environmental values and work to minimise their impact on the local environment. All three of these properties have been designed and built to blend in with their natural surroundings and in managing the land that surrounds the property, ensure that those areas are conserved and protected from further development.

For example Hotel Antumalal has set up its own conservation area running along the banks of Lago Villarrica, which ensures that no other properties can be built on their side of the lake and disrupt the habitat of native birds, cats and foxes which live in the area. They also harness hydroelectric energy from a waterfall in its grounds to produce power for the hotel and source fresh vegetables and ingredients for their restaurant from their organic garden.

The clever architectural design of Tierra Chiloé is focused on efficiency and making use of renewable energy sources to limit its environmental impact without compromising on standards of comfort. They can store heat to use when needed, use wind for cooling and ventilating the hotel, store rainwater for the dry season and reuse gray water which is processed and returned contaminant-free to the environment.

Similar systems are in place at Patagonia Camp, which has developed its own system for treating wastewater, offering 100% biodegradable amenities, composting food waste and recycling wherever they can. The Camp has also been built on raised pillars and platforms to avoid damaging the delicate flora on the ground.

At the start of this year we started donating to the Torres del Paine Legacy Fund and now pledge $25 per client that we send to this part of Chile as part of our commitment to the conservation of the National Park. These donations go towards the Fund’s trail restoration work, lenga tree nursery and recycling program in Puerto Natales, which was desperately needed to deal with the huge increase in plastic waste which came with increased visitor numbers to the region. We also only work with properties that are committed to minimising the impact that they and their guests have on the National Park so for example, while you’re trekking in the national park, your guide from Patagonia Camp will provide you with a reusable flask so that you don’t take plastic into the park, they’ll give you biodegradable bags to make sure you take all of your rubbish away with you and come down heavily on anyone smoking as the Park has been severely damaged by man-made forest fires in the past.

Finally, we have also tried to minimise the number of internal flights in this itinerary by incorporating the overnight bus to Pucón and only including the flights to Punta Arenas which is too far to reach by bus or boat in an itinerary of this length.

Community

We also try to recommend hotels and lodges that contribute to the local economy and work to preserve local heritage and culture. The Lvciano K Hotel in Lastarria is one of the most culturally important buildings in Santiago, having been built by one of Chile’s most famous architects, Luciano Kulcewski. The owners of the hotel have restored the building to its former art deco glory; painfully maintain many of the original features like the wooden parquet floors and glass bathroom doors. This gives guests a much better insight into Santiago's cultural history than staying at one of the newly-built corporate style hotels that have popped up across the city in the last few years.

Hotel Antumalal was originally built in the 1950s and was one of the first hotels to be established in Chile’s Northern Lake District. Considered to be a pioneer in the development of tourism in this area of Chile, Antumalal is heavily invested in the preservation and protection of Pucón and the surrounding region. Any buildings and features, which have been added to the hotel in recent years, have been built in the same iconic Bahaus architectural style, helping to preserve the heritage of the building.

At Tierra Chiloé, local carpenters and traditional building techniques and materials were used in the redevelopment of the hotel to ensure that the regional community felt the benefit of the hotel coming to the island. One example of these traditional techniques being used is the exterior covering of wooden shingles, which helps to reduce the amount of heat lost by the hotel. By creating employment opportunities and fostering local culture Tierra are working to ensure that Chiloé benefits socially and economically from the hotel.

In the environmental commitment section we mentioned that we donate to the Torres del Paine Legacy Fund. One of their most important projects has involved developing a cultural centre in Puerto Natales, which currently hosts exhibitions displaying the work of local artists and is set to expand to host theatre, dance and other cultural events in the future. This not only allows local artists to showcase their work but also provides access to cultural events for locals living in Puerto Natales. We provide information of these initiatives in the pre-departure information we send out to our clients before they travel to give them a chance to visit the different projects while they're in the area.

Finally, we provide a list of restaurant recommendations to everyone who travels with us to encourage them to get out of the hotels for dinner and support local businesses. In our pre-departure documents we also advise our clients to travel with local currency and to support local artisans when purchasing souvenirs rather than buying at tourist markets in the main cities as we advise that the quality is much higher and in this way they are contributing to the local economy and the preservation of local artisan techniques.

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