By the end of 2020 our three Relais & Chateaux lodges, Awasi Atacama, Awasi Patagonia and Awasi Iguazu, were fully open and receiving guests once again. It is hard to put into words the sense of pure joy and purpose that came with re-opening our doors. We said over the dry months of 2020 that a hotel without guests is like a library without books, and that was truly the sense among our team. The excitement and energy that came with receiving our first guests as we re-opened our three hotels back in December 2020, has brought broad smiles to our faces and injected the spring back into our step.
That’s not to say that 2020 didn’t have moments of joy, in fact we felt more connected to some of our past guests than ever before thanks to a series of zoom webinars that we carried out during the months when travel was not possible. Taking the form of friendly chats presented by different members of our teams in Patagonia, Atacama and Iguazu, our Past Guest Talks have covered history, archaeology, culture, nature and biodiversity… and perhaps most importantly have allowed us to reminisce about travels gone past and future plans. “It feels like a chat around the fire,” said one of the participants.
A few anecdotes that particularly touched us came from past guests who are keeping their stay at Awasi present in their daily lives. One guest named his son “Torres” in honour of the emblematic Torres del Paine Mountain Range which can be admired in all its glory from our Relais & Chateaux lodge, Awasi Patagonia. Meanwhile, upon returning home some London-based guests decided to name their new kitten “Awasi”.
To the hotels – Awasi Atacama
Our aim with the re-opening of our lodges has been to make sure that the guest’s experience, the level of service and accommodation always come first. Our three lodges are havens away from the worries of the world where you can rest assured all the necessary precautions have been taken – all you have to do is live in the moment and enjoy.
Argentinians discover another side of Iguazu with Awasi
With less people globetrotting, we have had more guests from nearby, taking the chance to explore their own country. “Since the Argentine borders have been closed, we have received more locals than ever before,” says Awasi Iguazu Resident Manager, Javier Lescano. “The majority of them already know the Iguazu Falls, but come to Awasi as a friend or colleague has recommended the hotel. This does not leave them any less surprised by the experience: they are amazed to find so much diversity in the Misiones Region; and they are also surprised to find such a high level of accommodation and service in their homeland, something they usually expect to have to travel abroad to find.”
“You have allowed me to see my own country with other eyes,” said one guest who recently stayed at Awasi Iguazu on a trip from Buenos Aires. Another aspect of The Awasi Experience that “local” guests find amazing is our early access to the Iguazu Falls which allows our guests to enjoy this wonder of the natural world without the crowds. In normal times, the Iguazu Falls is the second most visited place in Argentina (after Buenos Aires) so the contrast between seeing it with and without other people, is as stark as the difference between night and day.
A truly flying start for Awasi Patagonia
Awasi Patagonia opened with a mission that made the whole team spring into action. Among the first guests to visit our lodge upon re-opening was a couple from the United States. The boyfriend contacted us prior to travel saying that he planned to ask his girlfriend to marry him during their stay, so the team planned various zoom calls, some with the hopeful groom and others between the team of guides and hotel staff to see if they could brainstorm some original ideas. It was a challenge because the client wanted something exceptional, but the team had to take into consideration the unpredictable Patagonia climate (not so easy for guaranteeing a helicopter or boat ride, for example), not to mention the limitations due to the pandemic.
However, the Awasi team is not one to give up quickly! They pulled together and arranged a surprise gourmet picnic lunch in a pristine spot where the Rivers Grey and Serrano meet; a place with a view of the “towers” that give Torres del Paine its name, and also the “horns”, a set of spiky granite peaks that sit alongside the emblematic “towers”. This hidden corner is just outside the boundaries of the national park, an important detail as they needed a permit to land a helicopter…
And so, in the middle of a Full Day excursion, the couple’s private guide led them to this very place. Two other guides had made their way to the spot earlier to set up the table for lunch and make sure everything was perfect. During this picnic lunch with a view like no other, the couple enjoyed a glass of champagne and the moment came to pop the question. She said YES and a few seconds later a helicopter arrived, scooping them up and away for a flyover spanning Torres del Paine National Park and taking in unforgettable views of the glaciers from above.
The helicopter landed at Sierra Contreras, just behind the Awasi Patagonia lodge. As the couple stepped down onto firm ground, they were greeted by the rest of the Awasi Teams who were waiting with charged glassed to toast the couple. A wonderful start to a new season!