Tango Diva : Travel Stories for Women, by Women

From its high desert to its coastal beaches, Chile is truly a land of enchanting contrasts. There are special places of unparalleled beauty to be discovered at every turn…awe-inspiring landscapes that remind us to contemplate and celebrate the mysterious and magical wonder of creation.

Pucón, a lively lakeside village, a short plane ride south of Santiago, is one such dreamscape destination that should not be overlooked.

Within the very first moment of my arrival came a sense of familiarity. The area’s fresh alpine air, temperate climate and verdant green slopes of old growth forest are strongly reminiscent of the Pacific Northwest. During the winter months when the rain sets in, places like the Olympic National Forest easily come to mind.

Often called the Queenstown of South America and well known for an abundance of extreme sports and outdoor activities, Pucón is far from a sleepy village.

Nestled at the base of a volcanic mountain along the shores of Lake Villarrica, Pucón is the gateway to Chile’s popular Lake District and the ultimate playground for active travelers, sports enthusiasts and naturalists. Moreover, two of Chile’s popular and picturesque national parks – Huerquehue and Villarrica – are nearby offering visitors even more opportunities for adventure.

Fast Fact: There are seven canopy zip line circuits throughout Chile. Access to the longest canopy tour in South America – 2100 miles – is 20 minutes from Pucón near the Trancura River and Trancura Hot Springs.

Canopy rides over rugged peaks and treetops, sailing regattas on the lake, horseback trail rides along the mountainside, snow skiing and treks up the volcano…followed by a soothing soak in the area’s famous thermal hot springs are all intricate parts of the ultimate Pucón experience.

Amidst the lush landscape and the quiet wilderness, you will find a haven of simple luxury carved out of a cliff overlooking the mirrored waters of the lake.

The Hotel Antumalal, whose native name translated means ” corral of the sun”, is a stunning marvel of modern design and a sweet salutation to Mother Nature. The structure is said to be a fine example Bauhaus styling with architecture inspired by Frank Lloyd Wright. Floor-to-ceiling windows welcome the radiant sunshine and the interior native wood accents and paneling add a warm and distinctive charm to the overall decor. The 13 acres of surrounding floral gardens, terraced walkways, hidden brooks and waterfalls provide solace and serenity. You feel at home the moment you enter the gates.

The hotel’s foundation runs deep. It was built on the dreams of Guillermo and Catalina Pollak, a young couple from Czechoslovakia, who secured the land in 1938; they first opened a small bakeryand cafe on the site which soon blossomed into a world renowned fashionable resort welcoming such noteworthy guests as Neil Armstrong, James Stewart and Queen Elizabeth.

Today, the Antumalal is still a family-run business with a strong sense of pride and tradition.

A commitment to excellence in hospitality is always top of mind…as is a deep respect for nature. Nurture the land and it will nourish and nurture you….seems to be a recurring theme.  The Antumalal restaurant is well known for its veggie patch-to-table menu. Fresh and natural is the core philosophy. In fact, there is a large greenhouse, as well as, vegetable and herb gardens on the grounds that guests are invited to explore. Regional seafood specialties like Pacific Salmon served with quinoa risotto and the restaurant’s popular Czech dish – a tender Pork Loin glazed with an organic blueberry sauce and served with bramborova potatoes is absolutely divine …and not to be missed. Discerning foodies will not be disappointed.

The Scoop: Be sure to try the hotel’s homemade potato chips at the bar – so decadently delicious – you won’t be able to stop at just one. No worries…with the plethora of daily activities available….those extra calories will not go to waste.

The Hotel Antumalal’s terrace deck offers a sweeping view of the water and the volcano; it is the perfect place in the spring and summer months to enjoy a spectacular sunset. Or better yet, opt for a front row seat. Relax on an outside bench surrounded by native greenery and enjoy the comfort of cool evening breezes. On brisk winter nights, cozy up with a cocktail in the rustic and romantic sitting salon complete with goat-skin rugs and an oversized stone fireplace. Although small when compared to larger brand resorts, the Antumalal is big in terms of ambiance; the hotel’s stunning lakefront park setting offers guests room to roam and re-energize.

Special Note: It just doesn’t get any better than this – even the standard rooms offer an incredible lake view and an incredible wall fireplace.

The property boasts a new spa facility – Spa Antumaco – creatively carved into ancient volcanic rock focused on redefining a luxe spa indulgent experience. Spa Antumaco is a visionary space in terms of design and amenities – a harmonious blend of natural elements.

The spa offers a tranquil, meditative environment featuring a spacious sauna, heated indoor and outdoor pools, a special hydro massage whirlpool…and an outdoor jacuzzi – all with spectacular views. We have expanded into the bay and with that we also offer paddle board classes with state of the art equippment, the best inflatable stand up paddle boards. Our standard Services include massage, manicures, pedicures, yoga/reiki classes and hair care. Whether you spend an hour or a full day…a peaceful paradise of pampering awaits!

The Antumalal will awaken your senses on every level. Inner peace and contentment will be your parting gifts. You will be changed… renewed, refreshed and forever thankful to your gracious host, the Hotel Antumalal.

Location: Pucón, Chile.

Nearest airport: Temuco – 62 miles (1 hour drive) from Pucón. Flight from Santiago is approximately 1.5 hours.

Bus service (8+ hours) is also available directly from Santiago.

Special Note: The area is notorious for early morning fog…so check for delays in and out of Temuco.

Preferred Airline: LAN Airlines the leader in travel to South America.

LAN offers daily flights to Temuco from Santiago. Check LAN Airlines online for special promotions or contact LAN Vacations for inclusive cost-saving packages and for all your trip planning needs.

Rooms: 11 standard rooms; 3 suites; 2 private chalets

Amenities:

  • Fireplace
  • Private Bathroom
  • Flat Screen TV
  • Oversized closet
  • Digital Safe
  • Plush Bath Robes
  • Hairdryer
  • Telephone
  • Complimentary Mineral Water
  • Homemade Chocolates
  • Full Service Spa
  • Restaurant & Bar
  • Tennis Court
  • Beach Access
  • Bike & Boat Rentals
  • In-house Tour Operator – Davita Tours
  • Airport Transport & Car Hire

Room Rates: Seasonal.  European Packages Available – Breakfast included or Half Board. Range: $239-$770

Visit the Hotel Antumalal website for more information and special promotions.

When to Go:  Chile’s Spring or Summer (October to April)

Top Picks:

  • The ultimate high – ascending the Villarica Volcano. This is a climb you will not want to miss! The Villarica Volcano is among the top 10 active volcanos in the world. Davita Tours offers guided treks complete with gear every morning (weather permitting).
  • A visit to Hot Springs Heaven! There are several thermal springs within 30-45 minutes of the hotel property. Huife and Menetue Hot Springs are favorites.
  • An adrenaline rush – flying thru the trees at speeds up to 25 mph on a canopy ride. Tour includes helmet, harness and gloves.
  • Exploring the spectacular countryside on horseback is exhilarating! And, Rodolfo Coombs is just the cowboy to lead the way. His mountain ranch – Huepilmalal – is 45 minutes east of Pucón and minutes from several hot springs resorts. Classes and custom trail rides are offered. For those who desire an extended ride…overnight and weekly vacation packages can be easily arranged. Rodolfo’s wilderness cabin, which accomodates small groups or families, can also be booked ….but be forewarned it is in a lodging category far from rustic luxury and closer to no-frills camping.

  • Hiking in the Huerquehue National Park is a must! You will be mesmerized…lost in the beauty of thousand year old Araucaria trees, native Northofagus forests and majestic waterfalls. During the summer months, pack along a bathing suit to enjoy a refreshing dip into one of the area’s four mountain lakes.
  • A tour of the stunning Mariman Waterfalls – a photographers dream!
  • A little retail therapy with a visit to Pucón’s textile artisan center on Geronimo Alderete near Fresia Street. Here you will find local crafts from beautiful crocheted hats and scarves to stylish knit ponchos and sweaters. For truly unique designs be sure to visit – Tejidos a Telar.

Photos courtesy of Hotel Atumalal, Davita Tours and S.Gaspers

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