An adventurist escape that requires no planning or roughing it at all.
When I think of an all-inclusive resort, I picture lavish buffets, sugary cocktails and swim-up bars—that is until I discovered Chile’s Tierra Hotels on Instagram. As a travel-planning procrastinator, I immediately knew I had found the perfect way for my husband and I to have an extreme adventure without the stress and hassle of figuring out logistics.
Tierra Hotels is a family-owned and -operated hotel group with properties in the Atacama Desert, Chiloé and Patagonia. The boutique hotel brands itself as an “adventure spa” and offers an all-inclusive package at all three properties, whether you stay at just one or a combination of the three. Our trip is split between Tierra Atacama, which is located in a desert, and Tierra Chiloé, which is situated beside lush wetlands.
We arrive in Santiago after a 10-hour flight from Toronto and then catch another two-hour flight to Calama, a northern city located near the Atacama Desert. “I feel like we’ve landed on Mars,” remarks my husband as we drive along the winding roads bounded by ombré coral-hued clay and sand dunes en route to Tierra Atacama. It’s like nothing we’ve ever seen before. The 32 rooms are housed in modern-looking cubes surrounded by pampas grass, hibiscus and pomegranate shrubs. While we’re waiting to be escorted to our room, we meet with Max, the hotel’s head guide. “Let’s plan what you’ll be doing,” he says. I’m thinking I’ll sit by the pool, but to my surprise I find myself signing up for a two-hour trek through Valle de la Muerte (a.k.a. Death Valley). It turns out to be a major workout, which is why my session at the hotel’s water circuit and the pisco sour that follow are so sweet.
Five days later, we hop on another flight to Puerto Montt and then take a three-hour drive and a ferry ride to get to Tierra Chiloé. With only 24 rooms, the glass and wood structure, which overlooks a Pacific Ocean inlet, looks like a setting for a James Bond movie.
While exploring a trail that circles the property we’re warmly greeted by the hotel manager’s dog, Manchas, who becomes our tour guide ushering us through the orchard, leading us down to the shore and dock and through the stables where we feed the hotel’s horses apples and carrots. Some guests choose horseback riding as an excursion but we’re keen to get on the water so we sign up for a full day tour on the hotel’s boat – the “Willche”. Our cameras are out the entire ride to Chelin Island as we capture dolphins splashing beside us.
We try our hand at tandem kayaking, where I shout out our strokes to keep us on pace as we glide past Magellanic penguins. Back on dry land, we celebrate the fact that we didn’t tip over with a glass of Carménère and a feast of salmon, quinoa salad and potatoes au gratin prepared by a chef onboard.
On our last night, we venture out of our room in pyjamas and hand-knit Chilean slippers, gifted to us by the hotel, for one last look at the landscape. We make a toast to our epic adventure and begin fantasizing about our return.