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Those shopping for hotels in the Atacama Desert and the town of San Pedro will find that selecting a property has just as much to do with its outdoor offering as it does its comfort level. Most mid-range and upscale hotels in the area assist its guests in exploring the outdoor environment of the Atacama, typically including half and full day excursions into the rate. It makes sense to do it this way, because anyone who comes to the area plans to play outside. If you don't, you're in the wrong neck of the woods.
It's fitting, then, that the most luxurious hotel in San Pedro, Tierra Atacama, would take advantage of the area's best attributes in constructing its own. When you have a backdrop as beautiful as the Atacama Desert and the Andes Mountains, you might as well let it do the talking. And as you'll see in the photos, they didn't shut up the entire length of our stay. During the day, it's the mountains. At night, it's the stars. But we'll get to that later.
Upon arriving at the hotel, the first thing we noticed was how simple it was. The buildings are low and close to the ground, and much of the exterior is the same color as the surrounding terrain. When you enter the lobby, which is also the living room, dining room, and bar area of the hotel, the huge glass windows hit you right in the face. That's the point, though - a sustainable approach that doesn't get in the way.
If you're headed to South America and decide on Chile for a ski trip during the North American summer, you have a number of options when it comes to the mountain you choose, including Portillo, La Parva, El Colorado, Valle Nevado, and Termas de Chillán. All are within a few hours’ drive of Santiago, and all offer some of the best skiing in South America. But when you start to consider lodging, one destination in particular, Portillo, stands out for its alternative experience.
Part of the reason we liked it so much was because it is not for everyone. Destinations and hotels that try to accommodate everyone typically create a homogeneous personality, like a fifteen year old trying to fit in during high school. There’s something about a place that sticks to its guns, that lets its true colors shine through knowing full well that it won’t please all.
This captures Portillo perfectly, and the reason that a ski trip there is an "alternative experience" is two-fold. The first part is that, unlike 99.9% of ski destinations on the planet, there is only one lodging choice at Portillo: Ski Portillo. The second aspect is how it is run: Like a cruise ship. We know. That scares some of you. But it's exactly what makes a stay so interesting.
Rio may be in the spotlight as it adds 16,000 rooms in preparation for the 2016 Olympic Games, but ask Starwood Hotels and they’ll tell you that of Latin America is “under-hoteled,” not just Brazil.
They’ve said it out loud, and they're doing something about it. Citing a "strong commitment to the Latin American market," Starwood has opened 12 properties in the past two years and plans to reach 100 total hotels by the end of 2013. Seven hotels are scheduled to open by the end of this year and another 20 are already in development beyond that.
Currently, Starwood has 71 Latin America hotels with 15,300 rooms in 13 countries.
Time for a quick look back at some hotel figures, facts and trends from the past year...like, which big cities rocked it in 2012? A new study by HRG looks at the average hotel rates around the world. Here are five things we noticed:
Moscow is the most expensive city for hotel rooms for the, ahem, ninth year in a row. The average daily rate in 2012 was $427 a night, compared to $349 a night in New York City, $302 in San Francisco, and $279 in Washington D.C.
Speaking of our Nation's Capital, guess what? It had the largest rate of decline in the world. Uh oh! The average rate of stay fell 14% in 2012 -- which surprises the hell out of us considering it was an election year. Here we thought the political circus was attracting tourists and business events, but it appears it was pushing them away in reality.
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Nothing like finishing up the year with a little gossip: Tennis great Roger Federer got some rest in the arms of the Algodon Mansion last week, putting his feet up after a few exhibition matches and children's training camps in Buenos Aires.
We're not surprised, as the Algodon Mansion is certainly one of Argentina's more upscale properties. Here's what we know: They have the self-appointed "hottest" staff in the city, the smallest of the ten rooms will run you about $400 a night, and they throw one hell of a party so long as you have some cash to throw down.
It's a five-star hotel, but we like to think of it as a luxurious B&B, replacing the oh-so-sweet-cinnamon-bun-baking innkeeper with a 24-hour at-your-freaking-service private butler.
More on Fine Federer's stay after the jump...
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Located literally less than 50 steps from the front entrance to Aeropuerto de Santiago, this property has every amenity the business or casual traveler needs for a long layover or comfortable overnight stay. If you miss your flight or get delayed, there may just be no better place to stay in Santiago.
You won't look like this after your trip, but its worth a try.
Why is it that Latin America, seemingly more so than any other country, produces some of the world's most beautiful women? You can't argue with the evidence: Gisele Bündchen, Adriana Lima, Alessandra Ambrosio, et al. Perhaps it's something in the water?
Five Hilton hotels across South America are providing the perfect opportunity to find out with "Spoil Yourself" packages, valid with minimum two-night stays on weekends through the end of the year.
Available at the Hilton Buenos Aires, Hilton São Paulo Morumbi, Hilton Cartagena, Hilton Colon Guayaquil and the Hilton Colon Quito, the deal offers upgraded accommodations, daily breakfast, two beauty treatments per stay and late check out until 10 p.m. on Saturday and Sundays. Rates start at $229.
The deal is also good through the end of the year but only for Friday-Sunday stays. Use booking code P3 for São Paulo and Guayaquil, and booking code P1 for all other participating hotels.
Now, remember: You may not come back looking like Gisele, but at least you'll be relaxed and well rested.
This week our roaming correspondent, Monica Guy, is giving us the low-down on the Chilean Hotel Scene. Here she checks out a five-star hotel Chilean style. Enjoy.
Some hotels are 5-star for their facilities, some 5-star for their service, some for their location. Some are 5-star because they simply award themselves the title, and nobody knows the difference.
The Hotel Villa del Rio in Valdivia, Chile, fits right into the second and third categories.