The Atacama Desert in Northern Chile has been a bit of a secret destination for those who love stargazing and other-worldly hiking terrains. It is home to ALMA, the world’s largest radio telescope and many hotels in the area have their own telescopes and guides to lead their stargazing experiences. This is also the place to climb sand dunes, indulge in hot springs and hike through salt flats and the aptly named “Moon Valley.” Awasi, a Relais & Chateaux property, has created the ultimate luxury oasis for those who want to explore this adventure destination with a more bespoke approach.
Inspired by pre-Incan ruins, the property’s 12 suites are circular and use natural building materials, such as adobe and stone. You can expect a spacious suite that incorporates numerous indulgent touches, including heated floors, incredibly comfortable beds, a private outdoor patio and shower and a very well-stocked mini bar.
The main reason guests travel to the Atacama is for the incredible outdoor experiences that come with spectacular views. Ambitious guests can arrange for two outings a day. Awasi is unusual in that each group or family is assigned their own guide. This means you can tailor your adventures to meet your individual needs. Some terrific options include a hike to the hot springs, a visit to the salt flats with their resident flamingos, a serious hike on one of the areas volcanoes, or a more leisurely hike to a cactus-filled gorge or boulders with petroglyphs.
Everyone’s favorite nighttime activity is stargazing; a short drive will take you to the property’s telescope, where you will be amazed by the night sky. In addition to hikes, there are biking and horseback riding options.
After all that activity, you can expect a warm welcome back to the property where you can relax by the outdoor pool in the afternoon or sit by one of the many fireplaces in the evening. And since you have been so active, you will feel zero guilt as you indulge in some of the most amazing food and wine. (Many guests choose to forego a full day activity just so they can be back for the Awasi lunch!)
Awasi has an on-staff mixologist who creates a new, terrific cocktail every evening and sommelier Alvaro Alarcon Aliaga will recommend the best Chilean wines to go with your meals. Food is one of the highlights of Awasi. The quality of the local ingredients and the creativity of chef Juan Pablo Mardones are truly outstanding. A typical dinner might include a starter of palm heart salad, green chili soup with walnut cream or smoked trout crudo. Main courses could feature homemade pasta with mussels, lamb with cauliflower and almonds or some of the best steak I have ever eaten. The amazing kitchen staff is always happy to whip up an off-menu item, such as a burger and fries. Favorite desserts include crème brulee, homemade ice creams and a mango tart.
The other exceptional feature of Awasi is the staff. There are only 12 suites and every member of the Awasi team will know your name and make you feel extremely welcome and well-taken care of. They send you off every morning with a cooler full of snacks and warm wishes and welcome you back with a greeting by the front door. The property is all-inclusive and your food, drinks and experiences are included, making you feel like you are a lucky guest at a friend’s very special retreat.