Green Chile

Sustainable hotels make their mark in Chile’s luxury market

Destinations from the Atacama to Torres del Paine are combining luxury with environmentally-friendly practices to create a new breed of up-market resort experiences.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011 Category: Hotels
The Tierra Atacama hotel and spa is located in the extraordinary landscapes of Chile's far north. The Tierra Atacama hotel and spa is located in the extraordinary landscapes of Chile's far north.

A new item has been added to the list of amenities expected from Chile’s top luxury resorts: sustainability.

Travelers arriving in Chile, whether on the high Andean plateau, in the arid Atacama, or among the lush forests of Patagonia, are often as not here to experience some of the world’s most singularly spectacular landscapes.

Now these travelers can stay at some of the best hotels in the country with the added comfort of knowing that their stay will have little to no negative impact on the environments that inspired them to visit in the first place.

In 2007, Chile became the first country in South America with a hotel certified for sustainable construction practices by the U. S. Green Building Council. Since then, the Mike Rapu – Explora Hotel on Easter Island, built from local materials outside the island’s main population center, has been joined by other luxury properties like the Tierra Atacama near San Pedro, and the Patagonia Camp in Torres del Paine National Park.

The five-star Tierra Atacama works in conjunction with British tourism company Journey Latin America to reduce its consumption of water and carbon emissions. Among many other sustainable practices, Tierra Atacama reuses water from its spa to irrigate its organic garden. When possible, the hotel takes advantage of local products to reduce carbon emissions, and the hotel’s management is currently researching solar panels to draw large amounts of the hotel’s energy from the Atacama’s inexhaustible sun.

The group will also open a sister hotel in Torres del Paine, Tierra Patagonia, at the end of the year, aiming to achieve similar levels of sustainability and quality for its guests.

In an interview with La Tercera, the general director of Tierra Atacama described his hotel’s goals: “We want to make a difference in the field, making decisions and adopting sustainable practices but ensuring that we deliver an excellent product and experience. To emphasize sustainability, our goal is to mitigate our impact on the environment, to support the community, and to provide a better experience for our guests.

With its delicate and pristine ecosystem, and increasing popularity among international tourists of all ages, Patagonia has become a hot spot for sustainable tourism development. Termas Puyehue, which heats its indoor facilities using residual power form the natural hot springs, and Patagonia Camp, which aims to be 100% eco-friendly, are just two examples of hotels that have adjusted their practices to diminish environmental impact, without diminishing their ability to meet the needs of even the most demanding guests.

Green, it seems, is the new black of Chilean tourism.