To categorize the new Indigo Patagonia hotel and spa
in Puerto Natales, Chile, as a cool place is to make use of the word cool in both its old and new meaning.
The old cool – as in somewhat coldish, refreshingly chilly – is a
fitting description of the six-storey, 28-room block of a building. It
is also a perfectly appropriate way for the hotel to be here in the
middle of Patagonia’s fresh magnificence.
In the new main hotel building, Chile’s favorite modern architect Sebastian Irarrázaval
managed to encase a balance between understated Northern European
luxury and a straight-forward humility toward the surrounding
Indigo is not a product of indulgent architecture that attempts to take
over the scenery. It is an honest, almost college-dormish building that
fits in its place as if it had always been there while also standing
out as something one wants to explore. That has also been the appeal of
Patagonia to adventurers, mountaineers, kayakers, trekkers and
nature-lovers for decades. With its ancient ice fields older than time
itself, fjords deeper than anyone can fathom, air and sky clearer than
seems natural, and vistas more humbling than you can be prepared for,
Patagonia makes you feel a bit like an intruder and yet you are unable
to resist its lure.
At Indigo, the new cool is evident both outside and in. The red
corrugated-metal facade sports huge white lettering that indicates the
various floors and spells out “indigo.” This creates an almost
surreal effect, as if the facade were a fake prop onto which the
lettering is being magically projected. All the while, the building
looks way more industrial than residential.
Inside, touches of luxury and attention to detail are everywhere. From
the natural materials – wood, basketry, cotton and linen – to the
neutral color palette and ever-present vast windows, everything helps
you ease into the main attraction of Patagonia: the natural world.
The new Indigo Patagonia hotel is a fusion of the three owner’s ideas.
Climber and publicist Hernán Jofré’s brought along his love of nature,
chemical engineer Ana Ibañez contributed impeccable taste (we can thank
him for the elegance of the interior), and Olivier Potart added vision
and fantasy. The Chilean, Spaniard and Frenchman dreamt up the concept
of the new hotel and converted the eight-year-old original Concepto
Indigo hotel into the new hotel’s restaurant. The two buildings now
cozy up to each other spectacularly unmatching yet happily at home
as part of the town’s low and semi-vacant skyline.
Perhaps it was the owners’ international backgrounds that affected
Indigo Patagonia’s particular mix of mountain chalet and safari hut and
then balanced it harmoniously and meticulously by the over-arching
touch of northern calm. The rooms exude comfort and simplicity and the
large windows everywhere let you see where you are.
Nowhere is it more evident that you are in the lap of luxury and rather
close to heaven, than in the top-floor spa. The sauna and two massage
rooms are great, but soaking in one of the three outdoor Jacuzzis
overlooking Fiordo Última Esperanza (Fjord of Last Hope) when you
really know you’ve found bliss.
The town of Puerto Natales (pop. 18,000) in the province of
Última Esperanza is on the mainland but connected to the sea by
channels. You can get there, for example, by taking one of the daily
flights from Santiago de Chile to Punta Arenas and then driving 250 km
to Puerto Natales. The area is best known for the Perito Moreno
glacier, Fiordo Última Esperanza, and for Torres del Paine
National Park that is on the UNESCO world heritage site tentative list
. By Tuija Seipell