Press & News
CHILE: The Singular Patagonia
History and luscious lamb lure culinary-minded travelers to this Andean chic hotel.
FEBRUARY 20, 2014
The Singular Patagonia
km 5 Norte Puerto Bories
Puerto Natales, 6160000
Torres del Paine National Park: Block out a day to trek the 450,000-acre site, which spans glaciers, lakes and impossibly photogenic mountains. The Singular’s guides can chart a customized course based on fitness level and activities of interest.
A 2-hour bicycle ride along the Canal Senoret, stopping to take in the waterfront view at Costanera Pedro Montt before reaching the Plaza de Armas in downtown Puerto Natales.
The surprisingly engaging tour of the hotel grounds, in which expedition guides provide both historical context for the facility and insights into Chilean culinary culture. Tours can be booked through the front desk.
• 54 rooms and 3 suites
• Spa with 1 indoor/outdoor pool
• 2 on-property restaurants and 1 bar
• 20 excursions with private guides, including hiking, horseback riding, kayaking and birding
• Complimentary wifi in all guest rooms
• All-inclusive pricing with meals, spa access and guided excursions available
Culinary travelers are a complicated lot. Take, for example, the type of well-meaning folk who want to want to be connected to their food. We delight in activities like farm visits, asking thoughtful questions about rotating fields of the charmingly sun-kissed gentleman farmhand. Visiting the clucking chickens that produce farm-fresh eggs for morning omelets? Absolutely! Watching said coop undergo its weekly cleaning while the capon heads off to slaughter? Decidedly less appealing. Few hotels navigate this line as gracefully as The Singular Patagonia, a luxury hotel in a former lamb processing plant located along the cinematically windy fjords of Chile’s Puerto Bories, two hours from the nearest airstrip and 1,300 miles south of Santiago.
In the late 19th Century, a Spanish agricultural society decided to introduce sheep to southern Chile. The import was so successful that in 1915, they built a spacious plant, then called Frigorifico Puerto Bories, to package their product. In its prime, the frigorifico employed 400 people and processed more than 250,000 sheep per year. But industrial processes changed, and, by the 1980s, the frigorifico closed in disrepair.
Fortunately, as the millennium approached, an entrepreneurial group of Chileans decided to transform the fallen Frigorifico into a stylish hotel. That many were the descendants of that original agricultural group made The Singular Patagonia’s 2011 opening all the more heartwarming. Now, kitted out in mod, Euro-Andean style, the cold storage plant has been reconfigured into 57 guestrooms, all with Edwardian furnishings and massive picture windows. To reach those rooms, guests traverse glass-walled paths through antique factory equipment and enormous Victorian engines.
But the restaurant is the real star. Housed in what was once the meatpackers’ general store, the three-story, open-air space, all exposed brick and bronze pendant lamps, now holds a bar, restaurant and mezzanine-level breakfast nook. The seasonal Patagonian bounty shines here with dishes like centolla, or king crab, which is caught in the fjords just beyond the kitchen doors, then shredded over local herbs, or the guanaco, an indigenous llama-like mammal that roams the surrounding pampas, served grilled over a warm, lightly dressed mote salad, which packs more savory meat flavor than a dry-aged steak. But it was the Singular’s lamb salume, made from sheep that graze on the Pacific-facing fjords behind the hotel and thus give the cured meat a naturally salty taste, that reminded me why I was there in the first place, creating the sort of fundamental connection between place, food, and plate that every traveler can appreciate. —Emily Saladino
IN THE AREA
• Cerveza Baguales is a pub in Puerto Natales, about a five-minute drive from The Singular. The onsite microbrewery produces proudly Chilean beers that are full of hops and big, fruity flavors. Bories No. 430, Main Square, Puerto Natales; 56/061/411-920; cervezabaguales.cl
• Café Melissa is a welcoming spot for simple pastries and near-perfect espresso. Better still, it’s open all day, and has surprisingly strong wifi. Blanco Encalada No. 258, Puerto Natales; 56/061/415-679
• Afrigonia serves up Chilean-Zambian fusion fare like nobody’s business. Chef Kamal Nawaz, a Zambian ex-pat, blends southern African flavors with stellar local ingredients in dishes like lightly spiced seafood curry, made with huge diver scallops from the nearby fjords. Eberhard No. 343, Puerto Natales; 56/061/412-232.