We decided that the hotel we stayed at in Chile, The Alto Atacama Desert Lodge and Spa, deserved its own little highlight reel because of it’s thoughtful design, primarily inspired by the elements and culture surrounding it.
The gorgeous woman you see feeding llamas is Veronica Poblete (let’s just say I feel beyond honored to share a name with her). She is a llama whisperer (seriously they flock to her whenever she walks by their pen) as well as the hotel’s resident botanist who designed the gardens and grounds surrounding the hotel.
Veronica took us on a tour of the grounds, explaining that the first time humans inhabited this region was 10,000 years ago. Our first question to her was… how did you get these plants to grow? Aren’t we in the driest desert in the world? She explained that although there might not be bountiful rainfall due to the mountains that block tropical rains (they only get rain for 10 to fifteen minutes one to three times per years), there is underground water, which is what she tapped into (along with the roots of some of the oldest trees on the property). There is a well on premise that is 70 meters deep that Veronica uses to irrigate her gardens.
Her gardens are completely sustainable, with even the food for the llamas being grown on the premise, nothing is bought. You might even run into a fox or two at night that Veronica has coaxed from the hillside by leaving out seasonal food for them.
That other gorgeous women you see is Sandra, who manages the spa on the grounds of the Alto Atacama called Puri Spa. Puri means water in the native language of the locals. Puri Spa was built to reflect the water sources of the culture, which are a typically rare oasis. There are six small pools attached to the spa, all surrounded by natural vegetation. The spa has places to receive treatments outside as well as inside. When receiving a treatment inside you’ll find it to be much darker and cooler, on purpose. Most local homes have small windows they keep closed during the day to keep the cool air in, and Puri Spa reflects that design.
When speaking to Sandra about the spa’s amenities, she reiterated how water is seen as the source of renewal. Both hot and cold water are necessary to clean, refresh and change one’s energy. For skin treatments they use local mud mixed with honey to give you the benefit of both the purification of the mud and the natural antiseptic qualities of the honey. The most interesting technique she described was for a massage. They source grains and quinoa from Peru and Bolivia, boil them and put them in a sack mixed with almond oil, then using it to to massage out one’s muscles. Sandra concluded that the spa always tries to help the wellness of the person, not just their physical body, but wellness in their entirety.