Friday, September 21, 2018

At the Awa

Some seven decades ago, the Hotel Antumalal broke the mold of classic Chilean “Lakes District” hotels with a Bauhaus-style structure on a hill overlooking Lago Villarrica, on the western outskirts of Pucón. In the interim, it’s become a landmark that’s drawn famous clientele including Queen Elizabeth II, King Leopold of Belgium, Barry Goldwater and Jimmy Stewart (and me?).
Pucón's Hotel Antumalal introduced Bauhaus-style architecture into Chile's lakes region.
In fact, I’ve stayed several times at the Antumalal, most recently in March. A few days later, though, I had the pleasure of spending two nights at the recently opened Hotel Awa, whose bold contemporary design comparably contrasts with the Mitteleuropa style of nearby Puerto Varas’s emblematic architecture. The Awa occupies a similar lakeside setting to the Antumalal, but its multi-story concrete, glass and girder exterior is more conspicuous—perhaps, in part, because the Antumalal’s had so many decades to cultivate its elaborate gardens.
Hotel Awa, as seen from the lakeshore
View of Lago Lago Llanquihue, when I finally got the curtains to rise
While the Awa’s exterior is imposing, its interior is cozy, with regional woods and other local decorative touches, but also large picture windows looking onto Lago Llanquihue. The rooms are also contemporary, with more electrical outlets than I’ve ever seen despite rustic touches that include hiding the flat-screen TV—accessed by opening the lid of a leather trunk. For me, the room’s most confusing aspect was the remote control that raised and lowered the curtains—I never quite got it right, and I recommended that the manager leave written instructions for using it.
An old steamer trunk hides the flat-screen TV at the foot of the bed.
While the Awa is happy to entertain overnight guests with bed and breakfast, it also offers excursions in the area and all-inclusive packages, including meals in its restaurant. On my first full day, when it was pouring rain in a Marine West Coast climate that resembles the Pacific Northwest—“Awa” means water in Mapudungun—I took a guided hike to Laguna Cayutué, on the southern edge of Parque Nacional Vicente Pérez Rosales. The trail, through dense Andean forest, often resembled a stream, so it took extra effort to avoid muddying boots and clothing and, at the end of the day, I returned soaked.
The weather doesn't always cooperate with hikes in the area.
Diners at the Awa's restaurant
The truffled pork loin ended the day more than satisfactorily.
So, I decided to take a soak in the spacious Jacuzzi before descending to the Awa’s restaurant for a truffled pork loin complemented by a barley-based risotto from its own vegetable garden and garnished with a hazelnut sauce. And, of course, there were a pisco sour and a glass of Carménère to accompany the main course, before a white and dark chocolate parfait. The next morning, I awoke to clearer weather with views across Lago Llanquihue—after I somehow managed to raise the curtains.

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