Playa Tunquen, the beach-front villa we covered at the beginning of the week, has a sister. She’s a bit of a wild child. Villa Puertazul is actually two guest houses, tucked into the mountainous Chilean village of San Alfonso. This is Cajon del Maipo, an Eden for adventure travelers.
The villas sit on the banks of River Maipo, a Class 4 rafting river, for those whitewater aficionados out there. If you prefer your adrenaline served chilled, you can head to the neighboring Lagunillas Ski Center, or arrange to be dropped by helicopter at some of the more remote ski spots. If you'd rather slip your feet into hiking boots than skis, there are plenty of volcanoes, glacial lakes and thermal baths to explore.
Manager Judy Steinfeld offers Andes tours on foot or horseback to help their guests learn about the Chilean eco-systems. She says their guests should make sure they don’t miss riding into the Andes to view the condors. “In Puertazul we love to hike, horseback ride and star-gaze,” Judy says. “The skies are amazingly clear and the southern constellations are spectacular -- especially from the hot tub!
After all that action, you’re going to want to relax. Try lounging by the pool with a glass of the good stuff -- Maipo is known for its wineries. The villas are close to several of Chile’s famous vineyards. Their (English-speaking) local manager can help you get familiar with the area's wines by arranging tasting tours or private wine parties at the villa.
Like Playa Tunquen, Villa Puertazul was built with sustainability in mind. The stucco is local and made from mud and native plants. The villas are heated with wood stoves (with gas serving as a back-up). Energy-saving light bulbs cut back on power use. Non-toxic cleaning supplies keep chemicals out of the groundwater, and organic linens and towels pamper guests’ bodies and souls.
To pamper their stomachs, Villa Puertazul makes its own organic jam straight from its orchard. (The villa grows apricots, figs, strawberries, quinces, peach and walnuts.) If you don't ruin your appetite on jam alone, the villa’s neighborhood chef also brings in organic bread and quiches made from local cheeses and vegetables for breakfast. (She’s also been known to whip up vegetarian dishes or create feasts from local fish and Chilean BBQ as well.)
To learn more about Villa Puertazul’s rates and accommodations, come back tomorrow!