June 18, 2015 | By Rosie Holliday
I recently had the opportunity to chat with the representative for some fabulous lodges in Chile, and it made me want to share what I have learned. Staying true to my specialty, I am concentrating on a few in the southern hemisphere.
In Chile, the Explora Lodges are nothing short of breathtaking. Explora owns and operates hotels and travesias in six remote areas of South America. Travesías are nomadic journeys in which you drive across remote territories, blurring borders and accessing hiking routes in some of the world’s most isolated landscapes. Everyone I speak to seems to want to go to Patagonia, including me!
Hotel Salto Chico is located at the center of the Torres del Paine National Park, the heart of Patagonia. Activities include hiking and horseback riding and there are actually over 100 species of birds in Patagonia, for those avid “twitchers”. For you desert lovers, way in the north is Explora Atacama. Through guided hikes, horseback or bicycle rides, and van explorations, you’ll have the opportunity to plumb the depths and scale the heights of Atacama’s nature and history. And a mere 5 hour flight brings you to mystical Easter Island, where at Explora Rapa Nui you can explore by bike, foot or sea.
Moving to another part of the southern hemisphere, both New Zealand and Australia are famous for their luxury lodges.
New Zealand has lodges in just about every area of the country. They are set in outstanding locations, with world class onsite facilities and activities – some have their own vineyards, golf courses or fly-fishing rivers running through the property. Choosing where to go, and which one to stay at, can largely depend on your interests. Not everyone wants to stay in a lodge for their entire trip, but if they are interspersed at various times during your trip, these lodges can become the highlights of your itinerary.
Golfers may head to the Farm at Cape Kidnappers in the Hawkes Bay area – home to some wonderful Sauvignon Blanc country, or the Lodge at Kauri cliffs up near the Bay of Islands. Fishing enthusiasts love Stone Fly Lodge, Huka Lodge, and Bay of Many Coves among other lodges, because fishing in New Zealand is excellent and a lure (pun intended!) for avid fishermen. To quote a happy client, “Bay of Many Coves was phenomenal! It was remote, tranquil, sumptuous, intimate and perfect in every way possible.” Bay of Many Coves is located in the Marlborough Sounds area, which also offers bush-walking, kayaking, sailing, swimming with dolphins, and just plain relaxing in a gorgeous setting.
Moving south to the Queenstown area, you will find more wonderful lodges and this quote probably says it all: “Matakauri was the most luxurious and comfortable property we’ve ever stayed in. It defies a label- it’s too comfortable and welcoming to be classified as a hotel, yet too intimate and personal to be labeled as a resort. It was the perfect blend of discreet luxury without being presumptuous.”
Australia also has lodges situated all around the country. They are exclusive by virtue of their remoteness, their special location, and the small number of guests they accommodate at any one time. Due to Australia’s size and the climatic variations within a country the same size as the US, careful consideration must be taken, when planning which to visit.
A lot of visitors to Australia want to see the Outback, for which Australia is so justly famous. Longitude 131 in the very center of the country faces majestic Uluru (Ayers Rock to some). This Safari-style tented camp offers spectacular views of the Outback icon and World Heritage-listed wilderness of Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park. Another luxury tented camp is Sal Salis, located near Ningaloo Reef in Western Australia, an area acknowledged as the best place in the world to swim with the world’s largest fish, the Whale Shark.
I had wonderful fortune of being able to stay at El Questro a few years ago. Set in the middle of almost 1 million acres of wilderness park and 60 miles from the nearest town, it is perched on a cliff top, with vistas of one of the prettiest locations in The Kimberley. This is not an area a lot of visitors from the US get to, but it is simply spectacular. Truly one of Australia’s last frontiers.
And if you like to hike, or just want to be immersed in station (ranch) life, then Arkaba Station, located in South Australia, is for you. Head to the Barossa Valley afterwards to relax and drink some fine wine at the Louise. And not to be missed is Southern Ocean Lodge. Located on Kangaroo Island, known as the Galapagos of Australia, it is without doubt one of my favorite lodges.
Not all the lodges are in the Outback however. Australia has some of the most pristine beaches and some of the best diving in the world. Qualia, located at the northern most tip of Hamilton Island can offer spectacular heli-diving on the untouched Great Barrier Reef; and unparalleled sailing through the Whitsunday Passage. And while Sydney is also renowned for its beaches, if you head north 60 miles, a stay at Pretty Beach House, located high on the Bouddi Peninsula, is a perfect getaway and a real “Aussie” experience.