Remota Lodge - Puerto Natales, Chile
Having arrived from one of the best hotels I will have stayed in the last year, it wasn’t the easiest job for the team at Remota to impress me. Did they succeed? Not really to be honest. If you want the flawless worldclass service of a Ritz Carlton or Four Seasons to be continued at the end of the world, grab very deep in your wallet and prepare to pay the sky rocking prices. If your budget is limited and you feel that you are able to arrange the tours on site plus don’t mind driving into town to dine, then the Remota is definitely the place to look for. I would say it is best compared to a casual mid-class five-star-hotel in Italy: what they can do is provide you with flawless rooms, a nice hardware and pool plus great views and a breakfast that is very good. Everything else is either non-existent or just not worth mentioning.
I have to admit that Remota showed me once again: Service is key! It’s the key to build a strong brand image and be successful in the tourism industry. It proofed that what I am learning at my studies in Lausanne is just not that obvious for all cultures, people need to be remembered that only service makes the real difference. To you return to A hotel or do you return to THE hotel? If the service makes the difference, people will call staff by their names and will start telling friends about the place and their experiences. With me having seen lots of hotels, I can’t remember the last time where I saw staff members that were just not interested in guests. Probably it was at the Grand Hotel Stockholm. It’s always when you - as a guest - have the feeling to be unwelcome, disturbing and any wish being denied. Well this happened at the Remota too. After a very semi-friendly check-in we were given the keys. Even tough we spoke Spanish to them they did not make any incentives to laugh or be friendly. A hotel tour was not provided neither were the restaurant service times, any extra amenities nor tours we had included.
I, Myself always prepare for the worst stays so I know exactly what I booked and what is included and when it’s offered. To make it a lot easier for staff (not needing to handle any guest wishes) they have to blackboards where all service times are listed up, the two tours that are offered at an extra cost (actually the best part of the hotel) and the daily cocktail. Interestingly the phone in the room did never connect to any division giving me the hint it just does not work. Well at least they can state it in the brochure. Our room was a twin bedded one (all the rooms are the same size and layout) with views of Puerto Natales. The south wing is actually the one to stay in as it is much closer to the spa and the restaurant. I loved the space we had in our room as well as the great beds (for Patagonian standards) along the bathroom with huge shower head. On the other hand we missed the lack of comfort such as an armchair, writing chair or minibar along a shower gel. Yes there is a shampoo, conditioner and a hand soap with a hand cream but I guess being the number one essential everyone is using, they are missing out on something. On that point I would like to mention that housekeeping was very good and they cleaned the room properly which is one of the most important aspects of a hotel.
Another great part was the new spa area with the super cool infinity indoor pool. While very crowded after the tours return, absolutely stunning and calm in the afternoon and after hours. There is a gender separated sauna with changing facilities and showers. While you are unable to connect to the spa underneath the earth, you need to walk on a path outside - so not really great when rainy but beautiful when sunny and warm. We also loved the warm jacuzzis in front of the pool which would give an amazing Instagram shot if they would actually work properly. Therefore we just enjoyed the poolside and I swam some lengths in the warm pool to refresh after the long hiking that Patagonia comes with. After the spa we headed towards the restaurant.
For the restaurant I have to say that we have very mixed feelings. On the first evening it was absolutely great and deserved 9/10 points while the second night it was only 5/10 points. A great menu was the sous-vide grilled octopus with potatoes as a starter followed by Patagonian lamb and finished by a passionfruit cheesecake. The service by a female staff member was flawless and the wine by the glass was also on par. When we arrived on the next evening tough we were asked for the room number first and assigned a table in the second row with other tables on the first row being empty. We asked for the same table as the night before (which was their most beautiful one on the window and still empty) but he refused and said it is reserved. First, we didn’t have the feeling anybody reserved and Second it was empty all night. The semi-good dinner started with a carpaccio that had more cheese than actual meat on it and was just tasteless followed by the 48-hour cooked beef which I had to sent back as it was inevitable and simply too hard to even cut. Without going into detail how upset I was, the server offered me the chance to order another dish. I went for the squid fettuccine which were alright. Having skipped the dessert we received the bill and I had to register that they charged both my meat and the fettuccine - well, that’s the service that I was talking about.
On the other side I have to praise the breakfast which was really good. The baguette was freshly baked every day and also the offer was way better than at other Patagonian hotels. We could even order omelette and the juices seemed to be fresh. Coffee and tea service worked well too. I could imagine coming back to the Remota on Bed & Breakfast basis however would skip the half board next time.
To all my surprise, what impressed me most was the tour with Remota. If you have the chance to book a tour with them, go for it without any doubt! Our tour guide was slightly better than the one at the previous camp and I had the feeling that his background information on things is way more in-dept. During the Fotosafari we got to see the major sights and viewpoints of the Torres Del Paine National Park as well as the Grey lake. In between the Salto Grande waterfall and the Grey glacier, the tour guide, driver and a staff member set up a lunch for us with tablecloth, cutlery, china and several side dishes before the guide began to grill pork fillets. We received Pisco Sours, a small bottle of Red wine and soon afterwards we had excellent pork with couscous, green salad and vegetables along with a cheese plate and some crackers with olive cream. Actually the lunch and setting was worth 10/10 points and a real highlight of staying at Remota.
Generally said I am cautious with hotels who don’t make the best out of their potential and only live with the fact that the hotel selection in the area is so limited that no effort has to be put. If they would have motivated and engaging staff it would be one of the best hotels in South Chile, making it easier to allocate 9 out of 10 points, however in the current state all I can offer is a fair 5 out of 10. I would recommend Remota definitely for people who plan on doing their tours on their own or prefer arranging them by themselves in town. Also Puerto Natales has some great food outlets so there are plenty of possibilities to stay in style with a great pool and spacious rooms (all at the Remota) but dine outside. And let’s be honest, all you get for 200 euros a night in London doesn’t have great service neither.
We were generously hosted by Remota Lodge for editorial purposes, however all above written has not been influenced according to the freedom of press.