Termas de Puyehue
Hotel Termas de Puyehue (Ruta 215, Km 76, tel. 02/2936000, fax 02/2831010, www.puyehue.cl, US$132/154–149/174 s/d, with suites up to US$376) sits at the junction where the main highway continues toward Anticura and the Argentine border; a paved lateral heads to Aguas Calientes, a more modest hot springs, and the Antillanca sector of Parque Nacional Puyehue. Rates vary according to view and amenities; half board is available for US$19 more per person, full board for US$34 more per person. Outside the peak summer season (January–mid-March), rates drop about 20–25 percent.
Alone on a winter’s night, walking the endless corridors and circuitous staircases at the Hotel Termas de Puyehue, you might expect a deranged Jack Nicholson to turn the corner swinging an axe. Unlike The Shining’s isolated alpine hotel, though, the Sur Chico’s elite hot-springs resort borders a major international highway and stays open all year, so you’re not likely to be snowed in with a madman.
While a recent remodel and expansion has left only a small wing of the original building, Termas de Puyehue retains the stately elegance of a grand country hotel while incorporating contemporary conveniences to consolidate its premier position among Chilean hot-springs resorts. From modest beginnings in 1908, on sprawling wooded grounds near the border of Parque Nacional Puyehue, it now houses up to 300 guests in 130 spacious rooms, some with balconies; the service is nearly flawless.
Its thermal spa boasts a huge covered pool and an Olympic-size outdoor pool, and offers Jacuzzis, massages, mud baths, and algal treatments. For food, the full-service Restaurante Lago Puyehue has a diverse and excellent à la carte menu that includes Patagonian game dishes in addition to more conventional meat and seafood; the separate Restaurante Los Troncos has a buffet menu; and the Bar El Pescador offers a so-so sandwich menu. Other amenities include a small museum, a library, game rooms, and even an events hall that hosts classical music concerts. Since 1939, electricity has come from the resort’s own small hydroelectric plant.
In addition, the resort runs its own excursions in and around Parque Nacional Puyehue, including a rainforest canopy tour of the sort that has become popular in more tropical environments throughout the Americas (US$23 pp). Horseback rides (US$11 pp), mountain biking, and boating trips on Lago Puyehue are also on the docket.
© Wayne Bernhardson from Moon Chile, 2nd edition