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August 29, 2012updated Feb 08, 2013

Refugia Lodge Looks to Tame the Wild Chilean Island of Chiloé

By Pardhasaradhi Gonuguntla

Chiloé, Chile—Reported by Elite Traveler, the private jet lifestyle magazine

Refugia Lodge will open September 1, 2012, on Chiloé Island in southern Chile, bringing a touch of luxury and comfort to a region known for its rusticity and strong ties to a bygone era. Blending effortlessly and harmoniously with its surroundings, the 12-room Refugia Lodge is an architectural work of art that pays homage to the “Chilote” mastery of wood craftsmanship, providing a warm and cozy base for travelers to explore the cultural and natural riches of Chiloé. Refugia sits perched atop a rolling hill with beautiful views of the Reloncaví Sound and the snowcapped peaks of the Andes in the distance, just 20 minutes from the capital city Castro. With all-inclusive packages that include deluxe accommodations, a spa, all meals, excursions, and airport transportation, guests arrive and leave everything to Refugia’s friendly and welcoming staff.

Named by the New York Times as one of the “45 Places to Go in 2012,” the Chiloé Archipelago is culturally and ethnically distinct from mainland Chile due to hundreds of years of relative isolation. It is a region heavily influenced by myths and folklore, a culture shaped by harsh weather and the influence of Spanish conquistadors, Jesuit priests, seafarers and pirates. Lush and impossibly green with large swaths of old-growth temperate rainforest, Chiloé offers dramatic Pacific coastline and quiet forested inlets scattered with tiny islands reached by boat or a vehicle ferry. Chiloé’s iconic Jesuit churches, 14 of which are designated UNESCO World Heritage sites, rise majestically in every cove.

On an island known for limited lodging options, Refugia is an exceptional property that now gives travelers a chance to immerse themselves in Chiloé tradition while enjoying cozy accommodations, personalized service and delicious cuisine that uses locally sourced products and freshly caught seafood, accompanied by fine Chilean wines. Refugia fuses regional architectural techniques with avant-garde design, occupying wood-shingled exteriors and elevating part of the lodge with cement pillars in a style influenced by the island’s famous “palafito” homes on stilts. Local artisans crafted virtually every interior element of Refugia, including the island’s distinctive woolen blankets and rugs, custom-designed wood furniture, sheepskin chairs, and arts-and-crafts decor.

Refugia Lodge rates include lodging, excursions, all meals and beverages, and transportation from the airport in Puerto Montt (new direct flights from Santiago to Castro begin in December 2012). The lodge has 12 cozy guest rooms with large picture windows and views of the sound, an excursion and reading room to plan daily activities, and a spa with Jacuzzi, steam bath, sauna and massage. Daily excursions take travelers to remote coves and villages aboard a traditional Chiloé boat to learn about and experience the Chiloé’s singular culture. Excursions also include trekking through rainforest, visits to penguin colonies, bicycling, horseback riding, and more.

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