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Archive for April, 2009

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 The Baobab Hotel, Huilo Huilo, Chile

Hotels in tree houses are not a new concept. But the latest addition to the genre certainly takes the form to new heights.

Parque Huilo Huilo is  a sprawling private nature reserve, midway between Neltume and Puerto Fuy, on the east side of Volcán Choshuenco (Choshuenco Volcano) in Chile.  The Magic Mountain Hotel and the Baobab Hotel, in the parque were built by the same owners. 

The Baobab is the newer of the two  and built, as it name suggests, to resemble a baobob tree.

baob hotel fountain

Lobby with fountain

 Hotel Baobab Huilo Huilo Chile 3*

This beautiful Lodge  opened in December 2007 and belongs to the same owners as the Montaña Mágica.  The hotel resembles a baobab (monkey bread tree), which is quite high and their trunk is slender and gets broader the more you get up. The 55 modern rooms with magnificent views of the Mocho-Choschuenco Volcano are ordered spirally around an atrium, in which a huge tree is growing. The surrounding trees weren’t cut for this construction, but included into the architecture.

All the styling and decor is inspired by the natural surroundings and crafted by indigenous artists designing in wood from the area. Windows, walls, doors and stairs are all carved out of the local rustic woods. All rooms have private bathrooms and central heating as standard and penthouse suites offer the added luxury of hydro massage bath. An impressive panoramic elevator offers a magnificent view when visiting the nine floors of Baobab lodge. There are two restaurants offering gastronomic menus, and there is an international bar. exquisite gastronomical delights and an important international bar. Baobab is an ideal place to relax in a quiet natural setting.

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View from a bedroom window

The hotel is nestled in the National Reserve of Huilo Huilo, in the Region of The Rivers, a park of 12.000  about 56 km / 35 miles from Panguipulli, just next to the Lodge Montaña Mágica. Prices: 01.04.2008-30.04.2009 Standard single 132 USD double 187 USD Triple 265 USD extra bed 52 USD booking service at Inns of Chile

Footnote: I have no connection with the owners of the Baobab and Magic Mountain hotels, but if they ever wished to invite me to make a more detailed report on site for you, I could be ready to travel at 24 hours notice!

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OK so hotels aren’t strictly speaking follies, but when the owners have allowed themselves licence to indulge their imaginations to construct buildings which serve as hotels while at the same time indulging their wildest fantasies in design and construction, we let them in.

Hotels like the Magic Mountain in Chile are almost always found in the third world (or owned by rich and whimsical men and women), largely we assume because it is here they can be free of the worst excesses of centralised European planning. (Where are you Prince Charles?)

Two fantasy hotels have gone up in recent years, in the Parque Huilo Huilo, a sprawling private nature reserve, midway between Neltume and Puerto Fuy, on the east side of Volcán Choshuenco (Choshuenco Volcano) in southern Chile. These are the Magic Mountain and the Baobab Hotel, were built by the same owners.  The Baobab is the newer of the two. I have made that into a separate entry.

Magic Mountain hotel, Huilo-Huilo, Chile

The Magic Mountain hotel is perhaps the most astonishing of the two. The hotel resembles from the outside, a cone built inside a waterfall. It is approached via an aerial walk way and the entrance is at the top of the hotel. Not for anyone suffering vertigo. Inside the style is best described as rustic. I have left the rather endearing colloquial text descriptions as I found them as they convey something of the whimsical magic of this extraordinary constructions in the rain forest.

Lodge La Montaña Mágica, Parque Huilo-Huilo ***

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The Lodge Montaña Mágica (Magic Mountain hotel) in Chile is located within the Natural Reserve Huilo Huilo about 56 km / 35 miles from Panguipulli. The Lodge was built using exclusively local wood and has a very unique architectural style similar to a volcano.

The guests of this peculiar hotel are completely surrounded by nature, and can enjoy activities such as hunting, fishing or even hiking in the neighbouring natural reserve of Hulio Hulio. One can also watch and observe the eagles or the pumas, amongst other animals, which are often seen near the hotel.

This hotel owes its name to an ancient legend which talked about a magic mountain which granted wishes and sometimes even performed miracles, and truth be told, this hotel is a rather magical place. The waterfall gives one peace and quiet with a distinctive touch and the union with nature.

This hotel has thirteen available rooms, each one with its own private bathroom. Furthermore, across the hotel’s territory there are eleven cabins which can fit in around four or six people each one. A rather curious aspect is that each room has a different and rather peculiar name, and their meanings tend to be names of magical plants or animals that live in the area.

In the hotel one can savour an exquisite meal in a restaurant called the “Mesón del Bosque”, where all the local gourmet specialties can be found. One of the most famous chilean meals, the pastel de papas, or potato pie, is made there.

The general facilities include a  bar, natural tree trunk hot tub, sauna, mini-golf court and internet access. Activities at and near Montaña Mágica Lodge include: hiking, trekking, horseback riding, canopy, rafting and mountain biking among others.

01.11.2008-31.03.2009 Standard single 151 USD and double 215 USD

Chile Hotel booking site

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Jon and Muriel Richards outside the tiny chapel “Chapel of the Crosses” in their back garden

A couple fulfilled a two-and-a-half year “labour of love” by building a fully functional miniature chapel in their back garden.

Jon and Muriel Richards spent around £25,000 assembling the sanctuary next to their house in Mappleborough Green, Worcestershire, from pieces they collected from reclamation yards across the country.

The altar and pews had to be chiselled down to size, the stained-glass windows specially cut and the building, named The Chapel of the Crosses by the local vicar, can only accommodate 12 people but Mr Richards, a retired watch-importer, said the result was “wonderful”.

article-0-04767209000005DC-560_634x452 mini chapel inside

He said: “It is about 8 feet by 12 feet – about the size of a garden shed.

“It is very private – it’s part of our home. It’s a home chapel.

“But it is certainly a wonderful place inside; it’s a very emotional place.”

Everything including the chapel’s centrepiece, a bronze crucifixion figure about three-and-a-half feet tall, has “in its previous life” been in a church or a chapel and was collected over a period of around two-and-a-half years, Mr Richards said.

The building has not been consecrated but the local vicar has given services there, he added.

Mr Richards said: “The question everyone asks me is, ‘Why?’

“I’d like to say I experienced some divine intervention but that’s not true. My wife is very involved with the church and is in the choir and … that’s how it started out.

“If you look at the time we spent running up and down the country, going to reclamation yards for all the artefacts, the materials … it is a lot of money but it wasn’t intended. I don’t think we started off with a budget; it just went on. Sometimes when you put prices on it you realise how foolish you were but we fell in love with things.

“It was a labour of love and we knew one day it would be completed.”

This story appeared in the Daily Mail (UK) on 15 April 2009

Chapel of the Crosses

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