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“Wonderful oasis in the desert”

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Awasi Atacama - Relais & Chateaux
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed March 3, 2011

It's hard to write this review as so many good things have been said about this hotel, and I agree with all of them.

We had a wonderful 5 day stay. The hotel is small, intimate and the staff are super friendly and made our stay very special. As it is an all inclusive resort that adapts to every wish of its guests - a very relaxing experience. We were also amazed about the food- it was delicious, light and sophisticated for such a small kitchen. It was without doubt the best food we had on our 3 week trip.

Our guide Jorge was wonderful. He was passionate about the Atacama desert and showed us many wonderful places. He fulfilled every wish we had. We couldn't have asked for more!

We loved our room. It was spacious and lovingly decorated. Unfortunately, some of the rooms like our no 1 are next to the street and noisier than they should be for such a perfect resort.

Last, but not least, the atmosphere in the hotel is also lovely, with the relaxing pool area and log fires burning in the evening. Very romantic!

  • Stayed: January 2011, traveled as a couple
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1  Thank KarinGlobal
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviewed February 27, 2011

My husband and i had a very mixed experience at the Awasi.

First of all i would like to say that i can not fault the staff at the hotel. The barman, wait staff, Virginia (the manager) & chef were all attentive, respectful and polite. They could not do enough.

As a young couple on honeymoon it was a big deal to spend the amount of money that we did on a three night stay so we not only expected the experience of a lifetime in terms of accommodation, but also on our excursions.

1) The Guide
Upon arrival we were met by our guide who was polite but not overly friendly. He showed us his map of the atacama desert and suggested a few things we could do over the next few days. I had to mention the Geysers that i had read about in my guide book as he did not list as an option. In short, our second day was spent on a dirt road for 7 hours, an uncomfortable, bumpy (and we later found out unnecessary) journey. Never did our guide inform us that we would be on this terrain for so long and for most of the day. He slept during this car journey and spent most of his waking moments talking to our (sweet) driver, in Spanish, a language he knew we could not speak. When we arrived back at the hotel my husband and i felt very deflated. We both decided that our guide had been not only lazy but also uninspiring and slightly rude to top it off, as he had tried to push us into having a full days excursion the following day when we wanted two half days. He said that he had already ordered the picnic even though we had asked him to do otherwise. This ended in a sort of stand off between him and my husband. We felt that this was rude and unnecessary, especially at $1200 dollars a night.

Neither of us wanted to cause a scene, or even complain, but when we focused on the amount of money we were spending and the little time we had in this amazing location we decided to inform Virginia that we were less than satisfied with our guides service. She was calm and professional and made us feel much better. She explained that not all guides match the guests (like any relationship) and she found us a new guide for the next day. We spent that night reflecting on why our guide had been so lax and laid back with us and assumed it had something to do with our age (maybe he felt we weren't in a position to give him a big tip like his older clients). We were mainly upset that we had wasted a precious day.

My husband then encountered said guide on our second day (after he had been told we weren't using him). He confronted my husband in a fairly aggressive manner, asking why we had changed guides. They then began a lengthy discussion about the rights and wrongs of his behavior on the previous day. This behavior was not only unprofessional but extremely inappropriate from any hotel, let alone a hotel that has such high standards. We then spent the next two days worried we would bump into him again, and i became very anxious about this possibility. To top this off, Virginia came up to us later that day to say "I heard X came and apologized to you this morning"... we did not have the heart to tell her that he in fact confronted and questioned my husband, and never once said sorry.

We were then met by our new guide Cristobal who was fantastic! We were so happy that we spoke up about our first guide as Cristobal was knowledgeable, friendly and it felt like we were experiencing the excursions with a friend. We were sad to say goodbye two days later.

2) The Excursions
On our first afternoon we went horse riding near the hotel, the scenery was amazing and something we will never forget. Our guide (the first one) didn't give my husband any pointers on how to ride the horse (it was his first time) and left us to our own devices as he trotted ahead with the horse trainer.
I will not go into our terrible second day, but say that the geysers were amazing, it is a shame we did not get the same experience there as another couple that we spoke to staying at the hotel that told us their amazing guide boiled an egg in the geyser for their breakfast. Something so simple, but our guide clearly couldn't be bothered to do. Do not bother going to see the local villages, there is nothing there. We were taken to two.

The cactus valley hike was incredible and so was death valley and rainbow valley. It was a pleasure to see them with Cristobal as he clearly loved them as much as we did!

3) The Hotel
Beautifully decorated. The pool area is relaxing and spotlessly clean. The dining area is so comfy and rustic at the same time. The fire pit at night was so special and great to sit around sipping wine!

4) The Food & Drink
The chef made us a special menu (vegetarian) and made it as varied and tasty as the main menu. My husband liked the Tilefish dish so much he is still talking about it 2 months later! The barman made you whatever you wanted and remembered what you liked (sign of a good hotel!).

5) The Room
We were put in Room 1, a very large luxurious room that had a pleasant terrace and wonderful bathroom. I cannot fault this room apart from its location- right on the road! There was nothing separating the room from the main road outside the hotel apart from a thin bamboo wall. The room (built like an authentic hut) let in noise all through the night, dogs barking and howling and cars wizzing past. This was so bad on our last night that my husband only had one hours sleep. The amenities in the bathroom were lovely and the deep bath was a great treat at the end of a days walking.

Overall, because of the price, the hotel builds itself up to having world class standards and the fact that our first guide let us down so badly, shows an inconsistency in the hotels priority of training its staff. To go from the attentive pampering of inside the hotel to a fairly obnoxious and aloof guide is something that needs to be addressed if they are going set their bar so high. We heard that other guests had fantastic guides, and for this kind of money you should not be entered into a lottery of quality from the guide.

When all is said and done we would recommend this hotel but make sure you do some detective work on the track record of your assigned guide before you part with your cash.

  • Stayed: February 2011, traveled as a couple
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8  Thank CAH2010
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
AwasiAtacama, Gerente at Awasi Atacama - Relais & Chateaux, responded to this reviewResponded March 7, 2011

Dear Guest:
I am extremely sorry to hear that your very disappointing first guide did not apologize to you that day as was conveyed to me when we spoke.
As I have explained in our conversations, each guide has his or her own personal style of guiding and this is what makes us unique. But rudeness and aloofness is completely unacceptable no matter what a person´s assets as a guide. Our guides as you mentioned afterwards about Cristobal are very professionals and trained to become travel companions.
Besides the general knowledge of the history, culture, geology, flora and fauna of the Atacama Desert, each of our guides must possess important personal skills. Our selection and training process is really thorough and professional
The guide who behaved in such a rude manner met all these skills until this day.
In fact he is a historian specialized in northern pre-Colonial history and has worked on different research projects in many South American and European countries.
He has showed excellent disposition until this day but there is no possible excuse for his behavior. We will make sure to make the necessary changes in our staff in order to prevent that something like this happens again.
Please accept my apologies once again and thank you for helping us maintaining our very high standards of service

Wamest regards,

Virginia Contreras
Manager

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed February 19, 2011

We stayed in Awasi for 4 nights, at a cost of USD1,250 per night, For that price you get a private guide and driver, 3 meals a day and all drinks.
I know that Atacama is an expensive place to stay but for the price paid our room was way too small and the double bed was in fact 2 singles pushed together. We have stayed in similar priced / standard accommodation before and received much more for our money, eg. Amansara in Cambodia, Ventana Inn in Big Sur, Jumeriah Beach Villas and Suites in Dubai. When paying this price we do not expect the room to be so small that you have to sit on the bed to use the desk as there is no room for a chair! To get the more appropriately sized room we would have had to pay an additional USD250 per night.

The best thing about Awasi was the staff. Our guide, Christobal, was excellent and the rest of the staff were great. They were always willing to help and get us what we needed - when we had a special dinner request (egg and chips) they obliged and it was delicious.

The overall quality of the food was good, other than the out of the hotel picnics which were quite bland and small. The hotel is also well located - 5 minutes walk to town - so if you want a change and eat outside there are some nice local restaurants to try, with fresh, good food.

  • Stayed: February 2011, traveled as a couple
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3  Thank Desk-Escape-com
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
AwasiAtacama, Director General at Awasi Atacama - Relais & Chateaux, responded to this reviewResponded March 7, 2011

Thank you for your comments. We are glad to know that you have enjoyed your staying at Awasi.
Regarding the size of our rooms: Our smaller room (the one in which you have stayed) has a private surface of 530 square feet (including a private patio and an outside shower), and the biggest rooms have more than 800 square feet of private surface.
The circular shape of the rooms is inspired by the ancient circular huts found in the area.
This circular shape can be less “efficient” than the rectangular “standard” hotel rooms shape, but we think this is what make our rooms so unique.

Regarding our rates, please consider that our hotel has only 8 rooms, we have a staff of 47 employees working for a maximum of 16 guests, our restaurant is very intimate and is not open for customers who are not guests of Awasi , all meals are included in the rate as well as appetizers, alcoholic and non alcoholic beverages, snacks, etc., and each guest has the maximum level of privacy, freedom and exclusivity having assigned a private guide and a 4WD vehicle for their excursions.
Some of the very nice hotels you have mentioned have similar rates than Awasi but have many more rooms and do not include all the services that I mentioned.
We do compare our rates with the best private lodges and tented camps in Africa and we can say that our rates are lower than those lodges’ rates.
I really hope this information was helpful.
Thanks again for taking the time for your feedback.

Warmest regards,

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed January 20, 2011

I have one complaint about Awasi; apparently they seem incapable of producing more hours in a day. That is what you want when you are there - more time. I stayed 6 evenings and came back each day from my excursions overwhelmed with the nature of the terrain. My guide, Pierre, had much knowledge and enthusiasm of all the sites and areas, and was able to understand and provide what I hoped for from this experience. If you are a person who is captivated by the earth and its raw geography….you will enjoy this region. Awasi does a spectacular job of pampering you along through this spectacular part of Chile. The hotel is beautifully designed with its earthy, comfortable décor – all taken and a part of the region around it. The staff is very warm and welcoming, striving and doing what it takes to make you happy. The food was perfectly proportioned and also locally catered which rounded off the experience – that along with the wine and pisco sours. This is definitely a raving review….but I have nothing else to give but that.

  • Stayed: January 2011, traveled solo
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Thank Sab096
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed January 7, 2011

I have just returned from my second stay at Awasi, and nothing has changed still close to perfection, and I still wouldn't consider staying anywhere else in San Pedro de Atacama. No doubt I will be back for a third visit to Awasi, and a fourth visit to the Atacama sometime soon. Arriving in San Pedro from Bolivia, Awasi is an absolutely blissful destination, and I am always sorry to leave.

  • Stayed: January 2011, traveled solo
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Thank parischris2007
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed January 5, 2011

What can I say that hasn't already been said? A perfect and unparalleled experience. Whilst the hotel was beautiful and luxurious, the purpose of our visit (and our main reason for choosing Awasi) was to get the most out of the sights and sensations of the Atacama during our four day/five night stay. Under the skilled direction of Mario, our guide, we certainly saw a hugely varied selection of the surrounding environment. For us, the excursion to the Tara salt lake was the highlight. The fact that there appeared to be no track to the lake (you just strike off into the desert) and that we did not see another person or vehicle throughout our time at (and going to and from) the lake underlies to me the advantages of using the likes of Awasi to see the Atacama.

  • Stayed: December 2010, traveled as a couple
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Thank Mutandis
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed December 31, 2010

We stayed at this wonderful hotel for 4 days. The accommodation was elegant, comfortable and clean. The public areas were delightful. The food and wine were wonderful. We had an informative and friendly personal guide who went out of his way to specifically tailor our tours to our personal requirements. During our stay sadly my father-in-law passed away. The management and staff could not have been kinder or more sympathetic to my husband. In all we can only recommend this hotel. It was not cheap but it was worth every penny.

  • Stayed: September 2010, traveled as a couple
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Thank kivmas
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Awasi Atacama - Relais & Chateaux

Address: Tocopilla 4, San Pedro de Atacama, Chile
Phone Number:
Location: Chile > Antofagasta Region > San Pedro de Atacama
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Business Center with Internet Access Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Restaurant Room Service Shuttle Bus service Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access Airport Transportation
Hotel Style:
#1 Romantic Hotel in San Pedro de Atacama
#1 Luxury Hotel in San Pedro de Atacama
#2 Family Hotel in San Pedro de Atacama
Price Range: $1,374 - $2,459 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:4.5 star — Awasi Atacama - Relais & Chateaux 4.5*
Number of rooms: 10
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Luxury lodge located in the Atacama Desert, Chile. Only property in the region to be an affiliate of Relais & Chateaux. With only 10 ample rooms, we provide tailor-made experiences, assigning a private guide and a 4x4 vehicle to each room. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Awasi Hotel San Pedro De Atacama
Awasi San Pedro De Atacama
Awasi Atacama - Relais & Chateaux San Pedro De Atacama, Chile

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