Chile: Cliffs Preserve - Brownell Travel

Chile: Cliffs Preserve

Ellen Craig is a luxury travel advisor with Sterling Brownell. She had a fantastic visit to the Cliffs Preserve in Chile. Read on for her review.

I have recently returned from this brand new resort (opened Dec. 2007) that is “everything included”. Located on an 8,000 acre private preserve on the ocean, the property is for just 36 guests. This is the main draw: you are one of just a few guests on a large private preserve, staying in luxury villas, with private guides. (You can stay in luxury hotels anywhere but often you have to share the natural attractions with thousands of other people: not so here, where the 8000 acres belong to you and just a few others.)

Private guides are an integral part of this experience, with each experience tailored to the individual guest’s level of comfort and activity. The guides are at your disposal for hiking, horsebackriding, walks, boating (weather permitting), penguin watching, and more.

The service and staff are excellent, personalities are carefully chosen to be warm, friendly, and extremely accommodating. For example, one guest couldn’t figure out how to plug in her flat iron, and the next thing she knew, a Chilean flat iron was delivered to her room. Another guest forgot her hiking boots and wanted to buy new ones, but they didn’t have her size. The next thing she knew, the hotel had delivered 3 pairs of loaners to her room that belonged to one of the women guides.

To reach this hotel, you arrive into the Puerto Montt airport, and take a private transfer via SUV, through absolutely stunning and unspoiled land, for miles and miles and miles. Think Scottish countryside combined with Italian countryside, less all the villages – beautiful.

The property itself is ocean front, with miles of coast, islands, and rainforest. From the main lodge, you have a great view of the beautiful Chiloe island out at sea, this island is reachable by ferry and is fascinating blend of people and culture.

The main lodge is a wonderful gathering place for meals, cocktails, or just relaxing. Here you’ll find the bar, couches, fireplace, tables with chess and other local games. The spa islocated here as well.

Accommodations are in 4 bedroom or 2 bedroom villas. You do not have to rent the whole villa, you can just rent a suite. Most of the bedrooms are very large, and all have fantastic views of the sea. Baths are luxurious. Each night I left the curtains open so that my view of the ocean in the morning would be unfettered. And it was a delight, to merely open my eyes and see the Pacific’s huge waves crashing on the rocks and islands, ***without having even to raise my head from the pillow***. That is true luxury.

Also, there are washers and dryers in the villas. I put my laundry in the laundry room intending to take care of it after dinner, but when I came back after dinner, all my laundry was done for me. Each morning I watched as true Chilean cowboys led the horses down to the beach – enchanting.

The air here is clean and fresh, filtered pure by the cold southern winds and blue ocean sprays.

Beautiful hikes meander along seaside cliffs and trails, with lovely views ofthe many tiny islands just offshore. The weather here is mercurial – we felt that at one point on our walk in early spring, we had experienced all four seasons in the span of 10 minutes! The wind is a presence here, and makes its mark in the trees and shrubbery that have bent in unusual shapes in deferral to the wind’s strength.

Walking along the coast is very enjoyable, it is sometimes sandy, sometimes rocky. The rocks were sometimes rough and jagged and sometimes smooth as dinosaur eggs, with colors ranging from beiges to grays to blues. The variants in the rocks are due to volcanic activity, as with most of the rock formations throughout Chile. On one beach, I was mesmerized by the sound of large incoming waves picking up these stones, lifting them up towards shore, then letting them settle back down. It is a sound I have never heard before, enchanting and hypnotic, a combination of rustling, chafing, and shifting, all underwater. The guides said it has been recorded as a sound used in meditation and hypnotism.

The guides here are private, and everything is custom tailored to the guest. On our first hike, the guide was constantly in tune with us,asking after an hour what we would like to do, to continue for longer or to go back to the lodge. Every so often, he continued to check in on our status, so that the hike was perfectly tailored to our energy and activity level.

One memorable hike was through the rainforest – there was one perfect moment when two rare birds began calling in multiple kinds of calls. The calls went on for some time, and we were frozen with delight, afraid to move that we might silence them…truly magical. Bird watching is a fantastic activity here, as there is a rich diversity in the types of birds that reside here. The birds we heard on that hike were the Hued Hued del Sur (Black-throated Huet Huet, or Pteroptochos tarnii), and the Chucao (Chucao Tapaculo, or Scelorchilus rubecula). These birds are rarely seen.

Also enjoyable was riding horses with authentic Chilean cowboys uptrails with views of the Pacific beyond, stopping by the large organic garden and leaving the horses to graze on the lawn outside…walking into the garden where the chef was leading a tourand selecting herbs and vegetables for our dinner…we looked over after a bit and the horses had wandered INTO the organic garden to munch on tastier fare. It was amusing watching the Chilean cowboys go all out in taking off after the horses at the far end of the garden.

The Cliffs has its own five star chef, Pablo Galvez. The meals Pablo prepared were wonderful – so wonderful that this month he travels to Australia with the President of Chile! Some of the items included on our menus were: Cream of Dubarry soup, Eminence of Abalone with Chiloe Island Potatoes (Chile is thought to be the origin of potatoes, and indeed, there are hundreds of different kinds ofpotatoes), Ravioli di Zucca, Red Tuna Fillet Sealed in Luche beside Red Lentils.On our second night, Pablo prepared a special seven course tasting menu with paired wines that was simply divine. Every course was delicious, and after the dinner, the guests discussed and compared the various courses with a passion that can only be compared to that with which Italians compare opera singers. I list them here:- King Crab and Avocado with Wasabi- Razor Clam Au Gratin with Goat’s Cheese- Ecuadorian Shrimp with Essence of Ginger Yogurt and Cream of CarrotSoup (my favorite)- Three Cheese Ravioli with Mushroom Ragout- Seaweed Sealed Salmon Served with Corn Pastel- Wagyu Loin (similar to Kobe beef) with Warm Salad Greens- Milk Chocolate CreminoDivine!!A lovely Chilean post-prandial tradition is to have personalized herbal infusions. A bowl of fresh herbs is presented at the table after the meal, and each person selects the herbs they desire, places them in a teacup, and hot water is added. The infusion may be sweetened if desired. The result is a fresh, soothing, and healthful hot beverage, a very nice way to conclude a complex meal.

The stars and constellations here are incredibly clear – the Chileansky is one of the clearest in the world.Now that spring is arriving, so are the whales – humpbacks and blues – who are journeying from the equator towards the straits of Magellan. Whale watching is a highlight of a visit to the Cliffs. Other creatures appearing this time of year are the Australian and Chilean dolphins, the sea lions, and many Humboldt and Magellan penguins. The Cliffs Resort offers specially equipped guided boat tours for the guests to go out and view these animals. This is one of the few places in the world where it is so easy to see wildlife, including whales and birds, in peaceful setting that is pure paradise.

The Cliffs Preserve offers an experience of a lifetime–I hope to return soon!

Ellen Craig is a luxury travel advisor for Sterling Brownell. To contact her for more information on the Cliffs Preserve or travel in Chile, click here.