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Hotel Las Torres’ Sustainable Travel Recovery

by on 26th November, 2021

Sustainable Travel at Patagonia’s Hotel Las Torres

With Chile’s border entry arrangements relaxing from December 1, travellers can now look forward to taking the first steps back to an adventure holiday.

And what better than a green, responsible, and ecological path to follow.

Hotel Las Torres in Patagonia has taken the time the pandemic offered to bolster its already impressive sustainable travel ethos. The hotel sits at the entrance to Torres del Paine National Park. This park is the jewel in Chilean Patagonia’s crown.

Behind the scenes, management has been preparing for the return of travellers.

Hotel Las Torres Patagonia Chile

 

Responsible Travel in Chile’s Las Torres National Park

Hotel Las Torres has operated in Torres del Paine National Park since 1990. Before the tourism boom, it was a working ranch and estancia. Now a hotel, its green projects and achievements include:

  • Reforestation
  • Reduction, reuse and recycling of waste
  • Ecological education involving local communities
  • Ending plastic bottle use within the park
  • Organic composting and recycling natural materials
  • Conservation of flora, fauna and hiking trails

The fruits of this labour of love stemmed from the family-run hotel’s close connection with its natural environment — and not one, but two disasters.

Reforesting Torres Del Paine National Park

In 2005, a vast forest fire burned 15,000 of the Torres del Paine National Park’s 180,000 hectares. It started in the Laguna Azul area, on the eastern border of Hotel Las Torres. Just six years later, a second fire, this time to the west of the hotel in the French Valley, burned 17,000 hectares.

Hotel staff, along with Torres del Paine’s Eco-camp have since planted more than 35,000 trees. The reforestation takes place with children from schools in the Puerto Natales and Punta Arenas region, often the youngster’s first chance to visit the national park.

A hotel ecologist teaches the kids about biodiversity during the tour. The hotels have also installed pumps and hoses around the park so they can react quickly to any new blazes.

Reducing Rubbish at Torres Del Paine National Park

The pre-pandemic tourism boom brought more and more people to this stunning part of the world. Hotel Las Torres, which operates the entire park’s waste management system, decided to look at the impact of rubbish on the area.

Previously, trash was collected and sent to landfill sites in nearby Puerto Natales. In 2018, some 300 tonnes a year were transported and dumped annually, or 1.7 kilogrammes of rubbish for every night someone stayed in the park.

Hotel Las Torres weighed and studied all the rubbish. Food and beverage packaging was changed and plastic bottles banned, resulting in 100,000 fewer bottles going through the park every year. Any other plastics and glass bottles were recycled, and organic material was composted.

By the end of the 2019-2020 season, the park’s waste footprint dropped to 100 tonnes, around 800 grammes of rubbish for every night someone stayed in the park. The target is 400 grammes per night within two years and net-zero waste within five years.

Sustainable Farming at Hotel Las Torres

Torres del Paine is located in a very remote corner of Chilean Patagonia where fresh fruit and vegetables are hard to source. Hotel Las Torres bypass this by supplying guests with kilometre-zero food straight from the hotel’s organic garden.

In 2013, the hotel took all its livestock from the area and is now looking at the holistic management of grazing areas to help capture carbon. The land is left without grazing animals for three to four months, encouraging higher plant growth rates, with the resulting better quality topsoil great for carbon capture.

Initial studies suggest 20,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide can be sequestered this way, helping cover travel footprints to access Patagonia.

Safe Water and Renewable Power Come to Torres

The environmentally-friendly projects keep stacking up at the hotel. Water biofilters purify water and wastewater naturally and have been used at Hotel Last Torres for over a decade.

The hotel will add renewable energy systems like hydroelectric and wind to all new future developments, and sustainability factored into new projects. The hotel helps train people how to care for the hiking trails and houses researchers studying the biodiversity of Torres del Paine National Park.

Much of this work stems from an NGO the hotel set up in 2004.

The Environmental Work of AMA Torres Del Paine

AMA Torres del Paine  — AMA is a play on words in Spanish meaning ‘love’ — finances conservation, scientific investigation and environmental educational projects across Torres del Paine National park.

A varied cross-section of society, from businesses to volunteers, encourage sustainable tourism in a variety of ways:

  • Walking trail maintenance
  • Waste management
  • Outdoor education for schools
  • Supporting scientists and students that study the park

Successful projects include protecting the park’s orchids, studying its pumas, and helping to save its bumblebees.

Chile is home to the world’s largest bumblebee, Bombus dahlbomii, likened by some to a flying mouse due to its size — it can grow up to four centimetres! It was close to extinction after many died following the introduction of an imported pathogen, and AMA Torres del Paine is working on its survival.

Why Should I Visit Hotel Las Torres in Patagonia?

Hotel Las Torres links a living, breathing, Patagonia experience with an authentic and environmentally-aware culture.

Experts are on hand to speak about the hotel’s eco-credentials while you enjoy its cosy, ranch-like feel. The hotel is easily accessible with transfers from both Chile and El Calafate in Argentina. More destination than a hotel, it offers gardens, stables, and old buildings you can mosey off and enjoy.

Accommodation wise, you can choose from lovely hotel rooms to mountain cabins. The cabins come with firewood heaters, fully-made beds and towels, plus shared bathrooms with hot water.

Every part of the hotel conforms to COVID protocols set by the World Health Organization, the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration, Chilean Undersecretary of Public Health, and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention). For extra peace of mind, guests will find electrostatic sprayers, hand sanitiser dispensers, and QR code information throughout the hotel

Contact us for more information about an environmentally-friendly visit to Hotel Las Torres.

 

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