Hotel Spotlight

Inside Tierra Atacama, Chile's First 100-Percent Solar-Powered Hotel

by California Chaney
Licancabur The Licancabur volcano steals the show. All photos courtesy of Tierra Atacama.

Tierra Atacama
San Pietro de Atacama, Chile
Modern, $$$$ ($1,400)

Chile, a country that spans more latitudes, climates, temperatures, and elevations than anywhere on Earth, may be the closest we'll get to visiting Mars. Tierra Atacama, the five-star all-inclusive luxury hotel high in Chile's northern desert, is the first in South America to produce 100 percent of its energy from an on-site, solar-powered plant. The hotel's commitment to sustainability showcases just how well a hotel can harmonize with its surrounding environment. With orchards, medicinal herb gardens, two pools with awe-inspiring vistas of the Licancabur volcano, indigenous Atacama stone and adobe walls, a spa dedicated to water, and a restaurant sourcing local ingredients of the highest quality, otherworldly pampering begins the moment you arrive.

Book It

Rates start at $1400 per person for two nights, based on double occupancy, and inclusive of all meals, house wines/cocktails, spa facilities, and guided excursions. Click here for reservations. Or get in touch with the Fathom Travel Concierge and we can plan your trip for you.

Tierra Atacama
Oriente Room.
Tierra Atacama
Uma Spa.
Tierra Atacama
Poniente Room.
Tierra Atacama
Al-fresco soaking tubs.

At a Glance

The Vibe: Unforgettable desert adventures with profound restfulness.

Standout Detail: It's impossible to pick just one incredible detail to showcase at Tierra Atacama, as jaw-dropping scenery, volcano proximity, world-class spa, and strong dedication to saving the planet make a pretty unbeatable combination. The hotel's hospitality roots go back nearly two centuries, when the land was once an old cattle corral for drovers trekking from Argentina to the Port of Antofagasta. They paused here to rest and feed their animals after the treacherous crossing of the Andes. The old adobe walls (now preserved onsite) were built for warmth and recharging.

This Place Is Perfect For: Adventurous honeymooners and luxury travelers who like to earn their spa pampering by hiking up desert dunes and scaling volcanoes.

Rooms: All 32 guest rooms have private terraces with expansive views of the Atacama Desert and nearby volcanoes with outdoor bathrooms for midnight showers under the canopy of glowing stars. Oriente rooms are up close and personal with the Licancabur volcano, while spacious Poniente rooms include soaking tubs and views of the gardens and surrounding Andes mountains. Two family rooms sleep up to six with a master bedroom and two twin bedrooms with separate bathrooms. Touches of local Chilean style are mixed in with the modern decor with handwoven throws, desert hues, cowhide rugs, and locally sourced wood and stone.

On Site: Uma means "water" in the native Aymara language, and at the Uma Spa, you can expect just that — and more. Make your way through the spa circuit, drifting from the indoor pool and steam room to a soak in the al fresco hot tubs or cooling outdoor pool before retreating to the wicker sun beds to absorb the warm sun and stunning volcano views. Three candlelit treatment rooms capture the essence of the desert with body and facial treatments that use local ingredients from the region as well as the hotel's medicinal herb garden (think: sheep's milk, honey, herbs, and, of course, volcanic mud). Adventure and relaxation go hand and hand here: After hiking through the Moon Valley, unwind with Reiki and crystal massage to balance your energy, or choose the Saddle and Soak treatment after horseback riding through the desert. Yoga and meditation sessions are held on the outdoor platform with many peaceful areas to sit and meditate on your own.

When the sun sets, the Atacama Valley comes alive with cotton-candy skies and the brightest stars in the southern hemisphere (thank the high elevation). In the evenings, retreat to the outdoor campfires and lounges with a bottle of Chilean red and and admire the shooting stars zipping over the volcano.

Food + Drink: The dining experience at Tierra Atacama is as much of an adventure as the daily excursions. Daily three-course menus act as culinary guides to Chilean cuisine, with local beef, lamb, seafood, fresh colorful salads, and lots of Peruvian quinoa. The hotel bar is every oenophile's dream with the country's best carménère (a Chilean merlot), chardonnay, and Syrah. After sampling a signature Rica Rica Sour cocktail at the rustic wood bar, ask the sommelier to wine-match each course for dinner.

Tierra Atacama
Sunset hour.
Tierra Atacama
The hotel's exterior.
Tierra Atacama
Recharge in the sun.
Tierra Atacama
The restaurant.

What to Do Nearby

The Atacama Desert is one of the most surreal places in the world, and the perfect place to start your Chilean adventure. Upon arriving at the hotel, guides will walk you through a portfolio of excursions, including the hot springs at Puritama, Tatio Geysers, hiking expeditions of Moon and Rainbow Valley, and a trip to the petroglyphs at Purilaktis. The adventure schedule also includes daily horseback riding, biking, bird watching, and volcano ascents. Here's a sample three-day itinerary.

In addition, Tierra Atacama recently added four ancestral excursions with Chile's Foundation for Heritage Conservation, which allows guests to learn more about the traditions of San Pedro de Atacama. The excursions include ancestral crop tours, cactus textile weaving, touring an indigenous family's ecological farm, and visiting an ancient Tulor where pre-Columbian inhabitants learned early agriculture techniques. The excursions are designed to accommodate all group sizes, age groups, and levels of athleticism.

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