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TRAVEL - INTERVIEW

Interview with Gabriel Zanelli, Hotel Manager at explora Patagonia from Chile

Patagonia is one of the best destinations for travelers who think that getting away from their surroundings is the best vacation option. I talked with Gabriel Zanelli about explora Patagonia and the beauty of Patagonia.

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Gabriel Zanelli - copyright explora

Gabriel Zanelli - copyright explora

TRAVEL - INTERVIEW

by Melisa Kaya

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explora Patagonia is located in Torres del Paine National Park, Patagonia, Chile. explora Patagonia attracts the attention with its architectural appearance, both modern and environmentally friendly. explora Patagonia offers the extraordinary Patagonia view that looks like a postcard on the window, explorations that allow you to get to know the environment better, and the chance to break away from your daily life, to travelers who want to live different experiences. I talked with Gabriel Zanelli about explora Patagonia and Torres del Paine National Park, Patagonia, Chile.

Gabriel, before talking about explora Patagonia, could you tell us about your background and your career in explora Hotels?

My professional development is linked to national and multinational companies with offices in USA, London, Holland, France, Chile, mainly of consumer goods, semi-massive, retail and service. Regarding my career in explora Hotels this is my first position in the company.

explora Patagonia

Patagonia - copyright explora

explora Patagonia is located at the heart of Torres del Paine National Park. Could you tell us about your location and Patagonia?

We are the only luxury hotel located within Torres del Paine National Park. This privilege location set us in the best possible place from which to explore the park and surroundings and offers our travelers unparallel views of Pehoé Lake and the Horns. I believe that’s a view we could never get tired of and an image that last forever in our travelers’ memory.

How could you describe the hospitality culture in Chile? What does guest mean for you?

Hospitality in Chile is a way of life. The Chilean has a personality that likes to make people feel good, is educated and with a marked vocation for service. To me, the traveler is our most precious treasure. It is for who we work day by day, trying to deliver memorable experiences during their stay in explora.

explora Patagonia

explora Patagonia - copyright explora

Could you tell us about explora Patagonia and the overall concept?

We propose a unique travel experience, where each detail has been designed so that our travelers can enjoy and explore our destinations as much as possible and that’s the reason why all our programs include the experience from beginning to end.

25 years ago, our founder dreamed that more people could know Patagonia the way he did it, in a genuine way, by proposing a way of traveling, based on the deep discovery and exploration of remote and unexplored destinations.

The ethos of explora is that luxury is about having the time to stop, to reconnect, in our case with the territory and culture of the places we are located and, in that process, we get to reconnect with ourselves and others.

explora Patagonia

explora Patagonia - copyright explora

All explora hotels have unique architectural features and details. Could you tell us about the architectural concept of explora Patagonia?

explora Patagonia’s architecture is based around essential luxuries, allowing travelers to inhabit this remote location in its essence without distractions. Wood plays a fundamental role in its design, with species such as lenga, cypress, and almendrillo.

explora Patagonia

Patagonia - copyright explora

You are located in the national park that declared a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. How could your guests arrive at the explora Patagonia?

As I mentioned above, our programs consider the experience from beginning to end, that means we offer our travelers different shuttle services, some of them for free, some of them are paid and we can also set a private transport for the travelers that want a more exclusive service. The points of pick up and drop off are varied: Punta Arenas, Puerto Natales, El Calafate, and Chilean-Argentinean border.

The most common way our travelers arrive at explora is from Punta Arenas, which is why I’m going to explain how to get it from there Santiago via Punta Arenas. Upon arrival to Santiago de Chile’s International Airport, you must connect to the city of Punta Arenas, approximately three and a half hours away and then, according to our schedule, travelers are driven by our team for approximately 4 hours and 30 minutes with a stop to rest and eat something.

explora Patagonia

explora Patagonia - copyright explora

Could you tell us about your rooms and suites that your guests live when they are in the middle of the national park? What are their features?

The most impressive thing of waking up in the middle of the national park is our rooms’ view. They are simply breathtaking. One of the things travelers often ask before getting to a destination is if our rooms feature television or WIFI, and the answer is no. A common reaction is a disappointment, but when they get to the destination, they realize they don´t need one and that they are better without one. At explora, we actively seek disconnection from everyday routine: disconnect to reconnect.

The 49 rooms of explora Patagonia are designed to take full advantage of the silence, privacy, and spaciousness of the surrounding landscape, ensuring deep rest after a long day of exploration.

explora Patagonia

explora Patagonia - copyright explora

Could you tell us about the gastronomic experiences that your guest can live in explora Patagonia?

Since we believe food is part of in-depth exploration, our culinary proposal connects travelers with the places we explore. With a leading role of local products and suppliers and different options to choose in each meal, our menus let travelers get a taste of the destinations through dishes filled with culture and history. Some of the local product we propose in Patagonia are hare, lamb guanaco, and organic chicken.

We propose a healthy, delicious, and seasonal cuisine which includes options for travelers with special needs, such as vegetarians or gluten intolerants.

explora Patagonia

explora Patagonia - copyright explora

And there is The Explorer’s Bar where we can taste Chilean wines. What are the most distinctive features of Chilean wines?

Early this year, we have designed and implemented at our Chilean destinations a new wine proposal. It is an original and varied selection made by Héctor Vergara - the only Master Sommelier in Latin America - to invite our guests to discover Chile’s territory.

With 13 options, this new menu includes some classics - such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, and Chile’s famous variety, Carmenere - and other less traditional varieties such as Sauvignon Gris or Carignan. The common features in all of them are that they are Chilean, with a sense of origin and of excellent quality.

Along with the menu’s redesign, a new special selection was included with 15 wines ranging from US$25 to US$D400 for travelers interested in exploring the country’s wine offering.

explora Patagonia

explora Patagonia - copyright explora

And it is time to relax in the SPA - ONA. Could you explain to us about the SPA - ONA and the treatments & therapies that you offer?

After a day of exploration, nothing can beat spending some time at our spa. Located 100 meters from the main building, is equipped with an indoor heated pool, a sauna, and four outdoor hot tubs with views to the Paine River. We also offer (not included in the rate) relaxing and relieving massages.

How could your guests spend time at explora Patagonia?

Our programs include the option to carry out one full-day or two half-day explorations every day. Explorations take place in small groups of no more than 8 people and are always led by a bilingual guide trained in our own School of Guides. That’s the reason why most of our travelers spend their day outside.

explora Patagonia

Horseback Ride Torres del Paine - copyright explora

What can your guests do when they step out of explora Patagonia? Could you tell us about activities that your guests can participate?

Every afternoon travelers go thru a “registration process”, a ceremony in which they discuss with our guides what they like and what they would like to do the next day. They can choose among 40 explorations (not all of them are offered every day) - either hiking or horseback riding - to some of the circuits of the renowned W and other less explored routes that will help them getting familiarized with the typical geography and wildlife of Patagonia.

What kind of special services do you have for business travellers who want to get away from their daily life for a certain period of time, but who can't get away from their jobs?

There is WIFI in common areas and computers available near the lobby.

explora Patagonia

explora Patagonia - copyright explora

How can travelers make their individual or business/group reservations? Do you have any advantage packs that you offer to your regular and long-term guests?

Individual reservations can be booked on our website, our Reservation Team by contacting them at reserve@explora.com, or through a Travel Agency.

For Business/ Group reservations, we have a special department. Patricia Solis is the person in charge of it and her email is psolis@explora.com.

For former explora travelers we have a special benefit: when they come back, they receive a 10% discount on the total value of their booking and a room upgrade subject to availability.

Other promotions: https://www.explora.com/promotions/

explora Patagonia

Patagonia - copyright explora

Which is the top season for travelers who want to visit Patagonia? What is the reason?

We believe Patagonia is a destination that is worth exploring and that we explore all year. In fact, nature finds different means to express itself every season, which is why Torres del Paine National Park offers a broad array of experiences and angles depending on the season.

Summer takes place from December to March, offering the longest days of the year to explore. Temperatures might be warmer than the rest of the year, but there is also more wind. Then, from the end of March to June, comes autumn. In this season, forests turn red and yellow and winds cease to blow turning the landscape into a feast for the senses. After autumn comes winter with colder temperatures, but with even less wind than autumn, which means real feeling isn´t that cold compared to summer and you might get to see the Park with snow that is a beautiful scenery. Finally, from September to December, springtime greens the trees, flowers paint the pampa with colors and melting snow and glaciers are the force driving rivers that run through the Park.

All this said, it’s important for you to know that temperatures in the Park are constantly changing and that no matter which season you choose to come, you can experience all 4 seasons in one day. Consequently, we suggest our travelers be prepared and bring from layer top and bottom to down jacket.

explora Patagonia

Patagonia - copyright explora

What are the most famous attractions near you?

In the past years, Torres del Paine National Park has become a world-famous destination for nature lovers and especially hikers. In this sense, all the Park is considered an attraction.

Probably the mystic W circuit that goes around the trails that surround the Paine Massif is one of the most popular attractions among visitors. This circuit requires at least five days for completion. Our explorations to the Torres base, the Grey Glacier and the Valle del Francés(French Valley) follow part of this circuit. However, we believe the Park and surroundings have some many more things to offer that a good way to explore this destination is by combining some of the explorations mentioned above with others that take place in less familiar places within the Park, either walking or horseback riding.

How do you describe Patagonia in one sentence?

Adventure with no limits.

Anything you would like to add that I haven’t asked?

Get out of your comfort zone and try explora Patagonia.

Thank you Gabriel for this enjoyable interview.

For more information, please click here and visit the website of explora Patagonia





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