Economy

Short cuts: Douglas Tompkins’ Patagonia home to open to guests — plus a new hot spring in Iceland

Chile The private home built by the late conservationist Douglas Tompkins and his wife Kristine, set in the midst of the 300,000 hectare national park they created, will be available to rent from next year.

In 2004, the couple’s non-profit foundation bought a vast sheep ranch in the Chacabuco Valley in southern Chile’s Aysen region, then set about rewilding it while gradually also purchasing neighbouring land as it became available. In 2018, the land was donated to the Chilean government and combined with existing reserves to create the Patagonia National Park.

The couple’s house, Casa Butler, was built in 2009 on the flank of a hill a short walk from the Lodge at Valle Chacabuco, the hub of the national park with a 10-bedroom hotel, restaurant and visitor centre. Designed by Chilean architect Francisco Morandé Ruiz-Tagle and Douglas Tompkins himself, the house is clad in local sandstone, uses recycled oak and laurel beams taken from old agricultural sheds and woodblock flooring saved from old factories in Buenos Aires. It sleeps up to seven guests in three bedrooms, and will be rented for exclusive use only.

Douglas Tompkins, who co-founded clothing and equipment company The North Face, died in 2015, aged 72, after a kayaking accident; he is buried in Valle Chacabuco. Following the donation of the park to the nation, the house and the Lodge are now run by the upmarket Chilean adventure tourism operator Explora, which has a 30-year concession.

The house is due to be available in the latter part of 2023; prices have yet to be set but are expected to be about $4,500 per person, for a three-night package including full board, guided excursions and transfers from Balmaceda airport, a six-hour drive away (private flights to Cochrane airport, 25 minutes’ drive away, are also available). explora.com

Hot spring pools at Hvammsvík with a view of Hvalfjordur

Iceland Visitors to Reykjavik have a new alternative to the Blue Lagoon, offering the chance to bathe in natural hot springs and then plunge into the icy waters of Hvalfjordur (“whale fjord”). Hvammsvík Hot Springs, a 45-minute drive north of the capital, consists of eight open-air pools built on the edge of a black sand beach. The pools are so close to the sea that rising tides flow into some of them, meaning the temperatures change during the day.

As well as enjoying views over the fjord to snow-capped mountains beyond, guests can paddleboard and potentially swim with seals, which are frequently spotted just off shore. The pools sit on a 1,200-acre private estate which traces its roots to the 12th century and claims to be the site of “one of the best-known elf dwellings in Iceland”. Entry to the springs, which must be pre-booked, costs Ikr6,900 (£40); there is also a restaurant and accommodation available in four lodges on the estate. hvammsvik.com

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