From a distance, Arakur Ushuaia Resort & Spa looks inconspicuous. A series of vertiginously craggy peaks rise behind this Patagonian resort, set on an 800-foot-high plateau surrounded by acres of ancient forests brimming with rare flora and fauna. Down below this timbered balcony is the famed Beagle Channel, the end-of-the-world waterway where Antarctica-bound explorers start their journey. It’s hard to compete with a setting so spectacular, and the team behind Arakur was keenly aware of this fact during the construction of its building, a straightforward structure clad in local stone and oxidized copper panels whose green hues harmonize with the native lenga and ñire trees right outside. In fact, the hotel was designed not just to blend effortlessly into the environment but also to protect it, adhering to the latest standards of sustainable architecture. Interiors convey an equally eco-conscious but less restrained mood, with sweeping common areas and oversized windows that create a sense of expansiveness, and a collection of modern furnishings crafted from aromatic Palo Santo and other reclaimed regional woods.
During the cooler months, Cerro Castor beckons skiers and snowboarders into an array of trails for beginners and experts.
There’s no art on the walls, of course: no masterpiece could compete with the spectacular views of this South American frontier land. In the main restaurant, <La Cravia, specialties like freshly caught king crab and fire-grilled Argentinian meats are offered along with panoramic vistas of Ushuaia, the colorful, waterfront town that’s known as the southernmost community on the continent. As vantage points go, few spots can beat Arakur’s spa, whose hilltop outdoor deck, equipped with three roomy hot tubs, provides a multisensory experience: the warmth of the water, the crispness of the air, and the full magnificence of Tierra del Fuego.
Right outside Arakur, which sits on the 250-acre Cerro Alarkén Nature Preserve, are numerous walking trails interspersed with waterfalls, beaver dams, and peat bogs. Many of these paths can be explored independently or with one of the hotel’s guides. But if you’ve traveled all the way to the edge of South America, don’t miss out on some of the region’s more dramatic adventures. Take a canoe trip in Lapataia Bay, a remote and preternaturally peaceful body of water inside the Parque Nacional Tierra del Fuego inhabited by petrels, albatrosses, and other Patagonian seabirds. Then head over to Isla Martillo on the Beagle Channel, home to a colony of 3,000 pairs of Magellanic penguins, as well as a group of gentoo penguins and cormorants. While the penguins can be seen from catamarans, small groups of people are allowed to walk among these lovable birds under the watchful eye of a specialized guide. During the cooler months, Cerro Castor beckons skiers and snowboarders into an array of trails for beginners and experts. Given the austral location of the mountain, there’s a reliable inflow of snow from June to October. As it turns out, there’s plenty to do at the end of the world.