Photo: Explora Chile S.A., Hotel Salto Chico
Travel to the Opposite End of the Continent
Torres del Paine National Park in Chilean Patagonia is located toward the very bottom of South America—over a day's travel distance away from your extended family and their nonnegotiable rule that everyone must chime in during the wassailing. When Virtuoso travel consultants were polled about their favorite places to send clients during the winter holidays, they named the splurge-worthy Explora lodge in the park time and again. Patagonia's seasons are opposite to ours, so the temperatures there will climb to the low 70s when ours starts to plummet. Explora's Hotel Salto Chico, which was refurbished last month, is perched on a waterfall in the middle of the park, and all rooms have views of the surrounding granite spires of the Paine Massif. The lodge has been gaining popularity with Americans over the past few years, especially those who want to get away from it all (save for a Jacuzzi and a gourmet meal, that is). But the point of coming all this way is to take advantage of Explora's small-group guided excursions like hikes, glacier walks and horseback rides, and given Patagonia's massive size, it's highly unlikely you'll stumble upon any crowds.