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Living On A Past Reputation!The Antumalal Hotel, Pucon, Chile

Living On A Past Reputation!The Antumalal Hotel, Pucon, Chile

May 12th, 2003, 06:13 AM
  #1  
sweetsue
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Living On A Past Reputation!The Antumalal Hotel, Pucon, Chile

This review has taken me some serious time, as writing a disapproving commentary on a famous hotel is not only challenging but also somewhat distressing. There is no doubt that I love great hotels, and have had the pleasure in staying at some splendid places. As I made plans for our recent trip to Chile, I used many resources for helping me make decisions. When I saw in both of my guidebooks The Antumalal, Pucon, Chile was considered one of the ybest hotels in Chiley, and after checking out the website www.antumalal.com, there was no skepticism that this was one place we wanted to stay. I booked nine nights directly with the hotel.

As I read about this hotel I was totally fascinated with the architecture and itys history. An immigrant family built it over fifty years ago, in the Bauhaus design. Visitors to this hotel included Queen Elizabeth, Jimmy Stewart, and Barry Goldwater just to name a few. Add that to my guidebookys comment yThe minute you arrive here you know youyve come upon something specialy (This quote is taken from Frommers Argentina and Chile, 1st edition, which is the most current edition and a well thought of guide book. I also found almost identical information in Fodors.)

So what happened? Was I the only one that was not impressed with this interesting hotel of fifty years ago? Let me go back to the reservation process. I e-mailed the hotel several times, and finally received a response after at least a week. They recommended since our visit was a long one that we would be more comfortable in a suite. The rate was $190 per night including breakfast. Frankly, to stay in a hotel with these high recommendations that seemed reasonable. I booked the suite for nine nights, and was completely looking forward to staying there.

The history of the hotel is very interesting, and the father and mother that started this hotel are still living there. We met the father,and he talked about all of the guests during the past. He is ninety years old, and I must say, as sharp as can be. You can tell he loves this place. The husband and wife arrived from Prague in 1938 with great ideas. They settled in Pucon, Chile, and after some time received a loan from the government of Chile to build the Antumalal Hotel. A Chilean architect name Jorge Elton designed the building to take full advantage of the lakefront and the beautiful view. No doubt this was quite a historic accomplishment for so many years ago.

However, my issue with this hotel is you cannot live on your past reputation, which is what I feel is happening.

I e-mailed the hotel, advising them that we were taking the bus to Pucon and how did we get to the hotel. The response was take a taxi, it is about two-miles. The thought crossed my mind that wouldnyt it have been nice to be picked up in the hotelys van rather than be told to take a taxi. After all, our reservation was going to generate at least $2,000 for the hotel. Well, we took the taxi.

Upon our arrival, I was rather disappointed. The hotel was old, needed much updating, and was basically empty. The sixteen rooms that are described as yguests donyt just walk into a room, they sink into ity was a joke. The furniture in the living area was so uncomfortable that it was actually unpleasant to sit on. The suite had a living area with a fireplace, again interesting, but uncomfortable furniture, a bathroom in need of a major make over, and a bedroom that actually had a comfortable king bed.

The living area consisted of a sofa and chair, small television, a library wall with some really old books, a large glass window with a lovely view of the lake and grounds, and a table with four chairs.

The bedroom was basically a standard room, which was connected by a small hallway. It was small, with a king bed, a couple of nightstands, and a chair that was actually somewhat more comfortable that the living area furniture. It also had the large window.

The bathroom was really bad! The towels were small, and well used, the toilet was reluctant to flush, and the tub/shower combination had very low water pressure. I must add that it was done in an old goldish brown color that certainly did not have any personality whatsoever.

Breakfast was included in our rate, which is common in most hotels in South America. Usually it was serve yourself, and when I woke up and wanted a cup of coffee, I found out that they had not even turned on the coffeepot. It was supposed to be open at 8:00 am, but it was more like 8:30 before you could have that first cup. There was no coffee, ice bucket or any of the normal amenities in the room. The breakfast was sparse to say the least. They had cereal, yogurt, ham, cheese, and a waiter did come and ask if I would like some eggs. I love omelets, so that was what I ordered. The second morning, I found myself going back to the coffee maker and serving myself, as well as another rather unhappy couple. It actually became a joke!

The dining room was quite pretty with a great deal of glass and plants. We had dinner one night, it was really not good, and the steak I had was basically raw. When I ask for a steak knife, none was provided. Sadly, the guidebooks still say yThe hotelys restaurant serves international cuisine and is one of the best in the region.y Frankly, they need to go back and really check this hotel out, as again, the food was a disappointment. One night the maid that had cleaned our room was serving my dinner. For some reason that just does not mix!

We read about all the great services that were available at this hotel. My husband was excited about doing some hiking, and mentioned it when we arrived. When we checked out, still nothing had been arranged for him. It seemed that all things fell on deaf ears. We were given little information about the facilities, and not until the morning we left did I know there was a heated pool. However, the other guests that were leaving had seen it, and said it was in need of a major cleaning and not one that you would want to use. When I went back this morning and looked at their beautiful web page and read about all of the activities they would arrange for you, I found it sad that what is written, just didnyt happen.

We decided that The Antumalal, with all of its history, and fame, was not worth the money, so checked out after two nights. Frankly, that was one bill that I did not like paying at all.

Sadly, what was one manys dream, and was no doubt magnificent in its day has gone by the way of many famous places.

In a nutshell, you cannot live on your past reputation, and in my opinion that is what The Antumalal is doing. When we checked out, there were no guests.

I will be sending a copy of this to the hotel as well as to the two guide books that recommend this so highly. It is not that it couldnyt be a beautiful and terrific place to stay, it is just that in the hotel business, the customer has certain requirements, and what was satisfactory fifty years ago, will not cut it today.

Sadly, The Antuamalal is a not competing with current hotels! www.antumalal.com
 
May 21st, 2003, 11:16 AM
  #2  
 
Join Date: May 2003
Posts: 1
The Antumalal is a wonderful experience. For more than 10 years I have been a regular visitor. My family and I spent a week there a few months ago and we thoroughly enjoyed our visit. In particular, we loved the charming accommodations and personal attention we received from the staff. We took some lovely hikes recommended by the owners and saw parts of Chile that do not appear in any of the guidebooks - a very special experience!! I have booked again for later this month and my family and I will be back for our annual visit early next year. Do not miss this lovely hotel if you are visiting Pucon!!
kathyc is offline  
May 22nd, 2003, 12:20 PM
  #3  
sweetsue
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I have stayed many, many places, and this hotel is not what most people think it is. There was no personal attention, and the food is horrible. Try and get a cup of coffee before 8:30AM. Go down the road to the new Park Lake hotel. We had a 700 sq ft suite, perfect service, great food, for only $140 per night. The Antumalal is $140 for a room (tiny) or $190 for a suite. That is the off season.

I'm glad to you like it. Our short stay had only two rooms occupied and we both checked out at the same time. They need the business!

I will add that personal service is not that unique! All five star hotels should offer that as standard policy. Maybe you are attached to the family, and cannot look at the hotel from the perspective of what you are NOT getting for your $$$$$$$$$.
 
Jun 1st, 2003, 07:22 PM
  #4  
 
Join Date: May 2003
Posts: 1
My husband and I just returned from a wonderful stay at the Hotel Antumalal and were quite shocked to see the posting from ?Sweet Sue? because it was such a different experience from ours. In short, we have traveled around the world and stayed in many first class hotels. The Hotel Antumalal is right up there with some of the most memorable stays we have enjoyed. It is a perfect complement to the beautiful natural surroundings of the Lake District, with marvelous views from every room and a décor that reflects the region. Each room has beautiful wood paneling from the distinctive araucaria trees that are found in the nearby forests and nice touches like wood tables and lamps with tree bases. We had two spacious rooms, each with a cozy fireplace that was lit by the efficient staff within minutes of a call to the front desk. The bed was so comfortable and the setting so peaceful that we enjoyed the more relaxing sleep we?ve had in years.

The meals were equally memorable. Before our stay at the Antumalal, we stayed at a first class hotel in Santiago with a top-rated restaurant and we can honestly say that the meals at the Hotel Antumalal were the best we had in Chile. I don?t know how much more one could want for breakfast than yogurt, ham and cheese, freshly baked breads and muffins, cereal, and eggs upon request. Not to mention fresh milk from the farm of the owner?s father. I?ve never tasted milk this fresh in my life. Dinner was a pleasure from beginning to end, starting with Pisco sours in front of the warm fireplace in the handsomely appointed bar. On the nights we were there, the chef treated us to delectable pine nuts that were sauted in butter and garlic. These were the most huge pine nuts we?d ever seen, meaty on the inside, and apparently from the local araucaria trees. The menu was varied and well-prepared, from seafood and vegetarian options, to beef.

The staff was more than accommodating to us throughout our stay, continually asking us if there was anything we needed. Each morning, they helped us with suggestions, directions, and maps to local spots of interest, some of which were not well covered in the guidebooks. At the last minute, they secured a massage appointment for me upon my return at the end of the day.

I can only say that perhaps Sweet Sue was expecting more of a glitzy hotel experience, complete with glass-enclosed elevators and swim-up bars. Hotel Antumalal is not the Ritz Carlton, but frankly that is not what we wanted or expected when we chose to explore the natural beauty of Chile?s Lake District. I would compare this experience to the wonderful ambience of the Post Ranch Inn in Big Sur, California or Anse Chastanet in Saint Lucia. Like those, the Hotel Antumal perfectly complements its surrounding natural beauty and creates a uniquely memorable experience.
rlitwak is offline  
Jun 12th, 2003, 12:45 PM
  #5  
JP
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 182
Or you can avoid being disappointed with your expensive hotel and stay somewhere like we did last November near Villaricca, at the El Parque Cabanas. Cute, modern cottage overlooking the lake for under $30 per night.
JP is offline  

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