Four extraordinary Latin and South American escapes
Roula Khalaf, Editor of the FT, selects her favourite stories in this weekly newsletter.
High-desert adventure in Chile
Not to be confused with Habita, British-based hotel collection Our Habitas trades in a similarly desirable aesthetic – lots of groovy contemporary spaces formed with or clad in natural surfaces and materials – as well as out-there locations and sustainable operations, in Namibia, Morocco, Mexico and beyond. But Chile’s Atacama Desert is new territory.
The brand’s 11th property is one they’re calling a “base camp”‚ a gateway to the Atacama’s multitude of wilderness attractions: geysers and hot springs, mysterious salt flats, volcanoes to scale and outrageous wildflower displays in spring. These are interspersed with pre-Columbian archaeological sites and biking trails. Along with 51 rooms and suites (hammered-earth walls and hand-woven rugs abound), there is a private restaurant and bar for guests only, where the chefs lead primer courses on desert plant uses, both culinary and medicinal (and cocktail-related). ourhabitas.com, from £240
The Oaxacan one to watch
We are long-time fans of Mexico’s Micha brothers – Moisés, Rafael and Jaime, the architecture-mad hoteliers who, together with Carlos Couturier, founded Grupo Habita in 2000, thereby establishing the country’s boutique accommodation model. From CDMX to Playa del Carmen via Puebla and Acapulco, they’ve been ahead of the curve.
In August they opened Otro Hotel in Oaxaca City, which embodies all the best traits of the brand, starting with the architecture – behind its classic Spanish-colonial façade is a series of contemporary spaces punctuated by planted courtyards. Couturier’s style marries minimalist lines with rustic, local materials: clay, leather, wood and stone whose textures add layers of richness and warm tones. There’s an underground wellbeing centre – “Otro Mundo”, another world – reached by ladder, with a pool, ice bath and steam room, and treatment suites. Evenings are for the roof terrace (another Habita signature) and enjoying a series of rotating art exhibits in the public spaces. grupohabita.com, from $400
Costa Rica’s new swell life
Up in Costa Rica, Sendero, which opened earlier this year, has a story as good as its location: Stefanie Tannenbaum got marooned in the surf town of Nosara with her husband and then-new baby by the pandemic in early 2020. What was meant to be a surfing holiday became a months-long stay, then a permanent relocation.
Sendero, which she opened with fellow expat Sarah Kosterlitz, is the result of that commitment: the surf school that already existed on the property she acquired still gets top billing; old tiles and bricks were reclaimed across the capital of San Jose and beyond for the actual building. The jungle rooms (a handful of the 25 accommodations) have outdoor showers and lower prices than the suites, which have custom platform beds, pretty crittal glass doors, separate living areas and private balconies. senderonosara.com, from $395
In Cuba, a 360-degree lifestyle (with side of Afro-Cuban beats)
And this autumn, Havana is getting a hotel the likes of which we’re betting it hasn’t yet seen. When it completes its full opening later this year, Tribe Caribe Cayo Hueso – the brainchild of a 25-year-old creative collective dedicated to promoting Afro-Cuban musical and filmed-entertainment talent to the wider world, as well as across the island – will be more of a mini-lifestyle collective than a single property.
The 11-room hotel, with its antique beds, tile floors, ceramic sinks and bold contemporary art by local talents, will have both a ground-level café and a rooftop restaurant. The whole will be complemented by a four-bedroom beach house, about a half-hour’s drive away. With its badminton court, private cabanas and outdoor barbecue zone, it seems well-accoutred for good times; should you wish to up the ante with live entertainment or chefs, the Tribe Caribe team is on hand to supply them. tribecaribecayohueso.com, from $100