Canadian-Argentine eco-hotel draws global attention to world treasure in Argentina
It was only a few years ago that Canadian Sharilyn Amy stepped foot for this first time on the dramatic Patagonian Steppe known as Peninsula Valdés. Her Argentine business associate, Marcelo Battilana, had a thought that the development of something new, on the beach in the heart of this UNESCO World Heritage site, might be of interest to the serial entrepreneur.
“When I first arrived on the Peninsula, I was struck by how familiar the landscape was. It felt like coming home to the windswept, desert environment of the western Canadian plains,” explains Amy. But then she realized that this biosphere reserve, surrounded by ocean and isolated from the mainland by a thin land bridge, held a treasure chest full of unique Patagonian stories and biological riches. “Despite my world exploration in nature, I had never seen such an abundance of wildlife, so easily accessible in its natural habitat, as that which we have on Peninsula Valdés. Right away, I knew there was an untold story here that was worthy of a broader global audience and that we had an opportunity to help connect people to a life-changing experience through their interaction with the wilds of coastal Patagonia.”
Given the biological sensitivity and importance of the zone in the breeding and nurturing patterns of large marine animals such as the Southern Right Whale and the Elephant Seal, Battilana and Amy decided to develop their property sustainably and have since built a boutique, award-winning eco-hotel in which every patio and balcony overlooks the turquoise waters of the bay. Often, guests can watch whales whilst enjoying a glass of Malbec right from the comfort of their own private balcony.
“The 37m2 suites are styled as self-contained mini-condos,” describes Battilana. “Each has a full bathroom with large rain shower, significant storage, fully-equipped kitchenette and several have interior doors to attached to neighbouring suites in order to provide lots of space for larger families.”
But far from an apart-hotel, Océano Patagonia has a distinct beachy-luxury style, reflected in the use of soulful, recycled Oregon pine finishings and creamy micro-cement floors and walls.
Battilana continues, “The show-stopping feature of each suite is the incredible view to the ocean, so the ocean-facing side of the building is almost entirely glass, floor to ceiling. We kept the interiors simple, in order to feature this view and to let the light of that natural environment saturate the farthest reaches of each room.”
A second-place finish for Sustainable Hotels in the national Hoteles Más Verdes competition and selection in Chubut Innova for its eco-innovation indicates only in part the recognition that this luxury oasis has received for its investments in geothermal and photovoltaic energy, water recycling, LED-designed lighting, and other technologies to reduce its impact on the environment through building and operation.
“It was important to us to source the best technology and utilize sustainable development principles, given that what we provide our guests is a unique opportunity to connect eye-to-eye with some of the world’s most beloved creatures within the natural world,” explains Amy. “We wanted our guests to know that their visit here is a form of responsible tourism, and the side benefit for us after the initial capital outlay, is that our operational costs are significantly lowered.”
Studies have shown that compared to other buildings of its size, Océano Patagonia uses only 5% of the energy required to heat, cool and provide hot water and uses only 50% of the energy consumption related to lighting.
Developed as an eco-hotel, the units are individually titled and Battilana and Amy are looking toward a future where they will open up an opportunity for other investors to participate in the business as a going concern whilst enjoying their private, hotel-serviced suite whenever they choose to.
“Océano has been operating since 2016, and we have a strong track record commercially,” Battilana explains. “Given that beach front property is significantly limited globally, our development provides a chance for investors to enjoy titled ownership and business participation.”
Note: Selected as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1999, Peninsula Valdés is home to whales, orcas, elephant seals, sea lions, penguins, dolphins, guanacos, emu, mara and more than 150 bird species, amongst other wild residents. This biosphere reserve provides year-round tourism opportunities through a wide host of tour service providers based on the peninsula in the quaint village of Puerto Pirámides, and via the nearby city of Puerto Madryn.
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