Arakur Resort & Spa – Ushuaia’s hilltop hotel retreat
The Arakur Resort & Spa is a spectacular hotel that overlooks the city of Ushuaia, Argentina, and specializes in comfort, quiet and pampering … which is exactly what you want after making your way to the southernmost tip of South America, appropriately dubbed “the end of the world.”
Situated on a hilltop at the edge of town, the Arakur Ushuaia, sits in its own 247-acre natural reserve called Cerro Alarken where you can take in a 360-degree view just minutes out the hotel’s backdoor.
Of course, you can hike much farther, too. Whether you do the gentle stroll or a half-day hike with a lunch packed by the Arakur is your choice after a grueling journey and perhaps before a cruise onward since so many ships head out from Ushuaia to Antarctica and beyond.
We arrived via taxi – an inexpensive, easy ride for the 6 miles from the airport – and were greeted by a hospitable desk staff that likely realizes new arrivals are often bleary with jet lag. They get you checked in, explain all the amenities at the Arakur Resort, and get you scooted off to your room quickly, even early. Although as you drag your suitcase along the lobby toward the elevator, you can’t help but gape at the expansive lobby, fireplace seating, and the floor-to-ceiling windows…. There are those views again.
The room is simple and refined with high-tech controls and lighting that may take a little getting used to. There is of course a large desk, which could even accommodate two if you asked for a second chair. Quiet? Well, of course, although one warning is the constant crunch of gravel under tires if your room is overlooking the front road and parking area. A complimentary shuttle from hotel-to-city runs every hour from about 8 a.m. to 11:30 p.m., with a return every hour too. (Sadly, you really cannot walk to town since the road is winding and dusty in the summer and has plenty of snow in the winter.)
What will of course grab you at the Arakur Resort are the pools, spa and workout areas, included with your stay, no hidden resort fees!
And you will want to leave time to indulge, as we did daily.
Now, about eating. Yes! The breakfast buffet is, dare we say it, to DIE for – and included in all room rates. It offers anything and everything your little heart desires – and more…. Our tip: Go late enough to make that your first and only meal other than dinner in the evening! Of course, there are those views again from the dining room, and the window tables are very popular!
The restaurant is also popular, and you will need reservations. Note, it will make a good dent in your wallet. We quite enjoyed the bar area and the simple food we could get there – with those omnipresent views.
Owners of the Arakur Ushuaia Resort & Spa made an effort to use colors that would not be obnoxious and to incorporate the hotel into the rocks and trees, while using materials present on site. In fact, rocks and materials were used as decor in the building, adding natural materials like natural fibers and wood. The carpet is made of llama, with some wood on the restaurant level coming from Patagonian Cherry. The Arakur Resort opened in 2014, after seven years of construction, due to harsh winter weather limiting construction during that season. It now has 117 rooms and suites.
We were lucky enough in early 2018 to get a look at the fourth floor, where the Arakur was building out an all-suite level with even more privacy. At the time of this writing we were told that level would be finished by the end of 2019 with 17 additional suites.
The Arakur Resort is a popular hotel for ships to house their clients pre- and sometimes post-cruises (we were there with Polar Latitudes), partly because it’s large enough to also hold a few hundred people and there are also meeting rooms for pre-cruise meetings. That means that during the Antarctica cruise season, it can be, one, very busy and, two, expensive. That season runs from about November to March, and we were told the low season at the hotel is April, May and June with correspondingly great prices. Note also that gratuities at the hotel are included in the price – what a great feature – and additional tips on top of that are used to help further develop and maintain the nature reserve.
If you are not heading out to Antarctica, Falklands, Georgia or the likes, Ushuaia makes a great stop itself, only a short distance from hikes in the Tierra del Fuego, with one that takes you to the border of Chile. Other hikes include the Glacier El Martial and Cerro Castor, both are ski resorts and you may need rides or a taxi to the base. And please pack layers and water since weather is quite changeable in Ushuaia.