How would you describe Awasi?
AWASI is an ideal place to rediscover the real meaning of luxury. Very often, luxury is mistaken for ostentation or material abundance. In AWASI we firmly believe that luxury has more to do with the simplest yet most cherished things in life, like human contact, silence, space, the contact with nature and the local culture, and most importantly, time. Free time is the most luxurious good a person may possess, and choosing how and with whom to spend it should be treated as a priority.
With this in mind, we have designed hotels that place great value on the surrounding nature, keeping to traditional building techniques and recipes in the area, where the staff that welcomes the guests is made up of people proud of what they own and willing to share it with the visitors. By offering 100% private excursions and a restaurant exclusively for our guests, we manage to take care of their time and intimacy.
What is the origin of the project? What technical and logistic implications – broadly speaking- did the creation of a lodge in the middle of the rainforest involve?
The opportunity arrived with AWASI Atacama, the first of three lodges to be built, opening back in 2007. Initially created as a traditional hotel, we came up with a tailor-made proposal. We started offering a private guide and one vehicle for each room, along with a restaurant exclusively for guests along with an all-inclusive service. It was a risky move but it worked so well that it encouraged us to use the same concept in Torres del Paine and Iguazú.
Logistically, each location has its own challenges. One of our aims is to develop lodges surrounded by pristine nature, which means that the most basic services like electricity, drinking water, phone or WiFi signal reception, as well as the handling of waste, need to be considered and thoroughly planned.
Especially in the case of AWASI Iguazú, besides all of this, we built the Main Lodge and the 14 Villas trying to generate the least possible impact on the native Atlantic Rainforest. Everything was built on stilts, always respecting the location of the great majority of native trees when constructing individual structures. In addition, dozens of tree ferns- which are centennial plants in the area- were preserved and replanted.
What kind of impact does the lodge have on the environment? How do you take care of the setting?
We do it through preservation (either buying or renting land with native vegetation whenever possible), through education (of our staff and our guests, with continuous training courses whose content is reflected in our excursions) and through cooperation with other public and private entities, such as reserves and NGOs.
Thanks to the hectares of land we preserve, AWASI is carbon neutral. This includes all our direct emissions and even those generated by our guests’ flights. However, the care for the environment may be seen not only in figures, but also in every small detail of the hotel. Our raw materials are strictly local and seasonal. In our construction and decoration abound local crafts and materials too.
Beyond what we may perceive in pictures, what are the most outstanding natural attractions that guests in AWASI Iguazu may enjoy?
Just as explained by Juan Pablo Culasso in our video “El Observador de Aves” (The Bird Watcher), beyond the breathtaking waterfalls, we encourage our guests to close their eyes and focus on what they hear and feel. The Atlantic Rainforest has a colossal biodiversity, it produces fresh ingredients and it is loaded with history and cultural influence. In AWASI we decided to place value on all of that, so that we may enjoy using all senses. We offer 4×4 trucks and our own boats to go into the forest, reach streams, lakes or trails in total solitude, avoiding the big crowds.
How are the Villas classified? How should we choose the most suitable?
Our Villas are spread out a short distance from the Main Lodge (between 100 and 400 meters) and they are completely surrounded by the native rainforest. We offer two kinds of Villas. Thirteen of them were designed to accommodate 2 persons, or 3 at most, by adding a bed. Each covers an area of 120 square meters, and features a spacious fully-equipped bathroom, sitting room with a coffee corner and a private terrace with a pool. One of these Villas is adapted for the handicapped or persons with reduced mobility, which means there are no steps or uneven surfaces and it is located the closest to the Main Lodge.
The only Villa that differs from the rest is our Master Villa, which offers similar amenities but in a much bigger size. Designed to accommodate either families or two couples traveling together, this Villa features two separate rooms (each with a bathroom) and a common sitting room. Its terrace and pool are also larger.
How easy is the access to AWASI Iguazu?
Reaching AWASI is extremely simple. We are only 30 minutes away from The Cataratas International Airport (IGR), 15 minutes from Puerto Iguazú city and 45 from the International Foz de Iguacu de Brasil Airport (IGU). A private transfer service is included to and from the airport (as long as it is in accordance with our check in and check out times), which means that our guests needn´t even bother about that. The lodge lies in a buffer zone between the Iguazu National Park and the city of Puerto Iguazú known as Selva Iryapú, which is extremely easy to access.
Which is the best time of the year to visit and why?
Iguazú is a superb destination all year round. The great majority of our guests come during the summer, usually because they live in the northern hemisphere and are escaping the winter season. Another reason is the fact that summer here is a rainy season, and that entails a greater volume of water in the falls.
Like with everything else in nature, nothing is for sure, and truth is that there is a good volume of water for most part of the year. The advantages of visiting during the fall, the winter or springtime are the lower and more pleasant temperatures and a greater presence of wildlife, which in summer tends to hide away.
How long do you recommend staying in the place, to make the most of it?
Historically, Iguazú has been thought of as a destination worth staying in for only 1 or 2 nights, to visit only the Iguazú Falls. In AWASI, we encourage people to stay for at least 3 or 4 nights, to get to know the place better and enjoy our original excursions. Some guests have even stayed for 6 or more nights in AWASI.
Can you tell us something about the joint project with Juan Pablo Culasso?
Juan Pablo Culasso is a bird expert from Uruguay. He records the singing of birds and soundscapes in high definition. Widely renowned worldwide for his ability to distinguish over 3,000 bird songs, Juan Pablo has traveled the most diverse corners of the world (Including the Antarctic) to make his recordings. In addition, he is visually impaired, which gives him further sensitivity to perceive these landscapes in a special way. As soon as we heard of his work, we invited him to AWASI (while the hotel was still in the opening process).
He spent 3 weeks with us visiting the different places we would be using for our excursions and accompanying our guides during their field training. During these outings he recorded the birds and soundscapes of the rainforest, the streams and the lakes.