The western coast of Chile feels something like what Northern California must have looked like 100 years ago, with a dusting of Baja cactus thrown in. However, Hotel Alaia, situated just above the black sand beach facing the famed surf of Punta de Lobos, is far from ancient. Founded in 2014, the boutique hotel is a sun-soaked daydream, as well as the only thing pulling you away from the waves, whether it’s the surreal view from your bed or the afternoon meal of tiraditos and a pisco sour.
When you first drop into Pichilemu from the north, fields of raspberries fall behind and forests of eucalyptus soar up on either side. The colorful, dusty town rolls out in front of you, but it’s the point in the distance that catches the eye: glittering with the promise of whitewater. That point is Punta de Lobos, a supremely special place protected as a world surf reserve, thanks to the Save the Waves foundation. Despite efforts from developers to pursue large projects on the point above the “morros,” or the iconic rocks at the tip of the point, these foundations have protected the land and the wave, which are sacred places for not just Chilean surfers, but the entire community.
Hotel Alaia respects this sentiment; though the proximity to the surf is close, their profile is low. The hotel was built with primarily recycled wood, a large part of that being salvaged from the wreckage of the 2010 tsunami that devastated the coast. A series of select, small bungalows discreetly dot the dunes, all facing the sea, and if you’re not on the beach you’re probably in one of the wood-fired hot tubs or settling in for what’s bound to be a good meal in the hotel’s restaurant. For somewhere with simple demands, Hotel Alaia fulfills them all beyond question. Someday, we may never leave. Someday. – Colleen Conroy