More than just a starting point, Explorers House is a gateway to the entire Antarctic experience – a space that encapsulates the spirit of Antarctica21’s expeditions, that tells a story beginning in Punta Arenas and stretching to the icy landscape of the White Continent, that brings together guests from around the globe on a journey to one of the most remote and untouched places on Earth.
PUNTA ARENAS, CHILE – Antarctica21, the adventure travel specialist that pioneered fly-and-sail expeditions to the White Continent 20 years ago, has opened its new Explorers House in the historic center of Punta Arenas. Explorers House is a first-of-its-kind facility designed for guests preparing to fly to Antarctica, skipping over the notoriously rough seas of the Drake Passage to join their ship directly at the White Continent. With amenities that include a restaurant, bar, coffee station, library, and presentation spaces, it functions as an Antarctic-themed private club, providing guests with an inspiring environment where they can relax and meet fellow travelers, as well as attend pre-departure briefings.
During the austral summer, this port city on the Strait of Magellan gets very busy as adventurers on their way to Patagonia, Tierra del Fuego, Cape Horn, and Antarctica fill hotels, restaurants, and cafes. Before Explorers House, Antarctica21 guests competed for access to the city’s limited resources. Now, they have a private gathering space where they’re greeted by members of the Antarctica21 team and enjoy the same service quality they receive aboard the company’s ships, Magellan Explorer and Ocean Nova.
“As Antarctica21 grew, we began thinking of a space in Punta Arenas where we could welcome our guests in a way that matched the feeling and elegance they would experience on our ships in Antarctica. That’s how we decided to create a space of our own,’’ said Jaime Vásquez, Co-founder and President of Antarctica21.
Explorers House is a former warehouse that processed and exported wool in the early 20th century. Antarctica21 decided to rescue the building in 2019, buying it because of its historical significance. Renowned Chilean architect Pedro Kovacic and designer Enrique Concha led the conversion project, infusing it with the spirit of Patagonian pioneers and Antarctic explorers while incorporating contemporary elements.
“There is history behind Explorers House, experiences I lived my whole life,” said Vásquéz, who is from a ranching family in Chile’s Magallanes region. “Now, the building has a new life, and its spirit is shared with visitors.”
Originally made almost entirely of wood, the 21,500-square-foot building is now covered in an insulated shell of corrugated iron to protect it from the elements. Inside, the frame of the original structure, reinforced with new metalwork, remains visible as an homage to the building’s history. Warm materials and textures invite relaxation, and turquoise-colored floors evoke Antarctica’s icebergs. A skylight along the peak of the roof and large windows let in an abundance of natural light, and rich illumination provides accents.
Furthering Antarctica21’s commitment to sustainability, many of the building’s original materials were reused, much of the upholstery is made of recycled industrial fibers, a solar panel system produces electricity and heat through radiant floors, and rainwater is harvested for use in the restrooms.
Spread over two levels, amenities guests can access before and after their expedition include:
Welcoming reception area
Restaurant with regional Chilean cuisine
Lounge space for 250 people
State-of-the-art, theater-style presentation space for 100 people
Interactive touchscreens and live information screens
Library with over 100 books
Gear and gift shop
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