*As seen in The Logbook
The owners of Hotel José Nogueira are proud of the history of their hotel and with good reason. The protected building has become a representation of strength, class and triumph in the city of Puna Arenas with many of the locals recounting the story of the building which now holds the hotel. We spoke with Marie Louise Roux Pittet Gerente, hotel spokesperson regarding what makes Hotel José Nogueira so special.
THE SETTING. THE CITY OF PUNTA ARENAS
The city of Punta Arenas in Patagonia has become known throughout the country as a “free zone” thanks to commercial, cultural development which means that visitors can purchase products from around the world with reduced taxes. As it is a great place to buy imported products at a great price there is always a steady traffic of both international and national travellers.
According to Marie, the city can be visited throughout the year for a range of different activities. During winter the ski season is open at the Club Andino ski centre and King penguins can be seen in Tierra del Fuego. During spring and summer, the visits to the colonies of Magellanic penguin in Isla Magdalena and Otway Sound are not to be missed.
Also, a trip to Punta Arenas would be disgracefully incomplete without enjoying the rich Patagonian cuisine which includes a number of traditional regional dishes like lamb stick, crab and others.
“Even if it isn’t your first time visiting the city,” says Marie, “You should always stay for a couple of days to get the full taste and scope of it.”
THE HOTEL JOSE NOGUEIRA
The rich history of Punta Arenas has resulted in a fascinating nineteenth century architecture. Around the main square there are buildings that stand out like the cathedral, the Government House, the traditional Cabo de Hornos Hotel, Sara Braun Palace and José Menéndez Residence. All of them have been declared National monuments, as these mansions of the nineteenth and early twentieth century are closely related to the origins and history of the southern population.
Hotel José Nogueira, is situated in the Sara Braun Palace which has over time become one of the most characteristic buildings in the city, highlighted by its beautiful setting in front of the Plaza Muñoz Gamero, and surrounded by other national monument buildings.
It has twenty two rooms in total, consisting of seventeen standard and five suites all decorated in a classic style inspired by the early nineteenth century look of the building. Situated in front of the main square of the city, the hotel’s front door opens onto the main shopping street, so guests are right in the hub of the city. Onsite, there is also the Shackleton Bar.
“Shackleton’s bravery, leadership and his unforgettable adventure and the fact he was a special guest of Sara Braun in her mansion, inspired the environment of our bar,” says Marie, “It is decorated with a collection of watercolour paintings that depict Shackleton’s odyssey in this land and a meticulous recreation of the original whiskey, taken to Antarctica by Shackleton in one of his expeditions between 1907 and 1909.”
A LOVE OF ARCHITECTURE
According to Marie, the hotel is perfect for people that love architecture and local history. And can appreciate the effort made by the pioneers of the Patagonian territory. She explains that in order to keep the building structure the available space was adapted, therefore not all of the rooms are exactly the same, resulting in some being more spacious than others.
“Keep in mind that each one of them counts with its own personality and characteristics,” she says, “All set with the highest standards which we ensure every guest to the Hotel José Nogueira receives.”
RESCUING THE BUILDING
The building is currently owned by the Union Club, which was formed in 1960 by regional business owners when they purchased the Sara Braun Palace to rescue the building from foreign investors. Valuing the history of the property and seeing it as an important patrimony of the pioneer period of the region.
However, despite this the building fell into disrepair and the opening of the hotel was the second rescue that required a full renovation. This renewal was managed by two members of the Union Club and private business owners Jorge Jordan and Jaime Vasquez.
“This building was always part of the social and cultural life of Punta Arenas, as a part of the Nogueira Braun family spirit. In the use of the palace as a restaurant, bar and hotel, the memory of the former owners is kept alive,” says Marie.
THE FORMER OWNERS
Sara Braun moved from Russia to the Southern Lands in 1874 and married the successful Portuguese businessman José Nogueira. He had made a great fortune in shipping activities, sea lion hunting and sheep farming and after his death of tuberculosis in 1893, Sara went on to administer the great inheritance. This included businesses in livestock, commercial, shopping and industry and she became the only female entrepreneur in Punta Arenas and continued to expand and grow the business, forming the Sara Braun Livestock and Commercial Corporation in 1914.
THE IMPORTANCE OF LOOKING AFTER THE DETAILS
In 1982 the mansion was declared a national monument, since then the main characteristics of the building cannot be modified. In 1992, part of the Sara Braun building became the Hotel José Nogueira. And in the same spirit of protecting the history of the building, the hotel approaches looking after its guests and reputation just as seriously.
Marie reveals that Hotel José Nogueira has incorporated the Hyla German ecological equipment for all of their cleaning including dust extraction, environmental sanitisation and in-depth cleaning of surfaces, carpets, hangings and linens. The range of equipment used is certified by the European community, ISO 9001 and by the Swiss Greenbase Biotechnology laboratory. Guaranteeing the elimination of allergies and asthma caused by dust and mites, its emanation is 100% pure air.
“With this we can say that all our rooms are hypoallergenic, even those with carpets which is excellent news for our future guests,” says Marie.
When services are sold, especially those that deal with experiences and hospitality, human relations are the main resources of your business.
“Many times,” Marie says, “It is the personal relationship that is generated with the customers that makes the difference between deciding whether to buy from you or the competition.”
Creating and maintaining this personal relationship requires responding to the needs of the guest and taking immediate and decisive action on complaints. Marie tells us that they send surveys to guests after any stay and answer all the comments in TripAdvisor and Otas.
Open communication is important and so they make use of all the different forms of communication to speak with guests. This includes being active and present on email, social media, their web page and telephone, offering the fastest answers with the most personalised service.
Marie testifies, “The memory of its former owners still lives in the use of the palace as a restaurant, bar and hotel. And we are passionate about sharing their legacy with our guests.”
PRICE: Low season USD 131 high season USD 226
TELEPHONE NUMBER: 0056 61 2711000/001/003