The power house of the hydroelectric plant and the Hotel Futeleufú, on June 25, 1975

In the heart of the Andes Mountains, a hotel that lived its golden days in the ’70s lays in ruins on the cold Patagonian soil. Located 45 kilometers from Esquel, the site became a tourist attraction thanks to its terrifying scenery. Abandonment, graffiti and an uncomfortable silence are the three characteristics that define it. However, his now bleak story was not always like that, but had a moment of great splendor. “The work was impressive”expressed Luis Moscovakis In dialogue with LA NACION, a former employee of the Agua y Energía company, in charge of its construction.

It was the year 1978. In the province of Chubut, a huge and wonderful work finally came to an end and was inaugurated to the public after 7 long years. It was about the Futaleufu Hydroelectric Power Plant, created for the purpose of powering the Aluar aluminum plant in Puerto Madryn. The construction included -around it- the design of a striking hotel accompanied by a dreamlike landscape: snowy mountains, hundreds of trees and a beautiful river with crystal clear water, just like an image taken from a fairy tale. Although the first intention when it was built was to accommodate the directors of the work and groups of foreign workers, ended with a sad denouement when they all left for their respective places of origin and left the imposing place.

The power house of the hydroelectric plant and the Hotel Futeleufú, on June 25, 1975mario rossi

“It was engineers and architects from Water and Energy of Buenos Aires who stood in that place and said ‘what a beautiful view we have to make a hotel’. Of course, at 40 kilometers you had the Nant and Fall waterfallsall the beauty of Rio Grande and the Futaleufu River”, Luis recounted when remembering the time he worked there.

That peculiar and at the same time surprising idea due to the terrain in which it was going to take place, finally came to fruition. The mega-venture had two floors, an outdoor parking lot, three private houses for senior workers and a residence for guests. “The work was very impressive, I had entered a short time ago and was the driver of a veteran AySA professional. They did everything big. It was made for professionals, preferably for foreigners who came from companies like Melco and Neyrpic”, he remarked.

People arrived in the characteristic vehicles of the time, from a Fiat 600, to a Chevrolet 53, Ford, Opel, among others. Upon entering, guests found themselves in a spacious hall and a beautiful wooden door. Once there there was a reception and some stairs that led to a huge living room.

On the other hand, there was a cobbled stove that stood out on a white wall of which there are no traces today. There was also a swinging door where you entered the dining room and where there was also the kitchen, the boiler and an elevator. It is worth mentioning that the latter was something unusual for that time and the area, since the surrounding towns did not have a large number of inhabitants and all these technological advances produced an astonishment difficult to describe.

Views of the Futaleufú Hotel in the 1970s Photo: Esquel Historical Archive
Views of the Futaleufú Hotel in the 1970s Photo: Esquel Historical Archive

“After doing all that route, you found yourself with the five service rooms. You kept walking and had to make a U-turn, which precisely took you to the garage area. On the second floor side, a long corridor led to several rooms with a privileged view and an en-suite bathroom”, Luis listed.

From overnight, the place became the visiting center for families who came from far away to see their husbands, parents or children, all workers of this immense construction. “In addition to the fact that the main function of the hotel was to accommodate the people involved in the work, their families also came to the Futaleufú Dam and in passing to get to know the area, with dream places that were in Trevelin and Esquel”.

Among the memories that he keeps in his memory, Luis commented on one that he still keeps very present: some Swedish workers installed in the hotel nothing more and nothing less than a sauna, something unusual and strange for that time. “It was very rare at the time, we laughed when we saw it,” he said.

There were 15 employees in the hotel, who, in addition to attending to the people staying, performed other types of services: “The place was venue for birthdays, weddings and all kinds of celebrations. It was highly requested and drew everyone’s attention.”

The views towards the Hotel Futaleufú in the 70's
The views towards the Hotel Futaleufú in the 70’sEsquel Historical Archive

As the work on the Futaleufú dam was completed, the hotel slowly began to deteriorate. When it was all over, the professionals and workers left the place where they lived for so many years and returned to their homes.

The Futaleufú Hotel is located in the Futaleufú Hydroelectric Complex, 12 kilometers from the city of Trevelin, Chubut
The Futaleufú Hotel is located in the Futaleufú Hydroelectric Complex, 12 kilometers from the city of Trevelin, ChubutPablo

“I remember that at some point a sector was arranged for a contractor who came to make an improvement to live, and the date on which it began to deteriorate coincides with the moment of the inauguration of the dam, in 1978. The saddest thing was when they started loading things. I was wondering ‘where is all this going?’, and they told me that they were taking everything to other provinces of the country. In fact, in Córdoba I was on vacation at a campsite and I found the Futaleufú sauna heater, I knew it was that because I remembered it by heart. When I asked, they actually told me it was the same one,” Moscovakis explained.

The entrance of the Hotel Futaleufú today;  (Photo: Pablo Bavaro)
The entrance of the Hotel Futaleufú today; (Photo: Pablo Bavaro)Paul Bavaro

Although he tries not to stay with the negative of the time, for Luis the Hotel had all the possibilities of being an incredible place and capable of lasting: “It’s pitiful. There were 4 people who said ‘how nice, let’s build the hotel here’. You arrived and you had nowhere to go, since you had to take the same path to go to the construction site or to go to Trevelin. It was not a transit hotel.

After everything that happened, the Hotel Futaleufú became part of the Municipality of Trevelin, a city located 12 kilometers away. Although at first the idea of ​​the officials was to sell it, there was no buyer and little by little it traveled a path of deterioration and vandalism by visitors who, curious to see what was there, entered without authorization.

The entrance of the Hotel Futaleufú today;  (Photo: Catalina del Blanco)
The entrance of the Hotel Futaleufú today; (Photo: Catalina del Blanco)Catherine of the White

By 2009 the place was in the hands of the province of Chubut and there were several projects that were presented, but that never lasted: from installing a prison, a hot springs space and even a technological pole. For several years it has been part of the attractions of the area and thousands of people come to learn about its history. In theory, the hotel can only be accessed by those who work at the hydroelectric plant, but locals and tourists enter regularly and endless of youtubers they arrive they go to capture incredible photos and videos showing how it looks today.

Passing through your entrance There is no longer a trace of the wood that once attracted attention. Several billboards, broken glass and bricks make up a landscape that stopped in time, added to the gloomy scene of intervened walls with graffiti, a long corridor and stairs without their respective railings.

The corridor and the rooms of the Hotel Futaleufú, nowadays;  (Photos: Catalina del Blanco, Maximiliano Vázquez)
The corridor and the rooms of the Hotel Futaleufú, nowadays; (Photos: Catalina del Blanco, Maximiliano Vázquez)

Disorder and abandonment fill the space. In the place where the rooms used to be, you can see that everything was stolen and that the showers contain dead rodents inside, in addition to the fact that in all sectors there is dust, spider webs and absolute darkness. In the kitchen, a bell hangs from the ceiling and shows a clear sign of deterioration. The broken windows coalesced with the dust left by years of neglect and intermingle with the slabs scattered on the ground. All in the midst of the imposing Andean landscape.

The kitchen of the Hotel Futaleufú today;  (Photo: Maximiliano Vázquez)
The kitchen of the Hotel Futaleufú today; (Photo: Maximiliano Vázquez)Maximilian Vazquez

In this way, what was a wonderful place, today it is the closest thing to a house from a horror movie. However, the structure that remains standing today was -undoubtedly- will be witness while it is still there of a key time for the town, and of a past that wrote an important chapter in the history of southern Argentina.

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