The human factor makes the difference in giving journalists the opportunity to experience a tourist destination.
Just like the most diverse activities and industries, Public Relations was affected by the covid-19 pandemic. With the arrival of the virus, creativity had to be put into practice; the most traditional tactics had to be completely suspended, without even being able to consider their reprogramming due to the uncertainty generated by the health crisis.
The impossibility of crowding people together affected the holding of events for more than a year, regardless of their purpose or the number of people involved. This reality also affected the Fam Press, it means familiarization trips for journalists, preventing these professionals from having the opportunity to live the experience of visiting a tourist destination in first person in order to subsequently increase their visibility.
Even so, with the passage of time, and with the implementation of different biosecurity protocols, public relations professionals found innovative alternatives that, although far from the traditional ones, allowed the experiences of those involved to be much more significant than before.
Fam Press: winter 2021 in Bariloche
The beginning of a new winter season allowed the Ente Mixto de Promoción Turística (Emprotur) of Bariloche to once again hold a Fam Press with the support of the Axon Marketing & Communications team. As an example of resilience, the inhabitants of this Patagonian city, which depends entirely on tourism, demonstrated in each activity of the itinerary a strong motivation to recover and move forward despite the circumstances, and in the following chronicle I explain the reason why.
Around 5:00 p.m., a warm welcome with gifts from the driver and tour guide marked the beginning of the trip. After 15 kilometers of beautiful mountain scenery on the sides of the road, the iconic Civic Center of the city greeted our contingent.
At the height of Bustillo Avenue, a main avenue that borders the Nahuel Huapi Lake, a steep ramp ended at the main entrance of the Huinid Bustillo Hotel, accommodation selected to provide an excellent stay. There awaited authorities of the institution and in the rooms, of individual character, more presents and a beautiful view of the lake.
Almost at 8:30 p.m., the previously arranged time, a vehicle was waiting to take us to the first gastronomic activity of the Fram Press. At Quiven, a journey of senses and haute cuisine on the shores of the Nahuel Huapi, we immersed ourselves in the art of the flavors and ingredients of the region with a menu by steps proposed by Chef Pablo Quiven, who at the end of the evening, came to greet us at the table with respect.
This is not a minor detail. On the contrary, it gave us a glimpse of how the service would be during the rest of the trip. The cordiality and the warm and personalized service were present once again and would not go away.
At 7:30 a.m. the breakfast time began, strategically selected to provide a pleasant experience without the need to run to meet the agenda of activities, and in full compliance with the biosafety protocols required in closed spaces.
In the dining room, taking temperature and placing alcohol gel awaited a truly varied and exquisite proposal. Fresh fruit juices or coffees; teas and chocolate for those who prefer a hot drink; yogurt with red fruits and cereals; and an extensive variety of pastries that included the most traditional sweet or savory croissants, puddings of different flavors, the classic pasta frola, exquisite brownies for chocolate lovers, and different types of breads that could be toasted and accompanied with butter, spreadable cheese, honey or sweets and jams, were just some of the products that made up the menu.
Needless to say that at each table there was an alcohol gel and that the self-service mode was completely discarded, adding at the beginning of the day a pleasant and not minor “good morning, how are you? and what can I serve you?” by the hotel staff; chinstraps and distance were also always applied when going for a new snack.
At 9:00 a.m., the first stop of the tour was in downtown Bariloche, in order to get the snowsuits, so necessary to enjoy the place and avoid the cold and the clothes getting wet after contact with the snow. Equipped with jacket, pants, gloves and special boots, the new destination was Cerro Catedral, located 19 kilometers from the city of San Carlos de Bariloche.
With 32 lifts, 60 runs and more than 120 kilometers of trails for skiers and snowboarders of all levels, Catedral is an unmissable place for travelers who come to this emblematic city in the Argentinian Patagonia.
There, after picking up the necessary equipment, a baptism class at the base of the mountain awaited us. When we finished it, there were still two more chairlift rides to access the Lynch Refuge, a restaurant and mountain refuge located at 2,000 meters above sea level that delighted us with its exquisite local recipes. The hot dishes and the contrast with the cold snowy landscape that could be seen from the window formed a magical and harmonious dichotomy.
With the body temperature restored, the trip now had to be made to the base. Together with the journalists and the authorities of the institutions involved, we enjoyed together and in solitude, each one engrossed in his own experience and enjoying in his own way that silence so characteristic of the mountain and that magical view that can be seen from the heights of natural snowy landscapes.
Around 5:00 p.m., back at the hotel, we had to get ready for another unique activity. At kilometer 24.7, and with the aim of providing visitors with the best beer experience in the world, the doors of Cerveza Patagonia, a microbrewery characterized by its homebrewing workshops, live band nights and beer tours, were open.
Welcomed by Lucía Molina, from the marketing area of the place, we enjoyed a tour of the brewing plant. The particularity of this branch is that here they do not produce in quantity, but invent and create flavors that are then tested in specific markets and, if approved, are then mass-produced in other plants.
We were then part of the “Experiencia Domos”, strategically located to get in touch with nature and enjoy its sounds, flavors, peace and energy. This proposal of pairing gastronomy and varieties of beers, is held in the Domo Refuge, surrounded by forests, lakes and mountains, in the heart of the establishment.
After a first selection of drinks according to the tastes and preferences of those who were there, we followed an introduction by the hosts of the place about the real experience of the shelters and the values that characterize those who practice and proclaim this way of life. The whole evening revolved around this idea.
The bruschettas were followed by a pumpkin soup served directly from a pot, just as it is made in the real shelters and, finally, a dessert that, despite being sweet, let you taste the grains of salt that made up the dough. An exotic experience that managed to highlight the best of the traditional.
The third day began the same as the previous one, with the difference that a soft snowfall colored the view in white. This time, the first destination was Cerro Otto and the Piedras Blancas complex.
This tourist attraction with its own exclusive characteristics that differentiate it from other winter centers, is characterized by its content linked to the history of the place. It was here where skiing began to develop, with the first school directed by the mythical Otto Meiling, a German mountaineer who settled in the city of San Carlos de Bariloche.
With a strong focus on the tourist who makes contact with the snow for the first time, here it is possible to slide on sleds, tour the area by snow-bus, learn to ski at the little school, take snowboarding lessons, and enjoy and have fun with family and friends.
After the sled races and snow tubing, a hot drink and a much-needed wood stove awaited us at the on-site restaurant. Having recovered our energy, we continued with the Zipline, an experience that allows us to enjoy the sensation of “flying” in a safe and fun way and in full contact with nature.
This activity consists of sliding down a cable from a starting platform to the arrival point, crossing the forest at high speed in a position similar to the gliding flight of a bird. Although it is characterized by a strong feeling of adrenaline, it is worth, without a doubt, the confrontation of fears such as height and speed.
After the Zipline, a little more than 1 kilometer uphill, we lived another very special experience at the Berghoff Refuge. This restaurant and mountain refuge, located on the slope of Cerro Otto, invites you to discover Otto Meiling’s passion for the mountain and to live a unique experience that fuses the history of mountaineering in Argentina with an exceptional view of the city of Bariloche, accompanied by cultural activities and regional food in the shelter of the forest.
Accompanied by the warmth of a wood stove, we enjoyed a wonderful view and a lunch in steps with local and fresh ingredients that showed the dedication and love for cooking and the attention that characterizes their hosts. A spicy hot chocolate drink, a recipe that seeks to recall the historical and original use of chocolate in cold areas such as Bariloche, was the perfect ending to the lunch.
Before leaving again for the hotel, a visit to Otto’s home shelter took place. After his death, the Club Andino Bariloche refurbished his house to serve as a museo de montaña, allowing visitors to visualize not only how he lived, but also the willingness, passion and enthusiasm it took to live up here at that time.
With a feeling of complete satisfaction and joy for the day’s experience, I still awaited the last dinner on the agenda. Almado, a place that defines itself as a ‘vistabar’ and cuisine of origin, does not do so on a whim. Its view of Lake Nahuel Huapi is wonderful and makes every moment unique.
The warm welcome, the great service, and the desire to share the local and natural, both from its ingredients and from its history and human values that arise from living in contact with nature, were the pillars of this trip that experience after experience turned this Fam Press into much more than just that.
Indirectly, and beyond the landscapes and gastronomy, this trip left me with great lessons: in times where human connections have been put in doubt, it is vital not to leave aside the consideration for those who are affected by our actions. It doesn’t matter if they are journalists or clients; they are human and should be treated as such. With covid-19, living unique and close experiences begins to have a different value and to guarantee different results.
Another learning, but this time from communication and public relations, is that even in times of pandemic, tourist trips are still going strong. After a year and a half living with covid-19, people can no longer wait to return to those places they fell in love with or dreamed of visiting. Destinations must take advantage of this reality and demonstrate through accurate communication that they are biosecure and take advantage of their main attributes. In the case of Bariloche, remembering that it is an outdoor destination where it is possible to comply with biosafety protocols such as distancing, has been vital to remain in the memory of travelers and tourists.