Hotel Touring Club is a very special place that has existed practically since the town was founded as a railway terminal station. At first, there were two adjoining hotels, namely: “Hotel del Ferrocarril” and “La Estación”. Later on, the former was turned into “El Globo”, visited by President Julio Argentino Roca in 1899 and by three famous American outlaws three years later: Butch Cassidy, Sundance Kid and Ethel Place. A theme room located in the palm tree yard invites everyone to revive the legend.
In l905, a successful merchant purchased both hotels. His name was Agustín Puyol and he had started his business in northwestern Chubut, where he used to own rural stores and carts. His operation center was located in Puerto Madryn, where he built a small castle on a hill. Today, this building has been turned into the “Natural Science Museum”.
Pujol married Anita Jones, daughter of Welsh colonists, and by 1924, he started building in the southern area. He raised a hotel with the most modern details of the time. Inaugurated in 1926 under the name “Hotel Touring Club”, it unified the bar and the old “El Globo” hotel. He hired an Italian architect called Luis Gazzin, who settled down in the area and carried out very important works. The constructor, Merífico, and many masons were also Italian.
The aviator and writer Antoine de Saint Exupéry, author of the highly successful novel “Night Flight” and the famous story “The Little Prince”, became a frequent guest in the 1930s. A plate commemorates his visits at the entrance hall.
The “Touring” has several halls: the classic bar with mirrors and bottles, an elegant dining-room with columns crowned with lions and a gallery for the orchestra, as well as a large-sized ballroom that no longer exists and whose balcony used to overlook Fontana Street. Thousands of gatherings that have contributed to the history of this city have taken place at these halls.
Presidents such as Frondizi and Illia, sportsmen like the Galvez brothers and Fangio, and politicians like Allende and Palacios have stayed at this hotel. Likewise, other less renowned visitors who have done a very important job in Patagonia were lodged at this venue. Some of them were cattle raisers, civil servants, teachers, artists and travelers. The latter are an endangered species due to the advanced communications technology. They used to be a crowd at the Touring for many years.
The spacious coffee house has always been a meeting point where all kinds of social, sports and political meetings which gave origin to institutions and projects such as the aluminum plant in Madryn, the first cable channel, Ameghino Dam and many others were held. There are many pictures on the mirrors that cover up the walls. These images take us back to this and other stories, like the press conference given by the survivors of the massacre of Trelew, or that presented by Agustín Tosco when he was released from prison. The names of governors, mayors and other candidates were many times decided at its tables.
Two Asturian brothers, Luis and Rafael Fernández, and their wives Manuela Josefa and Albina rented this hotel from Pujol’s widow in 1949. Their big effort and sacrifice had excellent results and helped them buy the property in 1966. Later on, Rafael took distance from the hotel, Luis passed away and his wife Manuela Josefa, known as Doña Pepa, took charge of the hotel with the aid of their children Luis and Rafael.
In the mid 1990s, when all ancient constructions were given a new value, the hotel was declared part of the Cultural and Natural Heritage of the City of Trelew (1995) “With generous walls and vast staircases, with festive wall tiles and magical staircases, the Touring gets us closer“ V. Zampini
This challenge remains and lets visitors enjoy not only the comfort of this hotel with TV, Wi Fi, private bathrooms, parking and medical service but also the magic of a past that becomes present in the wink of an eye.
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