Upon opening its doors back in 2006, this mega-resort some 90 km (56 miles) from Santiago had the biggest pool in the world, before finally being outdone by a posh complex in Egypt in 2015. Just over a kilometer (0.62 miles) long, San Alfonso’s mammoth manmade lagoon covers a whopping 8 hectares (20 acres), descends 35 meters (115 feet) at its deepest point, and requires 250 million liters (66 million gallons) to fill.
Sound like a massive of a waste of water? Not really, actually, because the precious resource is pumped in from the Pacific Ocean before being treated and filtered. Advanced filtration technology ensures the seawater remains an inviting turquoise color and can be maintained at a balmy 26ºC (79ºF) all year round.
This mega project, headed by Chilean company Crystal Lagoons, took over five years and cost a staggering US$1.5 billion dollars (€1.2 billion) to complete. Each year, maintenance of the filtration system runs in excess of US$4 million (€3.2 million).
Yet despite such outrageous construction and operational costs, Alfonso del Mar is surprisingly affordable. For example, a week-long package for a one bedroom apartment in summer goes for US$970 (€780), or just US$161 (€129) per night.
Note that the complex is actually a holiday real estate project rather than a hotel, meaning most of the apartments here are privately owned. Nevertheless, San Alfonso does rent a few apartments out to curious holidaymakers and there is usually plenty of availability on Airbnb as well.
As you would expect from a billion dollar resort, the facilities at San Alfonso del Mar are top notch. Guests are able to enjoy a fully equipped gym, a hair salon, multiple restaurants, a pub, a nightclub, an art gallery, an open-air amphitheater, a supermarket, and more. Children have plenty of playgrounds and social space while each and every apartment boasts uninterrupted views of the pool and the sea.
Those looking to learn a new skill can get professional tuition in SCUBA, kayaking, and sailing – all of which are undertaken in the massive lagoon. Other sports facilities include tennis courts, a regulation size football pitch, and a series of volleyball courts on its stunning artificial white sandy beaches.
Of course, there is a real beach just a few minutes away. But then again, it’s much colder and nowhere near as nice.