And he feels his colleagues clearly haven't caught on to the concept of customer service, which is important if the local economy wants to attract tourists.
Though tourists can get a good night's sleep in most typical Patagonian lodgings, and some can be pretty good, most of them haven’t had an aesthetic update in 20–30 years. This may and may not be part of their charm.
Joffré, who tends to wear hip, rugged clothes and a rather smart ball cap, learned as he went, one step at a time. "I studied commercial engineering (a mix of business, marketing and engineering), but after that was finished, I came to climb.”
"It was like a ghost town here," he says, gesturing toward the mountains across the sound. "We rented [the house] and made a pizzeria/pub downstairs with rooms upstairs. It was the one hip place for climbers," he says.
The business started growing and from the makeshift hotel, they began offering guided trips into the park. In 1999, he bought the building.
Just over a year ago, the hotel underwent a major remodeling masterminded by noted Chilean architect (and Santiago native) Sebastián Irarrazaval. Compared to what is typical here, Indigo nattily bucks the doily and tea cozy trend. The way Joffré looks at it, who's going to say no to a beautiful room, a firm bed, and three rooftop Jacuzzis after a week of intense hiking?
Intentional or not, it was a clear plan. He wooed investors while building a base of scruffy young climbers that became well-booted clients; though still adventurous, they were increasingly fond of creature comforts. He also split the hospitality and trekking into separate ventures, giving visitors all the Patagonia they could take with his Antares Patagonia tour company and tucking them in stylishly at the beginning and end of their trek at a hotel initially called Concepto Indigo.
"The people coming through town began to change," he says. "They didn't have any trouble sleeping in a tent [while they where hiking and climbing], but they loved coming back into town and spending money for a good room and a good meal."
The potential to grow was easy to see for Joffré, but convincing Chilean investors wasn't as simple. For the investment money necessary for last year's mammoth remodeling, he had to go abroad. The locals didn’t see what the foreigners had in mind.
"I started looking for investors in Santiago, but they thought tourism was a weird idea and Patagonia too far away," he says. Instead, he found a Spanish/French couple (Spain has historical ties here, and French singer Florent Pagny went on a Patagonian kick a few years back and the region has since become a trendy destination for the Parisian jet set) who ponied up the cash.
Listening to him, it's easy to understand why he chose to veer away from the typical Patagonian hotel experience and why he's taking advantage of his perspective as an outsider.
"A local guy told me I had to have a karaoke pizza bar. I said 'No.' My target was not locals." Instead, he put himself in the traveler's boots and concentrated on the little details. "I don't drink coffee, but I know people do. I don't like oily food and there's no smoking here," he says, adding, "In a hostel, it used to be that they would serve you food and be smoking to you at the same time."