Recently opened in Second Life is a new Homestead region designed by Jade Koltai. An experienced region designer in her own right, Jade also used to work with Serene Footman in producing some of the most extraordinary builds in Second Life based on physical world locations. With this latest build, she further demonstrates her skill in bringing places from around the globe to life in the virtual.
Hotel De Salto is a region based on the hotel located in San Antonio del Tequendama, Colombia some 30 km south-west of Bogotá. It sits alongside the Salto del Tequendama (Tequendama Falls),a 157m high waterfall that drops into a deep gorge.
According to a legend of the Muisca people of the Andean plateau, the waterfall was created by Bochica, who used his staff to break the rock and release the water that covered the Bogotá Savannah. In their language, Chibcha, the name means “he who precipitated downward”, and stems from a further legend in which the Muisca were said to escape subjugation by the Spanish conquistadors by jumping off the falls to become eagles, flying to their freedom.
The hotel actually started life in 1923 as a mansion built by architect Carlos Arturo Tapias along French lines and intended to celebrate the wealth and elegance of the country’s elite. It continued in the role for several years, undergoing expansion which also saw it converted into its luxury hotel, which opened to customers in 1928.
The hotel operated for 50 years, drawing tourists from across the world to it. Some were attracted by its unique views, others by a darker desire. Drawn by the tale of the Muisca legend of people leaping from the falls to become eagles, the broken-hearted came to the hotel to leap to their deaths from the cliffs beside it.
However, by the 1970s, the hotel was facing issues. Bogotá had grown exponentially in the intervening years, and without all the necessary supporting infrastructure; the result was much of the city’s raw sewage entered local river to make its way down to the Tequendama Falls and the gorge below the hotel, contaminating it. At the same it, an upstream hydroelectric dam was built on the main Bogotá River, which often starved the impressive falls of water, reducing them to trickling dribbles dropping into the gorge from above.
These factors saw trade at the hotel decline from the late 1970s through until its closure in the early 1990s. For a brief time during the hotel’s decline there was talk of renovating it, but for come 15 or so years it was left to moulder in the high Andean forests and weather – a forbidden place, rich in legend.
Then in 2011 the National University of Colombia’s Institute of Natural Sciences joined with the Ecological Farm Foundation of Porvenir to launch extensive renovations of the hotel, turning it into a cultural museum. The first exhibition at the new museum, Caverns, ecosystems of the subterranean world, opened in 2013.
For her build, Jade offers both a homage to, and interpretation of, the hotel during those years when it lay abandoned. As with the original, it sits atop a deep gorge, facing the Tequendama Falls on the region’s north side.
The shelf on which it sits is perhaps broader that that occupied by the actual Hotel Del Salto, which means some of the on-the-edge grandeur of the original is lost, but there is no mistaking the architectural style that has been captured by this interpretation.
The building is overgrown, vines hanging within mouldy rooms like drapes, furnishings braking and rotting as a result of the humidity no doubt brought about by the heat and damp, the terrace around it broken and given over to weeds and 50’s style cars. Like the original, stairs descend the cliffs below the hotel, although these don’t pass any basement levels. Instead they provide access to a bridge spanning the gorge, and further stairs down to the floor of the gorge, where ancient ruins lay, offering the suggestion of a place perhaps once belonging to the Muisca.
Throughout the build can be found numerous platforms and seating points intended to provide places from which the hotel and the gorge with its falls – presented in full spate – can be appreciated. Adding to the setting are wheeling birds, a rich sense of forest, parrots and toucans, while the sound scape gives incredible depth to the region’s visual splendour.
Completed by a region surround that strongly evokes the Andean uplands of Colombia to provide the perfect backdrop, this is a build fully deserving of a visit and in spending time exploring.
- Hotel Del Salto (Costa Verde, rated Moderate)