We are proud to announce that Antarctica21 has been selected as one of Chile’s Best Managed Companies 2019 by Deloitte and their partners, Banco Santander and the Adolfo Ibáñez University. 44 private companies were awarded after a rigorous process of evaluation that focused on four areas: Strategy; Expertise and Innovation; Culture and Commitment; Corporate Governance and Finance.
We sat down with Jaime Vasquez, President of Antarctica21, to talk about the award and what it means to him.
How do you feel about Antarctica21 being selected as one of the Best Companies in Chile?
We launched Antarctica21 in 2003. At that time, my partners and I did everything ourselves, from sales calls to loading provisions on the ship and more. While we had experience in other businesses, when it came to this operation we really had to learn everything from scratch. Today, we have a team of over 100 people – all dedicated to providing our guests with a once-in-a-lifetime Antarctic experience. Our whole team – Product and Operations, Sales and Marketing, Finance and Administration – is the driving force behind Antarctica21’s success. I am very proud of Antarctica21. This award is for our entire team and for everything we have accomplished together.
What drew you to Antarctica and gave you the idea for Antarctica21?
I am Chilean and I grew up in Magallanes, the southernmost region in Chile. Only the ocean separates us from Antarctica. People who grew up in this remote place develop a thirst for adventure, it’s like it’s in everyone’s blood. At the time when we started to think about tourism, there was a lot of movement in Torres del Paine National Park – new hotels, new restaurants, new tourism services etc. Patagonia was on the rise and I too felt a desire to introduce international travelers to our beautiful region. But I wanted to build something different, something no one else was doing.
Flying over the Drake Passage to reach Antarctica wasn’t a thing back then. We knew that getting to Antarctica via the sea route can be very uncomfortable, only suitable for some people. I saw this need to connect travelers with the seventh continent in a more comfortable and accessible way, and from that idea Antarctica21 was born. Those first few years starting up were a real adventure. We experimented with different airplanes and ships. The first trip we led to Antarctica only had 13 paying guests on board, the rest were friends and family members. For the upcoming 2019/2020 season we will operate 40 air-cruise expeditions to Antarctica, welcoming over 3,000 guests. It took a lot of work but what we have now is a world-class organization built on innovation.
What’s in Antarctica21’s future?
We are always dreaming up new ideas here at Antarctica21. The first air-cruise was a solution to get travelers over the Drake Passage and to Antarctica quickly and comfortably. We’re about to introduce our beautiful new ship, Magellan Explorer, a state-of-the-art vessel that will start running her first trips to Antarctica in November this year. And recently we have launched new wilderness expeditions to Cape Horn and the Falkland Islands. We’re also working on new and exciting projects that will strengthen our infrastructure, both in Punta Arenas and at King George Island. First on the list is a new guest reception centre in Punta Arenas. We acquired a wonderful building in the centre of town where, starting with the 2020-21 season, our travelers can prepare for their expedition before they fly south. It is a unique space that will be spectacularly designed, mixing the traditions of Patagonia with modern technology, Antarctic themes, and the feeling of a private club. So, that’s what Antarctica21 will continue to be about, constantly looking for better ways to enhance the experience and comfort of our travelers as they visit the remote lands of the southern hemisphere with us.