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Vira & Vik

There are some destinations in which a hotel is something of an afterthought. That doesn’t mean it can’t be beautiful, comfortable, or even memorable, but if you visit the Galapagos Islands, the Taj Mahal, or the archaeological city of Petra, the place where you rested your head that night will likely not be the focus of your travel stories.

On the flip side, Chile increasingly seems to be producing hotels where the accommodation itself is the main event. In the middle of the Millahue Valley, 200 km from Santiago, after driving through beautiful traditional towns, imagine a vineyard that looks like it belongs in Norway. It is at this moment that you’ve found Viña Vik Retreats. The property’s most striking characteristic is the titanium dome sitting atop a hill at the center of this spectacular 11,000-acre valley. It’s a little bit Gehry and a little bit Pelequén chapel, but they call it Millahue, which means gold grain.

Once in the lobby, you might miss the two stunning Matta paintings or the billiard table, but only because you can’t take your eyes off the view of the valley through the huge picture windows. Each individual room and bathroom is unique, and has been designed and decorated by a different Chilean or foreign contemporary artist. The details in each one are incredible; you may want to ask for a tour of the unoccupied suites while you’re visiting.

The two favourite spots for most guests are the spa, where you can experience delightful wine treatments, and the infinity pool—overlooking the vines, you’ll feel like you’re on top of the world. In addition, don’t miss a nice horseback ride or a hike to see the vineyard; each ends with a wine tasting in the main cellar where you can taste the three pure wine varietals, before they are blended into the drink you enjoy with every meal. Last but not least, the food at Viña Vik is simply amazing. Much like the rooms, every dish is different, and the variety of options makes for a surreal dining experience from homemade bread all the way to dessert.

Heading a little south then, 800 km from Santiago, your next destination hotel is Hacienda Vira Vira. Named after a Chilean flower and situated between Pucón and Caburga in the lake district area, this hotel is simply stunning. Run with love and passion by its Swiss owners, Michael and Claudia, Vira Vira is a place where you can enjoy nature in the most unique and comfortable way.

Rooms in the villas are full of nice details and decor, with an amazing window looking out at the river, and a unique outdoor tub on a private terrace. If you love nature activities such as river rafting, horseback riding, volcano hikes, kayaking, or snowshoeing in the winter, this is the place for you. The less active among you have plenty to enjoy within the hotel amenities, and we’d also highly recommend a visit to a local Mapuche artisan, which the Vira Vira can arrange.

This property is a perfect place to free your mind, relaxing by the sound of the river, or getting excited about your first homemade cheese in the onsite cheese factory. The grounds also feature a henhouse, orchard, and greenhouse, so almost everything you eat is as fresh as it gets. Beautifully presented meals and unique recipes mean you won’t leave a crumb behind.

Lastly, Vira Vira’s many excursion options are fantastic. The local guides are incredibly knowledgeable, and as with the entire staff, they continuously improve your stay with amazing snacks and a few surprises I won’t mention, lest I ruin the experience for you. Both properties must been seen for themselves, and come with plenty of stories and bragging rights all their own.

Carola is our master of all things Chilean. She’s been pressing us for some time now to build an in-office cheese factory, although our accounting manager has yet to be fully convinced.

It's a little bit Gehry and a little bit Pelequén chapel, but they call it Millahue, which means gold grain.

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