Travel Spotlight

Indagare Preview: Vik Chile

What happens when a Norwegian businessman with seemingly unlimited funds, exquisite taste, a passion for contemporary design and a “nothing but the best” approach to hospitality lands in Chile’s most fertile wine-producing region? If you’re Alexander Vik, you begin by crafting the perfect South American wine followed by an exquisite wine retreat to match.

The gold titanium roof of the new Vik Chile shines like a beacon in Chile’s Millahue Valley. A word that literally translates to the “land of gold” in the local language, Millahue (pronounced mee-jah-weh) could not be a more humble setting. A two-hour drive south of Santiago, the valley is dotted with small, ramshackle village homes amidst fields of growing grapes, linked together by a single-lane dirt road. Wine is the local currency in Millahue and after years of extensive research, testing and development throughout South America, this unassuming valley became the birthplace of VIK wines in 2005.

Using French techniques from Bordelais winemaker Patrick Valette, the VIK estate creates a unique blend of five grape varietals that changes composition every season. Aged exclusively in the finest French oak barrels, the wine goes through a rigorous screening process. Only twenty percent makes it to distribution, with the rest sold to neighboring vineyards for mass production. Vik’s approach to the wine industry mirrors his past hotel ventures, striving for perfection with no expense spared.

Phase two of the project: build a wine lodge unlike any the world has ever seen. Savvy travelers have flocked to the elite, Jose Ignacio–based VIK Retreats from the birth of Estancia VIK in 2009, to the creation of Bahia VIK earlier this year. In the fall, Vik Chile will open as the fourth and most prestigious member of the group, and the first to venture outside Uruguay, where Vik has roots. Several consistent threads link the Chilean wine retreat to its predecessors. Key architect Marcelo Daglio remained onboard for the project and interior designer and Alex’s wife Carrie Vik worked with a number of the same suppliers on the décor. However, Vik Chile ups the ante with such over-the-top design features as its emblematic gold roof, inspired by the Marques de Riscal in Rioja. Constructed out of pure Japanese titanium, the roof alone cost over $1 million and required a team of Spanish and Portuguese craftsmen to assemble it on-site.

With remote control-operated panoramic windows overlooking mountain and vineyard vistas, the accommodations at the hotel don’t shy from peaceful perfection. Vik Chile’s suites encircle an open-air Zen garden courtyard, while Puro Vik’s glass bungalows are nestled in the hilltop overlooking the valley. While the bungalows are only a few minutes away from the main building, their separation allows for added privacy and romance.

Each individual accommodation showcases a different artist and theme, with over half the works created by Chileans in an effort to showcase talented local artisans on an international stage. Highlights include a bathroom covered entirely in pennies; a blue-tiled wall mural of the surrounding wine estate (look closely and you’ll recognize Alexander and Carrie Vik in the scene); a Master Suite with natural rock floors; and a permanent James Turrell LED light installation within the Owner’s Suite.

One level below sits a yoga room and fitness center, which overlook the massive twenty-five-meter lap pool and solarium. A game room with a pool table and small conference room for corporate retreats are a few doors down. The basement level holds the five-treatment-room spa, which will use a mix of Caudalie and local organic products. Complete with a hair salon, dry sauna and relaxation garden, the spa will be Chile’s first to offer a therapy room dedicated to wine treatments.

A state-of-the-art winery designed by Chilean architect Smiljan Radic, will round out the Vik Chile experience. Radic (designer of the 2014 Serpentine Galleries Pavilion in London) built the facility with a mix of glass, stone, steel and water, using wind and sunlight to generate electricity. Tours and tastings in its new restaurant will be prioritized for guests, though the new destination-winery will permit non-guest visits. With two full-service restaurants and multiple locations for al fresco barbecues, food will feature prominently at Vik Chile and stress Chilean culinary tradition using local seasonal fare. An on-property vegetable garden will allow guests to choose their own produce for meals and even cook themselves.

“Experience Concierges” will assist in helping guests discover unique on-property activities, including horseback riding, mountain biking, trekking, and evening star gazing. But it’s likely that most travelers will want to relax, revel in Vik Chile’s remarkable design and indulge in what it does best: food, wine and spa; particularly those returning from an active hiking trip in Patagonia or the Atacama Desert.

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