We love destinations that offer accommodations that enhance a vacation (a room is not just a room), and were pleased to discover that the hotels we experienced in Chile do just that! Our Chile itinerary was incredibly varied and the family-friendly hotels our operator, Latin Excursions, sourced for us were all unique and had a distinct and authentic sense of place.
Many of the hotels in Chile integrate activities into the property experience, either bundled with the nightly rate or readily available each day in an pre-organized way, i.e. well beyond a concierge desk where you have to sift through options. The assumption is that guests are there to explore the magnificent surroundings and the hotel facilitates area discovery accordingly.
Although our hotels in Chile were all kid-friendly, none of them offered a huge list of kids’ programming; rather, these accommodations are kid-friendly because the property itself is family- and service-oriented and the staff strives to meet the needs of a variety of guests in a personalized way.
Here’s a look at the fantastic hotels in Chile that were integrated into our itinerary:
The Atacama Desert is a surreal place and it’s amazing to stay at hotel like Alto Atacama that is deeply integrated into the wondrous landscape. Set between massive red rock faces in a valley just a few miles from the small town of San Pedro de Atacama, Alto Atacama has arguably the best setting and views of the upscale hotels in this area. Observing how the valley changes as the sun moves up and down each day is pure magic.
The designers of Alto Atacama did a wonderful job ensuring that the architecture of the hotel blends seamlessly with the setting, using local materials in the rich, earthy color palette of the area. The star of the show is the desert and this hotel is about appreciating the mind-blowing surroundings. Rooms are simply designed and spacious with lovely private outdoor terraces. Larger suites are available for families, as are a few sets of connecting rooms.
Public spaces include a lounge and bar, a restaurant and quite a bit of outdoor seating, with firepits facilitating cozy gathering spots for cool evenings. A property highlight is the garden of swimming pools in all shapes and temperatures. It’s dry in the Atacama — very dry! — and swimming feels like the ultimate luxury. Puri Spa offers an array of massages and treatments, but we didn’t have time to give it a go.
Alto Atacama is set up as an all-inclusive adventure lodge offering a set list of activities each day. Activities start early and there are always a few different options throughout the day to see the most important landmarks. The setup feels very structured, although it’s possible to request private activities if you don’t see something you want to do in the area on the list. Guests of the resort come from all over the world and it’s fun to interact with other guests on the outings. Alto Atacama guides are knowledgable and friendly. We always felt like we were safe and in good hands; given the remote setting at a high altitude, this is important!
Full board is available at the onsite restaurant. Locally inspired menus use organic, fresh ingredients. There are plenty of options for picky pint-size eaters and the presentation is sophisticated and lovely. Excellent Chilean wines are available, as are cocktails through the full bar.
Given the altitude and low humidity of the Atacama Desert, and the lack of pollution, the stargazing is incredible! Alto Atacama has a phenomenal stargazing deck with lounge chairs and qualified guides who lead nightly sessions.
Alto Atacama is just a 20-minute walk or a short drive to the lively town of San Pedro de Atacama, which has a unique local vibe. Loaded with both artisan and touristy shops, as well as lots of little restaurants, this is a fun place for a stroll.
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We fell in love with Hotel Vira Vira in the shadow of the majestic Villarrica volcano in Pucon, part of the Chilean lakes district. The owners, a delightful Swiss couple, set out to build something unique in this stunning natural setting and have been wildly successful in their attempt to do so.
Luxury rooms, suites and villas make up the spectacular accommodation options. Designed by the owners, rooms are dramatic, with gigantic windows overlooking the scenery, plus modern furnishings, comfy finishes like soft blankets and exquisite bedding. We stayed in a Villa Suite on the banks of the Liucura River. A wood-burning fireplace, a private terrace overlooking the river, a decadent bathroom with a walk-in rain shower, and indoor and outdoor private tubs make these rooms heavenly … with or without children.
One of the very special features of Vira Vira is that it’s also a working hacienda (farm) producing incredible cheese and other organic foods. These ingredients comprise the meals served to guests in the attractive dining room overlooking a small lake. Farm-to-table takes on an entirely new meaning here!
The hotel and restaurant recently was awarded Relais & Chateaux status. Well-deserved! Meals at Vira Vira are imaginative and the flavors and textures are crafted with impeccable attention to detail. Although the meals are sophisticated, they aren’t overly fussy and the atmosphere is relaxed — you could loiter for hours each day in the dining room and be blissfully happy. Wine pairing is a big part of the experience.
In addition to the amazing setting and design, a property highlight is the all-inclusive structure where exceptional private guided tours are integrated in the guest experience. You wake up and someone sits down to talk about which hike, bike, horseback ride or river trip is on tap for the day. It’s an adventurous family’s absolute dream. We can’t wait to go back for a week. It’s the kind of place where you can easily settle in for long stretches of time.
The staff at Vira Vira deserve a special shout-out. From the moment you arrive, everyone makes a special effort to introduce themselves with incredible warmth. They take every opportunity to make sure guests feel pampered and fully enjoy this special place. Put Hotel Vira Vira on your Chile bucket list!
La Casona is a small boutique hotel on the Matetic Vineyards estate and offers families a convenient base from which to explore Santiago, Valparaiso and Chile’s central coast. Seven rooms in a colonial-style home surround a sweet manicured garden.
Summer months (December through March) must be absolutely idyllic, as the landscaping is filled with flowers and gorgeous mature trees. There’s a large grass area around the pool. The estate is expansive and includes a playground and a homey living room area. All-inclusive rates include intimate meals in the dining room paired with Matetic’s award-winning wines.
The winery attracts visitors from all over the world who come to experience the tasting room and the onsite restaurant, Equilibrio. Activities for guests include trekking, biking and horseback riding. We opted for the horseback ride through the vineyards. This is a lovely hour or two activity with kids of all ages.
La Casona is located just 45 minutes from Santiago’s international airport and makes and ideal accommodation for the first and/or last night of a trip.
Editor’s Note: Latin Excursion provided a media package for our trip. As always, all thoughts and opinions expressed on Ciao Bambino are our own. Photos by Amie O’Shaughnessy.
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