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It’s not every day I find myself cocooned in the crook of a human-sized boxing glove. But that was just another afternoon as a guest of Vik Chile, one of the country’s most buzzed-about properties.
I was looking through the thick double-pane glass windows that made up three walls of my bungalow and effectively immersed me into the sprawling green landscape.
Deep in the countryside near a town called San Vincente in Millahue Valley, this 11,000-acre property was transformed from empty fields into a world-class vineyard, winery and destination hotel, with construction beginning in the early 2000s. Visitors reach Vik Chile via a two-hour drive from Santiago, rapidly receding from the hubbub of modern life as they near the hotel’s remote location, which is about an hour’s drive from Colchagua Valley.
Vik Chile might be in the middle of nowhere, but it is a magnet for travelers looking for a highly curated, aesthetic experience. Undulating plates reminiscent of Frank Gehry’s Walt Disney Concert Hall are among the first clues of a singular vision. They make up the roof of Vik Chile and come complete with a local twist: Millahue means “the place of gold” in the local Mapuche language, so the twisting metal is gilded and shimmers in the sun.
But it wasn’t gold that brought owner Alexander Vik, a Norwegian-Uruguayan billionaire, to Millahue.
Vik prodded and meticulously tested the soil before settling his winery, vineyard and hospitality operation here. Vik Chile is part of a collection of luxury properties called Vik Retreats, though it’s the company’s first vineyard and winery.
On a tour of Vina Vik, the winery and vineyards, our guide told us that we were standing in one of the warmest areas of the property. She pointed to nearby hills and explained how that valley, closer to the coast and therefore cooler, consistently has a temperature difference of 2 degrees Celsius, which contributes — along with the soil — to the diversity of wines that Vina Vik can produce.
View this post on Instagram A post shared by VIK (@vik_wine) on Mar 3, 2019 at 4:02pm PST
A post shared by VIK (@vik_wine) on Mar 3, 2019 at 4:02pm PST
This is a great thing for guests of the hotel. The meals at restaurant Milla Milla are included, and wine is paired with both lunch and dinner. Menus change daily, but they reflect a garden-to-table ethos that executive chef Rodrigo Acuna Bravo says reflects the area’s terroir. Each entree includes fresh ingredients plucked from the property’s 2-acre garden. Even my daily handmade pasta dishes featured finely placed edible flowers, architectural shards of cheese and vibrant swaths of vegetal color.
Indeed, consistent throughout the guest experience is an emphasis on the beauty of expression.
Introducing Puro Vik Glasshouses The property’s newest guestrooms, called “Puro Vik,” reflect this value. The collection of seven glass bungalows located adjacent to Vik Chile are themed after pieces handpicked or commissioned by Vik and his wife, Carrie.
My room, called “Las Letras,” featured a red and white leather chaise lounge in the shape of a boxing glove; five posters that use typographic art to spell out (in red) family, sex, dollars, love and health in Spanish and English; a 4-foot-tall gasoline pump that contains a minifridge and coffee machine; and a red desk lamp made from the handles and headlamp of a motorcycle.
A multicolored headboard and rug rounded out the guestroom, but the overall effect was surprisingly well-balanced thanks to an open floorplan and three walls composed entirely of double-pane glass.
The glass walls are one of the commonalities of all the glasshouses, along with wide wood-plank floors that extend to a terrace set with a bathtub, an Italian-designed glass closet, a rooftop topped with grasses or solar panels and a marble-filled bathroom that also opens up to the surrounding view.
While each glasshouse is a unique piece of art in itself (“Boho Pop” features Roy Lichtenstein pieces and Chihuly has Dale Chihuly works), the rooms are not platforms for performance art as some might fear. Surrounding foliage and a hilltop location keep the glass cabins private and free from peeping Toms — save for the random bird.
The 22 guestrooms at Vik Chile are also thematic and unique, but in closer reach of amenities such as the living room, where afternoon tea and pastries are served each day; a library with books on loan; a small boutique; the restaurant, which overlooks a Japanese garden; an infinity pool that looks out to the mountain view; a spa; and a gym complete with a yoga room.
View this post on Instagram A post shared by VIK (@vik_wine) on Dec 21, 2019 at 3:57pm PST
A post shared by VIK (@vik_wine) on Dec 21, 2019 at 3:57pm PST
Guests at Vik Chile and Puro Vik can partake in outdoor activities such as complimentary guided horseback riding throughout the vineyards, and concierge staff can lead guests off-site for mellow hikes. But the real reason guests come here is clear: to savor wine as art.
Take for example, the winery — designed by Smiljan Radic, a Chilean architect — that preceded the hotel. Built primarily underground, it’s an architectural masterpiece, and visitors are as likely to leave with bottles of wine as they are with photos.
The entrance to the winery is especially dramatic, mixing modern materials and minimalist efficiency with the flair of a Zen gardener. Surrounded by green hills, a narrow pathway to the door is offset on both sides by local rocks in a shallow, slow-moving pool of water. I later found out that this area sits above — and cools — wine storage below.
Like most experiences at Vina Vik, the tour of the winery includes a sampling of premium wines — and that’s how I found myself retreating for the afternoon in the nook of my boxing glove. From my unusual perch, I watched the sky turn from blue to black to deep pink as the afternoon turned into evening.
The DetailsVik Chile and Puro Vikwww.vikchile.com