For everyone that thinks I travel a lot because I work in tourism, I need to tell you I have an office job. I work office hours. Behind a computer screen. I can maybe tell you the facilities and check-in time of every hotel but not because I have stayed in all of them for a full week. And then sometimes, you have the opportunity to visit a property, and those are perks yes. But when it is an andBeyond property, you know you are in luck, and it is going to be an amazing experience.
A quick geographical intro. Everything in this country is new to me too so I am telling you merely what I have read. So – very roughly speaking – Santiago is in the middle, Atacama is in the North (think desert) and the Lake District is South of Santiago. I guess you could say that this is the gateway to Chilean Patagonia, which is even more South. Patagonia covers both Chile and Argentina.
Vira Vira is in Pucon. The main attraction in Pucon is the lake and the volcano, both called Villaricca. Not only is this region breathtakingly beautiful, it also lends itself perfectly to adventure sports: hiking, rafting, horse riding, skiing… You get the idea. Not surprising: the landscape is defined by lakes, mountains, volcanoes, forests, and national parks. (And if you are not into sports, it lends itself to digital detox too.) It was a bit colder than Santiago but the winter in Chile is slowly making way for spring. We had one day in the snow, on the Volcano Villarrica, and I actually got sunburnt.
The lodge itself is gorgeous. The minimalist, natural decor with big windows turns your focus outdoors, which I cannot praise enough. And just when you are taking in that perfect view, ten minutes later the light changes and a whole different perfect sight appears. I could not stop taking pictures. Without unnecessary frills, the lodge is luxurious. Fire crackling, we had a wine tasting with Chilean wines followed by a 4-course gourmet dinner, with ingredients from the organic farm on the premises. We told ourselves we deserved it all since we had gone up a live volcano in snowshoes. We deserved the glass of bubbles while taking a scented bath too, in case you are wondering. A special mention has to go to the food. What an amazing chef. Granted he has wonderful ingredients to work with but still, what talent, what amazing and wonderful food. At hotel inspections, I often tell myself I need to skip a meal and not over-indulge but that was merely not an option at Vira Vira, it would have been blasphemy.
And I know I have said this about more than one destination but it remains the holy truth of hospitality: the experience was made by the people. The impeccable service of the wonderful people at Vira Vira made the experience what it was. Perfect.