News & Reviews Rest of the World Chile Review: Vik Chile

Vik Chile
Room type: Suite
Duration: 7th > 9th December, 2018

Liberalism has been having a rotten time in South America.  It’s blamed for the Ecuadorian’s economic decline, the entire collapse of Venezuela, and worst of all, the naming of a 35 sqm room at Vik Chile as a “suite”.  Some things are more unforgivable than others.

Vik Chile has all the hallmarks of a hotel I love: the small room count, owner driven with no chain pulling the strings, a unique architecture, excellent views, vast amount of private land with activities, and focus on food.  A big emphasis on art too – not something I actually care about, but coincidentally Iniala, Park Hotel Vitznau and Ellerman House do.  Plus I wanted to sound clever.  Yet Vik Chile is like a Jackson Pollock masterpiece – they somehow failed to connect all the dots.

The service really let this beautiful property down.  It felt that it was run by some College kids on work experience, cos one of their parents happens to own the place.  It’s the perfect place if you really want to go to South America and have never been to Asia to experience proper hospitality.  If you’ve even stepped foot off the plane in Singapore for an hour layover, then you will leave disappointed.

When we arrived and had to start filling out forms regarding my allergies, even though they already knew them, and when they started planning our entire itinerary, after a 14 hour flight and 2 hour drive, because they didn’t remember to check their notes, I had a hint of what was to come.  But then we got to the room, and it was setup close to perfection, I knew there was going to be some highs and lows.

I would have no issue with the room size, had they simply not called it a suite.  But just like when you call something a “free and fair” election, only to have everyone who opposes arrested, you look a little bit silly when you start throwing certain words around.

Like Park Hotel Vitznau, every room is individually designed.  We went on a tour of other “suites”, only to get room-envy at how beautiful some are; each with their own story behind them.  Ours, Chile, I can only assume was intended to reflect the Chilean miners, as being in the bathroom felt like being trapped underground.  As the website looks like it was made on a potato, we had no idea which room to request, so left our fate in the hand of the gods.  “Chile” was definitely on the minimalist side of things.  No TV, coffee machine, and a bathroom so small that the towels get splashed when you have a shower.  Cosy, I think is the word they use. Claustrophobic may be more accurate.  The full width glass windows offered great views…were they on the other side of the building.  Do make sure you get a lake facing room, as otherwise you may mistake your stay for a prison, come the early hours. Once the water stopped working and the electricity kept cutting out, we decided “Chile” was an unsuitable name, so christened her “Guantanamo”.

With most of the staff from Chile, and some of those learning looking like they were on the first day of their Rosetta Stone English course, it wasn’t hugely surprising that things weren’t always swimmingly well.  Turndown was missed, requests were misunderstood and everything was incredibly passive.  I ended up in an argument with a member of staff when I asked to return to the resort from the winery, as she decided I was Idiot of the Month and should be treated so.

The only time someone came to talk to us was to give us someone else’s order.  In fact, the most attentive moment during the entire stay were the birds that kept tapping on the glass windows in our bedroom.  There was zero proactivity, zero personalised and, most importantly, zero management.  When we asked about the GM, they made it sound like he was made-up.  I’m half-suspecting I walked in on a murder mystery, just after the GM had been killed.

There was friendly faces galore, but none of them seemed to know what they were doing.  And then my pet hate: they seem to have a higher opinion of themselves than I do.  The frequent slaps on the back, telling us how we’re at home and how they are the best at delivering excellent service.  The best never have to say anything; they let the guests speak for them.

The list of activities is enough to keep you entertained for the 2-3 night stay that you will likely be booking.  If you’re thinking of staying longer, then at least you have the vineyards to drink away the time.  Then there’s the views, which are possibly worth the price of admission.  My wife wanted to go on a wine tasting tour, which felt incredibly low-end when we had to share it with 10 others, only to have the staff come around afterwards and try to convince you to buy it.  We also tried out the horse riding, which can cater to novices (us) or more experienced riders, due to the scale of the lands.

The Internet was dreadful, with barely 0.5 down available, so you will be hoping for good weather otherwise you will find yourself starring down the end of another wine bottle.  If the heavens are open, the infinity pool offers a picturesque view onto the landscape.  Otherwise, the facilities are as small as the staff training booklet, with only a gym, 2 spa treatment rooms and games room with the only TV on property.

Lunch is included in the price, with 5 main courses to choose from, 2 of which are daily specials.  There’s 2 glasses of wine for lunch, 4 glasses for dinner and quite rigid times for eating.  Afternoon tea is available from 5, but they must have been working towards Daylight Savings, as it didn’t make an appearance until nearly 6.  I’ll give the food a solid pass, with a red pen stating “TRY HARDER”.

The seating was as limited as the food choices, as they allow outside guests to eat there.  Be prepared to learn basic Spanish, such as the useful phrase: “move off my seat or I will need to resort to violence”.  For lunch we had to sit inside, as I forgot my Spanish dictionary.  The description of the food takes longer to say than it does to eat, as the portions were not exactly what we’ll call American sized.  The speed at which it was delivered was enough to whet the appetite;  we waited nearly an hour for a starter, all whilst seeing further signs of the untrained staff prancing around.  And then my favourite: with months of notice of my food allergies, all of which was repeated during check-in, they serve the first dish: beetroot and octopus.  Just without the octopus.  There is nothing I love more than seeing someone put thought into our stay.

Conclusion

Luxury is about you.  Your wants, needs and desires.  So a hotel that forces you all into eating together, at the same time, is already starting a fight with one hand tied behind its back.  Throw in the clueless, poorly trained staff, and you are asking for trouble.  They were building 7 new bungalows at the time, so things are not looking good.

On our early morning departure, they forgot our wake-up call.  Then forgot our breakfast and drinks.  Perhaps the staff like the famous wine here too much.

Vik Chile is an ideal place to relax for a few days, if you need to be near Santiago.  I will not deny its beauty, but I also cannot truly recommend it for its pitfalls.

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Tom Cahalan

Written by Tom Cahalan on 25th Jun '19

Dorsia Travel’s co-founder Tom Cahalan’s take on travel is reliably candid. Here’s his take on what’s good, bad, and luxurious.

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