Tucked away in the south of Chile, about 400 miles south as the crow flies from Santiago, is a town known primarily to native Chileans as a vacation destination. For a long time, the town of Pucón saw the occasional dedicated gringo, visiting in search of world-class whitewater kayaking and outdoor adventuring. But few luxury travelers ever made it to the unique pueblo. That is, until one of the finest adventure hotels in South America opened its doors.
The Hacienda Hotel Vira Vira is a retreat built for the modern and discerning adventurer — the one who enjoys flying by the seat of his or her pants by day and dining on five-star cuisine at night. It was built in 2014 after the owner, a former Swiss banker, traveled the world taking inspiration from the greatest lodges and hotels. His creation — a luxury hotel, five-star restaurant, functional farm, creamery, and adventure lodge mashup — is, simply put, in a class all its own.
The service and architecture are nothing to gloss over (the hotel was featured in Architectural Digest and is a member of the Relais & Châteaux fellowship of hotels), but the adventures are why people come here. A small sampling of their offerings includes on-site fly-fishing for trout in the Río Liucura, a helicopter flight over the Villarica Volcano, horseback riding, ski touring on the active Villarica Volcano, and sailing in the many waters of Chile’s Lake District. Whether you have all of the gear you need and are a near professional, or it’s your first time outside of St. Cloud and need every piece of gear, Vira Vira’s in-house guides — locals with world-class pedigrees that know the mountains and waters better than anyone — will get you set up.
The farm aspect of the hotel, run by Chilean chef Damián Fernandez, is equally as appealing as the outdoor adventure. As much as possible, the hotel’s restaurant sources ingredients from the on-site farm that includes cheeses, vegetables, and an extensive poultry and pork program.
There are several other killer resort options in Chile, but the Vira Vira might be the best at juxtaposing the isolation of the remote landscape with the comforts of home. Plush luxuries, genuine adventures, delectable cuisine, and pisco sours flowing like water — what else could you want?