Kurtz-Ahlers Trip to Vik Retreats

Everything you need to know about Vik Retreats by Rachel Newman from her Fam trip in November, 2017.

Day One

Arrived at Montevideo MVD.
Recommended American Airlines – daily flights from Miami. Transfer to Jose Ignacio is a 2-hour drive from MVD. Flights from Buenos Aires arrive in Punta del Este PDP (35 min flight) and transfer time is a 45-min drive to Jose Ignacio. Punta del Este accommodates private jets 24 hours a day. Helipad available. There are no domestic flights within Uruguay. The boat is not recommended.

Jose Ignacio is like St Tropez used to be (I am told) or the Hamptons of South America. It has a laid-back luxury vibe with a mix of modern architecture and rugged, unspoiled beaches. Only 2 story buildings are allowed, which must be approved by community members.

Busiest during the Festive season with many of the shops and restaurants opening only the week before the holidays. Guests can visit the Vik properties from Oct/Nov to April (some restaurants are closed mid-week come April). Many people stay 3-4 nights to end a multi-destination South America trip following Argentina, where the beaches are not as good.

We arrived at Estancia Vik which was Alex and Carrie Vik’s first property. Designed as a private home, the 50,000 square foot Spanish, Colonial Style Estancia was built to mirror the country; pool to the South in the direction of the ocean, garden in the North facing the countryside.

We were welcomed by Managing Director Max Broquen then we had an incredible, family style lunch paired with wine from Vina Vik, Chile. Locally grown fruits and vegetables and homemade bread and pastries all prepared by the property’s talented in-house chef, Marcelo Betancourt. Every detail in the dining room feels special, from the mismatched antique crockery to the beautiful fabrics and glass panels revealing the wine cellar below.

We had a site inspection of each other’s suites. All on the ground level with integrated living space. Each of the twelve private Suites has a unique design, displaying original art conceived for each space by leading contemporary Uruguayan artists. Patio doors open to the outdoor terrace and expansive views.

Rates include mini-bar (soft drinks & beer), activities and access to Bahia Vik.

The Estancia has a gym and spa, plus a private polo field with Criollo riding horses and an adjoining golf green with a wonderful golf practice area. A game room with a pool table, table tennis and a variety of other games are found in the Estancia house. For weddings or special events, there is a romantic chapel nestled in a grove of ancient native trees.

In the afternoon we visited the stables where they also breed horses. We met the new ponies and then went for a gentle horseback ride around the property with the manager, Thomas Laura and the groom/Gaucho who was proud of his heritage and happy to explain why he was carrying his grandfather’s dagger and whip.

For dinner, we enjoyed an Uruguayan Parillero, or BBQ, with the traditional tin walls and Fogon, or central open fire, with guests from Bahia Vik and Playa Vik (which is a 15-minute drive from Estancia Vik).

Day Two

We met at the pool for an early yoga session (led by our own Kyle Seltzer) and then had a delicious breakfast before heading to Bodega Garzon for the day. Here we took a tour and wine tasting followed by a gourmet lunch at the restaurant (not to be confused with Francis Malmann’s spot in town). Clients should allow almost a full day for this wine tour and lunch experience. You can also tour an olive oil plantation for olive oil tasting and lunch or visit Fundacion Atchugarry in Punta del Este; created by the Uruguayan artist Pablo Atchugarry in 2007.

We arrived at Bahia Vik, built on to the sand dunes and best for beach access. You enter through a beautiful vine-covered courtyard.

There are 37 rooms between Bahia Vik’s main building and the beachfront bungalows. The main building has 10 rooms, and 11 Bungalows comprise 27 rooms; 2x Three Bedroom Suites, 7x Two Bedroom Suites, 2x three and four individual suites. Each bungalow is named after the material it is manufactured from and features a distinct design scheme with art-filled interiors, a private terrace, living room and separate master bathrooms for each individual bedroom suite.

Guests from Estancia Vik and Playa Vik can join Brunches at Bahia Vik, Seafood BBQ’s at Playa Vik and next door is La Susana restaurant where guests can spend the day enjoying the beach lounge, or for authentic live music into the evening. (open December – early March).

It has 4 swimming pools, games room, Gym & Spa, Boutique shop plus access to activities at Estancia Vik.

We rode bikes to Playa Vik for a site inspection. You can also walk along the beach, but Estancia Vik and Bahia Vik no longer have access to Playa Vik facilities.

The exclusivity of this property is felt as soon as you reach the big wooden gates and security intercom. Once inside you see the avant-garde central “Sculpture” building. From inside it looks like you are on a magnificent ship looking across infinity pools and the ocean. The hotel features contemporary Uruguayan and international artists including, James Turrell, Zaha Hadid, Anselm Kiefer and Pablo Atchugarry.

Playa Vik is environmentally conscious through its extensive use of natural resources, innovative solar technologies, intelligent energy efficiency systems, as well as collecting and recycling water. All heating is done by radiant heat generated by solar tubes.

It has a total of 19 bedrooms = 6 Houses; 3x Three bedrooms with living room and two private gardens or terrace, 3x Two Bedrooms, one has no living space and the other two have the two suites (one with bunk beds + the living space). Additionally, there are 3x Suites in the main building and 1x without a view which is not sold unless requested for nanny/security. Each casa features a fireplace, art-filled interiors and has a unique design scheme, blending the interior and exterior as fully retractable windows lead out to unique private gardens. The area under the casas has been carved out to create additional space which holds the 40-foot long wine cellar, a playroom, gym and small spa featuring two treatment rooms. The 75-foot swimming pool is made from Uruguayan Black Absolute Nero granite and features a celestial map of the southern hemisphere created by small optic light points set within the floor.

Dining options include the indoor dining room, garden terrace and BBQ area with sunken fire pit overlooking Playa Mansa. Guests of Playa Vik can also access the BBQ dinners at Estancia and Playa Vik or La Susana and charge to their room. We had dinner at local hot spot, Parador La Huella.
Playa Vik

Festive season is typically booked one year in advance for Jose Ignacio, but there is good availability from February through May. All properties close from April to October, unless you book at least 6 rooms (3 night min) to warrant a buyout/extension 1 week of the season. The first one to open is Playa Vik in Oct and bahia + Estancia open in Nov. In April the restaurants are closed mid-week so try to include a weekend stay or plan dining ahead.

Day Three

We had an early departure to the airport and 2 hour 40 min flight to Santiago de Chile SCL. It is 2 hours 20 mins from Buenos Aires (16+ flights per day). Vik Chile is 2 hours south of the city by car. You can also access by helicopter.

The first glimpse of the hotel is breath-taking. Perched on a hilltop in the center of the Millahue valley (which means Golden Place). It’s floating, sculptural roof of bronzed titanium, which was inspired by the mountains, the wind, and the work of Frank Gehry and Richard Serra looks like gold in the sunlight. Conceived by innovators Alexander and Carrie Vik, in association with architect Marcelo Daglio.

We were welcomed by the GM Sabrina Fiere and a marvelous spread of fruit and cheese. Through the comfortable living room (with pool table) there is a central patio and Zen garden surrounded by a border of brightly colored flowers and on the other side is the restaurant overlooking the infinity pool and lake below.

We toured the property and once again enjoyed the art in each other’s rooms. Each of the 22 suites has floor to ceiling windows and features exclusive artwork by Chilean and international artists, most of them created specifically for the retreat in cooperation with Alexander and Carrie Vik. Master Suites are all located in the corners with double windows and more space.

We had a private yoga lesson on the deck of the log cabins set just downhill from the hotel. There are four ensuite cabins, which are more rustic in design. They are used for visiting staff members but can be reserved for guests with the option of a private chef. There is an option to book the suites at the cabin and to have meals at the hotel, with rates 30% cheaper than the hotel rooms. There is a large kitchen which can be used for private dining. The sound of birds and nature made for the most relaxing Shavasana!
The evening meal was outstanding, and we tried the Vik Blends that are produced here. They are going to start importing wines from the family vineyards but as of now, this is the only kind of wine served here!

Day Four

Today we had breakfast on the terrace overlooking the lake and then set out to visit Vina Vik.

The first thing you see at the winery is the unique, transparent, stretched fabric roof. Designed by celebrated Pritzker Prize candidate Chilean architect Smiljan Radic. The water feature on the ground adds to the drama and cools the wine barrels below. We learned how the vines are harvested by hand, at night (a great-time to visit and participate) and tasted the grape varietals and blends. The restaurant was not yet open for the season but is open to the public from November to April and they also host private tours, classes, and events here.

We spent some time relaxing at the pool and spa. The treatments incorporate the grapes and there is even a wine bath treatment. In the afternoon we went horseback riding and the horses were again beautifully kept, well trained and very sweet. It was the highlight of our day!

Our last evening meal was spent together reminiscing about our short but eventful trip.

Vik Chile rates are all inclusive;
• Buffet breakfast,
• family style lunch w/1 glass wine,
• afternoon tea,
• 4 course dinner w/1/2 bottle wine,
• mini bar (replaced daily),
• Activities; tours, biking, horseback riding.

Additional cost for Night Harvest late March – early May), Cooking classes, Yoga, SPA treatments.
Closes in June (June – August rainy season) Best time to visit = Nov–May.

Day Five

For our last day Julia surprised us with an outdoor breakfast at the culinary garden, where the team cultivates approximately 250 different organic varieties of fruits, vegetables and herbs throughout the year. We met the hens that produced our delicious eggs and helped pick strawberries which were served at lunchtime!

Most of the International flights depart in the evening so guests can enjoy the morning and lunch before heading back to Santiago.
With opposite seasons and only a 2-hour time difference, the Vik Retreats are a perfect escape from our long winters.
Kids and Pets are welcome at all properties.

Estancia Vik and Vik Chile are Virtuoso affiliated, and Vik Chile is also a partner of Traveler Made