Millahue s/n, San Vincente de Tagua Tagua, VI, Chile
This deservedly buzzworthy hotel in Chile's arid Coastal Mountain Range brings a new level of luxury to the under-appreciated Cachapoal Valley wine region, which lies just 2.5 hours from the capital Santiago.
When Norwegian-Uruguayan entrepreneur Alexander Vik opened his audaciously over-the-top winery Viña Vik in 2014 he made a bold statement, proclaiming that it would soon produce the best wine in South America. Fast-forward to 2018 and Vik's entry level Milla Cala blend was already at No. 22 on Wine Spector's Top 100 list, while his icon wine, VIK, placed No. 3 on VinePair's Top 50.
As his Bordeaux-style blends gained attention around the world, so, too, did his Frank Gehry-esque wine resort Viña Vik Hotel. In fact, it became so popular that he and his wife Carrie opened a second retreat on the vineyard in 2019 that raised the bar for South American wine hotels to a new level.
Puro Vik takes a more subtle design approach than the original hotel with seven freestanding glass bungalows that merge into the tree line. Designed by the Viks, in association with architect Marcelo Daglio, each of these Miesian casas boasts transparent walls and al fresco bathtubs that look out over the majestic Millahue Valley (a subsection of the greater Cachapoal Valley).
All bungalows have 180-degree views over a seasonal wetland and marble bathrooms with luxurious wine polyphenol products. Yet, no two are alike.
While most Chilean luxury resorts draw on local heritage for inspiration, Puro Vik is much more global in its scope, combining the best art from South America and beyond into a kaleidoscope of styles, flavors and moods. Each bungalow bears a unique design aesthetic with all elements revolving around a common theme such as pop art, holographs, antiquity, or the shape of women.
Museum-grade works—both hanging and sculptural—abound in the rooms thanks to a diverse pack of worldly luminaries, including Japanese ukiyo-e artist Utagawa Hiroshige and American glass artist Dale Chihuly. Absolutely nothing about Puro Vik's design is quotidian, and for the most part, the bold artistic risks (how many competing statement pieces can you place in one room?) pay off.
What each bungalow shares in common is the experience of living in tune with nature. Transparency, flow, and open space are key to the design concept. Exterior walls act as mirrors, refracting the mountainscape and forcing guests to look at the surroundings from a new perspective. When the sun goes down, few things could be more fantastically hedonistic than stargazing from the private outdoor tub as wind whistles through the trees.
The onsite restaurant, Milla Milla, which is shared with Viña Vik Hotel, provides chef Rodrigo Acuña the chance to showcase the vegetables grown onsite in the organic garden. Indeed, seasonality is key to the four-course dinners, which might include a strawberry gazpacho followed by crab from Pichilemu (on the coast just 60km away) and pan-fried merluza (hake) atop a bed of sweet potatoes.
While most wineries have been manicured to perfection, Vik feels exceptionally rugged, with the heaving hills of the Coastal Range curving off onto the horizon. Indeed, it prides itself on a more casual style of luxury that includes plenty of face time with nature.
Well-marked hiking trails crisscross the 11,000-acre grounds, including Cerro El Medio, which follows a ridgeline near the hotel. La Cruz skirts the patchwork vines before summiting a nearby hill for spectacular valley views. Mountain bikes are also available for longer jaunts through the valley floor, as are horses for gaucho-inspired adventures. The hilltop infinity pool at the original Vik Hotel offers a welcome respite from the scorching sun once you've worked up a sweat.
Of course, most come to the Cachapoal Valley for its bold red wines. Chilean architect Slamij Radic’s awe-inspiring Viña Vik winery—named one of the 20 best wineries in the world by the World's Best Vineyards Academy in 2019—is a quick hike (or ride) downhill from Puro Vik.
A sweeping waterscape with sculptural rock installations and geometric walkways welcomes visitors at the entrance. Tastings of Vik's three signature blends—Milla Cala, La Piu Belle and VIK—take place underground near the barrel room. A three-course lunch is served overlooking the vines at The Pavilion restaurant.
Chile's nearby Colchagua Valley still draws the lion's share of international wine tourists, but with the opening of their second hotel in the Cachapoal Valley, Alexander and Carrie Vik are single-handedly putting this rival wine region on the map. Add into the mix Cachapoal's closer proximity to Santiago and wilder landscapes, and it's not hard to see why their big bet is paying off.
Due to its isolation, most visitors to Puro Vik book an all-inclusive stay, which includes wine tastings, room, board, and activities like biking, horseback riding, and yoga. Treatments at a wine spa are extra.
Web Address: www.purovik.com
Total Number of Rooms: 7 (of an eventual 19)
Published rates: All-inclusive from $1,100 double
Review and photos by Mark Johanson.