Brrr – I returned home from hot Oman, East Africa and Dubai – Old Man Winter greeted me on arrival. This is the perfect time to think about extending summer in another hemisphere! Think Chile or Uruguay.Think Vina Vik in Chile. November to March, its officially summer in Chile; mark you calendar, let’s reserve and continue the summer season.Combine warm sunshine and hiking, biking, a striking location including world class art, sculpture and fine dining – oh, and sipping Vino Vik…
Henry David Thoreau said it best:
“Always maintain a kind of summer even in the middle of winter.”Say Yes to Summer! Say Yes to Vina Vik, Chile!
Estancia Vik. If you have traveled to South America, the term estancia evokes a pastoral scene consisting of rugged rolling countryside dotted with trees, grazing ponies and cows and often punctuated by a great mansion in the center of the pampas.Estancia Vik does not disappoint, situated on 4000 broad open acres in Jose Ignacio, Uruguay. The luxurious Estancia rims the Arroyo and the Laguna José Ignacio, which meet the Southern Atlantic just a few miles away. The Bohemian beach and fishing community of José Ignacio is fifteen miles northeast from the coastal surf town of Punta del Este and two hours northeast of the Uruguayan capital of Montevideo.José Ignacio has become a chic international winter destination; pristine beaches, endless pampas that bring to mind the boundless horizons of African savannahs. Indigo skies spiked with a never-ending parade of colossal billowing clouds set the stage for the pure white Spanish colonial style mansion, Estancia Vik. The owners originally designed the estancia as a personal home and realized the potential as a boutique hotel property, lucky for the travelers who discover this property.
The Spanish colonial-style building is a 50,000 square foot structure designed by Marcelo Daglio, art selected by the curator Enrique Badaró Nada and the owners Alex and Carrie Vik. The traditional estancia built of white adobe walls and topped with red tin roofs is a striking visible landmark. Linking outdoors and suites and public spaces, corridors are connected by covered walkways linking several courtyards and tranquil gardens; the sprawling patios provide areas to linger and absorb the peaceful landscape.
A grand combination of sculpture and wall mural installations, each suite an homage to a particular Uruguayan artist; it is the perfect stage for avant-garde South American artwork and original design. A delightful combination of urban chic interiors and rustic outdoor adventure – you could choose to curl up by the sparkling pool or on your suite patio mesmerized by the views, however kayaking on Lake José Ignacio or enjoying a sunset horseback ride through the pampas fields amid cattle and grazing ponies should tempt you from a hedonistic trance.
Fancy a polo lesson? Check. Yoga class? Check. Ping pong, yes, it seems to be popular at these properties. Check. Wine tasting is offered from the underground wine vault stocked with a collection of over 5000 bottles of vino.
Late evening supper can be taken family style with other guests or privately amid the patios or in the brick barrel vaulted dining room. Typical South American style barbeque is prepared and served in the dedicated asado galpon (shed) awash in imaginative vibrant graffiti. In Buenos Aires, graffiti is an art form and this asado dining room is resplendent in brilliant color.
The art at the 12-suite Spanish Colonial hotel is superb. Some highlights include the Estancia’s massive living room that showcases a 12-foot tall sculpture of polished white marble by world-renowned artist Pablo Atchugarry. The acclaimed Uruguayan sculptor’s creation rises to meet the 300 square meter ceiling and frieze painted by Clever Lara, another leading Uruguayan contemporary artist. This work is a “satellitescape” view of José Ignacio and Uruguay, inspired by Google Earth. Eight very large semi-precious stones in their natural state hang from the walls between sets of glass doors, which the owners discovered in the far north of Uruguay.Even the pool has it’s own artistic frame of reference – a night viewing reveals that the bottom of the pool is dotted with fiber optic lights, which mirror the twinkling Southern Hemisphere constellations.
Colorist Carlos Musso painted the Estancia’s unique garden chapel in his beautifully spiritual manner. I was heavenly ensconced in a Musso painted suite; the room adorned with a regal chaise had a half wall of glass doors opening to the pampas where wild ponies grazed.One would be remiss in carrying on about the art work, the fabulous food, the never ending horizons; the bath tubs and showers deserve a book or two on over the top design concept. I am a certified tribe of the tub girl and I had plans to steal in under the cover of darkness to soak in each and every tub. Deep soaking tubs, one in particular, was finely crafted in the shape of a rowboat, albeit, a hand made wooden rowboat. Marble tubs, rough-hewn crystals carved in the shape of a tub. Showerheads resembled oversize teardrops that softly sprayed a bather. Only the photos or a soothing soak provide the best description.
Even with a property filled with contemporary art, Estancia Vik is a warm comfy home away from home. The white sandy beach and several other impressive Vik properties are nearby. Down to earth sensibilities are important to the owners: organic gardens provide fresh vegetable, a windmill and solar panels help power the estancia. Practical responsible necessities merged with dashing style and breathtaking scenery.
Estancia Vik – a custom contemporary boutique property designed to maintain and enhance the charm of an age-old South America tradition, a magnificent estancia. Coupled with responsible land management, marvelous staff, fabulous dining and showcasing Uruguayan artists – what’s not to love?
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