Last month Leslie Overton, Absolute Travel’s general manager (and Condé Nast Traveler Top Travel Specialist for Family Travel for the past seven years) earned her title even more when she swept her family away for one last summer hurrah down in Chile. Their family adventure included exploring the not-even-opened-yet Viña VIK, wine tasting under 18 (shhhhh!), running down sublime sand dunes in the Atacama Desert, and stargazing into some of the most spectacular skies on earth.
Leslie says, “I always say, travel is a powerful tool to educate my children. Exploring the world gives my kids, my husband and me the unrivaled gifts of perspective, knowledge and compassion; gifts that stay with us long after unpacking. Chile was the perfect playground to do just that.” Here are some of their top family highlights…
Leslie: “Exploring the Not-Even-Open-to-the-Public-Yet Viña VIK”
Leslie gushes, “I would have stayed here forever!” After hearing about it, we would too! After years of searching for the perfect climate and soil, Alex and Carrie Vik finally discovered perfection in Chile’s Milahue Valley and founded VIK Milahue Chile, a holistic vineyard just two hours from the Santiago airport. The valley, which is known as the “Place of Gold” to the local people, boasts a stunning landscape encircled by sweeping views that stretch out to the Andes. Here, the relationship between man and nature, and the synergy that flows between the two, is a resounding paradigm that emanates throughout the property.
Perched on a hilltop at the Vik Lodge, Leslie and family could marvel at the property’s 11,000 acres of vineyards, lakes, forests, and mountains from the comfort of a luxury family-friendly retreat. This was an excellent option for adults and children alike; the wide spectrum of activities from outdoor adventures to gastronomic indulgences kept the entire family intrigued and entertained.
While the vineyard has been around since 2006, the hotel at Viña VIK is a new and exciting development that has yet to open to the public (it’s slated to March 2014). When it opens, Viña VIK will offer sixteen guest suites and superb 360-degree views of the stunning surroundings. Absolute is very lucky to have had a sneak peak at this phenomenal spot. (Contact us if you want to be next!)
Jeff: “Wine Tasting with the Family.”
The perfect way to cap off a day of exploring Chile is a chilled glass of Chilean wine of course! Jeff, Leslie, Ruby, Lola and Fergus grabbed some hard hats and suited up for a full-fledged inspection of the property followed by wine tasting with the entire family (the kids spit–we promise!). Their first wine tour did not disappoint considering they started with Vik 2010, an elegant blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Carmenère, Syrah, Cabernet Franc and Merlot.
4 Year-old Fergus: “Running Down the Sand!”
When we asked adorable Fergus what his favorite part of the trip yet, he didn’t have to think twice: “Running down the sand!” Who would have thought that the most driest place on earth would be the perfect playground? Using the stunning Awasi Atacama as their base, they explored moon valley, geysers, salt marshes, lagoons and Atacama wildlife.
Awasi is located inside an ancient site surrounded by a historic wall, which for years housed shepherds and herders. The intimate property works in harmony with the local culture and environment, and the location is an excellent base for adventure activities from four-wheel drives with private guides to surfing the sand.
9 Year-Old Lola: “Horseback Riding in Chile!”
As if exploring Atacama’s otherworldly terrain isn’t fun enough, horseback riding throughout the region makes it even better! Alongside a knowledgeable Awasi guide who brought the region to life with anecdotal stories and a background of the area, the family stopped by authentic local villages, slipped into a the hot springs, and even walked on dormant volcanoes.
14 Year-Old Ruby: “Stargazing into Distant Galaxies with the Best Telescope on Earth!”
The Atacama Desert proved not only to be one of the driest places on earth (and best places to frolic on dunes), but also one of the best places in the world to stargaze. With virtually no light pollution, very few clouds, and high altitude the region has nearly perfect conditions for stargazers. Astronomy tours are quite common, and a fun activity for all ages. (You can even visit astronomical observation sites like the Paranal Observatory, home to the biggest telescope in the world!)
From Alto Atacama Ruby and the gang looked into faraway galaxies–particularly interesting for Ruby as she was able to experience her school studies in real life. Another plus to Alto Atacama? Since the property is on the outskirts of town, there were able to get to their activities quickly! Mountain biking and enjoying the local hot springs were a stone’s throw away.
Alto Atacama is one of our favorite properties in Chile. It sits in the valley of Chile’s Salt Mountains, nearby the Pucara de Quitor ruins. This eco-sensitive property fits in perfectly with its surroundings, inviting the rugged beauty of the outdoors in. Whether you’re choosing to sit outside with a glass of wine or soak in one of the pools, Alto Atacama is a wonderful place to connect to the best of Chile.
Get in touch with Leslie to learn more about her favorite kid-friendly properties, destinations, and insider tips or to find out more about our Family Journeys.