There are places you sleep and places you stay. Places you stay are more than a bed – you're there for the people who live at that space and the experiences you can only have there. You rarely say, "I'm going to sleep at my Aunt Nancy's house." Rather, you stay there. For Wildland, we're constantly searching out special places to stay across the globe so that our travelers can have that feeling of place and experience memorable adventures. Vira Vira, located in Pucon, Chile, is one of our favorite places to stay.
1. It's more than a hotel, it's a way of life. Michael and Claudia, the owners of Vira Vira, fell in love with the Araucaria region and moved their entire family from Switzerland to Chile in order to build a space that they felt embodied the spirit of the region and would allow others to experience this unique part of the world. They turned their dream into a reality (over years of hard work) and the soul breathed into the walls of the hacienda, the excursions they offer, the food that is served is obvious throughout your stay. Want to know more? Feel free to ask Michael who makes sure to greet every new arrival and makes the rounds at dinner to see how your day was.
2. The Elegance of Adventure. Hacienda Vira Vira is located on 23 hectares of land in an understated and immensely beautiful part of Chile. The Araucaria region is home to active volcanoes, serpentine rivers, and forests of ancient monkey puzzle trees. Vira Vira's excursions are designed to inspire the same passion for this region that Michael and Claudia have. You can explore the rivers by white water raft, take a serene float trip or cast a fly rod for trout and salmon. Surrounded by no fewer than 5 national parks and 3 national reserves, Vira Vira is a literal playground for world class trekking, mountain biking, or mountain climbing. You can even take a helicopter flight over Volcano Villarrica, one of the most active volcanoes in Chile. If you're lucky, you might see the magma bubbling far below from your birds eye view high above. Interested in horseback riding? Vira Vira only works with the best so it's no surprise their resident gaucho and horses are of the highest caliber. Check out this blog about the greatest gaucho on Earth
3. The People. The Araucaria region is the heart of the Mapuche, indigenous people of Chile. Vira Vira has carefully cultivated relationships with nearby Mapuche communities to allow guests to visit a ruka, traditional home, and share in the vibrant culture of the Mapuche. You'll see Mapuche influence throughout the hacienda – artwork, textiles, menu items etc. Paravicini even constructed a guest home on the property in a traditional ruka style.The staff of Vira Vira are open, kind, and knowledgeable. During our time there we chatted with the sommelier who is from Santiago but studied and worked in Oregon, explored the history of Pucon's adventure past from our guide who studied adventure tourism in university there, discussed flairtending (a competition style of bartending) with the bartender, and toured the garden with one of the resident farmers. The list goes on but the common spaces of Vira Vira are designed to inspire conversation between the entire community, guests and staff, staying at the hacienda. Everyone has something to share.
4. The farm, the food, the wine. You'll know the term hacienda was not simply used for show as you drive the entrance road to the hotel. Michael and Claudia put an emphasis on making sure that they produce and source as much of the hotel's food as possible. You'll pass herds of Holstein cows on the drive in, cows that supply milk for the hotel's three-year-aged Parmesan. Farther along, pass a garden seemingly filled with every vegetable and fruit imaginable. This is just the display garden (and for items needed on quick demand in the kitchen). The hacienda has an adjacent farm large enough to feed the hotel's guests year round. Speaking of which, the food is incredible so expect to be well fed. The menu changes daily depending on what is in season and the chef's whims. My advice? Say yes to everything recommended - you won't be sorry.Beyond the gardens, the hacienda has beehives, a creamery for producing fresh milk, cream, yogurt and cheese and an Austrian grain mill for grinding their own grains for fresh-baked bread. Michael's uncle is Donald Hess, so you could say his passion for wine is somewhat genetic. He has proudly assembled Vira Vira's all-Chilean premium wine list and selects each evening's dinner pairings.
5. Sleeping. Vira Vira is all about the stay but sleeping is an integral part of any good stay and the rooms at Vira Vira are divine. With just 21 rooms you have the option of staying in the main house or, our personal recommendation, one of the 12 villa suites. Each one of these split level suites features warm wood and local textiles with floor to ceiling windows looking out to the Liucura River, a fireplace, and outdoor tub. Vira Vira also has a wood fired hot tub perfect for relaxing after a day's excursion and watching the stars of the Southern sky appear.
It's easy to see why Paravicini fell in love with this place. It might hit you the first time you lay eyes on Vira Vira or it might be as you walk through monkey puzzle trees dating back to the Mesozoic era or it may be when the first slice of house aged camembert hits your tongue but, no matter when it happens, we promise you'll fall in love with Vira Vira and the Araucaria region."Hacienda Vira Vira is a "not to be missed" stop on a tour through Chile in Northern Patagonia. It's at the top of our list as one of the best hotels we have ever experienced - six stars. It is not only a charming hotel, it is an experience. Guests are kindly welcomed at arrival as if they were staying at a friend's house." Luckily for you, your friend has a very, very nice house.
Ready to see what the Araucaria region and Vira Vira is all about? Check out our Chile itineraries and ask us how to incorporate a stay