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Updated: Apr 28, 2020

Recommending new and exciting destinations that will reward and inspire Corporate Incentive groups, can be challenging. Often, they are very well travelled, incentive groups can be large – sometimes around 200+ guests, the ROI must be tangible and, we haven’t been everywhere to know what is right and what could be extremely challenging when travelling with a group.

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While travelling through Chile recently, I headed out to explore the surrounding areas of Santiago, to understand the Country / Region, and to see if this is a destination that excited us. We headed north, 90min by car to the artistic town of Valparaiso. Known for its street art and bohemian lifestyle, I was up for a full day exploring the town. I had our local ground operator as a guide, to showcase the best art, where the locals eat and introduce me to a traditional cooking school.

I also wanted to learn, taste and understand the Chilean Wine scene, so we headed east of Santiago, for 45 min east to the quaint town of Santa Rita. Below, we review three hidden gems where you can stay and soak up the culture of two remarkable areas, just outside of Santiago, all which are perfect for any incentive group.

1. Spending the morning walking the beautiful and vibrant streets of Valparaiso, exploring every side alley, stopping to admire the striking artworks (this is more than graffiti), we wanted to understand the food culture better, so what better way to learn, take a cooking class.

As an activity for a partner programme, or a small incentive group, these interactive experiences can stay with you for ever. Our host, Martin (ex Australian) welcomes us behind the gorgeous red door into a fantastic, well thought out cooking studio. They have several studios from small to large (upto 40 guests), where everyone participates and contributes to your lunch. We undertake cooking a 3 course lunch, of course there is wine and the local Chilean Pisco Sour to keep us hydrated, along with laughter and sharing of local stories… Empanadas have never tasted so good!

2. Hotel Magnolia combines history and modern architecture. Once a stately home built in 1929, the Hotel has undertaken a stunning re-development. Keeping as much of the old charm and materials, was key to the preservation of the hotel. Tiles, wooden floorboards, stain glass windows have all been retained or re-purposed.

42 luxurious rooms and suites are located in both the old and new development with a minimalist, nearly Scandinavian feel. As we walk through the hotel, the current family who own the hotel, have a strong fashion background and it clearly shows with all the small touches throughout.

Light fills the restaurant where a daily menu changes with fresh local produce. A small private dining space is available for any private milestone celebrations. The cocktail bar is located off the traditional black and white tiled lobby, where you can sit with a coffee or cocktail enjoying the original stained-glass windows. Or, enjoy the roof top terrace that overlooks the city and upto Santa Lucia Hill.

We asked the owners, is the hotel available for an exclusive use booking for an incentive group, and this was very well received. They even asked how we could work together in customising the guests stay with co-branding throughout the hotel, guest robes, specific cocktails and menu choices and turn-down gifts.

Image Credit: @hotelmagnoliacl

3. We arrive at the Santa Rita Vineyards at the base of the Andes mountain range and discover three extraordinary experiences await us. All were on the same property, so this allowed us to indulge in a long lunch. First, we started at Museo Andino, a modern museum housing a collection of over 3000 archaeological artefacts of pre-Colombian, Chilean and Latin American works. This is the perfect size museum, and can be completed in one hour and was totally fascinating. Next stop was to explore the vineyards, cellar and restaurant – all were exceptional.

After lunch we walked through the 40-hectare estate and found Hotel Casa Real surrounded by lakes and gardens, that should be located in a botanical garden. With 16 beautifully appointed rooms, decorated very traditionally, each made you want to stop for the night, savour the moment, of this private and exclusive hotel. Large elegant dining and living rooms were found, along with a billiard room with a full-size table, begging us to play. We decided on the wide undercover balcony overlooking the gardens, to stop and recharge not only ourselves, but our phones as there was a usb charging point at the table, so every modern facility has been thoughtfully included in the restoration.

With access for group travel with Latam Airlines and Qantas out of Australia, Chile should be included on your next destination list to your client. Logistics for moving guests around was easy, very little to no traffic jams, locals were very welcoming, and although we didn’t speak Spanish, communicating was not difficult. Our ground operator and the team that we met, all spoke perfect English and their desire and passion to create an extraordinary experience in Chile, will be why you want to take your clients there.

For a review of Latam Airlines business class, see our review in our blog posts.

Rhonda Norman travelled through Chile as a full paying guest. Images are our own, unless specified.

Destination Marketing Services is one of our preferred suppliers here in Australia and they work with as their ground operator.

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