More and more meeting and incentive planners are beginning to discover the wonders of combining Chile and Peru, including the urbane city of Santiago and the cultural splendor of Peru’s Machu Picchu. Add to that the expanded service into South America by LAN Airlines and the pent up demand for once in a lifetime experiences, and it’s easy to understand why South America is such a hot MICE destination.
Breathtaking even from the air as you swoop in over the snowcapped Andes, Santiago is a bustling city just 20 minutes from the international airport. We headquartered at the 196-room W Santiago, a modern hotel with a welcoming, cozy feel to it. As soon as you enter the Living Room lobby, the richness of colors set the tone with brick and leather walls punctuated with a large copper fireplace.
Another great space was the library adjacent to the Living Room, a perfect place to hang out with free WiFi.
The guestrooms feature floor-to-ceiling windows, comfy beds, the W pillow menu, 42-inch LCD flat screen TVs with cable, a dual-line cordless speaker phone with dataport, and an alarm/clock/radio with iPod docking station.
“The W has a friendly and service-oriented staff to cater to special needs including themed events,” explains Rafael Nader, sales/marketing director. “We have so many bars, lounges and restaurants, cool trendsetter locals show up every night making our hotel a destination itself.”
What is the most popular event for groups at the W?
“It’s our top of the world rooftop bar Redzone,” says Nader, “with glass windows that let groups see an astonishing cityscape while they network with cocktails.”
W’s Osaka Restaurant is a combination of Peruvian and Asian infusion ingredients. For instance, try the not-so typical maki rolls, such as the sweet and sour beef or octopus roll, as well as their signature Osaka-style ceviche.
Located in the fashionable Santiago enclave of El Golf, the 2-year old hotel offers its own convention facilities. There is over 18,000 sf of flexible space that can accommodate up to 1,200 people theater style or receptions for 1,400. For more intimate board/corporate meetings, there is also a number of Strategy and Studio rooms.
We met up with DMC Sportstour, a well-established and experienced 50 year-old company that organizes everything from large congress groups to bespoke tours. Their dedicated MICE team develops entertaining and exclusive incentive programs, motivational meetings and teambuilding activities.
“We know the corporate journey must be spectacular and unrepeatable, and through our knowledge of the country and passion for details, our aim is to provide the best trip possible,” says Constanza Moya, commercial director. “Santiago is a modern, clean and safe city, yet still maintains a unique Latin American flavor that corporate travelers can experience. Also, Chile is a leader in development of telecommunications technologies, so connectivity is guaranteed.”
Sportstour arranged an unforgettable dining experience at Boragó restaurant, founded by chef Rodolfo Guzman. Forget farm-to-table; here you have nature-to-table. Guzman travels weekly all over Chile to find foods only available in the wild instead of suppliers coming to him. For small groups of 12-20, this is a must experience when coming to Santiago. Everything was exotic, eccentric and delicious. We had a tasting menu that included eggs cooked in ashes, raw and charred vegetables with wild dill, bruja potato, beef cheek with cider and wild acid herbs, paired with mostly Chilean wines.
“Our tasting menu is in connection with our soil and it changes almost every day,” says Guzman. “So, when your group comes to Boragó, it’s like having a bite of Chile in the moment. Nature tells us what to cook and how to cook, like heating our food over volcanic stones.”
Restaurant Civico is another great restaurant located at the Centro Cultural Palacio La Moneda downtown, adjacent to the presidential offices. Don’t miss the southern hake and crab cannelloni, or the kobe beef short ribs with gnocchi and blue cheese sauce, served with a Vino de Mortino Estate Reserva Cabernet 2009. Capacity is 120 in the evening.
Another great dining venue for groups, the Thai restaurant Anakena is located at the Grand Hyatt Santiago. It’s accessible via a lovely garden path with elegant glass walls and terraces all around the diners. A complete renovation is due to finish in the fall, with buyout capacity around 90 in the winter and 200 in warm weather months.
Anakena’s specialties include stir fried prawns in garlic butter, Yam Nua Yang (spicy Thai beef salad), Popia Goong (prawn spring rolls with fresh herbs) and Thai Dim Sum (stuffed with chicken and prawns) and, of course, the curries and Wok dishes. It’s a seemingly endless bounty of delicious food, all beautifully served, for a wonderful networking experience.
On the hotel side, Grand Hyatt’s renovation will double total meeting space by the end of 2012, and in 2013, all rooms will be renovated in phases. Approximately 40% of the hotel’s meeting business is from the U.S. banking, pharmaceutical and financial sectors.