Sleeping around in Chile's capital

Travel Weekly senior editor Mark Chesnut recently visited the Inter-Continental Santiago and stayed at the Crowne Plaza Santiago in Chile. His report follows:

his fall, the Inter-Continental Santiago debuted a wine cellar, Cava Vergara -- a fitting addition for an upscale property in Chile, a nation known for its fine wines.

This is the latest example of a sweeping round of upgrades at Six Continents properties in this South American metropolis.

The Inter-Continental added a wing with 200 guest rooms in 2000, bringing its total room count to 300. The new section, like the rest of the hotel, is decorated with furniture and fittings made from Chilean wood.

Located in a neighborhood known as El Bosque Norte, near corporate offices and embassies, the hotel relies on business travel for most of its clientele, according to hotel representatives.

An updated facade and an enhanced reception area are two features that will be coming to the Crowne Plaza Santiago, shown above. Closer to the city center is the Crowne Plaza Santiago, which is in the midst of a multimillion-dollar refurbishment.

Within the past two years, $10 million has been spent to upgrade public areas, guest rooms and amenities. Another $2 million will be spent during the next two years to upgrade the back of the house. Renovations also include a new facade and an enhanced reception area.

Each of the 300 guest rooms have been upgraded with amenities that include a dataport; two telephone lines connected to two independent telephones; a coffee bar; a television with a 29-inch screen; a safe; an ironing board and iron; and magnetic door locks.

For additional amenities, clients can opt for the Crowne Plaza Club, which is located on the 20th, 21st and 22nd floors.

Guests staying in this category of rooms enjoy the use of a private entrance and reception area as well as secretarial services, a sitting room with an open bar, a pool table, a library with foreign and domestic newspapers and magazines, a terrace and breakfast lounge and a small meetings room.

Truly upscale clients may be interested in the hotel's private heliport, perfect for a quick hop to the international airport or nearby destinations.

The hotel, which is owned and operated by Crowne Plaza, has a number of other on-site services and features.

Fine dining is an option at Enrico Caruso restaurant, which serves an array of traditional Italian cuisine and international dishes, including a sampling of typical Chilean food (we spent a good amount of time hovering over the dessert area at the lunch buffet, sampling tres leches and other delicacies).

On the lobby level, the Trafalgar Bar offers cocktails and live music during happy hour.

The Crowne Plaza Santiago's Splash Fitness Center includes a workout room; tennis courts; an outdoor, rooftop pool; a hot tub; and a sauna as well as massage and reflexology services.

There is no additional charge for guests who wish to use the spa and a small charge for other services.

Business travelers, who constitute the bulk of the visitors to the property, can make use of the hotel's convention center.

The center has 13 rooms for groups holding meetings that need to accommodate up to 1,700 people.

The business center is equipped with computers with round-the-clock Internet service, a copy machine, a fax machine, secretarial services and a meetings room.

Andes resort high on skiing

SANTIAGO, Chile -- Clients in the mood for snow during Chile's summer months might consider a visit to Valle Nevado, a resort complex perched in the Andes 35 miles from Santiago's airport.

Here, visitors can ski and snowboard from June through October (winter in that region of the world) along more than 23,000 acres of terrain. Bilingual instructors offer lessons to those in need. Visitors get a chance to ride the new Andes Express Chairlift, billed as Chile's first high-speed quad chairlift, which began operation in Valle Nevado this year.

The complex has three hotels and two condominium apartment buildings, including the family-oriented Hotel Puerto del Sol, the more youth-oriented Hotel Tres Puntas and the flagship Hotel Valle Nevado.

Valle Nevado added a fitness center with weightlifting equipment, an aerobics room, yoga and dancing classes, a sauna and four massage rooms.

Double rooms start at about $100 per person, per night, including lift tickets, two meals daily and the use of heated, outdoor swimming pools and the fitness center. Also included is nursery service for children ages 3 to 7 (meals not included).

For information, call (011) 56-2 698-0103; e-mail [email protected]; or visit the Web at www.vallenevado.com. -- M.C.

Room key: The Crowne Plaza Santiago
Address: Av. Libertador Bdo. O'higgins 136, Santiago, Chile
Phone: (011) 56-2 638-1042 >Fax: (011) 56-2 633-6015
E-mail:[email protected]
Web:http://santiago.crowneplaza.com/
General manager: Eduardo Fahrenkrug
Rates: Start at $239, double, for a standard room.
Commission: 10%
Built/renovated: Built 1981; operated as a Holiday Inn until 1997; $10 million was spent within the past two years to upgrade public areas, guest rooms and amenities; $2 million more will be spent during the next two years to upgrade the back of the house.
Rooms: 300
Location: City center, within walking distance of many businesses and tourist attractions.
Facilities: Restaurant, bar, business center, meetings rooms, spa/gym, swimming pool, heliport.
Noteworthy: Attractively maintained, upscale property; handy in-room amenities include an ironing board, an iron and multiple phones. The hotel's central location is a big plus.
Not worthy: Corporate travelers who need to be near the World Trade Center or other businesses located in the more far-flung parts of the city may prefer a hotel farther out (such as the Inter-Continental).

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