Chile The beautiful Atacama Desert is one of the biggest reasons to visit Chile.

Published on March 16th, 2014 | by Mark Chesnut

The beautiful Atacama Desert is one of the biggest reasons to visit Chile.

No More Visa for U.S. Travel to Chile: Here are 5 Ways to Celebrate

The fact that the United States government is adding Chile to its Visa Waiver Program (VWP) is good news for U.S. citizens planning travel to Chile as well. Because now, U.S. passport holders visiting Chile are (as of February 26, 2014) are exempt from the visa reciprocity fee. No visa means you’ll save a nifty $160. (Beginning May 1, 2014, Chilean nationals may travel to the United States under the VWP, but must pay the US $14 ESTA fee; passport holders from certain countries may travel without visas, so long as their passports meet certain requirements.​)

So how should U.S. travelers celebrate the $160 they’ll save from not having to pay for a Chilean visa? Perhaps by splurging on some of the best hotels in Chile while enjoying some of this South American nation’s best activities. To get started, check out my listing of some of the Best Hotels in Santiago de Chile, as named in this year’s “Best of Travel” awards, a lineup I edit and write every year for Latin Trade, the leading bilingual magazine for people who do business in Latin America. 

As I put together Latin Trade Magazine’s annual “Best of Travel” issue, I came across several other award-winning hotels in Chile. These properties combine luxury and comfort with the excitement of the great outdoors, with easy access to some of the best activities in Chile: skiing, hiking and other nature-based activities.

1. Indulge in the Cool Things to do in Santiago de Chile
The capital city is a logical place to start any visit, and it offers lots to do. For inspiration, check out my 3 Top Reasons to Visit Santiago de Chile.

2. Head South for Nature Travel in Chile
From north to south, Chile is graced with  incredibly beautiful and diverse natural beauty. Consider Torres del Paine National Park, in Patagonia, The Chilean biological reserve of Huilo Huilo, also located in southern Chile, was honored in the category of “People’s Choice Award” in the 2013 edition of the World Travel Market trade fair in London. It’s home to several ecological lodges that are great for nature lovers. Top hotel choices in the south include Singular Patagonia, which was named among the Top 12 Hotels of 2013 by Forbes.

3. Go Skiing in Chile
Chile is a skier’s paradise, and the winter ski season takes place when it’s summer in North America and Europe. Named among the Best Ski Resorts 2013 in the World Ski Awards, Portillo is a great place to take advantage of the slopes in Chile. Also worth considering is Antumalal, in Pucon, which was named Chile’s Best Ski Boutique Hotel in the World Ski Awards. 

4. Wander the Desert in Chile
Northern Chile is marked by desert geography that’s so spectacular you just might feel like you’ve landed on Mars (it’s even used by space explorers for that very reason). The town of San Pedro de Atacama is the best base for exploring the Atacama Desert, and a hub for beautiful, boutique-style luxury hotels that provide a perfect place to rest and refuel after exploring; consider checking into  Awasi, which was named 2013 Hideaway of the Year by Andrew Harper Grand Awards, and was included in my list of the 5 Best Hotels in the Atacama Desert.

5. Splurge on the Hottest New Hotels in Chile
This year, Chile is welcoming a pair of new hotels that promise to be among the nation’s most talked about. The Singular Santiago Lastarria, which opens April 2014, will be a 63-room “sophisticated urban retreat” with a spa, a “high gastronomy” French-style restaurant, rooftop outdoor pool and lounge. Opening in the second quarter of 2014, the five-star Cumbres Lastarria is a 73-room “design hotel” with eye-catching modern décor, a rooftop pool and restaurant, and a wine bar and lounge that will host cultural and artistic events. You can also choose classics like The Aubrey, a gorgeous boutique hotel set in a 1920s mansion (I stayed here and loved it). 

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About the Author

The founder and editor of, Mark has more than 15 years of experience as a writer, editor and manager. He's worked with some of the biggest consumer, in-flight and travel trade publishers that cover Latin America.

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