HOW TO GET THERE
Lan Airlines (866-435-9526) is Chile's flag carrier, based in Santiago, and considered one of the best airlines in Latin America, with direct flights from Miami, Los Angeles, and New York and a plush business class that feels more like first.
WHERE TO STAY
Check into one the best properties in the Chile, Santiago's Ritz Carlton (Calle El Alcalde No. 15, +56-2- 470-8500) a 205-room gem across from what will be the city's new ultra-modern civic center. Bask in the Old World elegant lobby, the glass-domed rooftop swimming pool, and be sure to take advantage of one of their horseback excursions to the Cajon Maipo, a stunning mountain-ringed canyon just outside of the city. Skiers and snowboarders should get thee directly to Valle Nevado (+56-2-477-7000) with three hotels and apartment rentals at nearly 10,000 feet on the southeast slopes of the Andes, just 90 minutes outside of Santiago. Stay in the nicest lodge, the wooden, 53-room Hotel Valle Nevado right at the base of the lifts and be sure to take in a meal or two at their superior French Mediterranean restaurant La Fourchette d'Or.
The Zero Hotel (Lautaro Rosas 343, +56-32-211-3113), built within an old hillside mansion, is the best spot to lay your head in Valparaiso, with panoramic views from the chic rooms, a small pool, and a spiffy atrium-like breakfast room. The staff goes out of their way to make you feel like you're at home, and partake in their nightly Chilean wine social hour.
The Atacama Desert
Feel like a Hollywood celebrity at Awasai (4 Tocapilla, +56-2-233-9641), a small, private, and incredibly tasteful resort in a desert style with round detached suites, outdoor showers, lounges with fireplaces, and top tier meals, as well as personalized tours to off-the-beaten-path locales. The recently renovated Explora (Domingo Atienza 452, +56-2-206-6060) was the first big hotel built in San Pedro, and remains its best known, with 42 gorgeous acres including pools, Jacuzzis, horse stables, and farmland, not to mention perfect views from its outdoor restaurant. (Note: Nearly all of the Atacama's larger lodges include daytime excursions and meals in their room rates.)