Today Norm Goldman, Editor of Sketchandtravel and Bookpleasures is pleased to have as a guest Paul Lehman, Managing Partner of Austin-Lehman Adventures. Paul is an expert on travel to Chile.
Good Day Paul and thank you for accepting our invitation to be interviewed.
It is a real pleasure Norm, thanks for the opportunity to talk about my most favourite South American destination.
NORM: Please tell our readers something about yourself and your expertise pertaining to Chile.
I am an avid traveler who has been in the adventure travel industry for the past five years. Prior to that, I was involved in a family business headquartered in Chicago. When our family decided to sell our business, I asked myself what I like to do most in the world. The answer was to be active and pursue my passion for travel. Hence, my business partner, Dan Austin and I founded Austin-Lehman Adventures, which provides upscale, active adventures throughout North, Central, and South America. I have personally traveled throughout South America and Chile numerous times.
Norm: Where is Chile and how easy is it to travel from the United States, Canada or Europe to this country?
For anyone who has ever been fascinated by geography, the long, impossibly thin line of Chile has always produced awe and astonishment. The country is located in Southern South America, bordered on the west by the South Pacific Ocean, rising into the Andean highlands and mountains between Argentina, Bolivia, and Peru to the east and north.
Chile is very easy to reach from the US. There are frequent non-stop flights from a number of major US cities. Though it is a fair distance from the US and Canada to Chile, the great thing about traveling there is that there is very little time difference. Jet lag is not a problem!
LanChile, the main Chilean Airline and a member of the Oneworld Alliance, offers good service from Miami and other major North American, European and Australasian cities and also serves all the main cities within Chile with several times-a-day service.
NORM: Would you consider Chile a good choice for a romantic getaway or wedding and honeymoon destination? Why?
Absolutely. Chile has so many different aspects to it. Because of its length from North to South, it has incredibly diverse eco-systems from the driest desert in the world in the Atacama region to the most beautiful mountains in the world in Torres del Paine National Park. Also, Chile has a very well working travel infrastructure with good roads, reliable and frequent air service, and many beautiful remote resorts and romantic hideaways.
To paraphrase the great Chilean poet and romantic, Pablo Neruda, “Chile will do to you what spring does to the Cherry trees.”
NORM: What is the best time to visit Chile from the point of view of weather, costs, crowds, and the availability of flights from the USA, Canada and Europe?
All times of year. Remember that Chile’s seasons are the reverse of ours in the Northern Hemisphere. So, while we are sweltering here up in July, in Chile, you can schuss the slopes of Portillo in the incredibly beautiful Andes Mountains. Conversely, when it is winter here, you can be sunning yourself on the Chile’s Pacific coast in Valparaiso or hiking magnificent trails in Patagonia. Falls in the Lake District are beautiful, too. Austin-Lehman Adventures offers its 10 Day/9 Night itinerary combining the Wine Country, Lake District, and Patagonia in January and March.
Norm: How safe is it to travel to Chile?
Chile is among the most stable and safest countries in South America. Like travel everywhere, tourists should take the same precautions they would take traveling in their own countries. The main thing to be concerned about is the occasional pick pocketing or theft of your handbag, backpack, or camera from your rental car, restaurant, or unlocked hotel room. Use common sense and always be aware of your surroundings and whereabouts of your personal items. A good resource for safe traveling abroad can be found on the U.S. DEPT OF STATE WEBSITE
NORM: Could you give our readers an idea of the costs involved if travel originates from the USA or Canada?
Flights to Chile are comparably priced to travel from the US and Canada to Europe. I’ve seen roundtrip flights from Miami to Santiago for as little as $475. As always, travellers should keep their eyes open for frequent discounts provided by airlines. Because the seasons are the opposite, high season in Chile occurs during our winters. But, Chile remains a relative bargain when compared to travel in the US and in Europe.
NORM: If you had to choose 5 unequalled venues in Chile for a romantic getaway, honeymoon or wedding destination, what would they be and why?
- At the top of my list would be the EXPLORA LODGES in the Atacama Desert and in Patagonia. These luxury eco-lodges offer wonderful activities such as hiking, horseback riding, and touring in beautiful surroundings.
- The spa, Termas de Puyuhuapi, in northern Patagonia is another very romantic, secluded spot where honeymooners can enjoy hiking, boating, fly-fishing, and spa-ing in very comfortable accommodations.
- Located on a picturesque lake in one of the most stunning volcanic regions on earth, the Yan Kee Way Lodge offers gourmet dining, very romantic accommodations, and an activity program jam packed with fun things to do for everyone.
- In Santiago, the top place to stay is Ritz-Carlton. This luxury hotel rivals any in the world. They have a special weddings team that will help you plan youevent with a full menu of bridal services to choose from.
- I would be remiss if I didn’t recommend a trip with our company, Austin-Lehman Advenutures. We have a fabulous 10 day trip to Chile’s Wine Country, Lake District, and Southern Patagonia. We feature two luxurious lodges, the Yankee Way and Explora Lodges, and we hike, bike, taste wine, kayak, and river raft. What could be better!
NORM: What should people know about celebrating a wedding in Chile from the point of view of requirements, experience of the various hotels, etc.
You should first check with the Chilean Embassy and Consulate Office for current laws and requirements. Getting married abroad is as legal and accepted as if it happened domestically as long as you adhere to the proper requirements of both the host country and your own. I would suggest consulting with a resort or hotel directly or a tour operator such as Austin-Lehman Adventures who has the right connections in country. There are many romantic hotels and resorts, both in the major cities and in rural areas that will do complete wedding planning from the ceremony to the reception.
NORM: How far in advance should a couple prepare themselves for their honeymoon, romantic getaway or wedding in Chile?
We recommend that you begin your planning a minimum of 6 months ahead for honeymoons and romantic getaways and a year prior for weddings. Many resort and hotel wedding planning services will help with invitations, travel logistics, and accommodation blocks.
NORM: What resources are available on the Internet pertaining to weddings and honeymoon vacations in Chile?
A good site is: Embassy Of Chile- USA
Another for books and ideas is:Lovetripper.com
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