Clos Apalta Residence - Colchagua, Chile
Okay, I’ve seen it all but let’s do three nights in Colchagua area - I told myself not to cancel the one night stay at Lapostolle Clos Apalta Residence. I mean when you board an airplane that takes you 12.000 kilometres in 15 hours, you kind of lose the trust that a Relais & Chateaux property can really be as good as the founding ones (such as beloved Castel Fragsburg). We have been to Easter Island, Patagonia, Buenos Aires and Uruguay - latter one my absolute new fav place to vacation, so how shall a hotel surprise me again? Some say the best always comes last and in the end I was in for an extraordinary surprise - not just with one but two properties. Well, at a daily rate of 1000 USD upwards, you are in the fortunate situation expecting to find a top notch hotel.
So let’s start the journey. After having booked a super cheap rental car via a third or fourth party to find out it was actually a Sixt contract, Lukas and me were lucky enough to drive an upgraded limousine instead of the booked entry-category rental car. Having had a great car, I was totally impressed by the stunning highway system they have down here in Chile, which is actually comparable to the free highways in Italy (not the Autostrade but Superstrade). To be honest I thought the drive will be a big deal and roads are in terrible conditions so it was actually an amazing drive through a stunning landscape that already changed slightly into autumn with trees slightly losing leaves. After roughly three hours from Valpo (where we stayed at the lovely Casa Higueras) we arrived in the Clos Apalta valley which is located opposite of the famous town Sant Cruz - the heart of Calchagua Valley. After a while we arrived at a huge entrance gate stating “Clos Apalta”. We both rang the bell and informed the person on the other end about our names so that the gate opened. Then we took a road which seemed to lead towards the end of a valley along what seemed like thousands of wine trees. Of course my colleague Lukas would not be a wine lover if we wouldn’t have to stop to grab a few raisins illegally from the tree. Once we finally approached the residence, the manager and our host were already waiting for us and greeted us with a friendly: “Bienvenidos a Clos Apalta”! We felt welcome from the very first moment and before I could even register, the luggage has already been taken care of and Lukas and me were already walking to the sleek yet stunning terrace overlooking the entire property. I don’t know why and I cannot describe this feeling but then comes the moment when a feeling pops up in me that says immediately if this hotel is a killer property or a wannabe. This time my inner self told me: be aware that’s going to be a place you will want to come back. If an arrival works without any little incident and I am checked-in with a glass of amazing wine to my right, a stunning view to my left and the smell of freedom than it can’t get any worse I thought.
Originally built as Mrs Alexandra Lapostolle-Marnier’s holiday home, the winery turned into a four-villa hotel a few years ago and of course became a member of Relais & Chateaux - the only hotel group it fits a hundred percent from my point of view. While Lukas and me were hesitating to ask if they would serve lunch still (it was already 4pm), our host approached and asked if we already had lunch and if not she would love to setup a small bite with wine pairing on the terrace. And this is what I was talking about above - it’s the little service details that make a great hotels. Other hotels also have stunning hardware like flawless rooms and worldclass spa but nothing goes beyond service that is just perfect. So there were we, sitting on the terrace with a light wind breezing through our hair, sipping finest Lapostolle white wine (my fav was the Chardonnay) and being served an amazing club sandwich with homemade cheese, balsamic and rocket salad. A few minutes later we were accompanied to our Casita called Cabernet (all four casitas are called by the grapes used for their Clos Apalta wine). We entered the villa and were speechless by the airy layout boasting two twin beds, two armchairs, a writing desk with chair as well as a fire place and a sideboard with welcome amenities and Bose sound box to connect your iPhone via Bluetooth.
Next to the main bedroom was a small kitchen with washbasin, coffee machine and complimentary minibar. That’s the point I have to make clear: we have seen cool minibars but never have we seen a complimentary minibar of that size. Plus they offer one bottle of white plus one red wine of Lapostolle on the house. On the other hand of the room we have a wardrobe to walk-in - still smelling of the freshly used wood (as if nobody stayed in the room before - AMAZING) - PLUS the hallway connecting to the bathroom. I mean the villa until now would already be stunning itself but the way to the bath and the fully light filled bathroom was another highlight. Stocked with L’Occitane toiletries, plush oversized towels with the hotel logo and two make-up mirrors along a make-up desk, double vanities, a separated toilet as well as a walk-in shower and a deep bath tub, this bathroom meets everything I call bathroom goals. Nothing more to add besides two chairs and a dining table on the terrace along with two armchairs to enjoy the picture perfect sky. Well maybe I shall mention the lovely housekeeping team who kept our huge villa in perfect condition. Before we headed to enjoy dinner it was time for some sunbathing on the cool infinity pool.
One of the biggest USP’s of Clos Apalta Residence is the fact that they just have 4 villas which creates a maximum capacity of 8 guests. Needless to say that you never ever need to mention your room name or your last name and don’t wonder why there are just four tables in the dinning room or four lounge chairs on the pool. This place shows once more quality goes over quantity. During our time at the beautiful outdoor pool the friendly host passed by quite a few times to offer us complimentary glasses of Sauvignon Blanc or Chardonnay. It was actually the first time we were served free flow upscale wine at a hotel pool, quite impressive. When the sun slightly began to set, we headed back to our casita to refresh and take a shower. Having dressed up we kind of knew what to expect from a Relais & Chateaux dinner: a set four course menu consisting of excellent canapés, followed by an orange aroma poached butterfish over peach gazpacho. The main course was a braced lamb shank with grape demi-glace and sautéed vegetables. The dishes were not too sophisticated and we really appreciate this culinary concept to provide classic dishes but in the most delicious way. Should I also mention the delicious dessert? Well, you can’t go wrong with a black berry Creme brûlée along a pineapple sorbet. No need to mention that all courses were accompanied by the two best wines of the hotel’s wine production and the probably best Pisco Sour you can find in Chile. After dinner we were informed that the concept is to provide a menu according to the wines which was the reason for the classic choices along these stand-alone wines.
A heavenly sleep later we were ready to discover breakfast, served in the main dining room in form of an a la carte menu. Again, the quality was very good and there was nothing we missed - even the Eggs Benedict were better than at any other hotel we have stayed in Chile. Orange juice couldn‘t have been any better as were the views. Once we finished the breakfast, the General Manager was picking us up with a golf cart to drive us to the horseback riding meeting point. I have to admit that - even tough it‘s anything but cheap - horseback riding through Clos Apalta is a must-do experience for any luxury traveler. We did many horseback riding tours on this trip but that one was truly extra with the horses going through the wine plantations and walking to a small building on the lower end of the property - Mrs Marnier-Lapostolle‘s old home. After the horseback ride we were shown the Clos Apalta winery - one of the most beautiful in the world from my point of view.
All in all Clos Apalta Residence belongs to one of the best hotels we have ever been and without doubt fully worth the splurge. Go for the half board as the dinner is spectacular and dining options in Santa Cruz are not on the same level - plus limited too. While our casita was the one nearest to the main building, each has a special charm and therefore it depends on what type you are. The most stunning casita is number four as it has the most gorgeous view of the entire property, tough it‘s the one furthest from the reception and restaurant (you can always call a golf cart to pick you up).