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Inside LAN's Mistral VIP Lounge at Santiago Airport

Where: Santiago, Chile
July 8, 2011 at 3:10 PM | by | ()

While waiting for our flight back from Chile to the U.S., we spent our layover in LAN’s Mistral VIP Salon at the Santiago Airport. And, since we were there for several hours, we’re bringing you a detailed inside look as part of our Airport Lounges series.

· The Newer The Better
There are actually two LAN lounges at Arturo Merino Benitez International Airport, both named after Nobel Prize-winning Chilean poets. We chose the Mistral VIP Lounge over the Neruda Lounge because we’d heard it was more recently renovated (in 2009), and when we stopped in, it did look all-new.

· Fare Rules
The two are located near each other between gates 17 and 20 in the international wing of the airport, and are both open daily from 6:00 am – 10:00 pm. In order to use the lounge, passengers must be either oneworld Emerald or Sapphire members (or the equivalent on an airline frequent flyer program), or must be departing that day in business class on LAN or a oneworld partner. Just as a side note, during busy travel times, access to the VIP Salons might be restricted according to capacity controls, and since the Mistral Lounge wasn’t very big, we’d advise you to ask at check-in which lounge to use.

· Interior Design
Speaking of the lounge size, we were pleasantly surprised by the Mistral Lounge’s cozy capacity. Granted, that could be a problem during the highest-traffic times, but we were there for several hours and it only got crowded later on in the evening when the big international flights were leaving.

We took an elevator down from the main international concourse and walked into the lounge’s reception area where two LAN employees greeted us, took our boarding pass so they could alert us when our flight was ready to board, and presented us with a selection of that day’s newspapers and magazines.

We had a bit of work to catch up on, so we went right into the main lounge area. There were six little sitting areas up at the front, with four armchairs each, two on either side of a glass coffee table, and plenty of electrical outlets along the wall—our adaptor was on the fritz, so we even borrowed one for free from the receptionists.

As we continued farther into the lounge, there were several more of these sitting areas down the center of the lounge along an open floor plan, and along the left-hand wall was a small kitchen and café area with ten tables and a flat-screen television at either end tuned to sports and news.

Across from the café area is a row of six oversize leather armchairs with ottomans facing the glass window out onto a corridor (not the most inspiring view, but peaceful), making for a little privacy, and the perfect place to curl up for a short nap.

Along the back wall of the lounge is a glassed-in smoking room with armchairs along the walls and a flat-screen television showing the news. Just off to the side of the smoking lounge is the office area with five private desk workspaces and three more at a bar-like counter with high stools, as well as a fax-copier machine. We brought our own laptop, so we just logged into the free high-speed WiFi from an armchair, and worked on that.

· On the Menu
Of course, we always stock up on snacks and beverages while we’re in the lounge, so eventually we drifted over to the small kitchen and bar area to sample from a few of the plates the staff continually put out, including one with various cheeses and fruits, another with mini-sandwiches, and a third with cookies and muffins. There were also bags of potato and apple chips, a fruit salad, and a cauldron of the soup of the day: asparagus.

In addition to the bottled water and sodas, plus an espresso machine and a selection of teas, there were pitchers of fruit juices, plus a full bar of spirits like Johnnie Walker Black whisky, Absolut Citron, and Beefeater Gin, as well as Mistral oak-aged Pisco, of course.

Since we’d just been on a wine-tasting trip, however, we were more interested to see the vintages selected by LAN’s Sommelier, Hector Vergara (no relation to Sofia, as far as we know).

First, we were impressed that the champagne chilling in an ice bucket was Roederer NV bottled (and labeled) especially for LAN, but we also appreciated the cross section of other wines Vergara assembled, including the 2010 Nimbus Sauvignon Blanc from Casablanca, 2010 Saurus Familia Schroeder Chardonnay also from Chile, an Ameyna Pinot Noir from Leyda, Coyam’s organic red blend from Colchagua, and finally DV Catena 2006 Malbec from Mendoza in Argentina—a nod to South America’s other great winemaking country. Obviously we felt compelled to taste through them all.

· Shower
That’s why, to refresh before the flight, we asked to use the lounge’s shower. Nothing too luxe to note—it more resembled an airport Sheraton hotel room bathroom, but the water pressure was good, and we found all the amenities including shampoo, conditioner, moisturizer, a comb, and toothbrush and toothpaste waiting for us. By the time our flight was boarding, we were cleaned up and ready for the all-night trek back to the U.S.

Full disclosure: Eric Rosen was a guest of the VIP Mistral Lounge courtesy of LAN Airlines, but all opinions expressed are entirely his own.

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