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Santiago: firsthand tips for visiting Chile's capital: insights and advice from Daniel Picciotto, president of Colombia-based PDC Vinos y Licores Ltda., and Jose Luis Portela, general manager of the Chilean subsidiary of Spain's Telepizza.

L.T. What do you like most about traveling to Santiago?

Daniel Picciotto: As a frequent traveler, I appreciate the efficiency of the city's airport and the fact that it's easy and fast to get from there to downtown and the hotels. The roads and highways are fantastic which also means you can visit places outside Santiago. I love the weather. In winter, you can ski on weekends and then drive to the oceanside in the late afternoon. And, of course, if you are a wine lover, Chile is a place you want to visit.

Jose Luis Portela: I'm currently based in Santiago but I travel a lot and I really appreciate Santiago's marvelous climate, especially the summer with its long, sunny but not overpoweringly hot days and pleasantly cooler nights. It also has a privileged location, just an hour by car from both the beach and several ski centers. The main shopping malls and the Alonso de Cordova neighborhood are excellent for shopping, with a variety of top-quality brands and products.

L.T. What do you like least?

Picciotto: Santiago's air is very polluted, especially in winter. Traffic can sometimes be a problem but this is true of many capitals around the world.

Portela: The smog in winter. I also dislike the rather aggressive way people sometimes drive.

L.T. What are your preferred hotels when on business?

Picciotto: I'm a big fan of the Sheraton Four Points. It's well located, has great service and the price is unbeatable (Disclosure: Picciotto belongs to a group that is part owner of this hotel). The Sheraton Towers has a great swimming pool and so does the Hyatt.

Portela: One of the hotels I can recommend is the W. It's set apart by its location, decoration and atmosphere. I'd also recommend the Hyatt with its great facilities and attentive service.

L.T. What restaurants do you recommend?

Picciotto: For fancy dining I like to go to El Europeo, which has a classical French menu. Da Carla is a classical Italian restaurant with great food and atmosphere. I also like Ichiban for sushi, Cuerovaca for steak and Miraolas for seafood. If you want to venture downtown, Ostras Azocar for oysters is a must and, for typical Chilean food, Dona Tina. The best place for pizza and a fun place to go is Tiramisu but it's a good idea to reserve ahead of time.

Portela: For Peruvian food, which is very popular in Santiago, I like La Mar and Cocoa. For fish, there's Miraolas and, for meat, Ox and Santabrasa and, for Italian food, Da Carla. La Boqueria de Barcelona, a new Spanish restaurant, has been very successful.

L.T. What practical advice would you give to someone who is visiting Santiago for the first time on business?

Picciotto: Choose your hotel's location carefully because of traffic and because there is a lot to do apart from business, like visiting a winery or driving to Valparaiso. Santiago is very informal and most businessmen have done away with jackets and ties but it's always a good idea to find out how the people you are meeting will be dressed before you travel. Santiago tends to be very quiet at night if you don't know where to go so I always schedule both my days and nights ahead of time.

Portela: Santiago is a comfortable city for work and to visit. I'd recommend trying to set aside some time to visit the surrounding area--the vineyards of the Casablanca Valley, the Cajon del Maipo in the Andes and Zapallar, an elegant beach resort where the Chiringuito restaurant is a great place for lunch.
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Author:Bradley, Ruth
Publication:Latin Trade
Article Type:Interview
Geographic Code:5DOMN
Date:Jan 1, 2012
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