Today is Independence Day back in the United States, and for Steve (DOS) and I it was a leisurely day in Santiago, followed by an overnight trip home. As a Hyatt Globalist member, we were entitled to a 4pm checkout from our Hyatt Hotel, which is a nice perk, especially since the flight back to the US didn’t leave until 8:30pm.
We started the long travel day with a late breakfast at our hotel, the brand new Hyatt Centric Santiago. We had the breakfast buffet which was chocked full of fresh fruits – not just orange juice but pomegranate, detox juices and others, fancy breads, cheeses, nuts, yogurts, bacon, sausage, several different freshly squeezed juices, etc, and eggs and pancakes made to order. They even had a honeycomb with fresh honey!
As we were seated by the window, we noticed the mini herb display out the window. I asked the waiter about it, and he said, ‘Oh you should visit the garden out behind the hotel’, which we did after breakfast.
We had been at the Centric for one other night on the start of our trip to Santiago, but didn’t explore much of the hotel, other than the rooftop pool and fitness center on our last visit.
We took a quick walk around the Las Condes area of the hotel after breakfast, taking a couple photos out in front of the hotel where we had just been viewing from our breakfast.
We then went back thru the lobby of the hotel, to the rear of the hotel where the library was located. The library, like all of the Hyatt Centric was modern trendy in decor, and had comfortable seating and a long desk for laptops or other business use, not to mention books and magazines for browsing the time away.
At the back of the library were a couple doors leading to a long terrace, surrounded by the garden walls with herbs growing in a hydroponic vertical system, similar to that at Disney World’s EPCOT exhibit, living with the land.
The lower level of the hotel has several ballrooms, appropriately named for the wine region, with names like Syrah, Cabernet, Carmenere and several others.
We later had to do the not so fun part of the trip – packing up to go home. The hardest part was packing up all of the wine we had bought so it wouldn’t break, but DOS had the system down very well, making it easy. I did a spreadsheet on my laptop listing each wine, winery, region, price paid, and alcohol content, so it would help us out for our customs declaration, as well as storing the wine when we got home. We had the one hard-sided wine case which held a dozen bottles, but we had another 10 bottles or so, which we wrapped in wine sleeves which protect the bottles from breaking in transit.
By 4pm it was time to checkout of the hotel, and take the pre-arranged transportation to the Santiago airport at 4:15pm. In true Hyatt customer service style, the staff was so thankful for having us stay twice, and it was so genuine it felt like we were saying by to family, which in a way it was – our new Hyatt Santiago family! I asked if we could get a photo with the front desk staff, manager, concierge, our bellman, and others as they had all been so incredibly friendly and welcoming to us. A huge shout out to the staff of the Hyatt Centric Santiago – thank you so much for making our stay so enjoyable and memorable! Muchas Gracias!
We had a nice driver going to the airport in a black town car, and while he didn’t speak much English, we were able to communicate via my limited Spanish and a few hand gestures. Although it was rush hour traffic in Santiago, we made pretty good time; arriving in 45 minutes or so. We thanked our driver and took a selfie with him; really a nice man.
We had about 3 1/2 hours before our flight back to the US, via Dallas. We had flown down via Miami, but going back via DFW, which is a couple hours longer flight. That’s actually a good thing on an overnight flight as it gives you more time to sleep. We had a bit of a line checking in at Santiago, but were in no hurry, so we people watched as we waited.
We first stopped by the LATAM Airlines lounge which a member of the One World Alliance. We’ve been there a few times, and it’s definitely the nicest airport lounge in Santiago size and decor wise, although American’s lounge actually has better food.
We got a photo of the Easter Island statue mock-ups on the exit from the LATAM Lounge before heading to the American Lounge before our flight.
After leaving the LATAM lounge, we went to the American Airlines lounge and had some good food and drink before heading out to our flight to DFW.
Our flight from Santiago to Dallas (DFW) was very good, and with the sleeper seats DOS and I both got a decent few hours sleep.
Here are a couple photos before takeoff; DOS was in 2J and I was behind him in 3J; the same seats we had coming down from Miami in the newly reconfigured Boeing 777-200. The Business Class on this flight is awesome (there is no First Class, so this is the best seating), with a 1 X 2 X 1 seating configuration. By getting the seat by the window you have both a window and an aisle seat, and all seats in Business Class have direct aisle access which is very important on a long overnight flight.
Once in DFW we cleared immigration quickly via Global Entry, declaring our wine purchases. The customs officer however had other plans, and wanted to know what was in our big wine case. We told him wine we had declared, but don’t think he believed us as he escorted us to secondary inspection. I handed him the spreadsheet of our wine purchases we had bought (which I had also showed the officer at immigration), and he ended up x-raying all our bags.
Staying polite after he x-rayed everything, we resisted the urge to say ‘We told you so – yes it really was wine we declared’, and while he wrote up his notes, I kindly asked him how much duty we owed, and he waved us on our way. I guess with all of the luggage and heavy black crate he was suspicious, but he was polite and didn’t charge us any duty either. (Honestly the duty is so low, and incredibly confusing to determine via the US Customs web site, it’s probably not worth their hassle. There are different duties on wines, and differ via alcohol content, which is why I listed that on the spreadsheet. From 45 cents to maybe a dollar, it’s such a little amount it’s not worth the trouble computing it, not to mention it’s so confusing per their own guidelines on wine. Also Chile has a trade agreement with the US where many things are not dutiable.)
After clearing Customs, we had a nine hour layover, so we took the shuttle to the Hyatt Regency DFW Airport, where we had arranged a day room for our long layover, as we didn’t fly back to Orlando until 4:30pm. We checked in around 7am, stored our luggage in the room, and then had an early breakfast at the hotel. Here is a room from our balcony overlooking the terminal C and runway.
After breakfast we showered and rested for quite a while and prepared for our final flight back to Orlando in the late afternoon. The one nice thing about this layover was we didn’t have to take our luggage to the hotel with us; only our carry-on luggage, which we had brought a change of clothes. Since the international layover was less than 12 hours, we simply re-checked our luggage after clearing customs, and American put it on our scheduled flight back to Orlando. We eventually headed back to the terminal for our flight home.
Our two and a half hour flight back to Orlando was quick, and fortunately all of our luggage made it back home. We got home to Orlando around 9:30pm local time, tired, but a good tired, after such a wonderful long July 4th weekend in Chile! Welcome Home!
P.S. And after opening our luggage over the weekend, all of the wine bottles made it back ok – nothing broken!