Santiago: Gateway to Chile's Wines, Waves and Mountains - United Hub

Santiago: Gateway to Chile’s wines, waves and mountains

By Bob Cooper

There are many similarities between Santiago and Los Angeles — they share the same climate (mild and dry) and progressive, cosmopolitan energy. And both of these major cities are close to stunning beaches, wine valleys, mountains and major astronomical observatories. You might call Santiago the Southern California of South America.

Sample Santiago

Santiago's must-see landmarks are the Metropolitan Cathedral and Pre-Columbian Art Museum, but apart from the churches, museums and palaces of central Santiago, every visitor needs to experience the places that enliven the city — the markets, parks and neighborhoods. Central Market houses a legion of vendors and food purveyors inside a cavernous hall built in 1872. The National Zoo and an iconic hilltop Virgin Mary statue can be visited in Metropolitan Park. Barrio Italia (hip hotels, galleries and cafes) and Providencia (excellent restaurants and bars) are top neighborhoods in this city. Both day and night, Santiago is a walking city made for exploring.

Hit the beaches

Beach towns and seaside resorts line central Chile's Pacific coast, some within an hour of Santiago. Notable are the quiet village of Isla Negra, where poet Pablo Neruda's former home is now a museum, and the bustling beach resort city of Vina del Mar, brimming with high-rise hotels and casinos. But the highlight of any coastal foray is the colorful and historic city of Valparaiso. Only one hour from Santiago, the city of 300,000 is home to seven universities and 15 funiculars that climb the steep hills that characterize the city.

Wander the wine country

Some of the best Chilean wines are made just outside Santiago in the Maipo Valley. Wine tourism there is as robust as the cabernet sauvignons poured in the valley's numerous tasting rooms, and it's possible to visit several wineries on a single day trip from Santiago to Maipo or one of several other nearby wine valleys. It's best to take a wine bus so that you can taste at several wineries without having to worry about driving after, and the views of the nearby Andes from some of the wineries are just as spectacular as the wines.

See the stars

If you prefer stargazing to wine tasting, you can head north to one of the many observatories in Chile, regarded as the best collection of them in the world. Using Santiago as your launch pad to the stars, consider stops to see the ALMA Observatory (the world's largest astronomy center), the visitor-friendly Mamalluca Observatory and the Very Large Telescope (VLT) at the Paranal Observatory. The cold, dry, usually cloudless night air makes these spots ideal for stargazing. On July 2, you can even see the stars before dusk as that's the date of the next total solar eclipse and northern Chile is the best place to experience it. Observatories are located within a few hours of Santiago, too.

Ascend the Andes

The Andes soar skyward so close to Santiago that you can drive or take a tour bus right over them (via a 9,000-foot pass) to the Argentine wine city of Mendoza and back in one day. The twisty trip is a treat as you'll see two great wine regions and one great mountain range in a single day. Adventurous travelers may prefer to lengthen the trip by stopping to stay overnight at Portillo, one of several ski resorts within a few hours of Santiago, to enjoy skiing or hiking, depending on the season.

The basics

When, where and how

Chile boasts the top safety rankings on the continent. It's also easy to get around. Taxis, subways and Uber are all good options at the airport and in Santiago. For trips to the beaches, wineries, the Andes or Valparaiso, it's best to reserve a tour bus so you can enjoy the scenery and meet fellow travelers rather than stress over directions and traffic. Also, auto rentals in Chile are pricey. If you're looking to visit during Chile's summer, remember it's between December and March. But the best times to visit are late-September through November or March through May when you'll experience the typical mild temperatures, but thinner crowds and affordable prices.

Getting there

United flies nonstop from Houston to Santiago – though there are flights from multiple cities to Houston. Reserve your flight at united.com or on the United app.

Search flights

Shaping an inclusive future with Special Olympics

By The Hub team, July 24, 2020

If your travels have taken you through Chicago O'Hare International Airport anytime since October 2019, you may have had a friendly, caring and jovial exchange with Daniel Smrokowski. Daniel is one of four Service Ambassadors thanks to our ongoing partnership with Special Olympics. This inaugural ambassador program aims to provide Special Olympic athletes employment opportunities within our operation, affording them a unique and meaningful career.

Since 2018, our partnership with Special Olympics has become one of United's most cherished relationships, going beyond the events we take part in and volunteer with. While the plane pull competitions, polar plunges, duck derbies and Special Olympics World Games and other events around the world are a big part of our involvement, the heart of this partnership lies with the athletes and individuals supported by Special Olympics. To advocate for their inclusion in every setting is one of our biggest honors, and we take great pride in the role we play in the organization's inclusion revolution.

Aiding in the success of Special Olympics' mission to create continuing opportunities for individuals with intellectual disabilities, throughout the two-year partnership, United has volunteered over 10,500 hours and donated over $1.2 million in travel to the organization. The impact of this partnership is felt at every level, both at Special Olympics and within our own ranks.

"The Inclusion Revolution campaign, led by our athletes, aims to end discrimination against people with intellectual disabilities. United Airlines has joined in our fight for inclusion, empowering our athletes with the skills needed to succeed and opportunities to contribute their abilities as leaders," said Special Olympics International Chairman Tim Shriver. "United Airlines believes that people with intellectual disabilities should be perceived as they really are: independent, world-class athletes, students, employees, neighbors, travelers, and leaders who contribute to make this world a better place."

Our Service Ambassador program is just one of the many ways Special Olympics has impacted not only our employees, but also our customers. "I see every day how our Service Ambassadors connect with our customers the moment they walk into the airport lobby," said Senior Customer Service Supervisor Steve Suchorabski. "They provide a warm, welcoming smile ad assist in any way they can. To see these young adults hold positions that a society once told them they couldn't is truly the most heartwarming part of my job," Steve continued.

"The opportunity to be a part of the United family means everything to me," Daniel said. "I feel so much pride showing up to work in a Special Olympics/United co-branded uniform, working among such a loving and supportive community. The relationship between these two organizations is truly helping to shape my future while letting me use my gifts of communicating and helping others. Hopefully, I can spend my entire career at United," Daniel added.

In honor of Special Olympics' Global Week of Inclusion in July, we're asking our employees, customers and partners to sign a pledge to #ChooseToInclude at jointherevolution.org/pledge.

And be sure to check out Daniel's podcast The Special Chronicles.

United works with partners to send food to USDA food bank

By The Hub team, July 23, 2020

In collaboration with food-logistics company Commodity Forwarders Inc. (CFI), United moved nearly 190,000 pounds of fresh produce to Guam for the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Coronavirus Farm Assistance Program. This new program was created to provide critical support to consumers impacted by the COVID-19 global pandemic.

A variety of fresh fruits were transported from Los Angeles (LAX) to Guam (GUM) on United's newly introduced, non-stop cargo-only flight – a route added to meet cargo demand during the COVID-19 crisis. The fresh food was repacked in 10-pound cases in Los Angeles, prepared for departure at CFI's LAX location, and flown to GUM by the United team. Through this beneficial partnership between United and CFI, the perishable goods were kept cool during every step of the process and distributed as part of the food bank program in Guam.

"Everyone on our team has worked relentlessly during the pandemic to get critical goods to where they are needed most. Establishing a comprehensive network of cargo-only flights have allowed us to keep the supply chain moving even while passenger flight capacity has been reduced," said Regional Senior Manager of Cargo Sales, Marco Vezjak. "Knowing that we are able to help during these difficult times – in this case the Guam community – is our biggest reward and greatest motivation to keep moving forward."

United is proud to play a role in maintaining the global food supply chain and helping people access the supplies they need. Since March 19, United has operated over 4,000 cargo-only flights, moving over 130 million pounds of cargo.

Jessica Kimbrough named Chief Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Officer

By The Hub team, July 10, 2020

Jessica Kimbrough, currently Labor Relations and Legal Strategy Managing Director, will take on the new role of Chief Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Officer Managing Director.

Jessica assumes this new and expanded position to focus on global inclusion and equity as part of our enhanced commitment to ensure best practices across the business to strengthen our culture.

In this role, Jessica will be responsible for helping United redefine our efforts on diversity, equity and inclusion – ensuring that our programs and approach are strategic, integrated and outcome-oriented, while we continue to build a culture that reflects our core values. She will report to Human Resources and Labor Relations EVP Kate Gebo.

"Jessica's appointment to this role is another critical step our executive team is taking to ensure diversity, equity and inclusion remains a top priority at United," said CEO Scott Kirby. "Given her drive, experience and commitment to champion collaboration and allyship among our employee business resource groups, she is uniquely qualified to take on this position and I look forward to working closely with her."

As Labor Relations and Legal Strategy Managing Director, Jessica worked closely with senior management to create and maintain positive labor relations among our unionized workforce, providing counsel on labor litigation, negotiations, contract administration, organizing issues and managing attorneys who represent United in labor relations. Previously, she served as Labor and Employment Counsel in our legal department.

Jessica has a passion for creating a pipeline of diverse lawyers and leaders, and was honored as one of Chicago Defender's "Women of Excellence" for excellence in her career and civic engagement in 2017. She currently serves as President of uIMPACT, our women's employee business resource group.

Jessica's new role is effective immediately.

Scroll to top