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If, as the locals say, “Santiago is Chile,” then Chile is in fine health. Latin America’s most modern metropolis is flush with cash thanks to years of steady economic growth and some $100-billion in foreign investments in the mining, communications and wine industries. Santiaguinos are a pretty conservative bunch, so remember to pack your suit and tie.
Seal the deal at Club de la Unión
Lay of the land: Santiago’s financial district, also known as “Sanhattan” by locals, is located in the upper-crust neighbourhood of El Golf. The Ritz-Carlton is the go-to hotel for bankers and financial top brass because it is situated near the Citigroup, UBS and JPMorgan Chase offices. For a hotel that’s close to the action but a little less “all business, all the time,” The Aubrey, a 1920s-era mansion in nearby Bellavista that was built for a politician and industrialist, was recently transformed into a boutique hotel. The palatial rooms, private terraces and a grand lobby all speak to the building’s aristocratic past.
Make your pitch: Like the dress code, business affairs in Chile are formal. Meetings should be scheduled well in advance, and don’t expect to talk business at lunch or over after-work drinks. That said, you still have to schmooze. Start with a cocktail at the W Santiago’s rooftop pool bar, which, as insiders know, opens to the public at 7 p.m. and offers breathtaking views of the skyline and the Andes. For dinner, make reservations at award-winning Puerto Fuy, a modern minimalist establishment where you can experience Nuevo Chilean dishes prepared using French techniques.
Seal the deal: Scoring a dinner reservation at Club de la Unión, an exclusive gentlemen’s hangout, will surely dazzle your clients. If your network doesn’t get you an “in” to the club, dine instead with political bigwigs and power-brokers at legendary local foodie destination Astrid y Gaston. Be sure to order a nice bottle of Chilean vino—anything else would be sacrilegious.
What to read: Originally written as a letter to her comatose daughter, Isabel Allende’s Paula is the Chilean-American author’s powerful personal memoir about her life, her family and Chile’s turbulent history, from the military coup of 1973 (culminating in the death of President Salvador Allende, her uncle) to the ensuing dictatorship and her family’s years in exile.
First person: “The best way for a foreign businessperson to get connected in Santiago is to hitch their cart to one of the big law firms in town. The firm acts as an intermediary, gives advice and helps make the right introductions. It’s not the only way, but I’ve seen it succeed again and again.”—Horacio Bruna, vice-president, Canada and U.S. Operations at Goldcorp Canada Ltd. Originally from Santiago, he has been living in Toronto since 2011.