Interview: Carrie and Alex Vik

Monaco Life talks to local residents and aesthetes Carrie and Alex Vik about their passion for art and wine, how Covid has impacted their international hotels, and what their favourite night out in Monaco looks like. 
They are as good company as their wine, and not far-off Aristotle’s famous quote: “Love is composed of a single soul inhabiting two bodies”. They are the definition of Yin and Yang, the ancient symbol of harmony that reminds us that life is a balancing act and is most fulfilling when we learn to embrace its dualities: the ups and downs, the good times and the bad, the joys and challenges.
Monaco Life:  How did you two meet? 
Carrie and Alex Vik: We met at a small gathering of mutual friends at Harvard University during our second year. We then went to a larger dance party together and that was the beginning.
What was the first work of art that you brought together?  
Paint Brushes by Barton Benes, an American artist of various controversies.
What inspired you to buy a vineyard in Chile? What are the advantages of drinking holistic wine?  
We didn’t buy a vineyard, we bought 4,400 hectares of wilderness! The concept of terroir inspired us to do a scientific search of South America to find the perfect terroir to grow the perfect grapes to produce the best wines in South America, with the hopes of joining the pantheon of the world’s best wines. We found this virgin terroir in the Millahue Valley, two hours south of Santiago, and created a vineyard out of this spectacular wilderness.
The idea of holistic wines is purity, sustainability, exceptional quality and doing everything we can to assist the vines to naturally produce the very best grapes they can. Cristian Vallejo, our wonderful winemaker, then assists that exceptional fruit to naturally express itself in the wine. Due to the purity and quality, you can really enjoy a lot of it and feel good the next day. Then there is the unique holistic experience when you visit VIK.
We currently have four different wines: VIK – only the highest quality grapes from our best blocks in the vineyard go into the making of our “baby Mozart”. These vines are already showing greatness at an early age (99 points); Milla Cala – an introduction to VIK with an exceptional cost to quality ratio (94 points); La Piu Belle – a round, delicious, voluptuous red blend (98 points); and La Piu Belle Rosé – of exceptional quality, well balanced, fresh, yet complex rosé (91 points). Both La Piu Belle bottles are inspired by the artist René Magritte’s painted wine bottles.

What is a normal workday for you both now compared to pre-Covid? 
Our workdays are very similar in that we work long hours and for many years we have often worked remotely using the cloud. The biggest difference is that we have not been able to personally visit colleagues around the world. At the beginning of the pandemic, of course, we had a lot of issues to deal with, doing our best to take care of all the businesses and people who we work with in the best way possible.
Are your hotels open again? What changes have you made or are you making to keep your guests safe?  
Galleria Vik Milano reopened in mid-July 2020 with a contactless Covid program, which attracted an audience looking for a unique experience in the very best location of Milan, then closed in October and re-opened in March 2021. We are now hosting travellers from all over the world with regular services. The retreats in Chile opened in September and have been very popular with Chilean residents until the country opens its borders to foreigners. In José Ignacio, Uruguay, the retreats are opening in October, with borders fully open to vaccinated foreign travellers on 1st November. We highly recommend that our guests visit for long term stays at or in José Ignacio, Uruguay during the northern hemisphere winter – November through April is an exceptionally nice time to be there.
What are your thoughts on travel and the economy?
We have both travelled during the pandemic and it has felt fine. Of course, we took precautions, and everyone must do what they are comfortable doing. Covid-19 is a serious virus – but not the only one – and society must learn to live with it and continue working. We do not know when it will end as a major health issue, but it will end. The health passport is one that more and more people are talking about as a way out for travel, which we fully agree with.
What was the best holiday you both had? 
Our first trip to Uruguay was one of the best holidays. We were there for almost a month with our first baby. We explored, discovered and enjoyed the people, the place, the culture.
You both play very extensive roles as art patrons, what is the wildest commission you have undertaken and with which artist?  
We have done many wild commissions, but the first thought is Javier Abdala’s commission of a nude portrait of me. Alex wanted to collaborate with Javier, who normally does conventional portraits with junk materials, and came up with the idea of doing a classic reclining nude in the spirit of Olympia by Manet, Modigliani and others. Javier creates portraits with recycled materials, sculpted wood, metal, corrugated tin, typewriters, vinyl records and any junk he can find, and of course paint. Going to his atelier/garages is a unique experience with piles of reclaimed wood and barrels full of junk, and then you take a turn and enter into a room full of spectacular and powerful portraits. Alex pushed Javier way outside his comfort zone and the result is a monumental nude of me in the manner of Nu Couché by Modigliani, all using recycled rough materials. Fondly called Le Bon Bon, it is five-metres long by three-meters high. Conceptually, it is quite contemporary and very sustainable while also being dramatic and beautiful.
What is your favourite restaurant?
Our favourite family restaurant in Monaco is La Piazza. It is our entire family’s favourite place to go for a family dinner and has been for the last 33 years. For fun and dancing, it is Sass Cafe.
Who are your favourite artists?
In the realm of classic artists: Edvard Munch, Auguste Rodin, Joaquin Torres Garcia, Norman Rockwell, and of course many others.
Who is the person or what is the book that changed your life? Do you have a quote or motto that you and the family live by? 
Work hard, play hard. Prepare, practice and always try to do your very best. Live with passion. Too many books and too many people have influenced our lives to choose one, however Alex loves the poem IF- by Rudyard Kipling. At VIK we have a motto: Science and technology is our foundation, passion is our engine, the wine is the expression of our art.
What is your most fun night out in Monaco? 
There are so many, as Monaco is a fun night-time place, and we have lots of energy and like to dance and have fun. One that stands out – We were coming back from our daughters’ golf tournament, and on the spur of the moment and very late for the event, we decided to join you at your Accademia Fine Art gallery opening for the Irish artist Guggi, where we also met Bono. When Bono invited us to join the dinner at Sass Cafe, we of course said yes. It was an amazing group of people including Guggi and his wife, Bono, The Edge, two of the Coors sisters, entrepreneurs and other interesting and accomplished people, mostly Irish. After dinner we all went across the street to dance with P Diddy and his entourage at the Billionaire’s Club. Only in Monaco!
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