Edited by: Jessica Merritt
& Keri Stooksbury
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The VIP Lounge at Viru Viru International Airport (VVI) in Santa Cruz de la Sierra, Bolivia, doesn’t offer the bells and whistles of other lounges. It’s small, and I was tempted to say, “It’s not worth going out of your way for this lounge,” but with its prime location, it’s easy to pop in.
The lounge offers a few essential features, including food and drinks, but it also offers free access to something truly at a premium inside this airport: seating.
Here’s a look at what I found inside the VIP Lounge in Santa Cruz’s VVI airport during a recent trip to Bolivia.
You couldn’t miss it if you tried. Immediately after passport control and the obligatory route through the duty-free shop, you’ll see a giant Priority Pass sign and a sign saying “VIP Lounge.” The lounge appears eager for travelers to find it on the left side of the main waiting area in the international terminal.
Given the size of the terminal, no gates are far from the lounge. Its central location means you can get to any gate within 5 minutes, allowing you to stay in the lounge until boarding is underway.
The VIP Lounge in Santa Cruz de la Sierra is part of the Priority Pass network. You can get a Priority Pass membership with several credit cards, such as the Chase Sapphire Reserve®, The Platinum Card® from American Express, and the Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card (enrollment required).
You also can get limited Priority Pass visits per year with memberships from the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card and The Hilton Honors American Express Business Card. Given the minimal offerings at this lounge, I wouldn’t use a visit here if you have a limited number of complimentary lounge visits annually.
Upon entry, check in at the cashier station in the far corner, near the kitchen. Children under 10 years old can enter for free when accompanying an adult.
The VIP Lounge is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. That’s good news if you have a flight departing or arriving at odd hours and want a place to relax, charge your phone, and get a quick bite while waiting for your flight.
The lounge had a 4-hour maximum visit while I was there. That could be an issue if you’ve got a long layover or a delayed flight.
My first impression was a chuckle, muttering to myself, “Hey, I think I found the lounge.” Inside, the size immediately caught my attention. It’s tiny. My old New York City apartment was bigger than this lounge.
A few families visiting the lounge simultaneously could easily gobble up the seating. And due to the small size, there wasn’t space for additional amenities other lounges could offer. There were no showers, separate areas for different activities, or a children’s area.
You can only do so much with a lounge that’s just a small room next to the cash register for a coffee shop.
There were 2 types of seating available within the lounge. The first were tables and chairs resembling the coffee shop just beyond the door.
There were also black leather sofas on the other half of the singular room in the VIP Lounge.
Again, seating is relative to the size of the space and the Viru Viru International Airport. During my visit, the limited number of seats wasn’t an issue. However, it could fill up quickly.
That said, the ability to find available seating might be the best perk this lounge offers. Numerous gates at VVI don’t have any seating. My flight boarded from a hallway with 3 gates and 0 seats. Sitting down (and not on the tile floor) while waiting for your flight is a huge plus.
Where you might find hot dishes, cheeses, or a salad bar at many lounges, the spread at this lounge was much more modest. It included apples, oranges, and a few types of individually wrapped candies.
The largest portion of the food spread was occupied by chips, banana chips, and crackers. The offerings were very basic.
The lounge had a kitchen, but that’s because this kitchen prepares food orders for the small coffee shop just outside. At no point during my visit did the 3 employees indicate hot food was available.
As I was about to leave for my flight, a family in the lounge ordered empanadas. I didn’t hear the employees or guests discuss payment at all, and I found a years-old online review that says it’s possible to get these for free. If you visit the VIP Lounge, I encourage you to inquire about free empanadas (and possibly other hot foods). I can’t believe I missed this opportunity and that none of the staff informed me about it.
The 2 refrigerators in the corner offered bottled drinks, including water, sports drinks, iced tea, Coke, and Fanta products.
If you ask at the counter, getting beer, wine, or whiskey is possible. Complimentary alcohol was limited to 2 drinks per person.
There’s only so much the lounge could fit into this small space. Thus, the amenities were very modest. There was a charging station near the sofas under the TV.
Finding this was a positive because the outlet near my seat didn’t work. I tried to plug into this power strip on the wall, hoping to charge my phone and laptop simultaneously, but the power strip didn’t work either.
The Wi-Fi was reliable and offered decent speeds. My speed test result was 35 Mbps for download and 10 Mbps for upload. Signal strength was reliable enough and strong enough for other guests to make video calls during my visit.
Signs on multiple tables around the lounge made it easy to find the password.
The lounge had a single bathroom located near the kitchen. It was a small, individual bathroom with a locking door.
The good news is that public toilets were also available just outside the lounge, so you would not be too inconvenienced if someone was hogging the bathroom during your visit.
Service felt like what I’d expect at a neighborhood coffee shop, unlike a “VIP Lounge” at an airport. Employees didn’t go out of their way to offer anything, but they answered my questions with friendly attitudes. They greeted me with smiles and hellos when entering and wished me a pleasant flight when I left.
You’ll get what you ask for here but won’t get anything beyond that. The empanadas you can get only if you know to ask for them are a perfect example. Service was a solid “average.”
The VIP Lounge wasn’t impressive, as far as airport lounges go. The small space constrained what was possible here. However, the lounge did provide some important basics. It had complimentary Wi-Fi, drinks, and light bites. And it offered comfortable seating in an airport with a dearth of available seating. Even if you aren’t impressed with the lounge’s offerings, scanning your Priority Pass card could be worth it just to get a comfortable seat while waiting for boarding. But if you have to pay for visits, you’ll need to think twice to see if you’re getting enough value out of the seats, drinks, and snacks to justify the cost.
The information regarding the Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card was independently collected by Upgraded Points and not provided nor reviewed by the issuer.
The information regarding The Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card was independently collected by Upgraded Points and not provided nor reviewed by the issuer.
The information regarding the American Express® Green Card was independently collected by Upgraded Points and not provided nor reviewed by the issuer.
The lounge is near door 6 in the main waiting area of the international terminal. Signs make the lounge’s location obvious. It’s noticeable as soon as you exit duty-free, located after passport control and security.
The lounge is small and has minimal offerings. You’ll find complimentary drinks and light bites, free Wi-Fi, and a few types of seating. You won’t find luxury spaces or perks, though.
The lounge’s minimal offerings mean there’s not great value. You won’t get a complimentary massage and can’t take a shower while waiting for a flight. However, if you can get a free meal and rest for a few hours, it’s worth using a visit from your lounge membership. If you must pay to get in, ensure you consume enough food and drinks to justify the cost.
The lounge is open 24 hours a day. It’s available whenever you have a flight departing from the international terminal.
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Ryan has been on a quest to visit every country in the world and plans to hit his final country in 2023. Over the years, he’s written about award travel for publications including AwardWallet, The Points Guy, USA Today Blueprint, CNBC Select, Tripadvisor, and Forbes Advisor.
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