Luxury Travel Trends in Peru – A view of the last 5 years

Over the past few years, Peru has developed into a destination that is no longer just for backpackers looking for adventure in the Andes or historians studying ancient civilizations. Popping up at an increasingly growing rate in various regions throughout the country, luxury hotels, five-star dining, and private experiences are attracting a new demographic of discerning travelers. A destination once known only for its historical offerings, Peru is now a big player in the world of leading luxury destinations.

The base of any trip starts with the accommodations, and the emergence of high-end boutiques and luxury hotels throughout Peru provides travelers with a combination of personalized service, high-quality and ample amenities, and a mix of style and comfort that permeates the importance of attention to the “finer details.”  Luxury hotel brands have invested huge amounts in introducing hotels defined by their facilities and attention to customer service, and come fully equipped with spa services, gyms, and business centers. Boutiques, meanwhile, add quirky details and highly authentic touches to bring an altogether different flavor to options in Peru.

A perfect example of an accommodation raising the bar of luxury hotels in Peru is Cusco’s Palacio Nazarenas (2012), a colonial convent refurbished by Orient-Express into a refined and fashionable property featuring 55 suites lavished in the most luxurious décor and amenities.  The brand new JW Marriott Cusco also seeks to satisfy the needs of today’s luxury travelers with the style and design elements of an architecturally stunning site.  For those looking for a more unique, personalized, and cozy property, La Lune One Suite (2012 … actually two suites) is an owner-operated boutique hotel? perfect for discerning travelers looking for a refined, lavish, and exclusive experience, with a hotel owner and operator who goes out of his way accommodate his guests and make their stays as magnificent as possible.

In Lima, the sleek and modern Westin (2011) features spacious suites with views across the city down to the Pacific Ocean and an amazing spa with an extensive menu of Peruvian inspired services. The soon-to-be-opened luxury boutique Hotel B (2013), originally a mansion designed by famous French architect Claude Sahut in Lima’s bohemian district, is currently being renovated to bring back the traditional class and opulence of the original home and promises 17 elegant and unique accommodations. This built upon the success of its “sister hotel”, Titilaka, a gorgeous luxury hotel on the shores of Lake Titicaca.

Luxury properties can now be found outside of Lima and Cusco as well.  In Peru’s picturesque Sacred Valley, the impressive Luxury Collection Tambo del Inka (2010) boasts exuberant style and design and maximum luxury for guests.  Starwood’s Luxury Collection also offer Paracas Luxury Collection, bringing this quality of service to another fascinating destination. To the far north, and the sandy coast running up to Ecuadorian border, luxury properties such as DCO Suites have sprung up adding yet another dimension to the places on offer.

As well as the development of luxury hotels, all manner of experiences have made their way on to Peru’s travel menu. In the Amazon jungle, both Delfin Amazon Cruises and Aqua Expeditions have brought a high level of luxury to the rainforest, allowing travellers to experience this very wild part of the world from a comfortable base. The Delfin II, when it was launched in 2009, took “luxury and authenticity in the Peruvian Amazon to new heights” with its gorgeous wooden interiors, ample suites. When it’s counterpart the Delfin I was refurbished in late 2010 it developed on this even further, this time with only 4 suites to give guests even more privacy and personalisation. The MV Aqua, meanwhile, offered a more sleek and modern alternative to the Amazonian authenticity of Delfin, with modern facilities and refined atmosphere, and in 2011 the MV Aria ship taking the biscuit for its inclusion of modern luxury services and amenities – it even has a gymnasium!

The Andes is a spectacular area to trek in, and the Inca Trail is of course one of the most popular and unique trails in the world, but again in this area luxury travellers are broadening their horizons and searching for other options. The Salkantay Lodge to Lodge trek is a great example of a trekking experience that top end travellers have embraced in the last few years, not least because of the incredible level of accommodations that the operator offers amidst spectacular mountain scenery. This is coupled with a delicious and carefully prepared gourmet menu to offer trekkers a sophisticated taste of Peru even in the mountains.

Speaking of food, Peru was recently crowned the “gastronomic capital of South America,” and has earned the reputation internationally as a culinary powerhouse with a growing and evolving restaurant scene.  The country is blessed with a myriad of natural resources, ranging from the excellent seafood on the coast to the vegetables and potatoes of the highlands to the exquisite and unique ingredients found throughout the Amazon.  In addition to the variety of ingredients, the fusion of cultures and styles of cooking throughout the country makes for a very interesting culinary landscape. In recent years, several high-end restaurants have been popping up around the country, initially spearheaded by the world-renowned Astrid y Gaston.  Offering up “degustation” menus of several courses, wine pairings suggested by professional sommeliers, and an overall luxurious dining experience, these upscale restaurants are certainly part of the reason why Peru has developed into a “foodie’s paradise.”  Take, for example, Virgilio Martinez’s Central in Lima, an ambitious restaurant locally known as the best in Peru, offering a 10-course tasting menu that focuses on the biodiversity of different regions of Peru.  Or for something a bit more adventurous, Malabar, also in Lima, focuses on transforming unique and obscure Amazonian ingredients into haute cuisine.  Popular chef Rafael Osterling also offers luxurious dining options in Lima with his namesake Rafael and his trendy El Mercado serving exquisitely prepared Peruvian fusion with Mediterranean and Asian influences.  However, Lima is not the only city with a growing gastronomic scene. Cusco, once known for having terrible dining options, has evolved into a city with several excellent, high-end restaurants including delectable French cuisine at Le Soleil as well as MAP Cafe, a stylish and elegant restaurant housed inside the city’s most interesting museum.  You can see how the ever-expanding culinary scene makes for a constant headache for the Aracari team, with restaurant updates and openings happening at full force!

When Aracari started 16 years ago much of Peru was still unaccessible to the discerning traveller, but now all manner of destinations are opening up across the country. We now offer 12 destinations in Peru, areas such as the Northern Beaches, the Cordillera Blanca, the northern Amazon and Paracas having become staples for our guests as well as various locations in Northern Peru.

We’ve even turned to nearby Bolivia, an extraordinary beautiful and diverse destination but not best known for its luxury travel options. Although it’s infrastructure could still be considered rustic, we think this is on the cusp of changing in 2013, and we’re taking more of our guests there than ever before. (Did I hear someone mention a fully decked out Airstream on the Salar de Uyuni?)

Whatever pans out, it’s an exciting time for high end travel in the Andes. We’re here to cut through the clutter and show you the best of it.