HOTEL NOTES -- PERU
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Hotels reviewed on this page:
- Paz-Y-Luz, Pisac
- Hotel Sumaq, Aguas Calientes
- Picoaga Hotel, Cusco
- Casa Andina Private Collection, Puno
- Wasai Lodge, Puerto Maldonado
We stayed at these hotels in October, 2008 while on a custom Peru exploration tour organized by Mayuc.
You can review the tour overview or individual Salcantay, Inca Trail, Machu Picchu, Lake Titicaca, and Tambopata tours.
Paz Y Luz
June 4, 5, 2008
Most people go to Paz Y Luz to partake in Inca spiritual retreats. The staff are world recognized for their skills. We went because we wanted to see Pisac and were welcomed just as nicely by other guests and the staff. We walked along the river, took a tour to the Pisac ruins, visited the town, and explored additional sights in this area called Sacred Valley.
Most impressive thing about Paz Y Luz is its location high in Peru’s Andes. Views are astounding. The property right on Urbamba river on the outskirts of town. Being on the outskirts has the benefit of assuring quiet and of minimizing possibly unwanted interaction with local people. A Paz Y Luz guest can easily walk to Pisac’s village center [15-30 min] to see the market and observe the local people’s ways of life.
Paz Y Luz is more of small hotel with half dozen rooms in separate building than bed and breakfast where one stays in a spare room in someone’s house. A dozen more rooms are under construction. And we learned a restaurant is planned for future.
The rooms are bright, clean, with wood décor and modern feel. The buildings are sturdy Adobe and while of new construction they give a feeling of authenticity. Nevertheless, this is far from authentic Peruvian living because guests live in relative luxury compared to local people based on the quality of furnishings, the cleanliness of bathrooms, and the number of people per dwelling. Paz Y Luz is amazing given location in the small village of Pisac.
There is a common room for breakfasts. It was sometimes challenging to communicate with the breakfast staff as we know zero Spanish. Nevertheless we were well fed every morning. Paz Y Luz has a splendid meeting room with large areas of glass providing stunning views of the high peaks. There is wireless internet on the property but doesn’t penetrate all the thick adobe walls. Also the connection to the web is sometimes slow because the telecom company cannot provide sufficient bandwidth.
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June 10, 2008
At time of our visit Hotel Sumaq was the newest hotel in Augas Calientes. So we got to enjoy wonderful Inca ambiance in the hotel’s crisp new-like condition.
The hotel’s location is roughly 500 yards/meters out of town at the far [downriver] end closest to where the buses start to climb up to Machu Picchu. On the plus, this makes the hotel quieter than those downtown. On the negative one has a longer walk if they want the shopping and/or tavern action of town. We found the Augas Calientes typical of towns adjacent to famous tourist spots – dirty, home to hawkers and beggars, loud, swarming with undisciplined tourists, and disappointingly leased to low quality eateries and trinket shops selling touristware destined for other countries’ landfills – so we were very pleased to be away from such ‘action’.
Our hotel room overlooked the Aguas Calientes River. The room was right by the road so during the day there was some traffic noise from the tour busses. But the stop at dark and then there is nothing by quiet. [Who is in their room during day anyway? On the way back from Machu Picchu the busses will stop and let you off. In the mornings, you can also flag them down and they will pick you up. It was quite convenient to be on the bus route.
Our room featured bright decorations in Peruvian style including common tile floor. The room was spacious. The beds were comfortable. The bathroom was clean with all new fixtures.
The staff at Hotel Sumaq were very pleasant and top notch. While we were there, the entire town lost power. The hotel staff had to really hustle with candles and emergency lights. They performed remarkably. We left our bags with the hotel bellman the last day and gave instructions to deliver the bags to the train station for the afternoon train. The hotel staff executed flawlessly. At the same time, we could tell that the many of the staff were new in their positions. For instance the wine steward had the requisite towel over his arm but handled the uncorking in an awkward way. It was cute.
We ate at the restaurant at Hotel Sumaq where the food was good, but not gourmet. No doubt it was a log safer than eating at some joint in town, especially with the loss of power and possible issues with refrigeration.
The hotel had Internet in the bar in a floor above the lobby. We had it working with our laptops without any difficulty.
Our tour company managed to get wonderful price at the Sumaq. So we felt we had exceptional value as well as one of the finest places in town to stay.
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June 11, 2008
The Picoaga Hotel has a strong bye gone era Spanish culture all about the property. One gets definite impressions of colonial Peru. Once past the modest lobby, the internal courtyards are charming. The feelings are of authenticity, not of re-manufacturing ala-Disneyland.
There is no off street parking – your car or taxi just drops you off. Fortunately, the bell staff is quick and responsive. We asked for a week of bag storage while we trekked in the Andes and the hotel obliged without any problem.
The standard room we reserved was clean, but small & stuffy. We had one faux window looking into an internal ventilation shaft. The bed comfortable and provided a good night’s sleep. There was internet and it worked OK in the room despite weak signal.
There is a large dining room upstairs. It features nice views of Cusco city and the cathedrals of the main square. For dinner, we were the only guests. At breakfast, another set of guests was at a 2nd table. With this level of patronage, the restaurant has to be more of a convenience for guests than a money maker. We thank the hotel for the amenity. Our meals came quickly and they were adequate.
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Casa Andina Private Collection
June 11, 12, 2008
Casa Andina is an upscale property in what appeared to be a very poor high Andes Peruvian city. We were very relaxed while there; had we stayed by the town center, we would have instead felt stressed. An added bonus is the view of Lake Titicaca from the rooms [if one pays for the upgrade]. The view however is somewhat obscured by other parts of the hotel. There is a dock right on the property, and if taking the tours of the lake, your boat comes right to the dock. There is no need to take a taxi to town and incur the hassles at the main pier. This convenience however comes with higher prices for lodging and boat tours.
Our room -- clean and pleasant – did not disappoint even at the price. In room amenities and décor were about on par with what one would find in US at the same price level.
The restaurant was most memorable. There were fireplaces burning real wood which took the chill off of cold evenings. The dinners were hearty and tasty. The wines were reasonably priced and a welcome addition to a fine meal. The breakfast buffet was extensive and with great selection of US and EU traditional favorites.
The Internet worked fine at the Casa Andina.
We have read the stories about booking problems at the Casa Andina. We did not experienced any for ourselves and we used our Cusco travel agent. While there, we did talk to another couple who had booked about 24 hours previously through an internet wholesaler. When that couple had gone to check in, the hotel could not find a record of their reservation; they had to pay again at the front desk; and were left to adjust the previous charge made to their card.
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Waisi Jungle Lodge
June 22, 2008
This report is for the Waisi Tambopata Jungle Lodge located about 50 miles up the Tambopata River from the town of Puerto Maldonado. We may be the only ‘walk-in’ guests to ever arrive at this property without the usual advanced booking. The property’s manager – whom we commend for his helpfulness in providing us food and lodging -- had to radio the main Waisi Lodge in the center of Puerto Maldonado to get check-in information and policies. We found the Waisi Lodge when their river boat graciously rescued us just downriver from the Tambopata macaw lick where our own Tambopata-raft-trip guide had stranded us due to a boating accident. The entire staff of Waisi Jungle lodge is to be commended for coming of the aide of disadvantaged tourists.
Getting back to the Airport in Puerto Maldonado from the Waisi Tambopata Jungle Lodge the next morning involved a 2-plus hour boat trip down the Tambopata, then a 30 minute bus trip to the Waisi in downtown Puerto Maldonado. From there we boarded a different bus for the trip to the airport. All total this journey took nearly 4 hours. We left the jungle at 6AM for a 11:30 AM flight.
The setting of the Waisi Tambopata Jungle lodge is very beautiful, very remote, and frequented by wild animals. While there we had the opportunity to take guided tours to see various Amazon critters – macaws, turtles, caiman, and tapir are but a few examples. The grounds – literally carved out of jungle -- are very nicely detailed. The Lodge has a majestic observation tower from which one can take in the scenery and/or watch for visits from jungle animals.
The rooms are the Waisi Tambopata Jungle lodge are simple cabins. Guests should not expect amenities such as wall to wall carpeting, phones, television, internet, in room coffee, ;mini-bar, hair dryer, individual reading lights, etc. It’s truly rustic accommodations that put one next to the Amazon basin’s plants and animals. This is not meant to be a negative comment, instead it adds to the ambiance of a visit to one of the remaining frontiers of our planet. The rooms were simple dark-stained wood construction [plywood, framing lumber, and planks] with wood floor as well. Our room was well screened [against bugs], and each of the twin beds had its own individual mosquito netting. Both the sleeping room and the bathroom were clean. There was plenty of warm water for showers.
All meals were at the lodges restaurant. They were tasty and filling – excellent fare considering the remote location. Guests sat family style and service was a mixture of individual and family style.
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