Dateline Quito

written by | Posted on September 17th, 2013

(Photo courtesy of the Ecuador Ministry of Tourism.)

(Photo courtesy of the Ecuador Ministry of Tourism.)

All eyes are on Quito, Ecuador, for the opening on Sept. 18 of the 37th TravelMart LatinAmerica (TMLA), an annual ingathering of buyers and sellers of travel products and services. The 3-day marathon of business meetings, orchestrated by William H. Coleman, Inc., gives all attendees—150 travel buying companies from North America this year—a focused venue to learn what’s new in the Central and South American market place.

While delegates will be fanning out from the Andes to the Pacific on pre- and post-tours to the highlands, Cuenca, Amazonia, and the Galapagos Islands, it’s host city Quito that delegates will really get to discover or re-discover. What they will find is an Andean capital that stretches along the foothills beneath the Pichincha Volcano, a historic place whose rich treasury of religious arts and architecture was recognized in 1978 when UNESCO proclaimed Quito the first city on its World Heritage List. And nowadays all eyes are on Quito’s Old Town, considered the largest, least altered and—following a $220 million restoration—the best preserved in South America.

Luz Elena Coloma, general manager of Quito Turismo, is also looking forward to showing visiting travel buyers what’s new in Quito, such as the new Mariscal Sucre International Airport where everyone will be landing, and the deluxe new tourist El Tren running along tracks from Quito through the Andes to the Pacific coast. “We will also continue revitalizing the historic center,” she reports, “where major projects include remodeling 700 housing units to attract more of our citizens, opening the Carmen Alto Monastery Museum, rehabilitating the San Agustin church and remodeling El Belem church.”

TMLA delegates will set out to discover Quito with a “VIP Insider’s Guide,” based on input of favorites from participating Ecuador travel companies. Consider this sampling of the special things they recommend to see and do—special tips you can share with clients also setting out to enjoy Quito—and all of Ecuador for that matter.

Top Panoramic Viewpoint for Quito

• Itchimbia Hill: Nighttime is particularly magical; come at sunset for cocktails or dinner at Cafe Mosaico or Palacio de Cristal

• El Panecillo: The view is especially great at night; come for lunch or dinner at Pim’s

• El Teleferico Pichincha Volcano

Favorite Less-Visited Church or Monastery

• San Diego Monastery

• Santo Domingo Church

• Convent of Carmen Bajo

Where to See Work of Ecuador’s Fine Modern Artists

• La Capilla del Hombre for works of Oswaldo Guayasamin

• CAC—Centro de Arte Contemporaneo at a former military hospital in the San Juan neighborhood

• Fundacion Guayasamin: The artist’s collection of archaeological, colonial and personal work

Best Day Trips from Quito

• Otavalo on Wednesdays and Saturdays for crafts and lunch at a hacienda

• Papallacta for its hot springs, horseback riding, hiking and nature walks

• Cotopaxi National Park and the Antisana Volcano

Best Place to Shop for High-Quality Crafts

• Folklore Olga Fisch for handwoven tapestries

• Mercado Artesanal La Mariscal for a crafts market and souvenirs

• Galeria Ecuador Gourmet and La Tienda El Quinde

Where Best to Dine Out on Ecuadorian Cuisine

• La Choza

• Rincon la Ronda

• Mi Cocina and Lo Nuestro

Best Restaurant Dining in the Old Town

• Mea Culpa

• Theatrum (restaurant and wine bar)

• Hasta la Vuelta Senor and El Ventanal

If You Want to Take a Cooking Class

• Culinary Arts School (north of Quito)

• Hacienda Rumiloma, a boutique hotel

• Alma Restaurant (learn Argentine specialties)

For more on Quito, visit quito.com.ec/en. For more on TravelMart LatinAmerica, visit travelmartlatinamerica.com.