Like the more established Libertador group, relative newcomer Casa Andina did not start its hospitality life at the five-star deluxe level. Rather, the company placed hotels in less-traveled areas (with the exception of Cusco, which now hosts five of the company’s 18 Peruvian properties), introducing smart, well-run, and similarly decorated hotels that were imaginative in design, well suited to their environments and well-priced. Its up-market brand, Private Collection, is a welcome addition to the hotel scene. The new luxury flagship hotel in Lima, the 148-room Casa Andina Private Collection Miraflores, is the chain’s swankiest urban hotel yet; colonial Casa Andina Private Collection Arequipa, meanwhile, occupies a National Monument building, the former House of the Mint, and the Casa Andina Private Collection Puno has style and excellent service to go along with its stupendous views of Lake Titicaca.
The Casa Andina Private Collection Cusco, inhabiting an 18th century mansion and built around three interior patios, was the company’s first upscale hotel in the Inca-land capital, and most recently in the Sacred Valley—exploding with upscale accommodations—the Casa Andina Private Collection Valle Sagrado turns out to be one of the best. It resembles a large mountain-chalet style hotel with a lovely setting, great mountain views, and glorious gardens. Among its most special features are the full-service Sacred Spa offering natural treatments and a domed planetarium and observatory from which to scan the vast South Hemisphere skies. Respectively, room prices start at $207 and $185.
Inkaterra is another and major Peru hotel success story. The conservation-minded company’s lodging interests now span from the 34-cabana Inkaterra Reserva Amazonica on the banks of the Madre de Dios River and newly offering its guests a Canopy Tree House, to its award-winning, 85-room Inkaterra Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel, which yearly runs away with all international awards (Conde Nast Traveler, the most recent) for its property located at the base of Machu Picchu mountain. Among other features, the Pueblo Hotel is known for its orchid gardens (400 species) and its UNU Spa’s Inca Purification treatment, using the stimulating effects of coca leaves—in creams, oils and masks. Plunge pools were recently added.
The newest in luxury to join the Inkaterra hotel family is La Casona, Peru’s first member of the Relais & Chateaux group. Located on Cusco’s historic Plaza de las Nazarenas, the 11-suite La Casona occupies a 16th century mansion once owned by a Spanish conquistador. Its 11 suites have views of the plaza and the lovely interior courtyard, and have open fireplaces, down duvets on the beds, heated floor, grand marble and stone bathrooms, and such modern appointments as iPod speakers, and good read-in-bed lights—still hard to find in Latin America. Amenities include really comfy sitting and dining rooms, the private spa with two massage rooms, reading lounge and outdoor terraces, and under services one finds a concierge, private butlers and room service three times daily. Suites are booked individually, but this is a handsome manse to book as a villa for a family and friends, a wedding, a business retreat, or an incentive group. All can enjoy catered touring arrangements with a fleet of Land Rovers, as well as drivers and private guides. Suites are priced from $720.
In the Sacred Valley, one has to salute the first upscale lodge, Sol y Luna, which just gets more wonderful over the years. Now officially called the Sol y Luna Lodge & Spa, its 28 casitas (called muyas) with private terraces and gorgeous mountain views, offer widely spectacularly landscaped gardens. Opened last year were five super-luxe and beautifully furnished bungalow suites, with fireplaces, private gardens and jacuzzis on the terraces. All guests enjoy Nuevo Andean cuisine, tastings in the wine cellar and valley rides astride a Peruvian Paso horse from the lodge’s stables. The new Casitas de Lujo (luxury casitas) are priced from $530.