Nowadays, South American cuisine continues to make culinary headlines, and hotels south of our border are active participants in the cultural trend of treating their guests to hands-on food experiences—shopping in local markets for dinner’s ingredients; picking salad greens or making cheese at on-site organic farms; taking cooking lessons, interacting with chefs, then dining deliciously. We consider just two hotels among dozens of fine properties that offer foodie-focused programs.
In Chile: Hacienda Hotel Vira Vira
A Relais & Chateaux member, Hacienda Hotel Vira Vira—its main lodge and beautifully decorated suites—sits beautifully at the edge of the Lake District, surrounded by volcanoes and spread along the shores of the Liucura River. Under the banner of Elegance of Adventure, guests have available a myriad of activities, from riding, hiking, biking and birding to rafting, kayaking and fishing. Food-lovers get special attention with “hands-on” cooking classes—customized to the seasons and guests tastes—held in a specially designed Ruca kitchen. Guests are also invited to visit the cheese factory to learn the different cheese processes and make their own cheese or yogurt. All meals are prepared with local ingredients from the hacienda, ranging from free-range eggs, lamb and wild boar to bread, honey and marmalade.
Guests are also invited to learn all about Chilean wine, as the Hacienda stocks wines from most of Chile’s famous valleys. Rates pp double for three nights start at $1,905, for four nights from $2,490, and for five nights from $3,060, including transfers from Pucon or Tumuco airports, all meals, amenities and activities. For more information, visit hotelviravira.com.
In Peru: Sumaq Machu Picchu Hotel
Located on the banks of the Vilcanota River (voted # 1 hotel in Agua Calientes and ranked # 6 on the list of 25 Top Hotels of South America by Conde Nast Traveler) the 62-room luxury Sumaq Machu Picchu Hotel takes special pride in showcasing Peruvian experiences in its excursions, in its spa treatments, and in its Qunuq Restaurant, whose resident chef creates innovative dishes that introduce the culinary traditions of southern Peru, fused with ingredients and flavors from Europe, Africa and Asia. It’s the perfect hotel pick for the gourmet-foodie; and for all guests, a Peruvian cooking class (one for adults and a mini-chef lesson for children ages 7-12) is included in the cost of accommodations.
Under special culinary experiences, guests can learn to prepare a Pachamanca or “Earth Pot,” the traditional Andean meal that is steam cooked over hot stones sunk in the earth. The hotel’s newest Andean-themed guest experience is the Munayki Romantic Dinner (munayki translates into “I love you” in the Quechua language), starring a private waiter serving a seven-course Peruvian feast and an accompanying bottle of wine on a terrace decorated with flowers and candles, plus an indigenous gift for the couple. Accommodations are priced from $602 per Double Deluxe room or suite, including half board, juice on arrival and pisco sours during stay, plus a 40-minute Peruvian and bartending class, and train-station transfers. For more information, visit sumaqhotelperu.com.