Oct 6, 2009

Luxury in Peru

By: Jennifer Weatherhead

Author: Elle Canada

Oct 6, 2009

Luxury in Peru

By: Jennifer Weatherhead
When planning your next vacation, instead of looking over the pond to Europe why not look south -- past the Caribbean -- to South America? In Peru you can also live the life of luxury while experiencing culture, history, adventure and food.

With a population of nearly 30 million, Peru has thriving cities in Lima and Cusco, friendly people and what seems to be endless beauty, Peru has made its way to the top of our list of favourite places and it will surely be on yours, too.

A couple of points to know before leaving for Peru
Pace yourself -- the altitude changes can make you feel nauseous and tired, give you headaches, and greatly influence the way alcohol effects your body. Coca tea, made from the leaves of a coca plant, is the local cure. The delicious drink will give you the boost of energy you require. Secondly, Peru has an abundance of potatoes and corn -- over 4,000 varieties of potatoes and 400 varieties of corn -- so leave your low-carb diet at home and indulge.

Getting there
Begin your trip to Peru (or any South American country) by flying in the most civilized way possible -- with LAN airlines in business class. LAN offers plenty of flights from Toronto to Lima via JFK (for all you fashionistas looking for a NYC weekend jaunt, LAN is a great new option to get there in class). About an 8-hour flight away from NYC, Peru is just as easy to get to as Europe. And this isn't your typical business class accommodation with wider seats and a few extra inches of legroom. The roomy seats can be moved to more comfortable positions at the touch of a button, from leaning back, to stretching out your legs, to fully flat for a good night's rest. If only all flights could be this good. LAN also provides about 20 flights per day from Lima to Cusco (where you'll need to go en route to Machu Picchu). From Cusco you can take a train through the mountains into the town of Machu Picchu; visit for tickets.

Where to stay in Machu Picchu
Considering you're surrounded by the Andes (the second largest mountain range in the world) and the only way into town is via train, luxury could, understandably, be hard to come by. Not so with the SUMAQ Machu Pichu Hotel. Once you've finally made it to the small town of Machu Picchu, you can rest at the only 5-star hotel in the area, bypassing the hostels and tents. The SUMAQ Machu Picchu Hotel is nestled into the edge of a mountain with stunning river and mountain views from nearly every room. Dressed in warm hues of beige, orange and reds, each room is the ultimate in luxury, with plush beds, modern rain showers and beautiful terraced balconies gazing over the river, all with traditional Inca decorations and influences. With an on-site spa that gives deep, relaxing massages, and the opulent dining experience at Qunuq, the hotel restaurant (with famous Peruvian chef Rafael Piqueras), you just might not want to leave. Fusing traditional Andean cuisine with a contemporary feel, Piqueras gives native ingredients like pumpkin, trout and alpaca (yes, alpaca -- trust us, it's delicious) a haute dining experience worthy of a luxury trip.

What to do in Machu Picchu and Cusco on the next page ...

Image courtesy of the SUMAQ Machu PIcchu Hotel

Looking for a taste of Peru in Toronto? Check out the Babaluu Supper Club in Yorkville for their authentic South American fare.


What to do in Machu Picchu

You can stroll around the small town, visit shops or take a dip in hot springs, but what you're really there for is what thousands come to Peru see every year -- the ancient ruins at the top of Machu Picchu. You can hike to the top, but seeing how we're on a luxury trip, you can also arrange with the SUMAQ Machu Picchu Hotel to have a bus and guide take you there via twisting, winding, narrow roads. And when you get to the see the ruins for the first time, you will realize that pictures just don't do it justice. Between the altitude, the view, and the magnitude of what your eyes are taking in, it truly does take your breath away. Stroll around the grounds, sit and relax on the lush green grass, visit the llamas, or if you're tempted to veer outside the world of luxury, you can hike up the adjacent mountain, Wayna Picchu (meaning “younger mountain”; Machu Picchu means “older mountain”). It offers a unique view of Machu Picchu from about 2,720 metres (8,900 feet) above sea level. It's strenuous and takes about an hour and a half of climbing up steep, narrow stairs originally constructed by the Incas. It's not for the faint of heart but is a worthy sacrifice, especially if you visit the Sumaq spa afterward for a massage.

Other activities in Machu Picchu
Mandor Waterfall:
You can also take a less intense, hour-long hike to a waterfall just outside of the town of Machu Picchu.

Bird watching
The SUMAQ Machu Picchu Hotel offers bird watching tours through local trails. With 300-400 species of birds in the area you're bound to see a brightly coloured flock and, at the very least, exotic plants along the path.

Cooking lessons

One memento you'll leave the SUMAQ with is a sense of how delicious Peruvian food can be. The food is so divine at the Qunuq restaurant it seems unfair to have only memories on your taste buds. Sign yourself up for a cooking lesson and learn how to make the signature Sumaq ceviche (thinly sliced fish marinated in lemon or lime and spices) and the traditional Peruvian drink, a Pisco Sour. That way, when you have to return home you can have a little bit of Peru still with you.

Spend a day (or more!) in Cusco on the next page ...

Image courtesy of the SUMAQ Machu PIcchu Hotel

Looking for a taste of Peru in Toronto? Check out the Babaluu Supper Club in Yorkville for their authentic South American fare.


Where to stay in Cusco

If you've just experienced Machu Picchu, before flying into Lima, a stopover in Cusco is the best bet to get adjusted to the altitude change. But be warned -- you'll want to spend more than just a day in Cusco, with its lively nightlife, amazing architecture and fantastic food. Arrange for sightseeing tours with Gray Line so you won't miss any of the main attractions. The most luxurious spot to stay is Casa Cartagena, right in the heart of the city. The peaceful quad was recently renovated and modernized with an opposing mix of rustic old wooden floors and sleek white furniture. It's like a quiet alcove of luxury in the middle of a bustling city.

If you're not looking to stay in a bustling city, but still want to indulge, make a stop over in the beautiful Sacred Valley at the Rio Sagrado Hotel. Private villa-style rooms that over look the Urubamba River offer a peaceful setting and a stunning spa will help you relax after your time at Machu Picchu.

Where to eat in Cusco
Instead of where to eat in Cusco, it's more like where to start. Cusco offers a wide variety of Peruvian cuisines, from traditional meals and rustic dishes, to high-end restaurants that infuse Peruvian cuisines with Asian, Spanish and Italian influences.

If you're looking for a light lunch, stop by MAP Café (just steps away from Casa Cartagena inside the Pre-Colombian Art Museum). The trout tartar is divine and a creamy trio of soups (potato, corn and squash) will get you through the afternoon.

LIMO Cocina Peruana and Pisco Bar
(located at the Plaza de Armas square) is another great choice for Peruvian cuisine. From melt-in-your-mouth civiche, to the yummy yucca balls, you will have no trouble finding something tempting. Be sure to also sample a couple of their variations on Pisco Sours -- you'll be hard pressed to find a better dink in Cusco.

Finally, a feast in Cusco would not be complete without having dined at Cicciolina. Warm and cozy, the restaurant is known as one of the best in the city featuring fine Peruvian cuisine with modern twists, and nothing tops their salads and soups (we recommend the chicken and avocado salad and a hearty, rustic onion soup).

Nightlife in Cusco
Cusco is bustling by day, but by night, it's even more so. Go dancing at one of the many Discos (you'll find several in the Plaza de Armas square), but make sure to stop by Fallen Angel for a drink before dancing the night away. The eclectic bar has a stunning interior of mixed styles of contemporary art and vintage finds. Not a single space is left untouched by owner and designer Andres Zuniga Pena's artful hand. And if you're looking to crash in a spot unlike any other, the Fallen Angel also has five luxe rooms -- all designed differently with quirks and character -- that are perfect to rest in before catching a flight back home.

Visit these sites when planning your Peru adventure

Peru Rail
SUMAQ Machu Picchu Hotel
Casa Cartagena Hotel
Gray Line Peru
Rio Sagrado Hotel

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Looking for a taste of Peru in Toronto? Check out the Babaluu Supper Club in Yorkville for their authentic South American fare.

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Luxury in Peru