HIGH END TOURISM IN THE COUNTRY OF THE FOUR WORLDS:
A MIXTURE OF NATURE AND LUXURY

 

Comfort and luxury amidst lush landscapes and ecosystems are part of what services and high-end establishments provide in Ecuador. In these places one can combine activities such as observing flora and fauna, adventure sports, watching landscapes, along with rest and relaxation options. In the most beautiful places of the country's four worlds: Amazon, Andes, Pacific Coast and Galapagos, there are several options to experience Luxury Tourism.

 

"Luxury in an establishment consists in always giving more than the others", states an article from Huelva University, in Spain. This segment consists of travel agencies, hotels and transportation companies that distinguish and offer unique products to their high-ranking customers. Ecuador is such a diverse country with a wide variety of landscapes, ecosystems and natural and cultural attractions, that its luxury tourism offer is wide-ranging.

 

Galapagos

 

There are several choices of high-end lodging establishments in the Galapagos archipelago. Pikaia Lodge is among the main ones. It is located in Santa Cruz Island and was built in a unique environment, in the crater of an extinct volcano, 450 meters above sea level (1,476 feet above sea level). Its rooms are nestled in the foothills between the savannah and the tropical cloud forest of the highlands, which offers a fascinating view of the mountains, the forests and the sea.

 

The concept of Pikaia Lodge is designed for the eco-adventure traveler, who is aware of environmental conservation, is physically active, and who seeks close contact with the unique natural wonders of Galapagos. The hotel offers a superior level of comfort and services that can be reasonably provided within the limitations of such a remote, restricted and eco-sensitive location, according to the hotel website.

 

Due to its central location in the archipelago, Santa Cruz Island provides the traveler with a perfect opportunity to develop a unique concept of daily excursions since the most interesting islands, white sand beaches and wildlife viewpoints of the Galapagos National Park are located relatively close. The tours are on land and at sea.

 

The hotel also has a reserve of giant tortoises, a swimming pool, a restaurant and a relaxing spa. It also offers a tour to visit the Charles Darwin Research Center to observe endemic fauna specimens of the islands. Additionally, tourists can do sports such as kayaking, snorkeling and diving in coral reefs, where thousands of colorful fish, sharks, manta rays and sea lions can be seen, among other species.

 

Pacific Coast

 

Approximately in the middle of the Spondylus Route, which runs through Ecuador’s Pacific Coast from north to south, is the town of Bahia de Caraquez, located in the province of Manabí. Casa Ceibo Boutique Hotel & Spa is situated amidst mangroves, at the foot of the Chone River estuary. The hotel is near the Corazon Island, a paradise where more than 40 species of birds live and which nests an average of 25,000 birds.

 

The architectural design has been created "to provide visitors wonderful spaces, ideal to enjoy with family, friends or in couples", according to Casa Ceibo’s website. The hotel has 18 luxurious rooms, gardens, swimming pool, tennis court, private boats with a dock, artwork, a restaurant that offers local and international cuisine, and several complementary activities to delight the guests.

 

Casa Ceibo is certified by Smart Voyager, a program that certifies hotel facilities that meet strict conservation and sustainability parameters.

 

Further south is the country’s main port, the city of Guayaquil, which houses the Wyndham Hotel. It is located just minutes from Cerro Santa Ana and the Jose Joaquín de Olmedo International Airport. The strategic location of this hotel allows business travelers an easy access to the center of the city, the World Trade Center at Francisco de Orellana Ave., several shopping centers in the north area of the city, and the Simon Bolivar Convention Center.

 

Tourists who are on vacation can visit the neighboring Cerro Santa Ana, the Malecon 2000, the 9 de Octubre Boulevard, the Park of the Iguanas, Guayaquil’s Cathedral and the Estero Salado Malecon. Guayaquil Historical Park is located in the nearby Samborondón canton, home to native flora and fauna species, mainly of the coast.

 

Its 179 rooms have computers with the latest technology and private and social spaces designed as business centers. As for the services provided by the hotel, there is a beautiful rooftop pool in the 9th floor, free airport shuttle, four meeting rooms that can accommodate 15 to 30 people, and a large lounge that can accommodate up to 500 people, ideal for conventions, social events and conferences. On the other hand, the Rio Grande Restaurant offers exquisite choices of national and international dishes and the Numa Bar is the ideal place to relax with a cocktail, after exploring the city.

 

Andes

 

The Cruise Train transfers passengers from the heart of the Andes to the Ecuadorian coast through beautiful scenery, while they learn about the history and culture of each place. Travelers enjoy the hospitality of the good service on board the Cruise Train and can taste the most varied cuisine in the convoy made up of wagons with transparent ceilings and large windows that allow passengers to enjoy the contrast of landscapes between the Andes and the Pacific Coast.

 

The hotels and inns selected for passengers to stay in each train stop offer the best conditions to rest and feel comfortable, essential complements to make the journey more pleasant. The program offered lasts four days and three nights. For more information on prices, please click here.

 

The Cruise Train guarantees quality and service. For these reasons and due to its wide appeal, it was awarded a certificate of excellence as a tourist alternative. Thanks to this recognition, all international and specialized media highlight the Cruise Train.

 

The Zuleta Hacienda is located two hours away of Quito, 110 kilometers north of the Andean region, in the Province of Imbabura. Dating from the late sixteenth century, it has 2,000 hectares belonging to the family of former President of Ecuador, Galo Plaza Lasso. It has 14 rooms, gardens and a restaurant that serves Ecuadorian cuisine, prepared with products from the same hacienda. Among the activities one can do are: horseback riding, mountain biking, cow-milking observation, visits to the Condor Huasi rescue and rehabilitation program, and excursions nearby the hacienda.

 

Outside Magazine named it as one of the “Ten Best findings”. The rooms keep traditional elements of what a hacienda house is. They are equipped with everything necessary to offer a luxurious stay. It also keeps its ancient gardens and rest rooms.

 

Northwest of the Metropolitan District of Quito, is Mashpi Lodge, located amid the cloud forests of northwestern Pichincha, which are considered "hot spots": places where there is a high concentration of biodiversity of fauna and flora. Spectacled bears, ocelots, mountain tapirs, pumas, hummingbirds, toucans, owls and 450 other species of birds live here. As for flora, many epiphytes, such as orchids and bromeliads, can be observed.

 

Mashpi Lodge is a place where luxury and nature merge. "Mashpi is more than a five-star lodge in the middle of a great forest: it was conceived and planned to provide a unique travel experience in its kind, where the material elements are the perfect complement to enjoy a unique and very close contact with fauna, flora, geology, geography, ecology, climate, landscape and historical features of this extraordinarily biodiverse corner of the world, now protected as a Nature Reserve", says the establishment’s website.

 

The hotel has luxurious rooms with windows from floor to ceiling, from which the beauty of the forest and its many species of fauna can be observed. In terms of gastronomy, Mashpi offers dishes that combine the flavors of the Coast and the Andes. Ingredients and local produce is used for preparing dishes for tourists to taste.

 

In Mashpi, travelers can hike in the primary forest and observe the abundant flora and fauna. There is also an activity that involves crossing by bike through the high forests (at the height of the canopy). There are programs of four days, three nights, and three days, two nights.

 

Cuenca is located south of Ecuador; it is a World Cultural Heritage Site. Mansion Alcazar is a house fitted out as a luxury hotel in the city’s historic center. Nearby this hotel visitors can enjoy art centers, churches and houses that still keep their colonial and republican styles.

 

This mansion was restored; the furniture combines with the art pieces on display in the facilities and their rooms meet the conditions required by modern life, in perfect harmony. The restaurant is called "Le Bar & Casa Alonso", which offers gourmet food while diners enjoy the view of the house’s interior garden. The hotel offers guests a SPA service with a variety of massages. It has several types of luxurious rooms and suites.

 

Amazon

 

One of the most luxurious Eco Lodges in Ecuador’s Amazon region is Napo Wildlife Center (NWC), which stands at the Añangucocha lagoon, in the Añangu Kichwa Indian reservation, the owner of 21,000 hectares of Amazon rainforest. It is located in the middle of the Yasuni National Park, considered the most biodiverse place on the planet.

 

From El Coca, in the province of Orellana, visitors travel 2 hours in a motorized canoe down the Napo River to reach the entrance of the sewage canal of the Añangu community, a site where passengers change to a paddle canoe. On the way to the hotel one can see monkeys, birds and giant otters.

 

There are several activities to do during the stay. The main one is to climb to the "canopy" or higher ecological forest floor observation tower. The tower is 40 meters high and is built next to a tree. Howler and capuchin monkeys, sloths bears, harpy eagles, toucans and tanagers are among the main species that can be observed.

 

Napo Wildlife Center has 16 rooms, a restaurant offering national and international cuisine and a bar. Two main tours are offered: five days, four nights and four days, three nights.

 

Another accommodation option can be on the water. The Anakonda Amazon Cruises is a five-star floating hotel sailing through the rivers of the Ecuadorian Amazon with the greatest luxury, while creating minimal environmental impact. It has 18 suites perfectly adapted to the necessary conditions needed to enjoy a comfortable journey through the Amazon. It has a large observation deck, outdoor Jacuzzi, a bar and a restaurant where visitors can sample delicious national and international dishes.

 

With the help of the guides, one can enjoy a tremendous ride: boating, kayaking and shore excursions to observe the wonders of the Amazon are some of the activities one can do during the stay. Aboard the Anakonda it is possible to visit the Yasuni National Park and the Cuyabeno Wildlife Reserve. There, passengers can observe the flora, fauna and the magical landscapes of the Amazon. Anakonda Amazon Cruises offers packages of three, four and seven nights.

 

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