Our first stop in South America was the Sacred Valley of the Incas in Peru. We flew straight from Miami to Lima to Cuzco on LAN. From the Cuzco airport we arranged car service through the Tambo Del Inka to take us to the resort. We paid about double the cost of just getting a local cab but because we didn’t know what to expect and this was over an hour drive, we were OK with playing it safe. The Tambo Del Inka is located in Urubamba, which is a great take off point for a visit to Macchu Picchu.
- Trip Motivation and Planning
- LAN Flight Experience
- Tambo Del Inka Resort
- Machu Picchu and the Sacred Valley
- JW Marriott Lima
- Exploring Lima
- Exploring Easter Island and the Moai
- W Santiago
- Exploring Santiago De Chile
From the second our taxi pulled up to the Tambo Del Inka, this property shined. We were greeted by three bellman who collected our bags and escorted us to couches in the lobby. Check-in was performed in the comfortable setting of the lobby, similar to the check in experience at the Andaz properties. The manager on duty greeted us and began to process our check-in. He collected our passports and described the resort amenities including the specific Platinum amenities. I always appreciate when a hotel goes to the effort of knowing you are Platinum and is transparent about what they offer. At different stages in the process, staff would come up and introduce themselves. Because I had been upgraded to a Junior Suite, we received Butler service and therefore met our butler. We also were greeted by a representative from the activities office who let us know when we would be receiving the full details of our Macchu Picchu trip we had prearranged. Meeting that many people at check-in could have easily been overwhelming but it was well orchestrated and helpful.
While I hoped we could get away with three people in a two person reservation, it was blatant given the attention we were given at check in. I had read on Flyertalk that this property is strict on extra persons in the room and have charged guests either 100 USD per extra person per day or 100 USD for the extra person for the entire stay. Obviously I was hoping for the latter. The manager addressed the situation saying, “Because there is three of you, we need to charge you an extra 100 USD…..” Before I let him finish with anything like “per day”, I quickly interrupted him with “DEAL!” and practically threw my credit card at him. He accepted my card and that was that. At check out that became a wise decision because the desk agent told me they had undercharged us for the extra person. Fortunately the manager was also present at the time and I was able to remind him of our (abbreviated) agreement to charge us 100 USD for the entire stay. He concurred.
The views from every foot on this property are spectacular. Situated in the sacred valley, the hotel is only a few blocks from the town of Urubamba but has enough separation to feel secluded. The preferred rooms, pool, patio, and bar are all on the backside of the hotel which faces towards the river. Often times a fancy resort means isolation from a decent selection of non-resort restaurants by foot. I found this resort to be the best of both worlds where you had the feel of a large secluded resort property but could also walk blocks to find the towns best shops, bars and restaurants. There are two incredible restaurants and a great place to purchase local pottery in walking distance. The concierge will mark their local area handout maps with these places.
I paid for this category 4 room by using 30,000 SPG points for the three night stay. I used three of my SPG upgrade award nights for this property. In retrospect I probably didn’t need to use them given how quiet the resort was, but I was anxious to take the new award nights out for a spin. As the program stated, I was emailed 5 days in advance that my suite was reserved so there was no question before we left for the trip.
I was upgraded to a 750 square foot Junior Suite. The design choices and colors used in the room were quite memorable. It reminded me of a W with the color pallet, but the furniture was sturdier and more traditional (except the living room couch). The living space had a stylish couch (not so comfortable), dining room table for 4, and a chaise lounge near the window. The lighting in the living area was noticeably dim after the sunset. Even with every light turned one night when we ordered room service, it felt like we were dining in the dark.
The living room lead into a separate bedroom. The living room and bedroom were equal sized so I imagine this was equivalent to two standard rooms combined into a Junior Suite. One standout feature of the room was the textured design and colors on the far wall seen below. The bedroom had a nice working desk, and a small table over the window. There was a fast wireless internet connection in the room which is complimentary for SPG Platinums. Both windows could be opened with a screen in place to enjoy the mountain views and river rushing just a few feet away. I was sleeping in the living room so I had mine open all night. It was a wonderful way to fall asleep each night.
The bedroom lead around the TV to the left to a massive walk in closet. They even brought in an extra robe after learning we had three in the room. A nice touch. Around to the right of the TV was the spacious bathroom. The toilet was separated from the rest of the bathroom by a door. The bath products were Gilchrist and Soames. One quirk we ran into was how the shower and the tub were combined behind the same glass. I took the first shower one morning. My mother took a bath shortly after and noted that it was very slippery getting into and out of the tub because my shower had made the whole area wet including some of the towels hanging properly on the rack.
The pool was both good and bad. On the upside, the design is just incredible. The pool is half indoors and half outdoors. Inside, it has dramatic tall ceilings and stunning views of the terrain from the floor to roof windows. Outside, it fits right into the landscape hanging over the edge and pointing towards the mighty river. The carved wood holding up the roof is something you don’t see everyday. I believe they used native wood to the region.
On the downside, the functionality of the pool is questionable. The weather does not get very warm this high up in the mountains. The high temperatiures rarely make it into the 70’s F throughout the year. The pool is lightly heated but even on a sunny day, I found it to be too cold to enjoy. In addition, I am not a parent but I wouldn’t even think of letting a child get near this pool. The deck does not surround the entire pool. A large section of it drops dangerously down to the ground below.
The large mosaic(?) behind the bar is impressive. If you can take your eye off of it, guests can be served in the outdoor patio. The beauty of the patio is its proximity to the river. The river provides an amazing background soundtrack to enjoy a Pisco Sour or cerveza. The prices were very high for the area but the setting was unbeatable.
The Platinum Breakfast
At check-in I opted for the breakfast amenity. They informed me all 3 of us could use the amenity which I thought was generous. We were allowed the large buffet in the restaurant as well as items from the made to order menu. Like the bar, they also have an outdoor seating area close to the river. The setting for breakfast was second to none. The river was roaring, the birds were chirping, the mountains were glistening, all while we were receiving attentive service, spectacular food and bottomless coffee at our outdoor table. We tried most every item on the made to order menu. They were all fantastic. Quinoa Pancakes anyone?!
The bottom line
There is a reason this hotel ranks #9 on Tripadvisor’s 2012 Reader’s Choice best hotels in the world. The Tambo Del Inka is not your average SPG category 4. In fact, it is not even close. This property is absolutely phenomenal! Throughout my stay, I was comparing the resort against category 6 SPG properties because that is how the experience compared. While there were so many positives, what really makes this resort stand out for me was the feel of a secluded resort property with the ability to discover a town’s fine shops, bars, activities and restaurants within walking distance.
I intentionally omitted one more resort amenity, the private train station. I will cover that and its final destination in my next post.