Urubamba, Sacred Valley, Cusco province
With just five expansive villas that sleep four to eight people, this collection of small but luxurious Peruvian houses run by Andean Experience is the prime spot in the Sacred Valley for families or two sharing couples.
The Sacred Valley area between Cusco and Machu Picchu is a great first stop for those who need to acclimatize. There's also enough to see and do in the area to justify spending a few days to a week here regardless. There have been very few hotels geared to demanding guests who want to do more than just pass through, however, so this collection of upscale villas is a welcome addition to the scene.
Urubamba Villas was originally planned as a collection of condos for sale but ended up being developed as short–term rental units with most of the regular services of a hotel. You check in and have your maid service every day, including fresh towels and toiletries, but there are no public facilities such as a central restaurant or bar. Instead, your wake–up call is the sound of two cooks coming in to prepare your breakfast: eggs as you like, pancakes, fruit, local bread, coffee, fresh juice, and plenty more. Dinner is also prepared by an on–site duo, with a bottle of wine included in the mix. (A minibar, with typical minibar prices offers up snacks and other drinks.)
The villas are dispersed around a central area with an array of fragrant flowers, stone paths, and manicured lawns. A garden with fresh vegetables and herbs provides produce and seasonings for meals. The villas are some of the most attractive buildings in the region, playing off local styles with red adobe, stonework, beamed ceilings from full eucalyptus trunks, and heavy wood beams supporting upper level lofts. They feel and look solid enough to stand for centuries.
While the design incorporates plenty of local textiles and artwork, there is nothing provincial about the amenities. A cozy wood fireplace is in each living room, with comfortable sofas joining a dining table in the well–stocked kitchen. There are games for the family, books and magazines to read, and an outdoor sitting area for drinks as the sun is going down. Be advised that the experience here is not meant to be a slice of home: there are no TVs or Internet access. (Though there are places to go check e–mail nearby in Urubamba.)
The units are stocked with impressive artwork and artifacts: sculptures, folk art, custom lamps, framed textiles, and pottery. Each villa is a like a miniature museum, with your eye wandering to something interesting in each direction.
Baths are on par with those in Peru's best hotels. The quality local toiletries include refilled glass bottles and handmade soaps wrapped in waxy handmade paper. Showers feature removable heads for bathing the kids and each unit has a deep tub in one bathroom. All units have at least two full baths. Thin cotton robes, sandals, hair dryers, and fluffy towels are standard, plus the ample closets have several kinds of hangers.
Thick comforters and blankets top plush beds of varying sizes, with twins, doubles, or a king suited to the room size. Some of the lofts have three beds for the kids in one area, while others break the loft into two bedrooms.
Despite the self–contained villa setup, you can choose from a range of 10 spa treatments and take advantage of a variety of excursions. Andean Experience has some of the best guides in the country at its disposal and they can put together excursions such as challenging hikes in the mountains, tours to the local ruins of Pisac and Ollantaytambo, bicycle tours, or guided trips to Machu Picchu.
Considering the quality of these villas and the chance to have your morning and evening meals cooked for you, this is one of the best upscale deals in the country. It is a unique way for a family or small group to explore the Sacred Valley, returning to your own country house as a home base.
Web Address: urubamba-villas.com
Total number of villas: 5
From 1 to 3 guests: US$ 300 per Villa
From 4 to 6 guests: US$ 400 per Villa
3 Night-Promotion (1 to 6 guests): US$ 750 per Villa
Review and photos by Timothy Scott.