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La Mirage Garden Hotel & Spa - Cotacachi, Ecuador

Calle 10 de Agosto, Cotacachi, Imbabura Province

As the only Relais and Chateaux hotel in Ecuador, La Mirage offers regal European décor, a decadent spa, and a romantic restaurant with a reputation as one of the best outside of Quito.

Mirage Garden Hotel & Spa

Situated on an Andean hillside, two hours north of Quito, La Mirage's colonial style main house is draped with bougainvillea and vines. In 1985, the resort was built on the site of a 200-year old hacienda.

The owner, Jorge Espinosa, is a hotel and spa pioneer in Ecuador. He made his dream come true by designing La Mirage Garden Hotel & Spa. Mr. Espinosa also owns the Mansion del Angel in Quito. Like that hotel, this one is filled with elegance, whimsy, angels, and beauty.

You first notice flowing white drapes gathered behind golden, spiral-designed handrails before entering the reception area. With a bubbling glass of champagne in hand, peruse the local and European antiques in the living and dining rooms, then later see more throughout the resort.

A montage of hibiscus, roses, dahlias and orchids line the path to your suite, with occasional scents of lavender. Passing a lovely stone chapel, exquisite colonial bar and gift shop, you soon arrive at your "flower-named" room.

Designed with a hint-of-royalty d├ęcor, the luxurious suites include magnificent canopy beds with rose petals strewn on the goose down duvet as well as a bouquet of fresh flowers by your bed. Your individually decorated room or suite contains eclectic and exquisite furnishings, including a French-style fireplace, separate sitting area, and a white-tiled bathroom with a spacious shower. Lavender soaps, and toiletries are arranged among towels and rose petals. Each unique lodging is designed for its guests to view gardens and different spaces accommodate different bed setups.

A big draw here is La Mirage Spa. A glass roof covers its spa and indoor pool. Swaths of milky-white cloth fabrics drape from the ceiling in a Grecian-Roman style. Adjacent to the generous-sized swimming area are comfortable lounge chairs as well as canopy-covered semi-private sofas. Entering La Mirage Spa, your "kin-of-royalty" service continues as you select a massage, soak in a hot tub, or choose a treatment. Perhaps you will desire the Egyptian room for a Cleopatra experience, the "hot volcanic" treatment, or others.

La Mirage Garden

If you wish a "purification of body, soul and spirit", a female Shaman will assist you through this fascinating treatment (which includes a twenty-minute soak in a rose petal- strewn Jacuzzi pool).

To complete your day of pampering, savor a gourmet meal in the posh restaurant. Dimmed lights, candles, and bouquets of roses add to the, well, romantic atmosphere. If you are eating alone, Peter the goldfish will accompany you. A written introduction warms the way, as Peter swims by in his water world. Another whimsical touch is the presentation of a music box, which when opened, plays music and reveals an enclosed appetizer.

The chef's gastronomic excellence draws people from afar for savory meals. Servers provide a level of service found in only a few restaurants. Menu selections include international and Ecuadorian entrees with a twist, artistically presented. Fine international wines are chosen to pair well with various courses. Save room for luscious desserts such as the signature rose sherbet or "chocolate decadence."

La Mirage Garden

Upon returning to your suite, you will find a crackling fire lit in your fireplace (upon your request at dinner). Awaiting you are slippers, a hot water bottle in the bed, linen turned down, chocolates, and a pressed-rose petal card thanking you for being at La Mirage. Mornings, a short walk leads to a bright breakfast room for an American-style buffet. Your view includes La Mirage Garden area, with its outdoor eating area, flora and fauna: brilliantly colored turquoise and green peacocks preen and stroll, while hummingbirds flit by.

Days can be spent luxuriating at La Mirage, or visiting Cotacachi's famed leather shops and artisan villages. Further excursions include horse or mountain bike riding; hiking around Cuicocha crater lake or San Pablo Lake; or visiting the famous Otavalo Indian market.La Mirage Hotel & Spa is a sensory experience. Gourmet cuisine, a world-class spa, personalized service, and elegant suites set in lush gardens combine to provide a true taste of luxury.

Web Address:
Total Number of Rooms: 23
MAP Rates: $350 to $800

Review by Sandra Kennedy