Antigua Hacienda Yaravilca
The first of several planned resorts from Peruvian chain Aranwa is gaining a following in the Sacred Valley by those looking for a luxury spa retreat. It’s hidden from the rest of the Valley’s hotels and surrounded by stone walls, though inside the compound you never feel trapped.
One of the complaints about many of the hotels in Peru’s Sacred Valley of the Incas is that on the grounds of the hotel there is little to do. Most guests take day trips around the valley and come back to the hotel to sleep or to have a meal, but if you stick around for a few days you feel isolated in your hotel and there’s little to keep you occupied. At Peruvian chain Aranwa’s property beside the Vilcanota River in Urubamba, there are so many interesting things going on within its walled compound that you likely won’t grow bored.
The spread is impressive. Canals wind their way all over the property and paths and bridges cut across the water. The sound of the Vilcanota is ever present. So are the green mountains that seem to be trying to swallow the hotel. In the mornings and evenings mist hangs in the air. Flowers and plants of the lower Andes give the feel of being much closer to Machu Picchu than Cusco. The Aranwa is the largest property in the Sacred Valley in total area and takes about 15 minutes to walk from one end to the other; however, the staff has a fleet of eco–carts that give rides. Only a few of the buildings on the property are original18th century colonial builds, though the architecture of the rest of the constructions are more contemporary so there is no clash of eras going on. Everything seems to mesh.
The hotel’s one hundred spacious rooms are sprinkled in about the property in either a restored 18th century colonial hacienda, the centerpiece of the resort, or in several more modish modern buildings with minimalist décor. Both styles are equal in amenities—LCD TVS, DVD players, working Wi–Fi, mini–fridge, safe, and hydro–massage tub. Every room has a small balcony and the view is more or less spectacular in whichever part of the property you are. In the standard rooms only the décor changes form the more classic Cuzqueña paintings and hand carved wooden furniture of the colonial rooms to the contemporary design furniture of the modern rooms.
There are fifteen suites. A few are in the colonial quarter, a few near the river, and the best are near the lake. While the colonial suites merely add another bedroom, the river suites add indoor Jacuzzis that look out over the Vilcanota, making the price of the upgrade well worth it. Two of the lake suites place the bedroom on a second floor with a living area below. The three Lake Suites have two bedrooms and a kitchenette and sit isolated towards the back of the property. The largest room, the Presidential Suite, adds a billiard room, terrace with telescope, private pool, kitchen, cinema, and private butler service to the amenities of Lake Suites.
There are four restaurants on the grounds: a pricey Novo Andina restaurant, a Sushi bar, a more casual café, and a bar where you can order snacks. Many of the fruits and herbs served here are grown in the gardens. There’s also a small library, an art gallery, cinema, an orchid pyramid, business center, several gift shops, a lovingly restored chapel, infinity pool, Jacuzzi, and a handful of alpacas and peacocks that roam the property. Free guided tours that depart from the lobby throughout the day explore each of these segments.
The Aranwa’s 25,000 square–foot spa is the most impressive in the entire Cuzco region and the facilities are world class. They employ a local shaman for mystic rituals and coca leaf readings and offer unusual treatments based on the setting—like wind and water meditation chambers and stone table massages. Yoga, wellness and lifestyle counseling, and a full range of standard treatments are on the menu too.
For the first hotel to open for Aranwa, the chain has set the bar extremely high. The Sacred Valley property combines the best aspects of other nearby resorts like the spa qualities of Sol y Luna Lodge and the lavishness of the Urubamba Villas. While some of the restaurant prices are rather inflated, the price of a room or a spa treatment is extremely reasonable (especially when booking through Preferred Hotels & Resorts with an American Express Card). This is a hotel chain to watch in Peru.
Review and small photo by Nicholas Gill, additional photos courtesy of the hotel.