Paracas, South America’s first coastal desert resort, now has three Pacific facing hotels. Each is a little different and all of the hotels opened in 2009. The resort area sits beside the coastal town of Pisco, which was nearly wiped out in an August 2007 earthquake. Apart from breathing new life into what was a complete and utter disaster these hotels are helping the region rebuild and give visitors to Lima an easy 3-day getaway that’s a completely different side of Peru (the desert coast) from what most typically think of the country (Andes, Machu Picchu, the Amazon, Lake Titicaca, etc). While there are beaches within the reserve that can be visited during the day, the hotels face the murkier bay and have stellar pool scenes to make up for the lack of sand.
Smaller inns and hospedajes have long existed in Paracas town catering to overnighters heading to the Islas Ballestas such as the Posada del Emancipador or Santa Maria Hostal, though nothing of this scale has ever existed anywhere between Lima and Arequipa. The three hotels that opened in 2009 are listed below, as are descriptions of the hotels in the process of construction in and around Paracas:
The first resort to open in Paracas, the Doubletree was under construction well before the earthquake hit. The all white two level resort is shaped like a rectangle with one open section that faces the bay. The one 8,000 square foot pool centers the property and on weekends tends to be crowded with Peruvian families there on a quick jaunt from Lima (during the week you’ll almost be alone). Each suite features a terrace or balcony with magnificent views of the tranquil azure waters of Paracas Bay or palm gardens. All two-room suites are outfitted with a full array of guest amenities, including our ultra-comfortable Sweet Dreams beds, two 32″ flat screen TVs, MP3 clock-radio and mini-fridge. Opened in March 2009. Rooms from $179 (www.doubletree.com).
La Hacienda Bahia Paracas
The hotel from this small Peruvian chain that once aligned itself with the Best Western has gone under the radar. Though it is about 20% cheaper than the Doubletree and Libertador, the rooms and amenities are almost as nice. The pool scene here is somewhere in between the exclusivity of the Libertador and the chaos of the Doubletree. There’s a large pool facing the bay that connects perpendicular to another pool. Bridges and platforms within the pools make for interesting places to sunbath. Some rooms even have swim up porches. There is just one restaurant and a cafe, though the menu is varied, affordable, and can be served poolside. The 68 guest rooms have clay tile floors, private patios, and the same high tech electronics of the other hotels. Six person bungalows are a good option for groups. Rooms from $148 (www.bwlahacienda.com).
Hotel Paracas Libertador/Luxury Collection
The Hotel Paracas is the most luxe of the resorts – with their own boats for trips to spot wildlife on the Islas Ballestas and a private jet to do flyovers of the Nazca Lines – and the most concerned with gastronomy. The hotel (& spa) has a Red Sea vibe with two story-whitewashed bungalows that blend into the desert landscape. While ocean is water is murky and the wind more suitable for kite and wind surfing, the pool scenes are more happening. Seafood and cocktails are free flowing – even poolside – and Rafael Piqueras, one of Lima’s top chefs, designed their restaurant menus. designed by Bernardo Fort-Brescia who designed the E-walk complex in Times Square and dozens of hotels all over the world. Rooms from $225 (www.libertador.com.pe).
Hotels Under Construction in/near Paracas
Peruvian chain Aranwa, part of the Preffered Hotel & Resorts group, is also planning a luxury Paracas resort, likely on the same scale as the Libertador, with 96 guest rooms. There will also be a 17,000 square foot spa offering local marine and hydrotherapy treatments, three pools, tennis courts, and a convention/exhibition center and museum on a pier with club-bar. Opening in 2011-2012. (www.aranwahotels.com)
This Peruvian chain whose prescence is noticeable in Cusco and the Sacred Valley, is planning on opening the San Agustin Tourist Hostel in 2011. The theme will suposedly appeal to sea and marine life lovers and will have 120 rooms, a swimming pool, restaurant, bar, and meetings hall. (www.hotelessanagustin.com.pe)
Peru’s largest national hotel chain, Casa Andina, is restoring a famous hacienda that they will add to their Private Collection properties sometime in 2010 or 2011. The hacienda isn’t exactly in Paracas, but Chincha, about 30 minutes away. The property can be found in the district of Chincha Alta, which is historically the center of Afro-Peruvian culture and a fine destination for Criollo food. (www.casa-andina.com)
Writer and photographer Nicholas Gill is the editor/publisher of New World Review. He lives in Lima, Peru and Brooklyn, New York. His work has appeared in publications such as the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, CondeNast Traveler, National Geographic Traveler, Afar, and Penthouse. Visit his personal website (nicholas-gill.com) for more information.