Overland Traveller



Hotel Paracas, Paracas, Peru

Best for... top-end sun and nature lovers

Hotel Paracas pool © Craig Fast“The progress of the hotel is in line with the progress of Peru,” states Pedro Sanchez, the general manager of Hotel Paracas, boldly as he sits in shiny aviator sunglasses next to the plush new infinity pool. “It has touched the lives of every Peruvian in some way,” he goes on, “and the Peruvian people are proud of the change going on in Paracas.”

He is clearly, and rightly, proud of the work that has been done to the hotel since it was damaged in the 2007 earthquake. The quake, which measured 8.0 on the Richter Scale, ravaged Peru’s south coast, killing almost 600 people and destroying nearly 80% of nearby Pisco. Paracas was hit by a 5-metre tsunami soon after the earthquake, further adding to the devastation.

Hotel Paracas, built in 1944, was damaged beyond repair, and needed to be rebuilt from scratch. It reopened in November 2009, to much Peruvian fanfare and affection.

The new hotel
Hotel Paracas pool and bar by night © Craig FastThe boating dock is the only remaining part of the original hotel but even its foundations had to be replaced. Everything else is new, although “the soul of old hotel is still here,” as Sanchez puts it, in the striking use of bamboo and the shape of the restaurants.

There has been no shortage of investment in the property, from the quality of the materials used to the expertise of the people using them. The new building was designed by Bernardo Fort-Brescia (the renowned Peruvian architect), who also part owns the hotel.

The result is a striking, white cubist display of two-storey buildings, softened by the bamboo which gracefully blends the hotel into the beach.

The bedrooms
Hotel Paracas rooms © Craig FastThe hotel boasts 16 suites with butler service: eight with balconies, six with solariums and two with plunge pools. Of the 120 rooms, 40 have sea views, the rest garden views.
All have 37” flat-screen televisions with cable, two iPod docking stations (one is an alarm clock), fluffy bathrobes, terraces or balconies with comfortable seating, wifi (US$10 for 24 hours), bottled water and 24-hour in-room dining.

The beauty of the rooms lies in the flexible open-plan design. A folding door the width of the room gives the option of separating the bathroom, and its glass-surround shower, bath, two sinks and Gilbert & Soames toiletries, from the rest. The effect is one of space and calm. The toilet, thank god, is in its own small room, behind a door of frosted glass.

The food and drink
There are four restaurants and lounges to choose from. The Ballestas Restaurant serves Peruvian fusion cuisine beneath an eye-catching bamboo ceiling. A meal here might start with tuna fish and scallops tartar or cold mashed potato with prawns, avocado, Peruvian chillies and aioli, and go on to grilled Patagonian lamb, fine herbs and Dijon mustard crust, fries with piquillo bell peppers and mini onions or grilled white sea bass and warm fava beans salad with a foamy crayfish sauce.

The Bar Lounge serves fusion snacks such as ceviche. Best of all, though, is its selection of ‘Pisco Experiences’. These ‘experiences’ include the classic Pisco Sour (Pisco, lemon juice, egg white, sugar syrup and angostura bitter); the Paracas Sour, which elaborates with Pisco macerated in piquillo peppers and spices; and the very Peruvian Chicha Sour, which adds a fermented corn drink (chicha) to the mix. Drink them whilst watching the sun set behind the sand dunes across the bay. On Friday and Saturday nights a DJ serenades the crowd.

Hotel Paracas Ballestas Restaurant © Craig FastThe Zarcillo Bar serves light fare and drinks in a fire-lit room filled with cosy chairs, turtle shells, a shark jaw and a dolphin skeleton, while Trattoria serves Italian cuisine.

The extras
The hotel has two outdoor swimming pools – one for families and one for glam sun worshippers. The family pool borders the beach and the kids play area whilst the other pool enjoys the proximity of the Bar Lounge.

There is also a fitness centre, conference rooms and 24-hour business centre. Kids can join the Explorer’s Club, a luxury kids club that operates from 10am to 6pm. Its bean bag-stuffed headquarters boast three 50” plasma televisions, multiple Playstations and a Wii. There’s internet access for kids with their own laptops. Outdoors, kids can participate in organised activities on the beach and in the pool. There are even huge plastic balls to that allow kids to ‘walk’ on the sea – parents will be jealous of that!

The activities
There’s only so much sun bathing and cocktail sipping holidaymakers can do. Granted, at Hotel Paracas it’s very easy to fill days with just that, but sooner or later the urge to explore might arise. Good thing then that Hotel Paracas offers a number of tours that showcase the region. Top of the list is a flight over the Nazca Lines in an eight-seater Cessna. Only 40 minutes in the air from Paracas, the Nazca Lines are a series of mysterious pictures traced in the desert that can only be fully appreciated from the air.

Humboldt penguins on the Ballestas Islands © Craig FastAlso unmissable is a boat trip to the Ballestas Islands. Tours to these islands, which are populated by thousands of birds and sea lions, known as the Peruvian Galapagos, leave from the hotel’s dock. Other options include a tour of nearby Paracas Natural Reserve and a 4-wheel drive desert tour. Excursions are operated by Tikariy.

When you get back to the hotel, wind down into beach-resort mode with a trip to the Spa. There is a full range of beauty treatments plus luxury therapies and massages. Make the most of the plunge pools, saunas, steam room and, if on a romantic break, request the couple’s treatment room which has twin massage beds, champagne and a Jacuzzi for two.

The location
Hotel Paracas sits on the beach facing out to the Ballestas Islands. Nearby is Paracas Nature Reserve, inland is coastal desert. Pisco is 30 minutes by car; Lima 3 hours by car or 45 minutes by plane.

Plans for a new international airport and better road connections mean Paracas will soon seem much closer to the Peruvian capital and the rest of the world. For now though, it’s relatively unknown outside of Peru.

Hotel Paracas
Avenida Paracas 173, Paracas, Ica, Peru

See related features and images
Boat trip to the Ballestas Islands: the poor man's Galapagos
Images: Peru - Ballestas Islands, Paracas

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