June 12-15, 2016
Machu Picchu was definitely on the bucket list, and after casually browsing flights to Lima for months, I bit the bullet and decided to book the trip. I initially intended to visit in November 2015, but after realizing that while summer in Lima may run from December to April, this was not necessarily the case in the sacred valley. After some helpful emails with the Tambo del Inka tour desk T`ikariy, I decided June would be the best time to go.
Jump to the Takeaway
The check in process was easy and relaxing. Very much in line with other Luxury Collection resorts I’ve stayed at, guests are seated, while the front desk agent comes to you and brings you the necessary paperwork. They offered refreshments as we were processed.
Prior to my visit, I received an email from the front desk asking some basic questions (flight number, time of arrival, would I like help setting up a transfer from the airport), including if the visit was for a specific reason. I mentioned we were there celebrating Brian‘s birthday, and when we checked in, they greeted him an early happy birthday and upgraded our room to a Deluxe Room in celebration.
We were assigned a room on the first floor, which is at the base of the property – the lobby itself is on the third floor.
The room was large and spacious. It included a small couch and two seats to lounge on, as well as a desk (which I had little intention of using). All fairly standard for most hotel rooms.
The bathroom was my favorite. It was large and fantastically huge. As you walked in, you were greeted with a large mirror, with bright lights. to the left was the bathtub and shower room, to the right was the toilet room. When traveling as a couple, separate areas within the bathroom is always appreciated.
A small oddity with the shower area is that, unlike most other shower+tub rooms, where the shower is in the tub, the shower was in the tiled area outside the tub. Not an actual issue – the drainage was designed well to ensure the water didn’t spill to the sink area. It was especially not bothersome to us, since I (unfortunately) didn’t use the tub to draw a bath, but the set up was definitely something I hadn’t seen before.
The room also had its own walk in closet/dressing room area, which I loved. Whenever I travel, I always unpack my bag and hang my clothes up, so having a dedicated space to do so and change is something I value. The space itself was large and roomy – definitely big enough for two people to easily share.
The rest of the room was fairly standard – bed, living room, table. I appreciated the size of the room – comfortably large, but without empty spaces. Everything seemed very purposeful and in place.
I wasn’t too sure how our room was an upgrade until I realized we had access to a small patio area. The space had patio furniture to lounge on, and opened up to the grassy lawn. Each room on the first floor on the back side of the building appeared to have the same set up. The patio didn’t get direct sun, but it was nice being able to comfortably enjoy being outside in close proximity to the room.
I’m usually one for exploring the property when we arrive, however, I had a bout of food poisoning from a bad meal I had eaten the day before, so I opted to crawl into bed and order room service. The room service menu has a decent amount of variety (though compared to the restaurant on the property,very limited), offering breakfast, lunch and dinner, as well as meals offered throughout the day. I opted for a side of vegetables, while Brian attempted to order an alpaca burger, but they were out of that menu option. He had a regular burger instead and found it to be delicious.
Breakfast wasn’t included in our rate (I paid with points), but I picked it as my platinum amenity, and I’m so glad I did. The breakfast buffet had a variety options – hot and cold items (both western and some local selections), organic and gluten free, and also included menu of about ten made to order items at no extra charge. Brian had the french toast on our last day and it looked fantastic. I would have indulged as well (I heard the quinoa pancakes were excellent), but I had been struggling with my stomach issues, I erred on the side of caution and ate vegetarian the entire trip.
I heard from a friend who had stayed on the property previously that the town of Urubamba is small and has a limited selection of restaurants. That, coupled with my super sensitive stomach, we decided it would be best to eat on-site for our three night stay. On second night at the property, we befriended our server, Johuel, who walked us through the menu. Everything sounded amazing, and we opted for fresh pasta with shrimp. I asked for a slight modification to my order, and it was no problem. As it turns out, this seems to be the attitude at the restaurant, as I found a small note on the menu stating the chef would be happy to whip something up for you if you didn’t see anything you liked. (My mom would love that.) We learned from Johuel that they actually had an organic garden on the property, where they grew most of the vegetables served on the property. After dinner, the staff came by to offer us some chocolate – about 8 or 10 different flavors. I had the peanut butter, Brian had the coconut.
On our third and last night there, Johuel was our waiter once again. As we were seated, the hostess reminded us that they were out of the alpaca burger (how kind of them to remember Brian wanted it!). We were famished after a long day at Machu Picchu (more on that later), so we started our meal with some cebiche. They split one order for us and even that portion was plenty.
I had pasta from the organic menu, which was filling, so opted to pass on dessert. Johuel came by to ask if we had 5 minutes to spare before leaving, so of course we obliged. Shortly after, the lights dimmed, the band came by, started playing happy birthday, and the restaurant staff came by with a candle and cake, singing happy birthday!
I was thrilled they made a point to remember (his birthday was the day after we left). Our entire trip, all the staff on the property made a point to personalize our experience – from the hostess who greeted us by name at the restaurant, to everyone at the restaurant who remembered Brian was keen on trying alpaca burger.
They also had a bar on the property, which had a small but solid selection of wines. We stopped by on our last night on the property, after a very filling dinner. As soon as we sat down, a server brought us some light snacks to nibble on. I opted for the Malbec, which was fantastic.
On-Site Amenities – Tour Desk
This property is unique in that there is a private PeruRail train station on the property, with a train scheduled to depart and return to and from Aguas Caliente every day.
For those staying elsewhere, a train will have to be taken from Cusco or Ollantaytambo if traveling on PeruRail. Those staying on this property have access to take the train to Aguas Calientes from here, a quick 5 minute walk from the lobby. I booked my tickets through the tour desk, T`ikariy, who also organized to purchase our tickets for the bus to Machu Picchu and the entrance fee as well. (Note: I earned starpoints on this expense since I put my bill SPG American Express card, but did not earn SPG points on this as “stay” points, so I did not earn the base 2 points per dollar, and other additional promotional points typically earned with “stay” expenses).
Our experience was seamless – we were walked to the train station by the hotel associates. Once we arrived at Aguas Calientes, we met our tour guide right outside the station. She was friendly, fun and her English was excellent. We took a quick 20 minute bus ride up (others opt to hike this – I believe it takes about 1-2 hours) to the base of Machu Picchu. Included in our purchase was a buffet lunch at the restaurant in the area immediately after our tour. At the end, we were escorted back to the train station, where our tour guide even helped us find some trinkets in the shop area outside the station. Needless to say, the tour experience was easy, and a good choice for those who don’t want to worry about planning. For the more outdoorsy types, I would definitely recommend hiking the Inca Trail – my biggest regret on this trip! Would love to do it next time. It sounded like the more popular hikes are the 1 and 4 day hikes, though I’m sure you can manage to find all sorts of excursions to do outside of this.
Make a Green Choice Option: No
Check In: 10/10 – Professional and friendly. Was offered beverages while waiting to be processed
Elite Recognition: 10/10 – upgraded to the next room level than booked. SPG recognition noted at check in, granted free WiFi and was able to select platinum amenity (breakfast) at check in
Room: 10/10 – Sizeable and comfortable. Nice walk in closet and large bathroom. Bed was firm but soft.
In-Room Technology & Entertainment: 9/10 – Thoughtful placement of plugs for devices, large television, free WiFi in guest rooms for direct bookings, and free WiFi in common areas.
Staff: 10/10 – So thoughtful, really went out of their way to make our stay special
Location: 9/10 – Great location for those making their way to Machu Picchu, but one point off as the town is lacking in options for visitors
On-Site Dining: 10/10 – Great food, excellent service, customized meal options, organic and vegan meals available
On-Site Amenities: 9/10 – A spa is available on the property, as is a small pool and gym.
Hospitality Services: 10/10 – Concierge was fantastic and helpful in ensuring we had a great stay. Was emailed prior to visit to inquire about specifics about our visit and offered to book a transfer from the airport to the hotel. On-Site tour desk available who processes all bookings for tours in the area.
Hotel Appearance: 10/10 – Beautiful, well maintained, and designed in theme with its surroundings.
Overall Rating: 97/100 (97%) ★★★★★
Overall I had a fantastic stay! Am so eager to make my way back not just to this property but also to this part of the world. I would love to go back and hike the Inca Trail, then rest my hat at this property right after. Had such a great stay and the whole staff made sure we were comfortable and happy while we were on the property. Cannot wait to return!