Peru: Hotel Paracas
Hotel ParacasAv. Paracas S/N Paracas, Peru 51/56-581333 starwoodhotels.com
Zarcillo bar's Pisco tasting, where you'll learn everything you've ever wanted to know about Peru's national drink. Try the Chilcano de maserado de Kion with ginger-macerated Pisco, ginger ale, and Angostura bitters.
The "Desert Adventure" tour guided by professional rally drivers.
A boat trip to the Ballestas Islands, home to thousands of pelicans, penguins, flamingos, and sea lions, is a must-do for nature lovers.
- 24/7 concierge
- International newspaper delivery service
- Luggage transport service
- 2 heated swimming pools
- Fitness center with sauna and spa
- T'ikariy tour office and watersports desk
My bright and spacious suite—one of 136 rooms sprinkled around the property as sets of individual villas—has a balcony overseeing the ocean and the most comfortable bed I've ever slept in. That bed will be very important to you if you partake in the resort's guided tour, "Desert Adventure," as I opt to do.
The tour begins with professional rally drivers pick me up at the hotel's door in completely equipped 4x4 vehicles and drive to the desert's edge a few miles away. There, in a sea of sand, the cars begin driving (jumping!) from dune to dune in a route that takes us deep into the desert. We stop at the top of one of the highest dunes for stunning photographs in the dramatic slopes. As the sun goes down, the adventure ends with a fantastic Peruvian picnic of meat, fish and vegetable skewers in a comfortable tent under the stars.
After a day on the dunes, I'm ready to fully embrace the resort's softer amenities: an infinity edge pool framed by cushioned deck chairs and cabins; the Spa at Paracas (including a water circuit session in the fitness center that features great views of the surrounding mountains and a hot stone massage); and several excellent meals at the resort's restaurant, Ballestas.
But the thing I'm most excited to check out is a class on ceviche—the most popular dish in this coastal area of Peru—run by Franco Rivadeneyra, chef of the hotel's restaurant Ballestas. At the bar-lounge next to the swimming pool, Rivandeneyra offers a primer on its preparation. He explains that the classic version is always prepared with white fish (sole), lime, and thin slices of red onion and Aji Amarillo. Once mixed, the ceviche is served with sautéed corn kernels (Peruvian corn kernels are the size of small grapes), steamed sweet potato, and lettuce. Preparing food with my own hands is always a gratifying experience, but here, cooking with only the acid from citrus and working with just a knife, a spoon, and a bowl, the process feels deeply organic. And consumed in full view of the Peruvian sea and the desert, that simple ceviche was as thrilling as my desert adventure. —Mauricio Velasquez de León
IN THE AREA
- Paracas National Reserve: Get your Indiana Jones going with a trip to this beautiful nature reserve to experience both beaches and deserted mountains in the same day. Here you'll also find the Catedral, a spectacular rock formation that resembles a church. Finish the adventure in Playa Lagunillas, a small fishing village inside the reserve where you can enjoy local fare like tiradito (sahimi-style fish with local ingredients). For more information see paracas.com
- Nazca Lines: Embrace a truly mystical experience and visit the mysterious Nazca Lines, a series of ancient geoglyphs that were scratched onto the Nazca Desert plain by Pre-Incan inhabitants. For more information see go2peru.com
- Pisco Winery Tour: Take a pisco winery tour in the town of Pisco, 45 minutes from the hotel, and enjoy a tasting of Peru's national drink. For more information see perufoodtravel.com