Uncovering Lima, Peru’s Latest Treasure
A recent edition of the "LAN Airlines Diversity Newsletter" made mention of a number of LGBT accolades that the Chilean airlines had received, including a nomination by EDGE Media Network for "Favorite International Airlines", as well as a nod from Logo’s "TripOut Gay Travel Awards." The newsletter also pointed out that LAN was the first Latin American airline to develop an LGBT advertising campaign and cited the airline’s sponsorship of the International Gay and Lesbian Travel Association (IGLTA). As well, LAN Airlines was the official sponsor of San Francisco Pride in 2010. Get that!
Founded in 1929, LAN Airlines is Latin America’s leading international carrier - and given the increasing appeal of South America to the LGBT market, LAN is the perfect airline for that trip to IGLTA’s 2012 convention in Florianópolis, as well as the World Cup 2014 in Brazil and the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio. And now that LGBT people can marry in Argentina, what better way to fly there than on LAN Airlines?
With five gateways in the United States and Canada, LAN flies to 50 destinations, including Buenos Aires, perhaps the "crown jewel" of LGBT destinations in Latin America, as well as Santiago, with its increasingly visible LGBT population, and Lima, Peru, home to an evolving and welcoming LGBT culture.
All of which is to say, LAN Airlines loves the gays - and if there was any doubt, LAN Airlines serves Louis Roederer Champagne in its Premium Business class. What’s keeping you? Book that flight now!
Flying Premium Business on LAN means seats that recline completely, forming a bed 23 inches by 73 inches, on top of which is placed a snow-white duvet, along with a plush, full-size pillow, thereby insuring a restful sleep - without a single Ambien. Before sleep, however, there are a plethora of entertainment options and a three-course meal, served on white linens, with proper cutlery - and, what with the attentive service by a staff with the kind of grace and elegance that one associates with dancers from the American Ballet Theatre, it’s entirely possible that sleep might be the last thing on your mind.
The point is, LAN Airlines knows and understands how we live and how we play - and they love to celebrate the good life with us.
LINKS: LAN Airlines
WHERE TO STAY IN LIMA:
Sonesta Hotel El Olivar: More a resort than merely a hotel, the Sonesta Hotel El Olivar Lima is located in San Isidro, Lima’s tony residential neighborhood that has an atmosphere similar to Pasadena in the Thirties: very exclusive and private, with homes framed by hedgerows that are manicured by a fleet of uniformed gardeners who appear at every corner. The seven-story hotel’s 134 guest rooms (many of which overlook Olive Grove Park) are capacious (and particularly when compared with European hotels) and furnished in soothing earth tones. The marble bathrooms are nearly decadent, large and luxurious, and the rooftop outdoor pool on the seventh floor is akin to a private spa.
Breakfast, served at El Olivar Restaurant & Bar, is not to be missed. The atmosphere is relaxed and yet semi-formal, with the most beautiful heavily starched napkins - and nearly every attendant dressed in a suit. Water is poured from heavy silver pitchers and the coffee is tunki, grown by a Peruvian farmer in the Puno region in southeast Peru - and often considered the world’s best. As for the buffet, there’s a splendid array of some of Peru’s most delicious fruits, including prickly pear (which Peruvians call "tuna") and papaya, as well as freshly-squeezed pawpaw juice (papaya and lime), and a grain called kiwicha (amaranth) that is as good on fruit as it is good for your immune system.
There’s something very alluring about taking breakfast in this soothing room - which perfectly parallels how one feels about staying at the Sonesta Hotel El Olivar Lima: relaxed and indulged.
LINK: Sonesta Hotel El Olivar
Casa Andina: Rising on the site of Lima’s first five-star hotel, the Miraflores César, the Casa Andina Private Collection has a legacy to uphold - and the sleek, 17-story hotel does a beautiful job of commingling the beloved hotel’s storied history (guests included Sinatra, Iglesias, Polanski, and the like) with a fresh new look. The fabled piano remains in the lobby, with the original pianist, while colonial-era antiques complement contemporary artworks.
The painstaking and loving renovation in 2008 kept the 174 rooms as ample as they were originally, with wood beams and arched doorways. A superior room was the equivalent of a three-room apartment, complete with floor-to-ceiling windows that looked out onto Lima’s rapidly-changing urbanscape. At night, the city glowed - and it was tempting to remain inside, with room service and a local.
Situated in Lima’s most trendy neighborhood, Miraflores, the Casa Andina makes a perfect base camp for forays to Lima’s LGBT bars and clubs. There’s also a third-floor indoor pool, with waterfall and outdoor terrace, in the event that you, or your local boy, wish to swim off some of your nocturnal indulgences. Breakfast is served in the hotel restaurant, Alma Cocina Viva - and this sumptuous buffet is a smorgasbord of Peruvian specialties, including crêpes, an omelette station, and a profusion of Peruvian fruit and hot dishes.
As for the service, the staff at Casa Andina is unfailingly polite - and comprised of precisely the kind of people who give Peruvians a good name and make you yearn to return as soon as possible.
LINK: Casa Andina Private Collection
WHERE TO STAY IN PARACAS:
Hotel Paracas, Luxury Collection Resort: A three-hour drive south of Lima, Paracas is a weekend resort for many upper-class Limeños who keep beach homes here - and yet, Paracas is also a fishing village evocative of the south of France in the years before tourism overtook local industry. With one of the richest ecosystems in the world, the desert peninsula of Paracas includes Paracas National Reserve, which is two-thirds water. The turquoise waters of Paracas Bay are endlessly captivating - and particularly when one is situated at the Hotel Paracas, Luxury Collection Resort.
First built in 1944, the original hotel was something of a well-loved, dowager, frequented by successive generations of Lima’s well-heeled families - but the 2007 earthquake devastated the property. Since then, Hotel Paracas has been completely rebuilt, according to the standards of the SPG Luxury Collection - and the results are stunning. With two swimming pools (both enormous) overlooking the bay, the property is a pristine resort, with immaculate grounds (attended to by a fleet of gardeners) and open-air bars and lounges and dining areas. The sense of calm is so pervasive that a visit to the spa almost seems redundant - and yet the stand-alone Hotel Paracas spa is a whole other reason to remain in residence for an additional weekend.
The commodious accommodations include chalets, bungalows, and villas, all of which are immaculate and modern, furnished with an assortment of contemporary pieces that evoke a private home in the Hamptons. Amenities include private waterfront terraces, iPod ports, and 37" LCD televisions - as well as the requisite rainfall shower. Complimentary shoeshine and decadent chocolates are the sort of details that keep one smiling.
Overall, the atmosphere at the Hotel Paracas is not unlike living in some luxury seaside compound, where it’s impossible to believe that anything is awry with the world. You want the world to be this beautiful always; you want to linger at the water and marvel at the magnificent sunsets. In short, you want to move here and never leave.
LINK: Hotel Paracas, Luxury Collection Resort
WHERE TO STAY IN THE SACRED VALLEY:
Sol & Luna: If you find yourself in the Sacred Valley, then it’s highly recommended that you stop in for a meal, at least - if not for a night or two or three - at Sol & Luna, the splendid luxury lodge owned by the ever-charismatic and charming Marie-Helene (aka Petit Pois) Miribel. Trust us; this is the sort of establishment that will make you consider an extended sabbatical in Peru. It happened to Petit Pois; ask her and she’ll tell you about how a young Frenchwoman became a dedicated Peruvian.
LINK: Hotel Sol y Luna
(Lima Travel feature continues on next page: What to Do...)