News of luxury hotel group and travel operator Belmond's acquisition by LVMH caused rejoicing among the well-heeled travel community recently. For those who have experienced Belmond's signature hospitality, it's a certainty that it can only flourish further under the LVMH umbrella. Although it operates in 24 countries, it's perhaps Peru where the Belmond magic truly comes alive. Boasting the most comprehensive network of luxury hotels and lodges in the South American country, guests can expect a seamless journey, from Lima to Cusco and through the Colca Canyon or perhaps even all the way to Lake Titicaca.
It's imperative that journeys begin at the Belmond Miraflores Park in Lima — primarily to decompress after the endless hours of flying across the globe and partly to enjoy the feeling of being as far from home as you could possibly be. After a good night's rest, wake up refreshed for desayuno, or 'breakfast' in Spanish, which is best enjoyed with sweeping views of Pacific Ocean's vastness. And Belmond's spread demands languorous nibbling, be it on western-style favourites or local treats like hot tamales and the sweetest little plums, just slightly bigger than one's thumbnail.
In the afternoon, catch your flight to Cusco, where your Andean adventure can truly begin. All of Lima's Spanish style melts away in the high altitudes of Los Andes and here, Belmond's two properties are unique, each offering a different experience of life in the city of the Incas. The Palacio Nazarenas is more modern and hacienda-like while the iconic Monasterio, a former monastery that is built upon the remains of ancient Inca walls itself. Our personal preference is for the former, as its modernity allows for the most necessary of amenities — pumped-in oxygen in the rooms. A boon in Cusco where the air is thin.
Meals in all of Belmond's Peruvian properties are an epicurean wonder, from mountain corn in a multitude of colours as well as more esoteric eats like guinea pig confit and alpaca fillets, all to be washed down with sips of Cusquena beer (the most popular local brew) or perhaps the brightly-coloured Inca Kola. Here, pass your days exploring a variety of sights, from the ruins of Pisaq and Ollantaytambo to, of course, the magic that is Machu Picchu.
The best way to travel to the lost city rediscovered by Hiram Bingham is, naturally, on the luxury Belmond-operated train named in his honour. From Cusco, it's a pleasant morning's trundle to Aguas Calientes, where you board a bus to finally arrive at the gates of the citadel. If you're fortunate enough to have scored a room at the Belmond Sanctuary Lodge, right outside Machu Picchu's gates, then you may enjoy the rare privilege of early exploring opportunities to Waynapicchu or perhaps Puente Inka, followed by a soothing massage in the hotel spa.
The stories that surround this country are mystical and endless, whether it's the modern buzz felt in downtown Lima and its wealth of world-class restaurants or in the thin air of Cusco and its unmissable sights. Whatever you discover or wherever you may journey to in this ancient land, amplify the power of Peru's spell with a little help from Belmond. Pachamama herself would approve.
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