Recommend May 2014 - (Page 56)

latinamerica ECUADOR GOES LUXE The 17th century Hacienda Zuleta. carla hunt "Ecuador is famed as the home of the Galapagos, the beloved islands off the coast that feature mind-boggling wildlife-but the mainland is no slouch either," so stated in The New York Times travel section that just placed Ecuador No. 7 on its list of "52 Places to Go in 2014." Ecuador treats her visitors to an excess of eco-adventures with a slew of added splendors, from treasure-filled colonial cities to standing astride the equator for the quintessential photo op; shopping in craft-filled indigenous markets and buying the true Panama hat; climbing the Cotopaxi Volcano; riding horses or mountain bikes across the highland paramo; whale watching off the Pacific coast; birdwatching in a country of 1,800 species; or hiking through forests with 4,000 varieties of orchids. What's new and special in Ecuador in the 21st century is what we call the upscaling of a nation, from the rebirth of the elegant historic center of Quito and the debut of the spanking new airport, to a full roster of new and upgraded luxury accommodations- boutique city hotels, resorts along the Pacific beaches, colonial-era haciendas converted into plush highland inns, and rustically luxe ecolodges in the rain and cloud forests. And now great comfort in true high-end fashion extends to luxe products that showcase river and rail travel, too. Ecuador knows how to show off its eco-side, adding a sprinkling of luxury to its already marvelous natural offerings. 56 may 2014 luxury newcomers El Mashpi Lodge The storyline in the 1989 film "Field of Dreams" reads, "if you build it, they will come." With that in mind, fast-forward 25 years to find Roque Sevilla, former mayor of Quito and chairman of Metropolitan Touring, who had his own dream-purchase land for conservation and create a 3,200-acre private reserve in the wildly biodiverse Choco region, then build a luxury, sustainable hideaway that showcases a wilderness wonderland...and "they will come." And indeed, they are coming to the unique, rather marvelous El Mashpi Lodge. On our recent trip to the country, we visited the lodge, driving northwest from Quito into the hilly ecosystem of the Mindo Cloud Forest where over 400 bird species have been recorded; where the forest is draped in orchids and bromeliads; where butterflies are raised on specialty farms; and where an excellent museum has opened in the Sacred Valley of Tulipe at the archaeological site, once occupied by pre-Incan Yumbos people. Then 1.5 hours after leaving Quito, we arrives at the Mashpi Rainforest Biodiversity Reserve, driving farther into the wilds to pull up at, not a thatched rondavel of traditional jungle lodges, but at the award-winning, state-of-the-art (architecturally and ecologically) El Mashpi Lodge. Sitting on a ridge at 3,116 ft., this glass-and-steel house has floorto-ceiling glass walls designed to connect guests to the outdoors.

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Recommend May 2014

Editor's Notes
Hotel Desk: Le Meridien
Tour Talk: Contiki Vacations
Tee Off in Spain
Tee Off in Scotland
Jerusalem & Tel Aviv: A (Short) Tale of Two Cities
AmaWaterways Sails into Myanmar
American Cruise Lines is on a Roll
Venturing Through Bordeaux With Viking
Martinique Travel Planner
Ecuador Goes Luxe
Mexico Destination Weddings & Honeymoons
Saint Lucia
Salamander Resort & Spa, Virginia
PGA National Resort & Spa, Florida

Recommend May 2014