Some 11 years ago, when I visited Paracas for the first time, it was nothing more than a dirt road heading out onto a rather desolate sandy peninsular. Since then Paracas has undergone a serious transformation with the construction of no more than five large resort style hotels and some ten (plus) smaller hotels. As with most Peruvian towns Paracas hasn’t grown to be the most idyllic seaside setting, but rather a bustling hub of activity, where lots seems to be happening but not much is achieved. Along the main promenade you’ll find local vendors selling everything from buckets and spades to dubious copies of sunglasses and souvenirs. Pelicans sit proudly on the beachfront wall, tame from years of interaction with beach goers and rustic restaurants sell ceviche from the daily catch.
Hotel Paracas: What to Expect
Entering Hotel Paracas is like entering a bubble of tranquility. Well-dressed staff welcome you into the hotel bearing iced-tea, before swiftly working you through the check-in process and onto your room. It is a place where you can’t help but feel relaxed as fellow guests lounge on their verandas, whilst hotel staff gently transport goods around the site on specially modified bicycles. Set in vast gardens with the restaurant building and main pool as the center piece, Hotel Paracas features 120-rooms and suites, a comprehensive spa, three restaurants, two-pools, a small beach, a private jetty and its very own pier. The hotel attracts not only foreign tourists, but also more affluent Peruvians (typically from Lima) looking for a relaxing getaway. During the off-peak months (April – November) the hotel utilizes its conference facilities with some high-end corporate events. With a coastal location looking out into the calm bay of Paracas, the hotel has an idyllic in setting. However, don’t expect a Caribbean style beach front with a white sandy beach and turquois water as this certainly isn’t the case. Indeed, swimming in the sea is not really recommended at all.
Rooms & Suites
Accommodations are spread across spacious gardens either side of the lobby and restaurant buildings. The cleverly designed gardens and access pathways divide the accommodation buildings up, allowing for a good amount of privacy. The Garden View Rooms are located towards the rear of the property, whilst the more exclusive Suites are located overlooking the ocean. All rooms feature either a king bed or two queen beds per room, air-conditioning, marble bathrooms, a private veranda plus all the modern comforts you would expect from a luxury property. Garden View and Ocean View Rooms have a floor space of 516 sqft (48sqm), which is roughly double the size of a standard hotel room anywhere in the world. The suite category rooms are essentially are two rooms combined and have a whopping average floor space of 1291 sqft (120 sqm). Each of the suites come with a separate in-door living area, a second bathroom and the option of private sun-terrace, outdoor dining area and even a private plunge pool. TOP TIP: If you are staying for just one or two nights and will not spend much time at the hotel, then the Garden View Room will offer you everything you need. If you intend to stay longer to take advantage of the facilities, a suite is my recommendation as it will really enhance your stay.
At Hotel Paracas you are spoilt for choice with not one but three different restaurant options. The Ballestas Restaurant centered in the middle of the complex is the main restaurant and also the location for breakfast. The circular building with a lofty bamboo roof and subdued lighting offers a relaxed yet more formal setting for lunch and dinner. The menu is concise with just a handful of dishes. Options showcase regional seafood specialties plus several international options. The dessert menu is an enticing selection of carefully thought out options that incorporate Peruvian fruits such as lucuma, chirimoya and aguaymanto. Located in an annex next to the main restaurant is the Trattoria Restaurant. This small restaurant with less than a dozen tables specializes (as the name would suggest) in Italian dishes. The comprehensive menu includes everything you could possibly dream off including a selection of tasty pizzas from the restaurants own stone oven. With checkered table cloths and walls adorned with vintage black and white photos, the Trattoria Restaurant offers less formal alternative for lunch and dinner. I recommend ordering an iced-chichamorada, a twist on a traditional Peruvian drink made from purple corn. Finally, the Chalana Restaurant is located out to sea on the hotels own private pier. Although the restaurant is a simple non-fussy affair with a few white tables and chairs set in front of a wooden hut, it somehow manages to capture a glamourous feel that wouldn’t be out of place in the French Riviera. Working with local fishermen and farmers, the restaurant offers a selection of freshly made dishes such as ceviche and causa. According to my wife (a Peruvian) who is a well-seasoned lover of ceviche, the food she ate at the Chalana Restaurant was the best she had ever tasted! Now, knowing my wife well, that is a real accolade for the restaurant! TOP TIP: Note that in Peru ceviche restaurants are usually only open for lunch (as is the Chalana Restaurant).
In a country where mediocre service is the not uncommon, I was astonished by the level of service and professionalism that we received at Hotel Paracas. From helpful bell-boys to talkative and proficient housekeeping staff, there wasn’t anything that was too much trouble. Among a hotel full of guests, I was somehow greeted by name at reception and in the restaurants. The restaurant waiters were some of the best I have experienced in Peru. They expertly and methodically managed to organize my table yet taking time to engage in casual conversation and adding their personal touch. This hotel has a level of service which was second to none; I would even go as far as saying world-class.
Open from 8am – 10pm, the hotel’s spa which is simply known as ‘Hotel Paracas Spa,’ offers a large selection of treatments, including massages, exfoliations, facials and body treatments. Should you need a trim the spa even offers an onsite hair dressing salon. Located in the same building as the spa is the fitness center. Although not the biggest fitness center I have seen, the equipment is of good quality and will certainly help you achieve your exercise goals. The hotel advertises three onsite pools, but in reality, there are just two areas: the main pool and the family pool with a small paddler pool aside it. The main pool is the focal point of the hotel’s layout and is located in-front of the main bar. Relaxing recliner beds surround the long rectangular pool, which intern is bordered by private cabañas (which need to be reserved in advance). The family pool is located towards the hotel’s jetty with direct access to the beach. The pool is ample in size and graded in depth for smaller children. Bar and snack facilities are available both pools. The hotel’s private beach offers a relaxing spot for guests and children alike. Be warned though, the sea is not suitable for swimming as the current is strong and the bay is rife with jelly-fish. For guests travelling with children there is also a kid’s club. Open from 8am – 6pm. Activities include handicrafts, game stations and a film night (in Spanish & English). The main bar area offers a great place to relax in both the daytime and evening. Comfortable tables and sofas create private areas to chat among friends and get to know other guests. Weekends also bring entertainment in the form of live music.
Hotel Paracas, a Luxury Collection Resort really does live up to its name. From a tourism standpoint this hotel offers everything you’ll need and more. In the 5 days that I spent at the hotel I really enjoyed discovering everything that the hotel had to offer; leaving me with the only the desire to want to stay a few more nights. The ocean front rooms really enhanced my experience and are worth paying the extra money. The onsite food was excellent and the seafood and setting of the Chalana Restaurant was a highlight of my stay. Prices were a little high in comparison to other high-end hotels in Peru, but due to the remote location of the hotel it is probably justified. Service from all of the staff was excellent making my stay at the hotel feel somehow effortless. Strange smells that blew in on the morning sea-breeze raised an eyebrow. I was told that this only occurred from January – March when warmer sea currents attracted more sea life to the bay. Although not overly pleasant to accompany your morning coffee, these smells disappeared by mid-morning. My final point to note is that Paracas town really offers very little for the visitor. Restaurants are plentiful but the quality of the food and cleanliness standards fall a long way short of what most visitors are looking for. For foreign visitors the hotel is perfectly located for visiting Ica wineries, taking an overflight of the Nazca Lines (from Pisco) and visiting the Ballestas Islands. Hotel Paracas gets the thumbs up from me and is certainly a place I would recommend for our clients and also a place where I want to return myself.
If you are looking to include Hotel Paracas in your Luxury Peru Vacation Package, contact us today for more information. Also, don’t forget to check out Jason’s article on his luxury yacht excursion to the Ballestas Islands.