Boutique Inns are In

As the saying goes, the best things come in small packages. Certainly, this is the case in the boutique hotel boom that has enhanced the Latin American travel experience over the last two decades.

From small, upscale urban hotels and seaside resorts to country inns and jungle lodges, what “boutique class” brings to the hotel scene is comfort levels that keep soaring to new heights, propelled by sybaritic spas, unique culinary experiences, curated special-interest activities and all-suite treats. Consider just a sampling of the new boutique picks on offer to clients heading south in the coming year.

In Guayaquil, Ecuador’s Oro Verde Hotels is behind the port city’s first high-style, five-star boutique hotel, the Hotel del Parque, occupying the 19th century Hospice of the Sacred Heart located on the banks of the Daule River and surrounded by the botanical gardens of the Parque Historico. The restoration and conversion is extraordinary, producing two interior fountained courtyards, a well-equipped reading and games room, and 44 elegantly appointed, super-spacious guestrooms and suites. Guest facilities also include a spa housed in the chapel’s bell tower, and a restaurant, facing the river and occupying the historic Casa Julian Coronel.

New to the Lima scene is the Atemporal, housed in a revamped 1940s mansion in the chic Miraflores district. The 9-room hotelito—think luxury townhouse meets cozy hotel—comes from the same design team behind the award-winning Hotel B in the neighboring district of Barranco. Appointed  with artwork, books and artifacts, public areas include a salon, verandah and country garden; guestroom features range from superb beds with ergonomic mattresses to full connectivity including Smart TV and docks for iPhones, iPods and MP3s. This home away from home includes complimentary WiFi and breakfast, plus a menu of Peruvian and international dishes; the famous Astrid y Gaston restaurant is a 10-minute walk away, and the Huaca Pucllana archaeological site is just down the street.

Chile’s Lake District has a top-notch, just-opened getaway, Hotel Awa, sitting on the shores of Lake Llanquihue, just 25 minutes from Puerto Varas. The 18 rooms (three suites), offering breathtaking views of the lake and Osorno Volcano through floor-to-ceiling glass walls, are fitted with super-king or twin beds, a fireplace, TV and WiFi, while spacious bathrooms have rainforest showers and whirlpool tubs. Guests continue to enjoy grand views while in the spa (which has a semi-Olympic pool, sauna, and steam room) and while dining on gourmet dishes created by chef Mathieu Michel in the fireplaced dining room or outdoor terrace. Activities range from hiking and biking to kayaking and fishing.

Known for its excellent and varied inventory of accommodations, Costa Rica will welcome a new kind of luxury resort early next year: the Nayara Tented Resort, with 24 tents, each measuring 945 sq. ft. and sitting on its own platform furnished with an outdoor living area and a plunge pool filled from the nearby hot springs. Tents feature a master suite with en-suite bathroom, as well as an adjoining tent that can be arranged as a lounge or second bedroom. Sited in the Arenal Volcano National Park, the tent resort is a third property of Nayara Hotels.

A Big Brand Goes Boutique
Reflecting the growing global demand for independent travel experiences, this month Marriott International is debuting its “aspirational” independent hotels and resorts brand, Tribute Portfolio, in Latin America, adding two independent hotels to its portfolio in Argentina.

In Patagonia, for example, the Arelauquen Lodge, a Tribute Portfolio hotel, is located in San Carlos de Bariloche, beside the majestic Lake Nahuel Huapi. The lodge, part of the Arelauquen Golf and Country Club, features 28 stylishly appointed rooms, and guests dine at the restaurant Epic by chef Julian Del Pino. The area is famous for hiking, trekking and mountaineering, and Arelauquen Lodge adds such facilities as an 18-hole golf course, two polo fields, an equestrian center, tennis and squash courts.

Fifty miles from Mendoza in the Uco Valley, wine’s the thing—Malbec to Pinot Noir—at and around Auberge du Vin, a Tribute Portfolio hotel that is part of Tupungato Winelands, a country club development offering golf and polo. The hotel has 29 guestrooms, and guest facilities include a fitness center, an Epic restaurant, and outdoor and indoor pools with grand views to the majestic Andes Mountains.