Ecuador has a lot of history, culture, traditions and arts - and with a stay at Morenica del Rosario in one of the country's most charming cities, Cuenca, your accommodations encompass all of that.
Morenica is almost as much a heritage museum as it is a hotel. Sprinkled throughout its four floors are artifacts, handicrafts, antiques and other pieces from Ecuador's cultural timeline. Part of the pleasure of arriving into the hotel is wandering through the place taking it all in; even the stairway is filled with treasures.
This also creates some wonderful common-area spaces in which to relax, work, or socialize. In addition to the K'ipa cafe/bar on the ground level, the second floor has a beautiful, large sitting area. Around the corner is a hidden stairwell to a hideaway nook just beckoning to guests.
Another impressive thing about Morenica del Rosario is the view from the upper floor windows and rooftop terrace; its location right by the Iglesia Santo Domingo allows for stunning views of the cathedral's twin domes from on high - even more dramatic at night, when the church is lit up.
The location can't be beat; Morenica is in the midst of all that is happening in Cuenca, just steps from the main Nueva Cathedral and central plaza, along with top restaurants and shops. Guest rooms are luxurious and comfortable, each with its own unique decor. Amenities include:
Full bed with 2 types of pillows
Digital safe box
High speed wireless
Desk and chair
Rates include breakfast, which is a fairly extensive buffet including fresh fruits and amazing fresh-squeezed juices, hot/savory items and a meat and cheese plate. Every morning there seemed to be a different local specialty also on hand.
Spa Village Tembok Resort on Indonesia's island of Bali, is an ocean-side paradise hideaway, just four hours drive from an active volcano, amidst Bali's luscious and vibrant green jungle. True escapism is waiting just for you.
Originally built in 1930 as a family home in the newer (at that time) part of Quito just north of the Old Town Center, Casa Joaquin has loads of history and character. The family run, colonial-era inn has been completely renovated, very well-done and tasteful. The decor is stylish, but not at all over the top; it's mix of European tradition and contemporary trend works. The place is very comfortable and homey while achieving elegance at the same time. The hotel was named after the famous painter Joaquin Pinto (1842 – 1906), who lived in Quito and who is considered to have been the “Ecuadorian Da Vinci”.
It is also the perfect size, in my opinion. The original Ecuadorian wood and iron staircase leads to 13 brand-new, individually designed guest rooms, with furniture and decor by local artisans. Each room is unique and has been named after an old drawing or art-reproduction the owners found in the house, left by the former inhabitant and dated from 1920-1940. There is also a full apartment in the back of the property, on ground level, with a bedroom, living room and full kitchen along with a private garden terrace. The apartment is perfect for long term stays of a week, several weeks or months.
Breakfast is a treat; along with the full European continental breakfast, each day guests are also served a specialty of the house that is fair-trade prepared. On our mornings we were treated to crepes, French toast and a savory pastry. A serious Italian espresso machine means that you can also order a wonderful, authentic cappuccino or espresso. Their secret? secret? Two cooks who owned a famous gastronomic restaurant in Leuven, Belgium created Hotel Casa Joaquin - and they just can’t hide their love for fine food!
Adjacent to the dining room is a small, cozy bar that is a nice place to have a drink in the evening. The red phone-booth door to the WC closet (bathroom) is an unexpected, fun and quirky touch.
The staff is excellent - knowledgeable and helpful, while respecting your privacy and giving you as much or as little service as you desire. Rooms are extremely tasteful and comfortable, with excellent European bathrooms.
The neighborhood, La Mariscal, is fun and lively. This is the less conservative, younger and more bohemian Quito neighborhood. All around Casa Joaquin are a wide choice of international restaurants and bars, particularly two blocks down where a corner plaza is a very happening spot in the evening, filled with street cafes, restaurants, and people walking around. Only a few blocks to the trolle system that will take you straight down into Old Town Quito, the location is easily accessible to other parts of the city as well.
All in all, Casa Joaquin offers everything you would want in a boutique hotel, and is the perfect affordable yet luxurious starting point for visiting the treasures of UNESCO World Heritage city, Quito.
orthopedic mattresses, anti-mites treatment
private bathroom with shower, WC and hairdryer
flat screen cable TV
free wireless internet
safety deposit box
delightful breakfast included
24 hour reception
Boquete, Panama has become one of those "it" places that expats have been flocking to relocate to in recent decades. Fortunately, it is still under the radar of places such as Costa Rica and Cuenca, Ecuador; and still retains an authenticity, a low-key vibe, that keep it from simply being gringo-land in Central America. The cool mountain climate, stunning views, great hiking and coffee farming draw short-term tourists, retiring Central Americans and Western expats alike.
Two of these expats are Jane Walker and Barry Robbins from Vancouver, Canada. The couple left their home and stressful lifestyles in high-tech nearly twenty years ago, heading south to Central America yet unsure of where they would finally settle. "As we drove out of the parking lot, I just let go," Jane recalls of their exodus from North America. "The life we were leading was being left behind. I didn't know where we were going, but I knew it would be different."
After a year and a half of exploring the region, they settled in Boquete in 1996 and found six acres of land that was a defunct coffee and orange farm. There, they built La Montaña y el Valle - The Coffee Estate Inn, the first luxury inn in the Boquete area, in a mere 10 months.
The Coffee Estate Inn is exquisite and magical; you can look at the photos and videos online, but they don't prepare you for the riot of flowers and colors and scents that envelop you the second you drive through the gate. Jane and Barry have been avid gardeners all their life, using it as an escape from stresses of the job back in Canada. "We would garden just about as frantically as we worked," Barry says. "So instead of taking the enjoyment and that soul-fulfilling thing of working in the soil, it was just covering up an absence in the rest of our lives." But for the past 18 years, the couple has found their calling and turned their passion for gardening into a labor of love, creating the stunning oasis that is their inn.
"There's no 'growing season' here," Jane says. "You pick up a plant and stick it in the ground, and it simply grows. It's truly a gardener's paradise. It's right for us, right here." Luckily for the rest of us, we have the opportunity to live that paradise if only for a short while. Three very private, luxurious bungalows are the only rooms at the inn, and the couple has thought of every small detail to make the stay wonderful and memorable - right down to heated floors in the bathrooms for those chilly mountain mornings.
There are many very good reasons why VISIONTV out of Canada picked the inn for its "Recreating Eden" television series. The episode featuring Jane, Barry and their Coffee Estate Inn has been syndicated and shown on the Knowledge Network in Canada since January 2008.
The Coffee Estate Inn sits high up on a hill a few kilometers above the town of Boquete, so it is both secluded and peaceful as well as a quick, convenient drive into town as well as local hiking trails and other day trips. Jane and Barry provide loads of detailed information, both during the arrival orientation as well as in the information book left in each guest room; and they always make themselves available to answer questions or provide guests with area information. You can also take a coffee tour of the farm with Barry, who explains the process of coffee farming and roasting, along with interesting tidbits about the gardens in general and life in Panama. The tour is included in stays of three or more nights.
The Coffee Estate Inn remains a small and exclusive hotel by choice. The bright and airy bungalows face the volcano and have spectacular views. All are surrounded and separated by gardens and forest. Each bungalow has a large covered terrace, spacious living room and dining area, kitchenette, separate bedroom with ensuite bathroom, flat screen television with satellite TV and DVD, security safe and free high speed wireless Internet. Windows are screened. Each bungalow also has a fully stocked kitchenette with toaster oven, microwave, mini-fridge and of course - a personal supply of the estate's personally roasted coffee beans, never more than three days out of the roaster.
"Coffee is one of those things that just gets in your blood," says Barry. "This is the place we want to be. This is home."
Rates are $180 per night, per couple using the special internet rate; private breakfast left in the room for each morning is included.