Gabriel Alvarez is Deputy General Manager of Aranwa Hotels Resorts & Spas, a growing hotel developer that is ridingthe wave of expanding tourism in Peru and the rapidly developing economies of Latin America. I’ve talked before about the booming tourism business in Peru and wanted to get his insiders’ take on what’s happening in this dynamic destination.
Luxury Latin America: What was the spark that got you started with the Aranwa Hotels projects? What led up to that?
Gabriel Alvarez: Travelling around Peru, seeing the lack of high quality hotels and tourism infrastructure in its different regions was an eye-opener. We realized we had the service and healthcare know-how as an advantage from our competitors and it was a very interesting opportunity. Also, my family’s passion for art, culture and wellness (expressed in our healthcare upbringing) definitely contributed towards the signature approach we bring to hospitality.
Peru tourism seems to keep growing each year, no matter what is going on in the worldwide economy. Why is that?
The country has had over a decade of sustained political stability and overall economic growth. This has contributed to place Peru in the international scene, exposing our greatest strengths in the eyes of the world. For instance, Machu Picchu continues to amaze the world, as the lost city of the Incas. It is a great cultural heritage which attracts people everywhere.
In order to continue growing, more product differentiation is needed, and we should not only focus on country brand, but on inner workings, learn from experience and from other countries such as Mexico.
We have a review of your Aranwa Cusco hotel, of course, but naturally you would like to get people to spend more time at the one in the Sacred Valley. What advantages are there for tourists of staying in the valley instead of just passing through?
The first thing one will notice about the valley is the lower altitude and how much easier it is to walk around than in the city of Cusco, we’re talking 2800 meters against 3500 meters. That enables one’s body to acclimate and after a couple of days in the valley you can take on Cusco easily. Further, most of the archeological sites in the “top 5″ places to visit are in the Sacred Valley, such as the Pisac Market, Maras Salt Mines, Moray amphitheatre, Ollantaytambo, and the train to Machu Picchu. Tourists can save lots of transportation time if they stay in the Sacred Valley rather than in Cusco. Adventure activities such as rafting, hiking and the intrepid Via Ferrata are new additions on top of the usual ones.
If you look at it from a wellness perspective, then the valley is definitely your top choice. The area is called “sacred” because of the climate it has and how crops are easily able to grow and flourish within. What is more, in colonial times women from Cusco used to go to the valley to give birth, as the experience was much more manageable. The town of Urquillos, next to our property, has a mud that is well known for its healing properties. Hence, for wellness-focused extended stays, which we provide, the valley is an ideal location.
Continued – See the rest of our interview with Gabriel Alvarez of Aranwa Hotels