Inkaterra Machu Picchu Pueblo South America

Want to know which are the most highly regarded luxury hotels and resorts in South America? We’ve got some rare convergence with the Conde Nast Traveler Readers’ Choice Awards—if we just stick with the least influenced region. Their picks match up well with our South America luxury reviews.

I’m no fan of the supposed “readers’ polls” put out by the big travel magazines. I know too many people in the industry who have been part of ballot-stuffing programs to believe these polls really reflect what readers think. It’s part of the reason most of the scores are so close to perfect (usually 96 to 99 out of 100).

It’s also just common sense that very few of the real readers have been to more than a minuscule fraction of the places featured, much less the various hotels in those destinations. I’ve stayed in five resorts in Los Cabos and I’m guessing that puts me ahead of 98% of CNT’s readers. I’ve stayed in nine resorts in the Riviera Maya and six hotels in Cusco, which would probably give me a gold prize for the most experience. But it’s my job. I wouldn’t have vacationed at that many places.

I don’t vote because the one time I did I gave up after an hour at it. Too much work unless you have a vested interest in who wins. Apparently I’m not alone: the hotel that got the most votes received less than 7,000. That’s 0.009% of their readership.

Plus too many results are fishy. A hotel that wasn’t even open when the balloting started showed up in a #1 spot in one Mexico category and the #1 overall pick for the USA was barely open for a year. There were 12 like that who probably got more votes than they had guests. The #4 overall pick for the USA hotel is in Carey, NC. Wait, where?

Not one of the top-10 hotels in the U.S. last year got onto this year’s top-10 list. Did they all go downhill together all of a sudden? That seems highly unlikely.

Bahia Vik resort Uruguay

Fortunately, South America is rather immune from the ballot-stuffing irregularities because most of the properties there don’t use a big PR or marketing firm in the USA. So there’s nobody to “vote early and often” with perfect scores for them—or their competitors. So here are their picks and links to our reviews.

The Top Hotels in South America

CNT listed 25 hotels in South America, with scores ranging from 84.91 (Belmond Sanctuary Lodge) to 98.81 for the #1 listing below. There’s only one on the list we haven’t featured, but here are the standouts this year. Follow the links for a detailed review.

  1. Hotel Fasano São Paulo – Brazil
  2. Inkaterra La Casona – Peru
  3. Inkaterra Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel – Peru
  4. Sofitel Legend Santa Clara – Cartagena
  5. Hotel Unique São Paulo – Brazil
  6. The Singular Santiago Lastarria Hotel – Chile

Sofitel Santa Clara Legend South America

You can find other picks from further down the list among our reviews in Ecuador and Argentina.

The Best Resorts in South America

Resorts go into a different category and sometimes there’s a fine line between a rural hotel and a resort. Here were the readers’ choice top scorers for South America, with links to our reviews.

  1. Bahia Vik & Playa Vik (lumped together) – Uruguay
  2. Hangaroa Eco Village & Spa – Easter Island
  3. Unique Garden Hotel & Spa – Brazil
  4. Viña Vik – Chile
  5. Mashpi Lodge – Ecuador
  6. Inkaterra Reserva Amazonica – Peru

Have an opinion about the top luxury hotels in the region? Take a look at the poll and tell us your thoughts!