by Patti Mangan

This is more than a luxury hotel experience deep in the heart of the Andes- it is a familiar, loving experience from the moment you arrive. The staff at Sumaq are a genuine family who welcome you with warm smiles and easy laughter. They do this everyday. Make you feel at home. Relaxed. Cared for. Check in with a welcome cocktail and head to your colorful room perched over the Sacred Valley’s nourishing Urubamba River. Slide your floor to ceiling windows wide open and soak in the streaming sunlight and fresh mountain air. Wrap yourself in the custom crafted alpaca wool blanket and sink your head into one of eight hypo-allergenic white down pillows as you dream of the summit at Machu Picchu.

This 5 star property is situated at the base of the tumble down town, wrapped along the rivers edge. This site placement came in handy during the floods of early 2010. Unaffected by the river water surge, the hotel is prepared for large groups, weddings and families.

Number of Rooms: 46 superior deluxe rooms, 11 Junior Suite Doubles, 3 Suites with fireplaces. 1 room adapted for special needs.

Price range: (in USD) from $475 to $775

Time of year to go: Spring, before the crowds arrive and after the rainy season, making for a great experience to sight see or relax in the hotel.

Location and how to get there: Aguas Caliente aka Machu Picchu Pueblo, Peru

From abroad: Arrive at Lima, the capital of Peru.. LAN, American and Continental have direct flights from several U.S. cities including San Francisco. Pre-arrange a connecting flight to Cusco. You might have to spend the nite as most international flights land in Lima just about midnight. There is a Ramada at the airport if time is short. The flight from Lima to Cusco is about one hour. To prevent altitude sickness I recommend you do not dally in Cusco. Save exploring the celebrated city for at least two days on your return from Machu Picchu. On arrival taxi directly to the Poroy train station or taxi down to the Sacred Valley for about $20.00.

There are two Train Stations:

– Poroy Station: for the Hiram Bingham Luxury Service with specific days of departure and arrival.

– Ollyantambo Station: Regular services daily

– Journey time: anywhere from 3 to 4 hours depending on departure destination and cows on the tracks.

Why is this hotel so great for women? Clean, clean, clean. There is clearly a woman’s touch in the Incan inspired decor and be sure to check out the amazing culinary delights. Safe and secure with friendly staff available 24/7. The spa nestled in the womb of the structure provides experiences infused with Eucalyptus and warm candlelight. Each bathroom contains a rain water shower head. Love it. The hotel is a family business managed by siblings Anibel and Angie Clavijo. The entire family grew up in Aguas Caliente, serving thousands of inspired travelers over combined lifetimes, and it shows in each and every personal detail.

Services & Amenities: Luggage transport between train station and the hotel and vice versa. Buses stop directly out front on the way to and from the historical sanctuary above. For events or large parties there is a full sized conference room with audio visual support.

Andean Wedding Ceremony: A symbolic ceremony of love for single couples or married couples wishing to renew their vows Andean style. This particular ceremony includes: Services of an Andean priest, “Aqllas” or ceremonial assistants, private interpreter, flower arrangements: floral arch and carpet of flowers, bouquet, transfer to the place of the ceremony close to Puente Ruinas, typical Andean attire for the bride and groom, offerings, cocktail for toasting, Coca leaf reading, local musicians to play Andean melodies and a special gift for the bride and groom.

Bath products in rooms: Custom blended fresh fragrance of canela y manzana verde (cinnamon and green apple) for the entire generous line of soaps, cremes and a spray perfume.

Special Packages offered: 20% off during July 2010. Mention Tango Diva year round for a preferred discount. Check out these packages: Luxury & Relaxation, Mystical Experience, Culinary Adventure, or Romantic Retreat, plus personalized cooking classes.

Hotel Restaurants & Bars: Qunuq Restaurant provides a mix of traditional and innovative exquisite meals designed by Chef Rafael Piqueras. We tasted a variety of inspired dishes with trout, corn, yams and local vegetables. The Sumaq salad was one of the best salads we have ever had from anywhere in the world. The breakfast buffet open at 5 a.m. with a selection of hot heavenly french toast, crepes & fresh jams, toast and scrambled eggs plus fresh sliced fruit, cheeses, cereal and creamy yogurts.Enjoy traditional Peruvian drinks at the Suquy Café Bar or catch up on the latest news on the internet. Each level has many comfy chairs set up to take in the view as you gather to share the days tales.

Aqlla Spa: Massage, sauna and hydrotherapy treatments, along with manicure and pedicure salon services. The sauna experience, inspired by the Inipi, includes music and color therapies followed by a 10 jet shower. I checked out the Aqlla massage which included foot reflexology and felt completely renewed after a strenuous day on the old mountain.

For more information and bookings, visit the informative and lively Sumaq Hotel web site.

For more information on travel to Peru, visit

To get tips and inspiration for Peruvian travel, check out these great articles, Andean High and Turning 21 in the Jungle.