Orient-Express today announced that its latest and most ambitious project to date, Palacio Nazarenas, a 55 suite hotel in a former palace and convent in Cuzco, Peru, will open in early summer 2012.
The inauguration of Orient-Express’ sixth hotel in Peru will be the culmination of a three year restoration project carried out under the guidance of eight full time archaeologists and the supervision of Peru’s National Institute of Culture (INC).
Its earlier life may have been one of strict religious observance, but a stay in Palacio Nazarenas will be anything but austere. Daily life in this urban retreat will encompass oxygenated suites crafted by local artisans, a full service spa offering an indigenous product range, iPads in every room loaded with insider city guides, Cuzco’s first outdoor swimming pool, insightful tour experiences, and an all day dining experience showcasing contemporary Andean cuisine.
Palacio Nazarenas will be an all suite hotel, with 16 chica suites, 29 suites, nine grand suites and one Nazarenas suite, many of which have fireplaces and views towards the hillside Inca site of Sacsayhuamán or Cuzco’s cathedral in the Plaza del Armas. Each spacious bathroom will have under-floor heating and Peruvian travertine marble. Amenities include complimentary WIFI, iPad for use during stay pre-loaded with Cuzco city guides, newspapers, movies and restaurant suggestions, a mobile phone with city wide reception, espresso machine, in-room bar and Bose sound system.
Cuzco is located 11,000 feet above sea level in the Andes mountain range. To combat the symptoms of altitude sickness, which sometimes include sleeplessness and headaches, oxygen delicately scented with healing essential aromas of Andean flowers and herbs will enrich the atmosphere of each suite via the ventilation system, enabling guests to build up a reserve in their bloodstream as they slumber.
Guests will be able to complement their time spent exploring the Peru’s ancient civilisations and vibrant culture by indulging body and soul at Palacio Nazarenas’ spa. The spa will have four single treatment rooms and one double with private hot tub, which surround a patio reception area. The spa will offer a range of treatments inspired by Inca and Andean culture, created using indigenous Peruvian ingredients such as pink Andean salt, purple corn, flowers, herbs, honey, avocado, coffee and cocoa leaves.
Hidden behind an ancient façade carved with serpents, which signifies knowledge, the heart and social hub of Palacio Nazarenas will be located within the largest of seven cloistered terraces, where an 7m x 11m heated infinity edge pool has been created, a first for Cuzco. Alongside the pool will be a restaurant under a conservatory roof, offering a menu of organic Andean cuisine.
Each tranquil terrace and patio will be landscaped with indigenous flora and kitchen herbs, punctuated by fountains and flowing water channels echoing the irrigation channels of the agricultural terraces found in the Sacred Valley and at Machu Picchu.
When Orient-Express and its joint venture partners acquired Palacio Nazarenas under a long term concession, the building consisted of Spanish colonial architecture dating back to 1715, alongside more modern structures. The renovation project has been part restoration and part new build, with the original 18th century features being preserved and the modern buildings replaced with new structures more in keeping with the original architectural design, with whitewashed adobe walls, bricked archways and wooden verandas and balconies, painted a vivid, cobalt blue to match the skies.
Huge care has been taken over every stage of the construction process by architect, Enrique Palacio, and his team to ensure that the property’s heritage has been respected. No heavy machinery was permitted on site, so all 9,000m³ of earth was excavated by hand. Whilst restoring the foundations of the original 18th century palace, often using spoons and brushes so as not to disturb the archaeology of the site, the team uncovered pre-Inca and Inca walls, some of which will become part of some guest rooms and public areas. Other artefacts and objects discovered during the restoration process will be exhibited in the hotel’s library.
The personality of Palacio Nazarenas has been created by a team of architects and interior designer, Janna Rapaport, to create a fun and vibrant atmosphere charged with light, wellbeing and creativity. Orient-Express has scoured Peru to find its best artisans, such as a collective of female textile weavers in the town of Chinchero in the Sacred Valley, a wood carving specialist who is undertaking a six month project to carve the hotel’s reception desk, and Peru’s best painting restorer to work on frescos uncovered during the renovation work.
To the left of the heavy wooden doors marking the entrance to Palacio Nazarenas is a large chapel, which will be restored and preserved as a guest lounge. A turntable used by the nuns to sell sweets and stamps has been preserved, as has a smaller chapel dedicated to Señor de Huanca, which is reserved for private worship by local devotees.
Palacio Nazarenas will connect its guests with Peruvian community and culture both ancient and modern through every aspect of the hotel experience. A boutique onsite will source quality local handicrafts, sold at fair-trade prices, showcased alongside the best of Peru’s up and coming artists and fashion designers.
“Orient-Express has been operating authentic travel experiences and adventures in Peru through our hotels and trains since 1999, and this investment signals our continued commitment to the country,” said Paul White, President & Chief Executive Officer. “The creation of Palacio Nazarenas has been a close collaboration between the Company and the archaeologists of the INC. We are delighted to have been able to make this positive contribution to keeping Peru’s history alive and taking its luxury tourist offering to the next level.”
Cuzco is an ancient Inca capital and gateway to one of the great wonders of the world, the citadel of Machu Picchu, which is three hours away by Orient-Express’ Hiram Bingham train through the magnificent Sacred Valley. Palacio Nazarenas will whisk guests the 15 minutes to Velasco Astete airport by hybrid car. Cuzco is approx. 1,000 km (or a 60 minute flight) from Peru’s capital city, Lima.
Palacio Nazarenas will become the sister property to the much awarded and lauded Hotel Monasterio, a 126 room former 16th century monastery owned and operated by Orient-Express since March 1999. These two siblings reside on Nazarenas square, just a few minutes by foot from both the Plaza de Armas, where Cuzco’s Cathedral and most important museums are located, and the bohemian San Blas quarter