Honeymoon There: PeruWords by Harmony Walton
Photos courtesy of JW Marriott El Convento Cusco
Imagine the romance of honeymooning in an ancient city, one surrounded by farmland countryside, snow-capped glaciers, green valleys and hiking trails with a direct path to one of the New Seven Wonders of the World. That’s Cusco, Peru – ideal for the couple who seeks outdoor adventure, cultural history and mouth-watering cuisine for their trip-of-a-lifetime.
Ten hours from New York and worlds away from ordinary is the JW Marriott El Convento Cusco, where you’ll enter through ancient archways that once framed a 16th century convent. With ruins and artifacts in the belly of the building and a quaint courtyard encased by 153 rooms and suites, the intimate elegance of this old-meets-new world property exceeds the imagination. Splurge on one of their 11,154-feet-above-sea-level suites for a spacious, residential-like experience, one with a quiet calmness and warm energy felt from generations past.
Despite the utterly inviting accommodations, it’s the food and drink that will beckon you back at the end of each day. Designed by Executive Chef Thais Rodriguez, each sip and every bite will dazzle your senses with spice and sweetness.
An eye-popping presentation of holistic ingredients pairs traditional Peruvian food with what Chef Rodriguez calls culture-to-table dining. “Peruvian cuisine revolves around spiritualism, history and ancestry,” says Rodriguez. “I wanted to infuse as much of the country’s history, art and culture into the dishes and cocktails to showcase the wholesomeness and diversity of the region.” Traditional favorites like lomo saltado are a must, as are new delicacies like the edible flower salad paired with cocktails from the bar, which presents a healing approach to your adult beverages. Try the Beet Boulevardier, gin infused with beet juice and secret house-made potions and bitters, accompanied by a cone of parmesan chips clipped to the glass.
Once you venture off property to explore the cobblestone streets of the city that surrounds you, expect a wild stream of culture on every corner. Religious parades, textile shopping to local artisan stands and Patrón for pennies on the dollar are all just a few steps from your hotel.
A honeymoon in Peru wouldn’t be complete without a visit to the world-famous archaeological site of Machu Picchu. Located four hours from Cusco, this is an adventure by rail that transports you back to a time when travel was romanticized and the journey was as important as the destination.
Getting to Machu Picchu is best arranged by the hotel concierge who can coordinate your rail passes and a guided tour. Be sure to also ask about a visit to the Sacred Valley, a walk around the Maras Salt Mines and a thrilling guided horseback ride through the hillside of Maras to the ruins of Moray.
Before returning to Cusco, stop for a private picnic, glamping style, on the bank of Lake Piuray where the JW Marriott hosts private dinners and parties under the sun and stars.
After a day exploring, return to your relaxing hotel home base and enjoy a dip in the 24-hour heated indoor pool, sip cocktails by the lobby fire and snap photos with the property’s regular alpaca visitor, affectionately known as Panchito. You can even consult a local shaman for a coca leaf reading.
Honeymooning in Cusco at the JW Marriott El Convento Cusco means exploring the delightful culture and many sides of Peru, all found within a few feet to a few hours of a hotel that feels sweeter than home.
Travel Tip: Turn your day trip to Machu Picchu into an overnight stay. The day is long and an evening in the small town of Aguas Calientes is just what you need to recharge before returning to the city.
This article first appeared in Destination I Do's Spring/Summer 2018 issue. You can order a copy here.
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