Visiting Machu Picchu was perhaps one of the most spiritual experiences of my life. As a human, I err on the secular side, and as a travel journalist, I by default tend to view things objectively on my adventures through the world’s diverse pockets of culture, custom, and daily life. But, setting foot on the soil of Peru’s most sacred land was different, especially through the lens of quiet Incan luxury amid a sea of backpackers and hikers on their own spiritual quests; Sumaq Hotel on the Urubamba River is a haven for travelers seeking an element of comfort while visiting a place generally defined by physical intensity, and it’s somewhere I’d gladly hang my hat (and pack) again.
Nods to Peruvian culture are inevitably woven throughout a stay at Sumaq. My stay consisted of a day spent with a local shaman, who guided me through the citadel of Machu Picchu, coca leaves in hand, along with the occasional sage observation or tidbit of knowledge to share. Later that evening, he read my future in the leaves back at the hotel, and I walked away with a sense of peace so foreign and new that I hardly recognized it. Peruvian and Incan cultures are rooted in the honoring of Pachamama, or Mother Earth, and Sumaq’s ethos is no different. I, a skeptic, had been educated, grounded, and cleansed in one fell swoop. To say that my view on the world as I travel now has been slightly changed for the better is no exaggeration, and that’s a powerful impact for one dot on the map to have.
Here, Sumaq Machu Picchu Hotel’s General Manager Angie Clavijo shares an inside look at the property’s experiences of a lifetime during a stay in their most requested room.
What’s the most requested room at Sumaq?
The Imperial Suite.
What makes that room type so special?
It has privacy and elegance. It’s like a luxury apartment, with maximum comfort and privacy. The amenities in this suite make it unique; people often book the Imperial Suite to celebrate a special occasion, such as birthdays, anniversaries and, honeymoons. Some of the top in-room amenities include a jacuzzi, butler service, in-room pisco sour demonstrations, views of the Urubamba river, and more.
What is the rate?
$1,650 nightly including taxes. This rate includes buffet breakfast and dinner a la carte.
What makes the property as a whole special?
A stay at Sumaq is an immersion in Peruvian culture. From the décor to the cuisine, and from the spa to the special activities, guests are surrounded by Andean and Incan traditions.
Any notable/celebrity guests that you can share with us?
Trevor Noah made Sumaq his base as he explored Machu Picchu. While filming the Bollywood version of the movie I, Robot, Indian actress Aishwarya Rai and the movie’s crew booked our hotel for a week. And just this June, we welcomed actor Blair Underwood and his family on their first visit to Peru. Sumaq arranged for the family to experience a Mystical Shaman Tour of Machu Picchu, with both a guide and a shaman to explain its spiritual significance. Mr. Underwood was taking a well-deserved break from his busy schedule promoting the ABC thriller “Quantico.”
What are some of the unique experiences offered on property that any guest should be sure to experience while visiting?
As a family-owned and managed hotel, we’re especially proud of our Peruvian heritage. We like to immerse visitors in cultural experiences, to deepen their understanding of our history. To that end, we offer several spiritual activities for guests, including the Mystical Shaman Tour of Machu Picchu, wherein a shaman provides insight into the spiritual significance of the site; “Pachamanca,” which is a traditional “Payment to the Earth” ritual led by a shaman; we have a coca leaf reading experience conducted by a shaman as well. Lastly, couples looking to get married or renew their vows can participate in an Andean wedding ceremony officiated by a shaman on our private terrace.
What’s your personal favorite dining experience at Sumaq?
Our newly introduced “Flavors of the Andes” menu channels the culinary legacy of the Incas, showcasing historic ingredients of our Andean biodiversity. We’ve taken authentic, time-honored recipes and ingredients, fused them with contemporary techniques and added innovative flair to create a profoundly modern take on ancient Peruvian cuisine. This extraordinary gastronomic journey brings together more than 35 ingredients, all sourced from sustainable communities located within 50 kilometers of the hotel and grown at an altitude of more than 12,000 feet.
Tell us a few fun facts about the property.
Practicing sustainable tourism and supporting our local communities is very important to us. Sumaq has received Rainforest Alliance Certification, and we generate employment for the people of the Cusco, Aguas Calientes and Urubamba districts, as more than 80% of our staff members come from these neighboring communities.
We are also committed to educating guests about our culture, and that includes children, who take great joy in learning about our traditions and myths. We have a special activity, “Time for Andean Tales,” in which our employees tell children Peruvian myths and lore. In fact, we just introduced the only tour of Machu Picchu especially for families and children: “Adventures with Allco the Inca Puppy.” We encourage kids to follow in the footsteps of Hiram Bingham and become explorers themselves.