Quito, Ecuador - 24 April 2012
Mashpi Lodge, a luxury cocoon in the clouds a mere three hours northwest of Ecuador's capital Quito, opened its doors last week to receive its first guests, following four years of construction and 14 years since the land was first acquired.
The lodge ranks among the most exciting hotel openings in South America this year. It has already garnered international media attention, featuring in Wallpaper* magazine's Design Awards as well as Outside magazine's inaugural annual Travel Awards as Best Eco-Lodge.
Mashpi Lodge is set to raise the bar in environmentally-sensitive lodging as its project embraces the protection of a 1,300 hectare (3,200-acre) reserve, while funding scientific research, providing sustainable opportunities for local communities, and encouraging the wider conservation of the biodiverse hotspot known as the Chocó.
The lodge itself melds contemporary design and eco credentials with the comfort, cuisine and service the most discerning travellers expect. Its impressive glass-and-steel structure is located on a hillside with dramatic views of tumbling green hills and valleys. Its glass walls provide guests near-constant visual contact with life in the forest beyond, while keeping the forest's creatures at a comfortable distance.
The lodge features 22 rooms - three expansive suites with bathtubs-with-a-view and 19 rooms, including three inter-connecting pairs - and a Wellness Space with a Jacuzzi and massage room.
The hotel's dining room, its ceilings soaring two stories high, delivers a culinary experience which makes the most of the lodge's location between the Andes and the Pacific: the best of all worlds. It features the freshest Ecuadorian ingredients combined in both traditional and contemporary twists, with particular focus on exotic fruits (think papaya, passion fruit, pineapple and many more) as well as specialities baked in palm leaf. Organic, locally-produced dark arriba chocolate, too, will play a prime role in the Mashpi culinary experience.
Mashpi Lodge's stunning 'canopy gondola' or aerial tram will be ready to glide guests on extended explorations of the forest in September. In the meantime, they will be able to explore the biodiverse world of the Reserve by climbing the Observation Tower, pedalling through the forest on an aerial bicycle, bathing in rivers and waterfalls, discovering the Life Centre with its butterfly farm and terrariums, and of course, hiking along trails through the forest in the company of expert naturalist and local guides.
For more information on Mashpi, see www.mashpilodge.com
For images, see http://www.flickr.com/photos/mashpilodge/sets/
For images of the opening party, see here
View the Mashpi Lodge video here: http://vimeo.com/26427477