The Latest Luxury Hotel Developments in Central and South America

One of the rustic-chic villas at the Inkaterra  Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel.

One of the rustic-chic villas at the Inkaterra  Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel.

Your high-end clients, or anyone willing to spend a bit more for something new and different, will be well served by recent hotel developments in Latin America. There’s a private island getaway, villas with hot springs-fed pools, a six-room pop-up dream house and a sustainable nature retreat among new and future openings. Here’s a sampling.

Ritz-Carlton Reserve Set for Pearl Island: The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company, L.L.C. is expanding its collection of Reserve hotels with plans to open a luxury sanctuary on Pearl Island, a private island 45 miles south of Panama City. 

Blending intuitive individual service, indigenous design, and luxuriously relaxed ambiance, the resort is the sixth planned Reserve property, joining current locations in Phulay Bay in Thailand and Dorado Beach in Puerto Rico, and upcoming locations including Molasses Reef in Turks and Caicos; Tamuda Bay, Morocco; and Cabos San Lucas, Mexico.


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Surrounded by pristine beaches, one of the most bio-diverse marine environments on the planet, sublime azure waters and virgin tropical forests, and enlivened by hundreds of species of indigenous flora and fauna, the centerpiece of the Reserve will feature an open-air resort offering 80 intimate rooms, and a range of select luxury amenities and services, including a lavish spa, private beach club, three swimming pools and three restaurants, as well as access to a world-class marina, dive and fishing village, and equestrian center. The spa will include outdoor treatment pavilions and separate treetop villas, all of which will incorporate indigenous treatments.

Reachable by boat, helicopter or plane through a private airstrip, Pearl Island is a virtually untouched paradise featuring an extensive private natural reserve, with over half of the island undisturbed. Located in the Gulf of Panama on the Pacific Ocean, minutes from Panama City, the 3,500 acre private island is the third largest in the Archipelago of Las Perlas. Co-owned by Dolphin Capital Investors and Grupo Eleta, the island is one of roughly 250 different islands inhabited by fishing communities throughout the archipelago.

Private Villas in Costa Rica: Nayara Springs, an enclave of 16 luxury private villas, and sister hotel to Nayara Hotel, Spa & Gardens, opened in Costa Rica this December. Tucked in the Arenal rainforest, the new resort is surrounded by creeks and hot springs and has views of Arenal Volcano.

The main attraction of Nayara Springs are the pools fed by mineral hot springs that are built into every villa. In addition to full butler service, all accommodations feature a private garden with open air shower, as well as indoor and outdoor lounging areas. The villas are near a spa, yoga pavilion, adult pool and piano bar. At Amor-Loco, the poolside restaurant, guests can enjoy Latin American-inspired sushi, fresh grilled fish and vegetables. 

Maisons des Rêves, Design Hotels “Pop Up” in Brazil: For the months of April, May and June, the Maisons des Rêves will operate an exclusive pop-up hotel in a historic building with a patio and a secret garden in Southern Brazil. (Eventually the hotel will become a permanent Paraty addition in 2015, but the official debut has been delayed by archaeological excavations.) This “dream house” comes with a chef who can prepare lavish picnics for excursions to waterfalls in the nearby forest or to a secluded beach on one of the 60 pristine islands just offshore. 

Design Hotels will also have a touchdown spot within the heart of Rio de Janeiro’s bohemian Santa Teresa neighborhood. What began on a Caribbean beach as an experiment and study in community and collaboration has evolved into a series of Design Hotels Projects. This is the third and newest project. The project will run through December. It will not only serve as a charming six-room hotel, but as host to a year-long series of events, from World Cup parties to intimate dinners. It’s a neighborhood hub where locals and tourist come together to connect.

Built into the hillside of Rio de Janeiro’s Santa Teresa neighborhood, the hotel sits tucked amid the flora and fauna of the urban tropical backdrop. Colonial revival meets Brazilian-chic in the mid-century house, now hosting Design Hotels’ third temporal hospitality experience. Six rooms and suites along with ample corners for idling make up the property, giving the impression that you’ve stepped through the ever-open doors of a local arbiter of style.

Expansion Plans for Peru’s Inkaterra Hotels: Savvy travelers know that Inkaterra offers some of the most remarkable and authentic stays in Peru. Devoted to environmental conservation and cultural preservation, Inkaterra is a leader in sustainable tourism. Inkaterra Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel is a rustic-chic nature retreat, perched in the cloud forest near the Lost City of the Incas, while Inkaterra La Casona in Cusco—the first Relais & Chateaux hotel in Peru—is housed in a restored 16th century manor house.

We were told the company is currently expanding in Peru, with two hotels in development: one in the Sacred Valley and another on the coast in Cabo Blanco, an area known in the 1950s for its game fishing (Ernest Hemingway stayed in the fishing village when they were filming The Old Man and the Sea). What’s more, Inkaterra is working on the protection and sustainability of the marine reserve Cabo Blanco-Bank of Mancora.

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