Spending a vacation or a business trip in a retirement home may not sound like the most glamorous way to travel. But when it's the new Hotel del Parque in Guayaquil, Ecuador, the experience will likely be one of the most luxurious that you can have in this South American nation's largest city.
During my recent visit to Ecuador to cover and moderate a panel at SAHIC, the South American Hotel & Tourism Investment Conference, I got a sneak peek of the nearly finished Hotel del Parque, a new Guayaquil hotel that's set inside a gorgeously renovated, historic nursing home that was built in 1891. The property is scheduled for a soft opening in December 2016, with the grand opening in January — so you're likely one of the first people to see what it's like in these photos, which I also included in a review for my Latin America travel blog, LatinFlyer.com.
Times have changed since the building opened at the end of the 19th century as the Hospicio Corazón de Jesús. The historic structure was dismantled in the 1980s and re-erected in the Parque Histórico, a peaceful park with natural and cultural attractions just outside of the city. Oro Verde, an Ecuador hotel company that operates multiple properties in Guayaquil and Cuenca, is the mastermind behind the new hotel's impressive beauty. A total of 44 well-appointed guest rooms are spread over just two floors, around two interior courtyards. Marble bathrooms, air conditioning, minibars and free WiFi are among the 21st century amenities, as is the massage room, which is located dramatically in the former bell tower, offering spectacular views during treatments.
As a nod to the structure's earlier role as a Catholic-run senior citizen home, Hotel del Parque still maintains a functioning church in its center, which is available for private functions.
There is a full-service restaurant in the adjacent Julian Coronel building (a historic space that even offers the opportunity to stage a private dinner inside a giant former bank safe), and the attractions of Parque Historico — including a small zoo, historic buildings and cultural attractions (such as the nation's first cacao and chocolate museum, set in a beautiful former hacienda) — are just a few steps away within the park.
There are several new hotels opening or in the works in Guayaquil — including brands like Ibis, Marriott and Swissôtel. But the new Hotel del Parque is decidedly the most unique, and probably the city's most luxurious boutique-style property.