Legend has it that the Inca left their homelands in the cold, bleak altiplano of southern Peru and conquered their way north until arriving at the Urubamba Valley, an area of outstanding natural beauty where the river carves its way through rolling green meadows, making its way from the Andes to the jungle.
Instantly recognizing the valley as an enchanting and special place, the Inca royalty claimed it as their new home, renaming it the Sacred Valley, and establishing a civilization that would quickly rise to dominate the entire region.
The Inca nobility considered the Sacred Valley their spiritual home, where their temples and palaces offered rest and relaxation from the otherwise hectic schedule of conquest and civilization building.
And these days, the same valley offers equally luxurious R&R to a new breed of visitors; well-heeled travellers who need a break from the excitement of touring Machu Picchu, Cusco and Peru’s numerous other gems.
The Sacred Valley today is home to a number of extraordinarily good hotel and spa resorts, purposefully designed to capture the surrounding beauty and provide a tranquil refuge for visitors seeking a day or two of utter peace and relaxation.
One of the Valley’s most popular retreats is the Aranwa Sacred Valley Hotel & Wellness, a five star lodge constructed on a seventeenth century hacienda in the Colonial style of brilliant white walls, terracotta roof tiles, large airy rooms and high vaulted ceilings.
The Aranwa is best known for its comprehensive spa and wellness centre which offers a complete range of treatments designed to harmonize body, mind and soul with programs inspired by ancient Incan techniques.
The Aranwa offers five unique retreat programs targeting weight control, anti-stress, beauty, rejuvenation & anti-age, and finally, recovery & convalescence, each program lasting either three or five days.
Another highly renowned spa and hotel resort is Hotel Sol y Luna. The resort is deeply inspired by Incan history; constructed in the ancient style and from local, indigenous materials, Sol y Luna supports its community by recruiting locally and investing in local conservation projects.
The resort’s fully-equipped wellness centre and spa includes sauna, gym, yoga and tai chi, along with various body, face and skin treatments including hydro therapy, massage, exfoliation, body wraps and hot stone treatments.
Sol y Luna offers a range of hotel + spa packages for stays of one night and longer.
A third highly renowned luxury hotel and spa in the Sacred Valley is the Tambo del Inka, which is one of the best luxury accommodations in the entire country. Tambo del Inka is the only hotel with a private train station, and therefore direct access to Machu Picchu, as well as a premier spa and fitness centre and an entire estate of beautifully appointed rooms, all of which sprawls around an emerald lagoon and riverside gardens.
The hotel is known for its exceptional standards of service, no more so than at its spa where specialities include yacamani stone massage and facial treatments based on Incan ingredients; cocoa, mud from Volanco Misti and quinoa. There are also heated indoor and outdoor pools, whirlpools, vichy showers, sub-aquatic beds and hydrotherapy treatments available.
None of these three choices is likely to disappoint and all are equally recommended. Your choice depends more on personal preference rather than any difference in the quality of the accommodations: the Aranwa is best for its spa and wellness treatments, Sol y Luna for its cultural heritage and Tambo del Inka for the overall quality of service.
Whichever one you go with, you are set for a treat fit for Incan royalty.
For more information, ideas and inspiration on luxury travel experiences to Peru, take a look at Aracari Peru Travel, a leading specialist in unique travel experiences to the Andean region.