Luxury meets sustainability in the Sacred Valley of the Incas
The Sacred Valley of the Incas in Peru is a wonder of beauty, history, and colorful Andean culture, and Las Qolqas Eco-Resort & Spa is doing as little as possible to keep it that way. Literally. The luxury resort on 10 acres near the town of Ollantaytambo has embraced a minimalist approach to development that fits the desires of so many travelers who prioritize environmental and cultural sustainability as they tiptoe around the globe.
The backstory of Las Qolqas is a good one, tracing to the youth of owner Herman van den Wall Bake who, born of a Peruvian mother and German/Dutch father, visited the Sacred Valley in his tweens and was smitten. Decades later, following a successful career in investment banking, he purchased land to build a country residence, but when his family demurred he decided to do something “meaningful” by creating a destination resort to delight travelers while protecting the region and giving back to the community.
Rather than seek corporate partners, Van den Wall Bake funded the project himself and brought in Carlos Gonzalez, who has decades of experience as an innovator of luxury sustainable tourism in Peru, as Executive Director.
Key to Las Qolqas, which began welcoming guests in 2020, is its low-impact nature. To help the local community retain the charm and heritage without caving into the temptations of development, the Las Qolqas team had the vision to develop this tiny, sustainable hotel dotted with luxurious safari-style tents. Every element on offer has been hand selected and locally sourced – from bed sheets to shampoos – and each purpose-built structure and piece of furniture are of the highest quality, which gives the property an air of understated elegance. This attention to detail enhances the natural beauty of the surroundings through simple design and open flow. From the wooden furniture to the cushions adorned with patterns identical to the local women’s skirts, every detail is handcrafted and intentionally created for Las Qolqas.
The signature dining experience is Pututu, named for the conch used by Incas to call to Apus (sacred mountains) and deities. Set within the greenhouse where many ingredients are grown, the restaurant serves an ever-changing menu, including vegan options, in presentations that practically jump off the plate. Each handpicked ingredient is organic, seasonal, and locally cultivated by the community or in the property’s orchard. Each colorful meal is fresh, healthy, and high-quality and, for those who want to learn more about the cuisine, guided cooking lessons are available with the chef.
Experiences and activities abound, with easily accessible destinations including the archeological center and town of Ollantaytambo; the Inca fortress of Pumamarca; the waterfalls and fortress of Perolniyoc; the quarries of Cachiccata and the Inti Punka shrine; rustic Chinchero; and Maras with salt mines and the beautiful Inca terraces of Moray. What about must-do Machu Picchu? It’s just a daylong excursion away via train. Additionally, visitors can take advantage of the optional guided walks with locals from the neighboring community that provide a glimpse into natural history from a native perspective.
For visitors looking to experience the culture and traditions of Sacred Valley, guests can take part in many activities that acquaint them with the local culture, such as listening to a concert from a local shaman with instruments and melodies that transcends time and space, and traditional ceremonies, like the Andean Wedding Ceremony to honor vow renewals and nuptials or the ancient celebrations that honor the seasonal solstices and equinoxes.
At The Spa, guests can choose from a number of spa treatments that feature products made onsite using local ingredients. From hot stones and facials to saunas and food-based scrubs, there is a myriad of relaxing and rejuvenating treatments. Uniquely, Las Qolqas also boasts outdoor showers, a sauna, and a large rustic hot tub that overlooks the bubbling river running through the property.
A haven for exploration and self-discovery, this peaceful place as a testament to the commitment to the preservation of the environment, local community, and culture, as well as harnessing travel as a way to promote sustainable development.
For more information, please visit lasqolqas.com.