MAGICAL MACHU PICCHU
Talk about a teambuilding experience. Machu Picchu is both a World Heritage Site and one of the New Seven Wonders of the World. The ruins of the ancient Incan city cap a mountaintop with sheer cliffs dropping off on all sides. Only a certain number of people are allowed to visit the site each day, so for groups, it’s a must to work with Condor to make arrangements for your tickets and train travel. The train ride from Cusco to Machu Picchu is about 3.5 hours and Cecilia tells us the majority of American groups work with the luxury Hiram Bingham train, operated by Orient-Express. Named after the explorer who rediscovered Machu Picchu in 1911, the set of elegant rail cars accommodates 84 passengers total.
The menu features Peruvian cuisine with local ingredients including trout, corn and potatoes flavored with a spry array of fresh herbs. The two dining cars have white linen tablecloths set with fine china and large windows to see the magnificent mountain views.
For the evening return, your group will love the bar car where we drank our fair share of pisco sours while two musicians performed songs from different countries. Mostly everyone knew the words, so we sang along and some even danced while the train rolled on to Cusco.
For overnight groups, the 85-room Inkaterra Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel is nestled in a 12-acre ecological reserve next to the rushing sounds of the Urubamba River. Pathways through the gardens lead you to the romantic, whitewashed 2-story casitas. The buildings are stone, adobe and handmade cement bricks, stucco and eucalyptus beams, giving this resort a truly rustic Andean look.
We followed a handmade stone pathway to our rooms, making stops along the way to admire the flora, including 372 native orchid species. Our room was cozy and comfortable with a fireplace. Onsite, there’s an organic tea plantation, spa and more than three miles of private ecological trails.
During dinner, the Peruvian ceviche burst with freshness from the lime marinated basa (fish) with glazed sweet potato, red onions and white corn. That followed with a wonderful seared basa served with fava beans puree and pomegranate vinaigrette.
After dessert, as night fell high up in these magical mountains, we returned to our casita to the soft sounds of the Urubamba.
LAN Airlines recently merged with the Brazilian carrier TAM, creating more efficient routes for international groups. It will be the first airline in Latin America to fly the Boeing 787 Dreamliner, beginning later this year. The aircrafts boast the latest technology, larger windows and significant fuel savings. With the new fleet, LAN will begin servicing routes between Santiago, Buenos Aires, Lima, Los Angeles, Madrid and Frankfurt, with plans to increase destinations.
Under the tutelage of executive chef Hugo Pantano and master sommelier Hector Vergara, the Business Dining Experience features delicious regional fare like grilled conger eel in abalone sauce paired with handpicked Chilean and Argentinean wines.
Pantano says, “I’m working with a LAN panel of chefs from all over South America to create a new gourmet experience.”
For bubblies, LAN serves a prestigious Louis Roederer Brut Premier Champagne for which it was recently awarded Cellars in the Sky Awards’ first prize. For more info on group travel, email firstname.lastname@example.org.