Rated 4 out of 5 by HeldUpInPeru Wonderful Stay, with Some Qualifications
A recent business trip to Lima was extended to see Machu Picchu and the Nasca Lines, the latter of which led us to the Hotel Paracas. As a SPG member, we used points to stay at nearly no cost. The hotel is beautiful. The rooms are very nice and clean. The staff is mostly helpful. If in this part of the country, I would likely stay here again. There are a couple of issues to be wary of. First, the beach, which you can't really use (swimming prohibited, at least while I was there), smells horrible. My wife, who's sensitive to smells, could barely stand it. It's safe to say she would not return. I'm not sure if something can be done, but a better job of cleaning it would be a good start. It was not well groomed. Second, the food is a bit pricey for the area (roughly U.S. prices, in a country where U.S. prices are otherwise really high), but acceptably tasty. A hamburger, for example, is about $20 (but cerviche was only out $25). If you use points, you won't get breakfast, and the buffet is about $25. There isn't much in the vicinity to eat, so we felt a bit stuck. We tried to get out (we had a car), but the group didn't really feel safe doing so. The Hotel Paracas is a luxury resort in an otherwise very poor area (including Pisco, which is a 15-20 minute drive away). We ate across the street at a hotel where the food was decent (I don't recommend the beef) and the prices a lot better. Third, I do not recommend driving from Lima to Paracas. It's not that the roads are that bad, though it was a 4 hour drive for 220km (140 miles). The toll road is very nice, which makes up the bulk of the trip. However, we were essentially mugged by Peruvian police at both toll booths. The car rental agent advised this might happen, though we were still a bit unprepared for it. The police (a group of about 15 after each stop) would tell you broke some law and hold you there until you paid them something. It was so institutionalized that there were Peruvians selling snacks to the many cars that were pulled over. We had expected a rogue cop, not a group of 15 or so cops behaving in this way. We panicked a bit, and ended up having to pay more than we should have. Here's the program. They pull you over and tell you have broken some law (if not, they'll make one up). Play stupid for a while. I don't recommend speaking Spanish even if you do. They'll eventually hand you a book with some laws in it and tell you broke one (thinking or knowing you can't speak Spanish, they'll point to some law that has nothing to do with you, but has a high fine). Put 20 soles in this book, folded, so that it cannot be seen from the cameras capturing the whole event. (We learned this trick from one of the police, who made us thank him for taking our money before he let us go). That is, you need to have them hand you something into which you can hide a payoff. The key is to play stupid (or actually be it; they may let you go if sit for long enough, since that looks suspicious), and do not panic! Sadly, the hotel staff acted like they had never heard of such activity, but we met other Americans that had experienced the same thing. We were warned about it by the car rental staff. There's no doubt the holdup is institutionalized. Note that we traveled on a weekend, and maybe it happens only on Friday and Saturday when the environment is target rich. We had no issues returning on Sunday. Next time, if there is a next time, I will take a bus or a train. There's no use for a car in that area other than getting to-and-from Lima. The Nasca lines and the Bellestas Islands are worth seeing. Fourth, the Concierge service at the hotel was mixed. One was mostly helpful, the other not at all. The travel group, which is about the only think the one concierge could point you to, set up a flight over the Nasca lines at $250 a pop, but the planes were very nice and expertly piloted . It was a very easy trip, but perhaps better deals are available (though maybe more risky).
November 6, 2012
Rated 2 out of 5 by ronie83 Hotel has a big problem with bad smell from seaweed
The biggest problem of the hotel is that the beach and the hotel area smells bad due to the seaweed thay is located in the beach. They should do something to clean the beaches and take out the seaweed as it smells terrible.
Also I needed to call 6 times to have my starpoints credited...
March 10, 2013
Rated 4 out of 5 by CardinalsNation Paracas beach vacation - post Machu Picchu
Stayed at this property after hiking the Salkantay trek to Machu Picchu with friends. The hotel is very spacious, has an awesome pool and is true to the "resort" type property. The staff were very kind and helpful throughout the stay. Would recommend taking the sea kayaks out on the water, which is very clear and enjoyeable. The beach is not quite like other beach destinations, but the view to the other side of the bay is amazing and the close proximity to the sand dunes is also great. Very good local wineries are also located in the region for some Pisco tasting.
August 23, 2013