||Ecuador Boutique Hotels|
Hacienda Cusin, a restored 17th century Andean estate at 8,500 feet is 90 minutes north of Quito and 20 minutes south from the famous market town of Otavalo. The Equatorial line and snowcapped Cayambe mountain are 30 minutes away.
Cusin’s terracotta-tile roofs, winding cobblestone pathways, courtyards and perennial gardens nestle beneath a deep blue sky in a wide, pastoral lake valley. Nearby, the often snowcapped 15,000-foot Cotacachi volcano is reflected in Lago San Pablo.
An ancient lakebed, cool nights and a predictable equatorial sun have conspired with avid gardeners to create several acres of ever-blooming gardens which include belladonna, bougainvillea, agapantha, acanthas, foxgloves, orchids and palms that attract over 50 species of birds.
Over the past 400 years, Hacienda Cusin has remained, for the most part, in the hands of two different Spanish families. Cusin had been operated as a farm until converted into a hotel by Eugene Metz. In 1970, when tourists were rare, Metz sold the hotel, ending three centuries of ownership by the Chiriboga family. The Creightons, the new owners and Cusin’s former managers, attempted to begin a rose-plantation, sold all of the surrounding land, and allowed Cusin to fall into disrepair. The Creightons sold Cusin in 1990 to the present owner, Nicholas Millhouse, who began the ambitious project of refurbishing the buildings, restoring the landscape, and constructing beautiful additions. With an eye on international tourism, the Hosteria’s original name, Hacienda was restored.
The 1993 New York Times Travel & Leisure reviews of Cusin, followed by those of guidebooks, newspapers and international magazines dramatically increased occupancy. As a result, the additional income provided capital for necessary construction and for additional staff. Purchase of land in Gualavi valley gave space for Cusin’s horses and crops for the kitchen. The construction of El Monasterio in December1995, only a garden walk from Cusin, provided additional space for guests, conferences, weddings and seasonal festivities.
El Monasterio is a self-contained, reflective site characterized by colorful gardens and mysterious cobblestone courtyards. Constructed for the purpose of conference and discussion of contemporary ideas instrumental in changing tomorrow’s world, El Monasterio is also a place for the celebration of life’s triumphs. The monastery, the ‘computer’ of the Middle Ages, was a meeting-ground for great minds and a place of inspiration for fervent creativity. The irony of building a monastery in the actual computer age was appealing, as was constructing an historic building in the ancient landscape of Imbabura appropriate.
Over 20 activities, tours and expeditions are available from hacienda Cusin. A Self-Guided Property Tour & Hacienda History is in the reception.
Guestrooms and garden cottages are individually styled and have views of perennial gardens and often snow-capped mountains. Most guestrooms have log-burning fireplaces, beamed ceilings and king-size beds. All rooms count with private bathrooms, hairdryers and oversized towels, are furnished with selected fine crafts, hand woven bed-covers, antiques, writing desks. Log-fires warm the cool evenings; hot-water bottles are available. Except for 3-9, all guestroomshave garden access. Electricity, 110 v., plugs as U.S.
Below are the details of all 44 guestrooms
BT Bathtub. FP Fireplace. BC Beamed ceiling.
MH Mainhouse. MC Main Cottage. YC Yapahuasi Cottage.
Tw Twin. GC Garden Cottage.
*Distinctive, Cottage **Connecting doors *** Private Garden
Monasterio has 18 Andean craft furnished guestrooms, all with beamed ceilings and private bathrooms, and 15 with kiva-style log-burning fireplaces.
Hacienda cusin features Public rooms and Salons Bolivar and Cotacachi, Reading room are antique furnished and have log-burning fireplaces
El Monasterio features a dining room, salon, library, television with satellite reception and VCR, bar, main conference room (used also for celebration dances), five seminar rooms, three courtyards, four separate gardens, public restrooms and a water garden. Its two towers (one with a ‘secret passage’) give panoramic views of the surrounding land dominated by 15,000’ Imbabura mountain and Imbacocha (Lago San Pablo).