Positioned in what was once the heart of the Inca Empire, the JW Marriott El Convento Cusco introduces groups to Peru’s rich cultural heritage through hyperlocal design, creative team building and hands-on cultural immersion programs. The 147-room hotel is planted in the city’s historic center, easily accessible to iconic attractions such as Machu Picchu and the Urubamba Sacred Valley.
Bold architectural elements from its tenure as Saint Augustine, a 16th century convent, give shape to the hotel, as do thousands of artifacts from the Inca and their Killke predecessors. The 5-star property is really a must-see “museum in itself,” remarks Director of Sales, Ruby Ochoa. We’d venture to say it’s also an experience.
Two subterranean exhibition halls containing archaeological ruins give groups a glimpse into what life was like in Cusco over 1,000 years ago. Inca-themed decor with stone, wood and other natural accents permeate guest rooms—some of which are supported by original Inca walls. For all its historic charm, a number of modern “musts” such as high-speed WiFi, guest room iDocks, 1,400 sf of meeting space, and with Cusco’s high elevation, oxygen enrichment systems, also keep attendees comfortable and connected. And few things really connect groups like comfort food, which in Cusco, is more of an occasion.
Two on-site restaurants divvy up an authentic taste of Peru. “Gastronomy is huge in Peru and Cusco is one of the country’s fastest growing cuisine-focused destinations,” Ochoa says, noting that competitive cooking classes with the chef at Pirqa restaurant are one of the hotel’s most popular teambuilding activities.
“The chef explains a local dish such as ceviche or causa rellena, a dish using native potatoes. Then he instructs the teams on preparing their own and chooses a winning team based on taste and presentation.” After they’ve gotten their fill of Peruvian culture on-site, the hotel’s in-house tour operator, Harmony Travel, can whisk groups into the Andes for community-based activities.
At the Quechua community of Huilloc, groups can don Huilloc ponchos and work alongside local farmers using traditional tools. Other immersive programs include lessons on ancient weaving and dying techniques, including their iconography, Inca spirituality programs with traditional music and rituals, and “minka,” collective community work such as planting trees and painting schools, the health centre and other public buildings.