The number of luxury hotels that have really outstanding art collections is pretty limited – Cusco‘s Belmond Monasterio, Rome‘s Waldorf Astoria Cavalieri and Singapore‘s Ritz-Carlton Millenia spring to mind. Cut that down to hotel restaurants that are really art galleries and the list is even shorter. The gal was fascinated to see what Belmond Miraflores Park, Lima, has done. The hotel, run by culture-appreciator Laurent Carrasset, used to work with Toshiro Konishi, a Japanese friend of Nobu Matsuhisa, but as Belmond‘s man in Peru, Laurent Carrasset, says, visitors to Lima did not want to be offered Japanese food. They wanted a taste of Peru.
He turned to a longtime friend Augusto Baertl, whose Asia Boulevard Tragaluz (‘Skyligh’t) restaurant has long been a favourite of Lima’s glitterati. Persuading Baertl to open a Tragaluz here at Belmond Miraflores Park has been a brilliant success. It opened April 2014 and, now that locals are flooding in, hotel guests are too. The restaurant’s enormous Mateo Liébana wall mural was here before, as were giant multi-level white chandeliers. What is new, however, is constantly changing art by young Peruvian artists. Here Augusto Baertl turned to Impakto, a must-visit new gallery owned by New York-based gallerist and collector Jack Cohen. He and Impakto’s director, Renzo Pittaluga (in the big photo above, in Tragaluz at Belmond Miraflores Park), had long felt Lima’s art scene was too introspective and nepotic, and because there was no international communication, prices were inflated. Hence Impakto, which has also put art on the walls of Gastón Acurio‘s Lima restaurant, Astrid y Gastón.
Renzo Pittaluga is pretty fascinating, too. After graduating and practising in law, he told his parents, to their horror, that he wanted to enjoy life, and that meant switching to art (my mother thought I would starve, he says laughing). He and Jack Cohen deliberately opened Impakto in Miraflores, in a top residential area, rather than in the artsy-bohemian Barraca part of town. People are walking past Impakto all the time, he says. I happened to call in on the day Maria Alejandra Lozano was hanging some of 270 black and white panels, of assorted sizes. One is a Pokémon memory, which reminds me of the Pokémon game at Peninsula Tokyo. There is a Pokémon picture, too, among the pieces currently displayed at Belmond Miraflores Park.
Back there, the entrance to Tragaluz is guarded by a rusted pair of lifesize silhouettes, also from Impakto. As Renzo Pittaluga says, food is visual, so art and dishes go together so well. Somehow looking at those rusted figures seems rather appropriate as I eat my ceviche – which, I now know, should only be eaten at lunchtime, never at dinner, as traditionally it is cubes of fish caught that very morning. This luxury hotel provides an education in so many schools of life.