There are so many places and happenings Girlahead longs to return to. Take the ritual of the ancestors, above, in Cusco, 3,416 metres ASL, high in Peru’s Andes. Right now Cusco is recovering from civil unrest that saw its airport closed 14th December 2022, and far too many travellers stranded at Machu Picchu. When Girlahead does return, she will once again help lessen the effects of altitude sickness with a first-night stop at BELMOND HOTEL RIO SAGRADO in the Sacred Valley (the hotel has a divine heated ouside pool, soak up the amazing air while looking at the mountain peaks around).
Caravans of yore always did this. Camp the first night to get ready before the main expedition. Then continue, in my case to central Cusco, to the two Belmond-managed palaces that are less than 100 metres apart, both on on Plazav Nazarenas
BELMOND MONASTRIO DEL CUSCO is a 126-room hotel that was, as it name implies, a monastery. Still owned by the Church, it has a splendid working church, don’t miss it. There are Gregorian chants, admittedly taped, as you go to breakfast. Choose one of the rooms that has an oxygen concentrator to filter nitrogen out of the air – Girlahead has most enjoyed her stays in upper floor rooms, say #436, up 23 wide stone steps (it has an inset love seat with gold and ruby cushions, very romantic). The sibling place to stay, BELMOND PALACIO NAZARENAS, is a former convent, and there the favourite of 55 rooms, all osygenerated, is #200, the 85sq m Nazarenas Suite: it has a cantilevered corner window looking out over the square, presumably where the Abbess liked to sit to see what was going on in the outside world.
Whichever of the two you choose, just be sure you coincide with the ritual of the elders. It’s worth it, and is a perfect start to taking the Hiram Bingham trip on to Machu Picchu (where you of course have chosen to overnight in Belmond’s SANCTUARY LODGE to have the joy of being in the ruins after the hordes of tourists have left and, in the morning, before the next deluge arrives). All the Lodge’s 31 rooms are identical, by the way.
Let’s look at mountains elsewhere, namely the Swiss Alps. St Moritz is slap in the middle of its winter sports season. Its 38th Snow Polo World Cup, on 27-29 January, sees all top hotels involved: BADRUTT’S PALACE. a Leading property, hosts the Baku Moritz Gala. This is just one of the events indicating heavy Azari investment in Switzerland , by the way. One of the Cup’s two top teams is Azerbaijan Land of Fire, captain Elcin Jamalli with Argentine support (the other favourite is USA’s Team World Polo League, with captain Melissa Ganzi, who presumably can practise back home in her 40ha Wellington FL back yard – her son Grant is a fixture in her team).
Time to have a final listen at the highly-seasonal curret PODCAST: listen to it here