Chimu Adventures are breaking new ground with the opening of Lima’s first Australian-owned boutique hotel.
The market leading South American and Antarctic tour operator founded in 2004 by Australians Greg Carter and Chad Carey said the move into owning and managing hotels was the “next logical step” for the company, which are currently trialling a 3-star guest house in Cusco.
Around $5 million will be pumped into the 17-room Lima property to transform it from its current 1920s heritage-listed mansion into a 4-star unique superior hotel catering to local and international clientele, including Chimu’s own guests, many of whom Australians.
“We’re very excited and believe it’s an excellent business opportunity that ties in perfectly with our retail and wholesale operations,” Carter said.
“The simple fact is that there’s a shortage of good hotels in Lima, especially for travellers who want to stay in non-chain properties with modern facilities and a sense of place, which is the market we are targeting.”
“This gives us more security as well – it gives us an asset and more control for our guest experiences as well as more flexible and adds a stripe to our bow,” Carter said.
“To our knowledge we’re the first Australian company to develop a hotel in South America”.
Located in the buzzing Barranco District surrounded by art galleries, restaurants and bars, Carter said it was situated in the “bohemian part of Lima” and would be seeking to retain the authenticity of the region to incorporate it with the hotel’s design.
“Sadly, a lot of hotels take Inca to the coast, but they are not from the coast,” Carter said.
“There’s a lot happening in Lima at the moment – there’s a really good feel about the place.”
“We want it to become a part of the community reflecting the best aspects of Lima and Peru.”
According to an online survey of almost 400 Australian travellers conducted by Chimu Adventures, Carter said the results overwhelmingly showed “people wanted a sense of felling at home”, which led the company to naming the new property Casa Republica – however, Carter was quick to add, it was a working name in progress and could change by its November launch.
With the project having already commenced, Carter said “guest experience is critical to what we are trying to do,” adding they had already begun headhunting staff in Peru.
Tourism to Peru is on a roll with visitor numbers more than doubling in the past decade, reaching an all-time high of 4.22 million in 2015, an increase of 9.3% over 2014, and momentum is continuing through this year.
Adding to the allure, Lima’s reputation as the food and culture capital of South America continues to grow with the well-known eateries Central (#4), Astrid y Gaston (#14) and Maido (#44) all featuring in San Pellegrino’s top 50 restaurant awards for 2015.