Where to go, Part 4, Latin America

Latin America

Lima, Peru
Angling for a top spot among Latin American destinations, Peru has been hot for years now. “Availability is becoming a significant concern because of the demand for Machu Picchu, and exceptional pricing now makes Peru a rival to Costa Rica in terms of sheer volume to Latin America. Luckily, we work with some great local partners and find ways to get space for visits to the Inca heritage sites,” notes Jerry Tischleder, South America product manager at Avanti Destinations. “Plus, Peru’s tourist board has really been putting a lot of effort into the North American market which only helps travel agents. With some new hotels coming on the market in 2013, I expect the boom to continue.”
With the rise of food tourism, Peru is attracting an entirely different crowd. From Los Angeles to London, trendy Peruvian restaurants are piquing tastebuds with ceviche, anticuchos, and pisco sours. Many of Peru’s celebrity chefs—who make global tours as ambassadors of Peruvian cuisine—have restaurants in Lima, where they can source incredible local products like Andean cactus and yucca straight from the Amazon. Now Lima is emerging as a top destination for the foodie set. LAN and United fly nonstop from New York’s JFK, meaning Lima’s palate-thrilling cuisine is within eight hours’ reach. —M.W.N.

Ecuador has been emerging for quite some time but a new airport expected to open this year could put the destination on the top. The new airport isn’t even necessarily the reason, but rather what they plan on doing with the old one.
The old airport in Quito, located smack in the middle of the bustling city, will be converted into a facility that will house everything from a convention center to shopping outlets to a new luxury hotel, making it the perfect spot for both leisure and business travelers.
Quito’s new International Airport, which is expected to receive an influx of eight million travelers, will feature a 2.5-mile-long landing strip capable of handling bigger capacity, long-haul jets. Tame, one of Ecuador’s three domestic airlines, will offer direct flights to Buenos Aires, Sao Paulo and New York starting in 2013.
Set to begin service in June 2013, the new luxury train known as Tren Crucero will travel from the Andes south to the Pacific Coast over the course of a four-day /three-night journey. The four-coach train can accommodate 54 passengers comfortably in sofa chairs that face dining tables.
Ecuador is ideal for adventure travelers and land-sports enthusiasts. However, make sure your clients, especially the older ones, are fit enough to endure Ecuador’s altitude since it can cause some shortness of breath and dehydration.  —J.P.

The Nicaragua Tourism Board reports that tourism is one of the country’s fastest-growing economic sectors. Tourist arrivals have increased in the past few years to become Nicaragua’s largest industry. From January through September 2012, tourism to Nicaragua increased 11 percent, leading to an 11.45 percent increase in foreign investment.
And with the destination expecting its first ever luxury resort this year, expect affluent clients to begin inquiring about this Latin American diamond in the rough. Travel Agent got the skinny on Mukul (the Mayan word for “secret”), a luxury boutique hotel and spa in Guacalito de la Isla that is expected to open soon. It’s a $250-million, 1,670-acre low-density private beach community on Nicaragua’s Emerald Coast and will have about 40 rooms, each with an ocean view, pool and private staff.
Book Nicaragua for the seasoned travelers, especially anyone who has been to and enjoyed Guatemala or Honduras—or Central and South America in general.  —J.P.
Central Plaza and cathedral in Granada, one of Nicaragua’s historic, culture-rich cities.

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