Pedro Ibañez founded travel company and hotel owner and operator Explora in 1993 with the goal of opening up remote areas of great natural beauty in his native Chile. His seventh property has recently opened in the Valle Sagrado of Peru, a narrow valley flanked by mountains about 10 miles north of Cusco. Like its predecessors in Patagonia, the Atacama desert, and Easter Island, it was designed by José Cruz Ovalle, a leading Chilean architect and a master of wood construction.
He created a linear complex of two-story blocks and five main buildings, squeezed onto a narrow slope within an archeological site of stonewalled Inca terraces. As they excavated, they found more Inca ruins, which demanded preservation, so the building became a dialogue between old and new. Crowned with Peruvian tiled roofs, the white buildings stretch along the landscape, each with wooden verandas to take in the views. At the center is a lofty communal space containing the reception area, restaurant, bar, lounge and conference hall, with ramps linking the two levels. Walkways connect the terrace to 50 guestrooms, each clad in varying wood tones for a softer aesthetic, in the two blocks at either end. Cruz remodeled a colonial manor once home to Peruvian revolutionary Mateo García Pumacahua to serve as a spa, and another existing house as staff quarters, which is only a short walk from the main structure.
Like its siblings, the Peruvian venture is mirrored after an upscale ski lodge. Ibañez wanted his hotels to focus on “the luxury of essentials—abundant water, a great bed, light food, and simple interiors—only those things that are necessary in remote climates and demanding conditions,” he says. The architecture responds to the landscape with understated buildings that seem to grow organically from the land. Each provides comfortable accommodations for travelers who spend most of their days hiking and climbing with expert guides, returning to soak weary limbs and enjoy the spectacular vistas they’ve been enjoying up close. “Each Explora building has its own distinct character,” explains Cruz. “However, an abstract conception of space and common sensibility of materials and light can be found in all of them.”
Cruz eschewed working with bigger manufacturers in Lima, insisting on hiring local craftspeople who worked with native materials. Take, for example, the lodge, where double-height ceilings are supported by tree trunks found in Peru’s Amazon rain forest. Cruz sourced Peruvian woods for the floors, walls, and ceilings, employing stripped logs to simulate a row of trees down the central hall. His wife Ana Turrrell handled the interiors. Here, she mixed rugged modern classics with custom-designed chairs, tables, and beds that were fabricated locally for a bespoke look that allows the landscape to shine.
Explora’s new Peruvian outpost in the Valle Sagrado of Peru is flanked by mountains.
Chilean architect and wood construction guru José Cruz Ovalle crafted the linear complex across two stories within an archaeological site of stonewalled Incan terraces.
Walkways connect the terrace to all 50 guestrooms, which are housed in white buildings with wood verandas and topped with Peruvian tiled roofs.
The double-height communal space is decorated in modest materials for a subtle aesthetic.
Wood elements throughout, including in public spaces, reflect the craft traditions of Peru.
Custom seating, tables, and fireplaces outfit the lounge and bar areas.
Guestrooms mix two tones of wood to highlight the verdant mountain views.
The minimalist interior continues into the bathrooms.