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On the small Lake Titicaca island of Amantaní – where life has remained almost unchanged since the time of the Incas – a young local has done what many once considered unthinkable: opened up the island’s first-ever luxury hotel. But that’s not all. With a revolutionary concept of combining the “micro-boutique” experience with eco-friendly architecture and socially responsible projects, this one-room suite might just be the first of its kind.
Señor Oswaldo was born and raised on Amantaní, an island on the Peruvian side of the majestic Lake Titicaca. After spending some 20 years working in the tourism industry in Lima and in Europe, he came back to his family home with an idea: what if he could improve the lives of the people of Amantaní through sustainable, community-led tourism?
Although there were a handful of rustic homestays available on the island (one of which was his own family home), Oswaldo believed that Amantaní had only scratched the surface when it came to fulfilling its huge tourism potential. His mission was this: to offer Lake Titicaca’s first locally owned, managed and operated micro-boutique hotel.
With help from eco-design specialists Ecco Wek and architect and co-founder Tom Gimbert, Oswaldo’s vision for a sustainable, luxury suite was brought to life. On a private piece of land that Oswaldo inherited from his family, the team got to work on building a highly secluded apartment (you’ll need to take a flight, car, and then a boat from Lima to get here) into the rocky cliffs that look out directly over the never-ending expanse of Lake Titicaca, the world’s highest navigable lake.
Almost five years after Oswaldo, Gimbert and Ecco Wek started this venture, the beautiful Amantica Lodge finally opened to the public. A night here includes a private chef and butler service, an à-la-carte activity menu (put together by Oswaldo himself), and, of course, your very own private villa overlooking the deep blues of Lake Titicaca and, on a clear day, the snow-capped mountains of the Andes in the distance. With not a single other guest at the hotel, you’ll have the undivided attention of five members of staff throughout your stay.
Since the first inhabitants arrived here hundreds – maybe even thousands – of years ago, homes have been built from natural resources found on the island. To better fit in with the local architecture – and to minimize its environmental impact – the lodge is built entirely from adobe wood, totora reeds, and stones from the island, much of which has been left exposed to give the lodge a rustic-chic feel.
Like many homes on the island, the lodge also runs entirely off of solar energy. It has floor-to-ceiling windows throughout the property to enjoy the lake’s views, a gas chimney stove, a jacuzzi bathtub-for-two built directly into the cliffside, and a chill-out deck that, by day, offers views of the Andes and, by night, a lit-up sky ablaze with stars.
So why only the one room? The vision to build a stunning, eco-friendly home that could co-exist with its surroundings wasn’t the founders’ only mission. Amantica was also built to offer something very special: an exclusive, highly personalized local experience.
A stay at the lodge not only allows guests to escape Lake Titicaca’s ever-growing crowds, it also connects visitors to the local community – on a personal level. Package stays at the lodge include a long list of local activities (organized privately upon request), such as fishing with local fishermen, learning to weave with the female artisan community, visiting local schools, and taking trips to the nearby Uros and Taquile islands.
The final, and most important, part of Amantica’s mission is supporting the local community. The lodge is entirely run by local residents, opening vital sources of income and giving its workers the skills they need to be employable elsewhere or, even, start their own hospitality business.
As the only luxury hotel on the island, Amantica Lodge also donates a percentage of its profits towards new social projects. Past projects include building a sheltered dock for the island’s fishermen, providing running water to local homes, and helping women set up weaving workshops to sell their craft.
Although Amantica Lodge is still in its early stages, it has already become a shining example of how luxury tourism can strive to be 100 percent community-focused. In the coming years, Oswaldo hopes to build a selection of secluded, eco-friendly, one-room lodges, all while keeping his most important promise: to improve the lives of the people of Amantaní.