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|  Ecuador: 1999 - 2009  |  Contact Us  |

 
June 25, 2014

READ: La Mirage Garden Hotel and Spa - Blog and Photos by Ashley Rogers
- (Originally Published: June 10, 2014)

Peacock at La Mirage Garden Hotel and Spa - Cotacachi, EcuadorThere’s very few boutique hotels in the world where one can say they truly experienced first-class elegance. But recently, Michel Blanchard and I had the distinct honor and pleasure of doing just that, when we checked into the ultra luxurious La Mirage Garden Hotel & Spa for two days of decadent pampering.

Read More...

 

[ Originally published at http://ecuadoratyourservice.com/author/admin/ - reposted here with permission of the author. ]
 

April 01, 2014

Bueno, mi querida Sra:

Saludos y abrazos te manda Macario.  La Pinta... fenomenal!  love it!!!! los hikes y el snorkeling son un poquito fuertes but worthwhile!  Want to go back for the long itinerary.  Los guides buenisimos.  La cabina perfecta!  Acabamos de terminar de cenar en La Mirage... just when you think it couldn't get any better.... La Mirage is the cherry on the sundae!  El Sr. Colemere esta in heaven!!!!! The driver and guide, Antonio and Rafael... fantastico!!!!  Despues te cuento!!  I am tired and I am going to enjoy the fireplace :)  Gracias un millon por todo! Another dream vacation thanks to you!!!!! 

Besos y abrazos! 

Vari  [Last names withheld in compliance with the privacy policy.]
 

January 17, 2014

HI Judy,

We returned from Ecuador on Sunday evening.

After we left the Hilton in Quito, we spent 8 days in the Galapagos.

We had a wonderful time and appreciate your excellent service.

If you provide other travel-related services, we would certainly get in touch when the occasion arises, so let me know.

Thanks for everything,

Judy
  [Last names withheld in compliance with the privacy policy.]
 

|  Ecuador: 1999 - 2009  |  Top  |  Contact Us  |

December 28, 2013

Hi Michael,

Arrived back in KS this afternoon, all 6 of us healthy and happy.  The upper Amazon, the Galapagos, and Quito were all simply highlights, each the best in their own way.  The combo was a kind of delicious sweet/sour gourmet meal. 

The jungle itself was much like Blue Creek site in rain forest Belize, but the addition of the Sacha Lodge was delicious.  I have a real good hypothalamic feeling about jungle, so this was like coming back home.  The guides, mostly indigenes, that took us around were simply superb: friendly, knowledgeable, energetic, yet patient with tenderfeet.  There was a nice mix of hiking and boat travel. Views from the two towers, lifting us above the canopy, were inspiring. Food was excellent.  We felt like we left friends behind. 

Miguel, who you had mentioned, turned his Quito guide duties over to Jon Paul, a very intelligent, low key, good humored guy, with stateside time in DC, and other places. We did go the the restaurant you recommended. It was the beginning of "Quito Days", and it was full of celebrating folks.  We were serenaded by a quartette musicians, and heard lots of singing on the main floor.  Gail did find some nice things at the Mercato.  Jon Paul spent more than his share of hours with us on the "half day trip" around the Old Town and the 00:00 line.  Jon Paul arranged for us to cancel our last nite at the hotel, due to an airline glitch having us change planes in Guayaquil, coming from Galapagos. The plane switch got our baggage lost, including several hours of time.  We decided to spent the remaining hours (before the flight back to US) in the airport.  This compromised the promised meeting with our Quito driver, who had planned to take us around.  But he magically appeared with some cash returned from the hotel, so we ate our last meal with the it.  No problem. 

Galapagos was the true biologist's Mecca! The Beluga ship and it's staff, i.e., guides, boatman, were truly faultless.  Darwin (given name, how nice!) Alvares was superb: very smart, with an extensive fund of knowledge and experience, very patient and good humored with duffers like us, who needed to hear an answer numerous times to the same question.  As you likely know, we were given opportunities for at least two activities each morning and afternoon, hiking and snorkeling alternatively.  Again, this took lots of energy and we all wished we were in better physical condition.  Guide Darwin was in great shape, keeping us from falling into the sea with every transfer from ship to panga.  The stark life and physical character of the islands was actually a shock, even after having read a lot about it. 

It was great to see Greater Daphne island, the site of the Grant's research.  I was impressed to see the Grant's 2008 book in the book collection of lounge of the Beluga.  Darwin, our guide, said it was his personal copy, a reflection of his depth of interest and commitment to continued learning.  Reflecting my teaching of genetics and evolution, one thing I found lacking in much of tourist-oriented literature about the Galapagos was more on the role of mutation, genetic heterogeneity and evolution in population genetics terms.  There is plenty of discussion and talk using the term "adaptation" but often it was couched in language of physiological, not genetic, terms.  Thus, the essence of evolution in populations, it seemed to me, easily escaped the attention travelers to the island.  The animals themselves, of course are interesting, but their key significance was often left hazy.  Again, the guides planned a nice mix of activities, and worked us pretty, and there were no complaints, but we finally needed to go home to KS to rest up! 

Lisa brought along an underwater camera that did stills and video. She is a high frequency shooter, so there are on record miles of video she took but has not seen much of. 

One general gripe about our air travel was that the midnight flight Quito to Atlanta was trying, especially with the tiny passenger space on the AirBus model used by Delta.  Sleep was difficult.  Different flight times and plane models might be considered. 

Michael, if there are specific items you would like me to reflect on, send me questions and I would be happy to give you my response by e-mail or telephone. 

Thanks so much for your being the real stimulus to realizing this great adventure.  Our group, with ages from 16 to 81, was agreed it was a delightful once in a life time trip.  Although it was the second visit for Lisa, and she sounded like she is already planning another trip there!

I hope we can keep in touch occasionally on items of common interest.  Gail, the printmaker and painter, has mentioned plans to do some art derived from the trip and that a piece of work might make its way to your address. 

In sincere appreciation, Wayne and Gail. 
 
[Last names withheld in compliance with the privacy policy.]

 

October 28, 2013

Judy,

Back on Wednesday but has taken to this point to get time to send emails.  Trip was unbelievably incredible.  Mansion del Angel was unbelievable like being able to live in a museum from another time.. Our Quito guide, JP, was great and was able to get us to the changing of the Guard at the Presidential Palace on Monday.  Lunch at the Volcano was great but the mist didn't cooperate. 

The trip on the Galaven was awesome.  itinerary was fabulous and the boat and crew great.  Would highly recommend to anyone who wanted to experience the
Galapagos

The find of the trip was Su Merced in Puembo where we stayed on our return.  Not sure if you are familiar.  20 minutes from the airport which was great but the B&B is a 300 year old hacienda restored to its original character.  Made us feel like we were staying at a colonial governors residence.  Pablo was great and made sure anything we needed was provided.  Had what wife said was one of the best chicken dishes for dinner she had ever had.  The only thing that we regret is we didn't schedule an extra day to stay at Su Merced and enjoy its garden, hammocks and restful environment before getting back on a plane.. Next time. 

Thanks again for all of your wonderful help.  We will be talking to neighbors who want to do the Galapagos and I told them I would put them in contact with you.  When we go to Machu Picchu we will certainly call you.. 

Tom  [Last name withheld in compliance with the privacy policy.]
 

January 28, 2013

Hi Doris,

Just wanted to drop you a line and let you know that Vicki & I had a fantastic time in Ecuador.  The crew on the Letty was great!!  Our guides were great, enthusiastic and full of information.  The accommodations on the Letty were very nice.  The meals were excellent. 

We also had a wonderful time at the Sacha lodge.  It was a fantastic introduction to the Amazon rain forest.  Our guide was very knowledgeable and truly enjoyed introducing us to all of the animals and plants in the rain forest.  The lodge was very comfortable. 

Thanks Again for all your help. 

We will definitely recommend you to anyone interested in going to Ecuador and the Galapagos

Mark  [Last name(s) withheld in compliance with the privacy policy.]
 

January 10, 2013

Dear Judy,

This is late but as the saying goes: "Better late than never". 

We thoroughly enjoyed our trip to Quito, the Galapagos, Chinchero and
vicinities, Machu Picchu , Cusco and Lima. 

Thank you for making the arrangement for us to try the roasted "cuy" in Quito, Ecuador..  

We liked the La Casa Andina Private Collection Hotel in Sacred Valley, Peru.  For us, it was in the middle of nowhere but the view was fantastic.  The mountain, flowers and fruit trees around were just lovely. 

The cruise to the Galapagos on the Athala II was a lot of fun and adventure.  We met 14 well traveled and friendly people from U.K.  We were just like one big family.  The Athala II crew and the guide, Jorge Garcia, were all wonderful.  They all pampered us for the duration of the cruise. 

We were met by the affiliates there on time and we were taken to the airport promptly.  The services were excellent except for some problems with the staff at the Sonesta Hotel in Cusco [and] our group guide in Cusco, which were beyond your control. 

We were, also, very impressed with the short amount of time it took you to make all the arrangements.  As you know, we travel independently and it was such a pleasure to have everything pre-arranged for us everywhere! 

We have told our friends about you.  We hope that they would give you a call one of these days. 

We were so lucky to have found you. 

Deven and I hope to travel to some other South American countries in the future. 

Thank you so very much, Judy. 

Take care. 

Sincerely,

Tess and Deven  [Last name(s) withheld in compliance with the privacy policy.]
 

|  Ecuador: 1999 - 2009  |  Top  |  Contact Us  |

December 23, 2012

Hi Judy,

I just want to let you know that my trip was fabulous!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 

Everything went according to plan, not a single hitch.  I loved the Galapagos and loved Peru!!!!!! 

I loved Hotel Mansion de Angel as well as Sol y Luna!  CAPC was lovely in both Cusco and Puno (not sure why the on-line reviews were not good).  Inkaterra was lovely too (especially the grounds). 

I can't wait to have you help organize my next trip! 

Thanks again. 

Happy holidays, and all the best for 2013

Beverley  [Last name withheld in compliance with the privacy policy.]
 

[ LARC's Response: ]

WELCOME BACK BEVERLEY,

I WAS WAITING TO HEAR FROM YOU, JUST IN TIME TO MAKE MY HOLIDAY HAPPY!  MERRY CHRISTMAS AND CAN'T WAIT TO PLAN YOUR NEXT TRIP.  HUGS, JUDY
 

November 20, 2012

We have arrived from sea level of the Galapagos back to Quito and over 9000 ft. We are on our way to Cotapaxi National Park.  Cotapaxi is the tallest active volcano in the world at almost 20000 ft.  We horseback ride up part of the volcano tomorrow and then head to the jungle. 

Galapagos was great - swam with sharks fish beautiful sea floor and of course playful sea lions.  Saw all types of iguanas the blue footed booby the nasca booby many finches and the albatrosses were amazing.  We saw sting rays, sea turtles mating (swam with them a lot) giant tortoises mating and much much more. 

We loved Mansion de Angel and Quito.  Miguel and his group have been great.  Cormorant was first class - really only got two effective days on ship as were up at 5am on last day for 630 departure.  Galapagos Safari Camp was great. 

Couple of notes to pass on to Miguel - when go to Middle of Earth advise clients to have sunscreen and a hat when leave hotel or in itinerary.  There was a mix up either by Cormorant company or in the information they received from LARC - they apparently had us booked back on Aero Gal on Nov 17 straight from ship. I had asked Katrien at GSC to confirm our flights on Nov 18 and when we returned back that day she had pulled a rabbit out of the hat and got us on the last 2 seats today.  She saved the day

Anyhow all going great - looking forward to the rest of the trip. 

Happy Thanksgiving

Ken  [Last name withheld in compliance with the privacy policy.]
 

October 19, 2012

[feedback from recent guests at Sacha Lodge]

We can't say enough positives about all 4 naturalist guides who were part of our itinerary: Ivan Lopez & Harry Jimenez in the Galapagos, Luis Garcia & Pedro (last name unknown; our Kichwa guide) at Sacha Lodge.  We've not encountered that quality of guide -- knowledge, people skills, just plain enjoyable to be around -- anywhere in our other travels.  They had everything to do with making this our trip of a lifetime!  If you're in a position to pass on the heartfelt compliment, please do! 

Cindy  [Last name withheld in compliance with the privacy.asp policy.]
 

March 08, 2012

Hi Judy,

Sorry about the credit card.. I did not notify Visa that we would be out of the country and therefore they assumed it was fraud. I have talked to them this morning and the freeze has been lifted so the charges should be permitted. Had there not been a power outage we could have solved the problem right then.   Everyone there was so nice I feel very badly this occurred.  Please let me know if there is a further problem. 

We could not have been happier with all the arrangements you made.  The Hotel Silberstein worked out well and as I said , everyone there is so nice.  The daily trips were very good, though the bus ride got tiresome.  The hotel in Quito was so pleasant.  I felt like home and Gloria did everything she possibly could to make our stay there perfect.  Thank you for making all the arrangements and making sure our trip went off without a hitch!!  It was just GREAT!!! 

Thanks again, Kathie
 
[Last name withheld in compliance with the privacy policy.]

[ LARC Travel Tip: Be sure to notify your credit card company before leaving the USA to avoid unwanted holds on your credit card purchases or other charges made while traveling abroad. ] 
 

February 13, 2012

Dear Judy, We’ve been home 21 hours and are re-acclimating.  Our flights home went very smoothly.  We thank you so much for arranging the later flight from Miami (we cleared customs at 4 pm, obviously too late to make the connection that I made), which was a smooth 2 ˝ hours, boosted by tail wind. 

The highlight was our visit was the Galapagos.  The Explorer II was better than we expected, including room, crew, great food, well organized, polite.  The two naturalists we had were pleasant and knowledgeable, and spoke English very well.  La Mirage was charming and our local tour by Juan Carlos was quite interesting (including purchases for Xmas presents at Otovalo).  Quito was also interesting and the Gangotena quite beautiful.  We ate dinner there with one meal (steamed sea bass) great and one meal (pork) awful.  The meals on the boat and at La Mirage were uniformly good to great, especially the boat. 

We would like you to thank Miguel, whom we got to meet the last day and to especially thank Juan Carlos, who hung in there.  Please forward this e-mail to them.  We want to thank you again for your patience and untiring efforts, which we appreciate and got us over the rough spots. 

All the best, Mel and Martha 
 

[Last names withheld in compliance with the privacy policy.]

 

[LARC's Response:]

HI MEL & MARTHA,

I WAS JUST ABOUT TO CALL YOU TO SEE HOW EVERYTHING WENT.  I THOUGHT ABOUT YOU NUMEROUS TIMES OVER THE WEEKEND AND ASSUMED YOU MUST HAVE MADE IT OK.  THANKS FOR LETTING ME KNOW AND THANKS FOR YOUR REPORT, I AM COPYING EVERYONE THAT WAS INVOLVED IN TAKING CARE OF YOU AND THANKS FOR BEING SUCH GOOD CUSTOMERS. 

BEST RGDS, JUDY
 

January 14, 2012

Hi Miguel,

My wife, Janet, and I want to let you know how pleased we were with the services your staff provided us during our visit to Ecuador in November.  Your personnel were exemplary, professional, organized and personable.  They made us feel very comfortable and safe. 

The tours and the administrative matters, including vouchers and airline tickets, were seamless. We experienced no disappointments, no frustrations and no disappointments.  It's a credit to your organization that everything worked out so smoothly.  There is no question that we'd use your services should we return to Peru and will enthusiastically recommend your services if the opportunity presents itself down the road. 

Wishing you much continued success as you move forward. 

Sincerely, Richard  [Last name withheld in compliance with the privacy policy.]
 

January 13, 2012

Judy, we had a great time and would like to thank you for all the effort you put into making the arrangements.  The guides and tours were great and we were always picked up on time and never had to worry about whether someone had forgotten us.  Earlier I sent you our comment regarding the Bartomle island and a couple of other items you may want to be aware of are as follows:

-The hotel in Cusco (TAYPIKALA) gave us the absolute worst rooms in the house. We were in the basement beside a noisy kitchen in rooms badly needed of re-decorating. Even though it was New Years our booking was well in advance so I think they could have done better.  Overall the rest of the hotel seemed to be more superior and it had a good location.

-On our final day the cab driver taking us to the Quito Airport from the Hotel La Rabida was a bit of a problem.  We gave him a $5 tip which was more than we paid for a cab fare to go all the way to the cable car in the morning and he insisted that $5 wasn't enough.  It was our understanding that the transfer was included.  Of course he conveniently didn't speak English so we gave him an additional $5 to get rid of him.  He seemed to be insisting that he wanted $5 from each of us ($20) but he only got $10 in total.  I think the staff at La Rabida may want to know about this as it was a great hotel and very homey. 

Rest assured, if we decide to do any more Latin American vacations we will be happy to contact you again or provide a reference to others as required. 

Thanks so much.  Enjoy your weekend. 

[Names withheld in compliance with the privacy policy.]
 

|  Ecuador: 1999 - 2009  |  Top  |  Contact Us  |

November 09, 2011

Judy-
Sorry for the late reply.

It was AWESOME!!!!  You had the perfect recommendations for us.  We love La Mirage and the area and La Rabida was perfect for us.  A step down from the luxury of La Mirage, but equally as perfect.  Judy and Sergio were very kind and welcoming.  Feels like family.  Haley spent a good amount of time talking to the staff after the Earthquake.  They were quite shaken up.  we thought it was exciting.  Only because no one was hurt and no damage. 

You ROCK.  I gave your info to a bunch of people on the trip.  A couple from Toronto and also one from PA who seemed very interested in more South American travel. 

We are your biggest fans. 

Thanks

julie  [Last name withheld in compliance with the privacy policy.]
 

September 11, 2011

Hello Judy

We returned from our Galapagos / Machu Picchu trip a couple of weeks ago. Here is a huge thank you to you and the Latin American Reservation Center for arranging an absolutely outstanding trip. 

We were delighted with the LARC arrangements throughout -- especially the Mansion del Angel hotel in Quito (at which we stayed 3 times during the trip) -- our stay was absolutely wonderful.  Please relay our thanks to the manager, Lupe, and staff – who made us welcome and superbly comfortable.  The hotel is absolutely beautiful and the service was excellent. 

Tours were outstanding and we had perfect weather through-out (I’m not sure whether that was your doing or not).  All tour arrangements were beyond expectations -- we were met at every stop, our boarding passes, etc. were pre-printed -- we had a private tour bus with driver and guide and the guides were entertaining and informative. 

Please thank David, our tour guide through Quito, for excellent service. 

A special note on the service by Peru Chasquitur – they were flawless and beyond expectations in every way. 

Our guide in Lima, Miguel, was terrific.  We did not have time for much beyond the Gold Museum, but Miguel was entertaining and engaging. 

Our guide through Cusco and Machu Picchu, Clara, deserves special attention. She was absolutely outstanding in every way.  My wife was walking with a cane (we put off her knee surgery for the trip) and Clara went out of her way to assist and allow time for each tour. Knowledgeable and informative would be an understatement – she was just wonderful throughout and handled every detail expertly and a positive disposition.  In short, Clara takes the experience from good to great.  She was outstanding and will be fondly remembered as a highlight of our trip.  Please relay our heartfelt appreciation and thank you to Clara. 

I would be remiss if I did not also mention Edgar, our driver in Peru. He was exceptional – after the first couple of narrow, winding roads up the mountains I knew he was a rare find – always patient, prompt and providing excellent service.  I can’t say enough good things about him – and was I happy when he showed up at 4:30 AM to take us to the Expedition Train – great service! 

On our second day at Machu Picchu, we were guided by Manuel, who hiked Wayna Picchu with us.  We pretty much knew what we wanted to do the second day and had our day planned, so we did not spend as much time with Manuel, but he was an excellent companion and we really appreciated his company and informative dialogue on the hike.  I do want to thank you all (especially Peru Chasquitur) for scheduling our second day at Machu Picchu – which gave us an opportunity to hike a little and revisit some of the sites. 

I think the best example of excellent service by Peru Chasquitur was when we boarded the bus for our trip to the airport in Cusco, the agent (Diego?  I think, but I am not sure) handed us our boarding passes for the flights to Lima and Quito!  This is just one example – the service was always great. 

We had a fantastic trip and wish we had spent more time in Ecuador and Peru. We found so many things we wanted to see and do – we will definitely plan a return trip! 

Again, thank you (LARC) and Peru Chasquitur very much for the terrific tour planning, arrangements and guides.  We were delighted with the service.  I would definitely recommend LARC!

Walt, Susie, Kiff, and Joy
  
 
[Last names withheld in compliance with the privacy policy.]

 

August 08, 2011

Thanks for a wonderful trip.

The hotel La Rabida was super.

Loved the Beluga and would highly recommend to any/all

Our naturalist was exceptional

thanks again for making this all work so well.

jim
  [Last name withheld in compliance with the privacy policy.]

[LARC Response:] 

HEY PAULA!

IS HE BACK ALREADY? I LOST TRACK OF THE TIME. WELL THAT IS GREAT! I KNEW THEY WOULD LOVE IT, BUT IT IS ALWAYS NICE TO HEAR FROM THEM, THANKS FOR LETTING ME KNOW AND DON'T LOSE MY NUMBER, YOU CAN HAVE LOTS MORE SATISFIED PASSENGERS LIKE HIM BOOKING THROUGH US! :)

ALL THE BEST, JUDY
 

August 01, 2011

Judy, good afternoon. I've been remiss in not getting back to you after returning to CT. on 07.19.  My wife says you're a miracle worker.  Our trip went flawlessly. All the connections and flights were punctual and Aerogal is a great airline.  We got snacks and drinks on the 45 min flight from Guayaquil to Quito, and beer and wine was no charge.  Our drivers and guides were courteous, very friendly and especially informative on the sites and sounds of Quito and Imbabura Province.  We actually hired them for a free day in Cotacachi and surrounding areas.  It was $10/hour.  I couldn't believe it.  They also, didn't drive like the local population does.  Thanks God for that.  The locals are wacked out drivers. 

The Beluga and the Galapagos were better than we ever could have imagined. The crew and food were worth the trip on their own, but our naturalist, Juan, had to be the best one in the Galapagos.  We, and and the 14 others on board, truly enjoyed our daily trips onto the islands as well as the snorkeling around the islands and the insight he provided before, during, and after every trip. Now that we've been there, I wish they'd close it down so no other tourists could go. 

Kudos again on the La Mirage and Mansion del Angel.  Our first two nights at the Mansion we were the only guests they had I finally realized.  Didn't matter, they didn't cut back on the staff or service or not open the kitchen as some other hotel might do, we had 4 or 5 people at our beck and call at all times. The bad part is now my wife expects it at all times.  I'm exhausted.  I need a vacation.  La Mirage was just the same.  What a beautiful setting, and the grounds...  it's like going to a botanical garden, and you get to sleep there.  Food and service, 1st class.  When we got home I suggested we should go backpacking for a couple of days.  Diane laughed, looked at me and said, go ahead, I'm calling Judy.  Thanks girl.  Where to next? 

Stephen  [Last name withheld in compliance with the privacy policy.]
 

[LARC Response:] 

I am still laughing at Diane's last comment!  You go girl!

I have lots and lots of places to send you, I can keep you busy traveling to South America for the next ten years and you still won't have seen it all! Thanks so much for the feedback, that is how we can assure our future clients of the top notch service we strive to provide. 

All the best, Judy
 

June 08, 2011

Hello Judy, hello Caleb,

I am glad to report that I am back in Germany safe and sound.  Well, actually not glad - I had a really really great time in Galapagos, I loved every minute of it and if it had been up to me, I would have stayed another 3 weeks J J.  

I'd like to take this opportunity to say a big thank you to both of you for your help and support.  Especially with the sudden itinerary-change, really great that you helped me there so quickly!  I enjoyed my time in Isabella, you were very right to recommend it, Caleb!  We did the tour to Los Tuneles and had close encounter snorkeling with the penguins, it was great fun J  

The hotels were all great; especially the Aventura was really lovely.  Great to see how well it was all re-done after the blow it took with the Tsunami, really very nice.  Staff there was most helpful and very kind, so I had a great time.  

The diving was also nice. Just one question concerning that: From what I learned the way this works is that basically every operator connects with the other operators on the island and then one of them does the tour to a certain destination that day, correct?  It's just something we'd need to advice our customers of, that's why I'm asking.  Is there any way of knowing in advance who will operate the tour that particular day?  

It's too bad we didn't get a chance to meet personally. But if you do get by Bremen again make sure you let me know - I'll have a large Becks ready for you ! J  

As for the part in Quito, I absolutely loved the Mansion del Angel!! Really a very nice place, I'll make sure I'll promote it to by best ability J.  The tour was also very nice and informative, got a good impression on Quito and what to recommend for our clients.  

Thanks you very much again!  

Best regards from rainy Germany  

Melanie  [Last name withheld in compliance with the privacy policy.]
 

April 26, 2011

Judy: 

I just returned from my vacation in Ecuador and ended up being a guest of my friend's old school pal that still lives in Otavalo.  He treated us to a wonderful lunch there as well as insisting we stay as his guest for a spa treatment.  It was wonderful and such a treat.  I took several pictures of the grounds and the dining area which were exquisite.  To say the least, it was a memorable afternoon.  

I must add that I have been to several wonderful spas - the Broadmoor in Colorado Springs, Colorado, the Suites of the Gods in Santorini, Grove Park Inn in Asheville, NC as well as the Biltmore Spa also in Asheville.  I rank La Mirage the top experience.  

Thank you for the information you sent me. I am writing an article of my experiences while in Ecuador and will definitely include my experience at La Mirage.  

My best to you and continued success.  

Pamela  [Last name withheld in compliance with the privacy policy.]
 

March 21, 2011

Judy, 

Thanks for your patience in arranging our trip.  This is our last night and we are staying in a fabulous room at Mansion del Angel.  The accommodations at all the hotels have been outstanding.  La Mirage was my wife's favorite.  She loved the country atmosphere and the small towns.  Galapagos was an adventure.  If I can advise another traveler interested in outdoor adventure I would recommend they do a cruise.  The Royal Palm was great.  Puerto Ayora was busy and fun.  Tortuga Bay beach is a must.  The walk to the beach in the sun was tough on the wife.  Enjoyed the Colonial Town area in Quito.  Heading out to a couple of museums.  Give you more when I get stateside.  

Carl   [Last name withheld in compliance with the privacy policy.] 
 

[LARC Response:]

F.Y.I.  CARL, TSUNAMI WARNING LIFTED FOR GALAPAGOS, NO SUSTAINED DAMAGE-HAVE A GREAT TRIP! 

RGDS, JUDY
 

February 20, 2011

Hi Judy, 

My stays at Mansion del Angel and La Mirage were the best yet.  

I tried the Cofan spa treatment in addition to the Equatorial Energy treatment and, of course, Esthela's purification.  All were fabulous.  

A special menu for Valentine's dinner was the best dining experience that I
have ever had.  

Thank you for all your help.  I told Jorge and Michel that I might come back
next February...  

Nancy   [Last name withheld in compliance with the privacy policy.]
 

February 17, 2011

Dear Judy, 

A VERY belated message to thank you for planning such a fabulous trip for Phyllis and myself. Has to be one of my best vacations ever.  After being delayed by a day due to the snow storm in St. Louis, it was pretty rushed and crazy Friday and Saturday.  But then the schedule provided a bit of down time here and there.  It was still anything but restful, getting up every day at 6:30 and not eating dinner until 8 pm (that was my only complaint with the schedule - it's too late to start a 4 course meal when you have to rise so early).  But we had a fabulous experience on the boat - I would recommend that one to anyone.  The staff were all so pleasant and helpful, and were lucky enough to connect with a wonderful group of people (mostly English) in our group - we all bonded and it was sad to leave!  But a week is definitely enough, particularly at that pace.  

La Mirage is as beautiful as you had said, and Mansion of the Angels was lovely also.  Again, we didn't have enough time in either place so it was a bit hectic, which is probably why I ended up coming down with a nasty bronchitis the day after I returned home.  We needed more time in both cities, but I needed to get back to class and Phyllis became very homesick.  I am hoping to return to Ecuador in the not too distant future - I loved it!  I had to laugh that all the people we met were going to the jungle, rain forest, etc before and/or after , and we went to a spa!  But I'm not sure Phyllis could have done those things - she found many of the walks too rigorous, although she loved the trip also.  

The guides, the people who transferred us, everyone was wonderful and took good care of us.  The young man who took us on our tour of Quito was very sweet, but he didn't seem to know much about what to see and do outside of the prescribed agenda.  It was a little heavy on churches.  I just have to remember to do more homework before doing something like that so I can be part of planning the tour.  

I wish that you were a travel agent for other areas besides Latin America, but when I'm ready to return, either to Ecuador or elsewhere, I'll be calling you.   Meanwhile I'm passing on your contact info to other people.  

Thanks again, Judy - you are fabulous to work with!  

Kay  [Last name withheld in compliance with the privacy policy.]
 

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October 05, 2010

Judy, 

We are having a most wonderful time thanks to your amazing organizational skills and knowledge... thank you so very much... no problemos con el presidente and todo los tiempo en Peru was wonderful (except for some food poisoning in the Valley-but will chat with you about that after we return) 

Young Americo was the best.... the very best guide... and our time in Quito wonderful... Casa Aliso as you know is such a treat... all the lodgings have been special in their own ways..  

Just wanted to catch you up on our sincere thanks for a wonderful time.. Off to Galapagos manana..  

Muchos gracias Judy..  

Maureen and Barry [Last names withheld in compliance with the privacy policy.] 
 

[LARC's Response:] 

HI MAUREEN  

DON'T KNOW WHEN YOU WILL GET THIS, BUT SO GLAD ALL IS WELL! PLEASE GIVE ME A SHOUT WHEN YOU GET BACK AND LET ME KNOW HOW EVERYTHING WAS. HUGS, JUDY 
 

July 20, 2010

The highlands of Ecuador were as wonderful as we remembered, and it was nice to spend the time to see things.  The schedule worked great, the two days off at La Mirage was great.  The Hacienda HATO VERDE was wonderful and we really liked the family that operated it.  Cesar, the husband gave our guide some good suggestions for stop that we would like, so we got to a native market where we were the only tourists and we also enjoyed a village bullfight on our way to Crater Lake.  Our time in Banos was great, the clouds cleared the first afternoon and we saw the erupting volcano in all its glory, not threatening just large plumbs of steam from the top and as the sun went down we could see some rivers of lava.  The trip into the canyon and to the Devil's Caldron was very nice to realize we were seeing one of the prime tributaries to the Amazon.  We enjoyed the Otovallo market and happened upon a crazy native celebration in Cotacachi while staying at La Mirage. The rooms, food and spa at La Mirage were wonderful and the grounds are beautiful. 

Margo likes some of the high quality native art, so our guide took us to Olga Fische a shop in Quito which was exceptional not only for the beautiful hand crafted items, but the have a spectacular museum on the second floor of pre-Columbian and other ancient artifacts that are wonderfully displayed, we felt very lucky to have visited.  

 [Names withheld in compliance with the privacy policy.]
 

June 10, 2010

Mike & Miguel, 

We arrived safely back in the US this morning.  I'm catching up on hundred of
accumulated emails, but I just wanted to send a quick note of thanks for all the hard work you both did in putting the trip together.  It was fantastic and the Hampden-Sydney students were thrilled.  Thanks too, Miguel, for all your help and hospitality in Quito.  I can't wait to come back.  

Regards, 

Alex [Last name withheld in compliance with the privacy policy.]
 

May 17, 2010

Hi Judy,

This is just a quick note from Cotacachi.  We are having an *amazing* honeymoon at La Mirage Garden and Spa.  The staff is treating us better than great and we've had fabulous food, great spa treatments, beautiful room and grounds, a gorgeous hike around Lake Cuicocha (Laguna Cuicocha), daily chocolate covered strawberries (and-or other honeymoon treats) complementary of the staff, a fun day in Otavalo market and generally great time.  Weather has been perfect, too.  

If GSC is half this great, we'll be very happy!  

Thanks for everything!  

Jeff [Last name withheld in compliance with the privacy policy.]
 

April 29, 2010

Hi Judy - 

Well, us girls had a ball!!  She's decided she'll only travel First Class for the rest of her life!!  Was mad about La Mirage which, as always, was a dream!  The altitude got to her at Inga Pirca - no surprise - but she did well in Quito.  Young David was most pleasant and Miguel took us to lunch, on arrival, at Rincon la Ronda - lovely place and such a nice thing to do!  Mansion is most elegant, but I would hope they do something far more agreeable with their little "Bistro".  I know it's just tiny and informal, but the food comes from outside and not at a good standard.  Low season at the moment - we were practically alone there and the stay was really lovely - No complaints, so please don't think I am unhappy!!  Many thanks for setting everything up - it was just a lovely part of the trip - at the end - AND - all flights on time or EARLY!!  What a treat that was!!  

Cheers, 

Judie  [Last name withheld in compliance with the privacy policy.] 
 

April 26, 2010

Judy- 

Thank you so much for helping us organize our stays at Mansion del Angel.  The hotel was absolutely beautiful.  I think we took pictures of every single room.  It was like a museum.  The people that work there are extremely gracious and attended to all our needs.  They arranged for taxis when we were in need and they were always very pleasant and priced reasonably.  

Our trip to Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands was incredible and your assistance help to make it so.  

Warm regards, 

Barbara and George [Last name withheld in compliance with the privacy policy.]
  

[LARC's Response:] 

BLESS YOU BARBARA & GEORGE,

IT ALWAYS HELPS US TO KNOW WHAT OUR PASSENGERS THINK ABOUT OUR PROPERTIES, AND IT IS OF COURSE VERY NICE TO HEAR SOMETHING PLEASANT. THANK YOU FOR TAKING THE TIME TO GIVE US YOUR KIND FEEDBACK. BEST RGDS, JUDY
 

April 05, 2010

Hi Judy!  

...so here's the update.  La Mirage was lovely (not sure if we were upgraded, but the room was beautiful regardless), albeit not an easy lodge to locate.  Driving in Ecuador was a breeze, finding things like the Mirage, not so easy, but we made it just fine.  

As to the Red Mangrove...it is a perfectly fine middle-of-the-road hotel group.   I'm not one who likes being on a schedule, so that aspect of it was a nuisance for me, but the trips were well organized, the guides were nice, the food was fresh...it was well done, just not luxe.  The "cabins" on Floreana were very basic...and hot (no A/C and no electricity after midnight, so not even able to have a fan). The hotel in Isabela was perfectly placed on a lovely beach.  We were upgraded to a suite (upon my request because our assigned room was not nice) at Aventura Lodge and that was well worth it.  I would encourage your guests to book the ocean front suites for the trip. Worth the extra few hundred dollars to guarantee the best rooms.  Basically, my feedback is that is a perfect way to see lots of stuff in the Galapagos, be completely directed to do things at specific times, stay in a clean environment d not think.  

Personally, my preference would be (and I might just return and do this) to stay at the Safari Camp (I am SO, SO happy we changed and booked a night there at the end...it was beautiful) and book a private scuba trip for 2-3 days max and relax at the safari camp at the beginning and end.  My favorite part about the entire trip really was being in the water and the tent.  

Thanks again for all your help and I promise to reach back out to you next time I head down that way.

All the best, 

Carla [Last name withheld in compliance with the privacy policy.]
 

April 03, 2010

Judy,

I absolutely agree with Miguel not to send it an expensive way.  There is no rush, so cheap is the way to go.  

BTW, we all really enjoyed the trip you arranged for us.  The rooms at the Hacienda Hato Verde were wonderful as well as the meal Maria prepared.  We all talked about her quinoa soup for the rest of the trip!  The MDA was great- (rooms and breakfasts) and the side trips to Quilitoa Lake, Otavalo, Mitad de Mundo and the Old City were fun too.  Richard was a excellent tour guide, really add some depth (culture and history) to his presentations that was very educational.  The folks at MDA suggested some very nice local restaurants.  

Only complaint would be that we wish Cesar had said something about taking the north road back from Lake Quilitoa to the PA Hwy.  Rye and Greg talked with him about the best way to go up and he suggested thru Latacunga, Pujili, and Zumbahua which was fine.  Then, they said they didn't want to come back the same way and wanted to make a "loop" back and Cesar looked a little funny.  I think he knew it would be a long way thru Sigchos and Toacazo but didn't say anything.  I think we drove 10 miles for every one that took us in the right direction due to all the switchbacks in the mountains!  Took us about twice as long (4 vs 2 hours) and we had to skip Cotopaxi on the way back to get to the MDA at a reasonable hour.  Minor problem though, the rest was super!  

Thanks again for all your help, 

Graham [Last name withheld in compliance with the privacy policy.]
 

March 07, 2010

Hi Judy, 

Back from Ecuador and Galapagos, and just wanted to say thank you for your help.  

The accommodations were excellent (Galapagos Safari Inn), and the tour guides and excursions were also great! What a wonderful trip.  

Thanks for all you did to make it possible. I would be happy to recommend LARC and your services to anyone who asks.  

Best, 

Peter   [Last name withheld in compliance with the privacy policy.]
 

March 04, 2010

Judy ... Returned from Ecuador on Sat. night.  Both the Mansion and Mirage were outstanding.  Thanks for your help.  

Glynn [Last name withheld in compliance with the privacy policy.]
 

February 25, 2010

Judy, I cannot begin to tell you what a wonderful experience Kimi and I
enjoyed. Everyone was so nice and the accommodations were way above my
expectations. We have made an agreement that we will return to La Mirage every year. The hotel in Quito is also beautiful and the staff is fantastic, but the spa was the cream of the crop. Thanks for all your help.   I need to write a note to Clemencia and Euphemia and also go to Trip Advisor
and write a review.   

What a wonderful way to spend a week or even two.  

Thanks again,
Peggy 
[Last name withheld in compliance with the privacy policy.]
 

[LARC's Response:] 

BLESS YOU PEGGY!  YOU MADE MY DAY!  I AM COPYING CLEMENCIA AND EUFEMIA, THEY WILL BE THRILLED TO KNOW THEIR EFFORTS HAVE NOT GONE UNAPPRECIATED!  WE WILL VERY MUCH APPRECIATE YOUR SPREADING THE WORD!  MY VERY BEST RGDS, JUDY 
 

January 16, 2010

Dear Sr. Espinosa, 

My husband and I had a very wonderful visit to your country of Ecuador a few weeks ago.  Mansion del Angel is an elegant and most comfortable hotel. You and your staff were so kind to take care of us making recommendations and assuring us of an enjoyable and safe trip. 

We are hoping to return sometime and just wanted to thank you for your part in forming our favorable impression of Ecuador and its people.

Happy New Year to you.

Sincerely,

Angela and Brian  

[Last names withheld in compliance with the privacy policy.]
 

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