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La Mirage Garden Hotel and Spa - Cotacachi, EcuadorLa Mirage
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Guest Comments about La Mirage Garden Hotel and Spa

Comments posted here are editorial in nature, are the views of the people who wrote them, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the management and owner of LARC - Latin America Reservation Center, Inc.® - which accepts no responsibility for their contents.

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.



[ Originally published at - 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 LARC privacy policy.]

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October 28, 2013

Hello Clemencia -

It is a great pleasure to respond to your email. 

I had a totally unique and very special stay at your hotel.  The quietness of the off-season made my stay most relaxing. 

The service, staff and food was all wonderful and most attentive.  I have never indulged in a personal spa before but I would have to say that Janeth made it a very special and transcending experience! 

The Mirage offered everything I was looking for to finish up my trip to Ecuador, so it will always be memorable.  Thank you again, for the upgrade to the King Suite.  You all made me feel very special indeed! 

You have a very unique property in The Mirage which makes the experience more like a retreat. 

You may inform Mr. Espinosa that I congratulate him on his visionary efforts and I hope to return again someday soon. 

Please continue with your stellar efforts to provide such wonderful service.  You are all doing a fabulous job! 

Many thanks again and best regards -

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


October 09, 2013

[ Subject: La Mirage ]

Hi Judy, thank you again. The resorts is lovely more than I expected.
Everyone is courteous, gracious, very wonderful.
thanks went well.
[Last name withheld in compliance with the LARC privacy policy.]

Fyi this is my email when I am overseas

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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 ½ 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 LARC privacy policy.]

[LARC's Response:]




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November 09, 2011

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. 


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

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 LARC 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

April 26, 2011


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 LARC privacy policy.]

March 21, 2011


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 LARC privacy policy.] 

[LARC Response:]



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 LARC 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 LARC privacy policy.]

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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 LARC 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!!  


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

April 05, 2010

Hi Judy! 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 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 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 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 LARC privacy policy.]

March 03, 2010

Judy ... Returned from Ecuador on Sat. night.  Both the Mansion and Mirage were outstanding.  Another great place we stayed was Hacienda Zuleta.  You should see if you could rep them here. I think their website is  Thanks for your help.  

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

[LARC's Response:] 


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August 28, 2009

Judy, just received my computer back.  I had to send it in for repair.  Therefore, I have not been able to email you.  The trip was fabulous from start to finish.  It could not have been more perfect!!!  Thank you.  La Mirage was posh and I loved Cotacachi.  The town was charming and the leather shops were a big hit with the group.  The setting in the Andes was intoxicating. While I was there, I wondered how everyone would adjust to the tent camp.  From pure luxury to a tent?  Hmmmm.  But, I must tell you that the tent camp was a HUGE HIT.  You MUST experience it.  I have not slept that well in years.  The tents were magnificent, the owners were very pleasant and bent over backwards to make our time there very special. The food was gourmet.  I am soooooo happy that we did not spend our time cruising around on a boat.  You were very correct, as always!  Staying on land ended up being a much better bet. I would give the highest possible marks to the Safari Tent Camp and would suggest that other clients would probably love it every bit as much as we did.  It was even better than anticipated. / Casa Aliso was charming and the staff very accommodating.  The beds were a little HARD and the rooms a little HOT and stuffy, but overall it was a good in-between stop.  Want to talk with you by phone to give you more info.  Still trying to get caught up at work. Just wanted to get something to you now to say THANK YOU and tell you just how fabulous it all was.!  xxxx

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

August 18, 2009

Getting ready to leave for The Galapagos in the a.m. OMG, everything has worked like magic so far La Mirage . . . the BEST yet. The transport services . . . the BEST yet. Casa Aliso . . . a CHARM. Everything working out great. THANK YOU for the bottle of wine and the birthday wishes! What a perfect evening, thanks to you!! The only missing was YOU! / The group is getting along great. I wish you were on FACEBOOK so that you could see the photos that I just posted there. WHAT will it take me to get you on there? Joe and Steve are nice . . .a little different than us, but it's working out just great. Can't wait to give you the little tiny details when we return.  

Hugs and kisses! (Oh, have you tasted that lavender cake at La Mirage?) 

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

May 04, 2009

Dear Judy, 

We just returned from our South America trip.  It was fabulous, and I want to thank-you for your arrangements of our Cotacacchi, Ecuador leg of the trip.  From the moment we arrived, it was first class.  We loved the Mansion del Angels and were sad we only had one night there.  However, our stay at La Mirage was fabulous.  We were upgraded, and the room we had was just unbelievable.  We took advantage of all the spa opportunities and just luxuriated in the beautiful gardens.  The food was wonderful too.  We also appreciated our drivers.  We met the hotel owner, and were very happy to sing your praises.  Thank-you Judy for your impeccable arrangements.  


Katie Torgerson    [Last name withheld in compliance with the LARC privacy policy.] 

[LARC Response]: 



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November 06, 2008


If heaven is anything like La Mirage I will be one happy camper!  What a gorgeous property with every amenity imaginable, a tremendous staff headed up by Clemencia who is the most lovely person, an A+ spa, gourmet food with fabulous presentation (Hugo is a tremendous chef) and some of the most gorgeous grounds I have seen.  From the moment we arrived and were greeted with warm hand towels and champagne, to the hot water bottles placed under our duvets each evening no stone was left unturned to make our stay the most comfortable possible.  Michel, the former owner of the hacienda, is such a loverly man.  One afternoon we went horseback riding and he helped make this possible at the last moment!  Happily, I had spa reservations when we returned from the ride and when I had completed my massage I left "walking on air."  

I can't imagine anyone leaving La Mirage without total euphoria!  It was a pleasure working with you.

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

[PS:] We all had such a tremondous time and I want to thank you for the bottle of Malbec we enjoyed, with your compliments! In fact, it was so good we ordered more and more!!  What a kind gesture.  Muchas gracias para todos!!  

[LARC's Response:] 




April 02, 2008

Hi Judy

We are back from a fabulous trip. I wanted to thank you so much for all of your help. We had a wonderful time at La Mirage. I can recommend the Volcanic Mud Massage Treatment at the spa although it was a rather naked experience! We are both so happy that we ventured into the mountains. One of the things we enjoyed the most was wandering around the food and vegetable market in Otavallo. We were tired of crafts by then and found the market really exciting. I am sure we were safe. 

The funny thing was on the plan ride home they were showing a film called "Proof of Life" with Meg Ryan and Russell Crowe, well...... it was filmed in the Otavallo area and Old Quito. It is all about a kidnapping, glad I saw it on the way home!!!!   

Anyway, thank you so much. We would love to go back to South America again and will keep you in mind to help us with our plans. 

Kind Regards, 

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

February 21, 2008

Dear Dom 

Thank you for your welcome home message. We arrived late last night after a long journey home. All the flights worked out very well with only a couple of delays due to bad weather in Dallas which did not upset anything and we were able to catch our connecting flights without a problem. The luggage stayed with us all along until we rechecked it in at Johannesburg for Cape Town where one bag went missing (welcome to South Africa!!!!) 

We really liked the Nautilus Explorer but found the dive deck rather cramped and having to climb in and out of the skiffs was a problem at times when the seas were a bit rough. We did not see as many mantas as we had hoped and Roca Partida was very disappointing with only a couple of sightings of sharks. We heard that they had found a lot of nets when they returned after the down season. So very sad. 

Ecuador and the Sky Dancer far exceeded our expectations!! We were met at the airport on time and found the Mansion Del Angel delightful. The next day a really lovely driver picked us up and took us to La Mirage. He was very kind and helpful and managed quite well with his English. There was no need for an actual guide. We had had lunch at La Mirage in 2002 and were so impressed then. You can imagine our delight when we realized it was the same hotel. Our suite was magnificent, the staff were dedicated and efficient and we had a couple of good massages. Our journey back to Quito was great with the arranged stop at the Indian Market. We flew to San Cristobal where we were met by the Sky Dancer crew. Dom, no exaggeration, we have been on many liveaboards, as you know but these guys and the boat are SIMPLY THE BEST. They could not do enough for us including the Captain who was always on the dive deck helping us get on and off the boat as well as helping us undress and handing out warm towels!! We just wished the charter could have been longer. Our cabin was great and the food was excellent. The sea conditions were good though the vis at Darwin and Wolf was not good at all. There was loads of stuff out there but we had difficulty seeing it. We did enjoy a dive being circled by hammerheads and dolphins close enough to film. Gordons Rocks was the best with good currents and everything to see thanks to better vis. Water temperatures were comfortable ranging from 25 degrees C down to 18 in the thermoclines. Thanks for the tip about wearing two hoods, I was not cold at all. We were with a great crowd, mostly British, one American, one guy from St Lucia, a German, an Italian and a Japanese. The German and Italian shared a cabin and their English was not very strong, as was the problem with the Japanese chap but they all got on so well together and became the best of friends, looking out for each other at all times. We found them delightful and Karlheinz was happy to have a fellow country man to chat with now and then in German. We all exchanged mail addresses and hope to keep in touch or at least pass on a photo or two. Our guide, Edwin, was well informed and we enjoyed the land trips with him. We were on the skiff with a young dive guide called Natasha who was fantastic. We were so sad to leave the boat but are looking forward to reliving our holiday when we down load our pictures and edit our video. 

Dom, thank you for everything. This was certainly one of our best trips. 

We will stay in touch! 

All the best from Mary and Karlheinz

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


January 31, 2008

La Mirage was more wonderful than I'd remembered it. On my other trips we only spent a night....that's what happens when you travel with Michele.  This time having 2 nights, we were able to enjoy the place and take
advantage of the spa. I'm not as well traveled as some, but it's the most beautiful and special place I've ever been.  

[Names withheld in compliance with the LARC privacy policy.]

January 08, 2008


Thank you for organizing my trip to La Mirage.  My boyfriend and I had the most wonderful experience!  The service was impeccable and the views and ambience were unbelievable.  I especially loved all of the fireplaces and flowers.  We took advantage of every activity and spa treatment that was offered - our favorite being the shamon ritual and horseback ride through the countryside.  The food and wine was also fantastic.  I cannot say more positive things about La Mirage; I'm already planning a group trip back next year.  La Mirage is such an amazing and special place - and I have spread the message to everyone at Travel + Leisure.  

Thank you!  

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

[Response from LARC:] 




January 07, 2008

Hi Judy: We returned yesterday from Florida where we spent a few days recovering from our vacation!  

We had a wonderful time and want you to know how happy we were with everything, especially the guides and meets and greets at airports, train, hotel, etc. Everyone was there on time and were extremely professional and competent.  

We also checked out of the Doubletree one night early, so we could return to the US. We were tired and ready to come home, plus New Year's Day things were closed. We did like the J.W. Marriott on the beach as a better choice for location in Lima. There was shopping and it was a very upscale neighborhood.  

We are still telling our friends about Inka Terra. The suite was fabulous and we thank you so much for that wonderful experience. The Royal Palm, La Mirage and El Pueblo were all special in different ways. The staff at La Mirage were extraordinary, friendly, helpful and the Chef was superb! The dinners were all memorable!  

We were OK at Liberador until we went to the Monasterio. Definitely heads above Liberador and we would highly recommend it to our friends.  

All in all, it was great. My husband doesn't know how much it cost, but he is raving that he has never had better treatment anywhere in the world! And whatever it cost, it was worth it!!!  

love and hugs  

Faye M.   [Last name withheld in compliance with the LARC privacy policy.] 

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March 21, 2007

I am happy to provide this report to you on our trip to Ecuador that was planned using the services of LARC. When we began planning our trip we knew that we wanted some advantages of a tour but also wanted an individualized travel plan. We worked with LARC tour agent, Judy Martin, who helpfully and pleasantly helped us to craft a travel plan that was perfect for us. 

Essentially, we designed 4 mini-trips within our overall tour of Ecuador using Quito as our base. Judy arranged lodging, guides and side trips for us, including transfers to and from airports and hotels, when necessary. 

First, we arrived in Quito for a few days where my daughter, Leah, is working as a teacher at El Colegio San Francisco de Quito. We stayed at the Mansion del Angel, which had a lovely rooftop cafe. 

Next, we then headed to the Southern Highlands to the beautiful colonial city of Cuenca. We stayed in the Crespo Hotel, which we loved. From there we took three main side trips: Ingapirca (Inca ruins), Cajas National Park, and the lovely villages and markets of Gualaceo and Chordeleg. 

After four fabulous days in Cuenca we flew back to Quito. We stayed at La Rabida Hotel, a quiet and clean place with a very helpful staff. While we loved Mansion Del Angel and Crespo for their ambiance, La Rabida felt "like home." 

Next; when we headed to the Oriente very near the border of Peru for a trip to the Amazon Jungle and Kapawi Eco-Lodge and Reserve. This was an amazing trip! After 4 or 5 awesome days we headed back to Quito. 

We took a day trip to Cotopaxi, the world's highest active volcano, and to the incredible hot springs of Papallacta. Back on Quito and La Rabida, we did several things on our own such as visit Quito's Old Town, the Golden Church, Cafe Mosaica high above the city for a cocktail at dusk, the Guaysamin Museum, and visited the markets and street venders. 

Lastly, we headed north, stopping at Calderon and other small villages arriving at our final destination of La Mirage, a gorgeous place with gardens, birds, extraordinary cuisine, and an amazing spa. We also visited the leather town of Cotacachi and the grand market town of Otavala. 

It was definitely a whirlwind 3 weeks but the plan was perfect for us to be able to see most of the country, stay in a variety of great hotels, have expert guides and efficient transfers, and be able to "tour" Ecuador just the way we wanted to. The tour guides were very professional and knowledgeable and fun to be with. Thank you Judy for your patience, humor, and perseverance in working with us to create the perfect South American vacation! You are the best - we felt like you truly took a personal interest in making our trip exactly how we wanted it to be. And it turned out BETTER than we expected as a result of all our planning together. Without a doubt, we will certainly use your services again. Thanks so much! 

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

February 21, 2007

Dear Judy,

We have been home from Boca Raton, where we had a stop-over with friends and helped Stanley's sister, Judy, celebrate her 95th birthday on Feb. 3, since February 8. Our trip was a great, thrilling, satisfying experience, thanks, in no small part to you. We now realize how important the travel agent is--we used only one in the past- but your recommendations were the best! We are lucky that we took a chance on your website and that your recommendations turned out to be the source of immense pleasure.  

La Colina was just right for us. We had the best suite, I believe, in the hotel, on the fifth, top floor in the corner, as we had requested, with a magnificent view of Quito. We were up at about six or seven every morning and I took wonderful shots of the view under different atmospheric conditions to serve as a basis for painting. The hotel, itself, and our suite were really tastefully appointed in the style that reflected a lot of Quito. Although we did not intend to spend $1800.00 on an apartment, this suite was really much better for us, because it relieved us of having to concern ourselves with safety or any repairs we might have to make, like a stuffed sink or an electric bulb that needed to be replaced. 

We enjoyed the neighborhood and found the cleaner around the corner as good as, if not better than the ones we use here. The Supermaxi next to the Swiss Hotel was really super. We enjoyed the wonderful Japanese restaurant at the hotel and the three guitarists who came to entertain us at the delicious buffet Christmas eve. My three years of high school Spanish served us in good stead, and we established friendly relationships everywhere we went, albeit with limited, broken grammar. Great fun. The staff at la Colina was really very accommodating and quite friendly.  

Ditto the hotel in Cuenca, quite, quite charming, although we would have preferred a room overlooking the garden, which we had requested before we paid our bill on Nov. 2. I'm glad our room faced the inner lobby and not the street.  

And we can't find the words to adequately describe how pampered we felt at La Mirage! Unfortunately, I had a 24 hour seven day terrible cough, so could not use the pool or have a massage. We loved those peacocks, the service, the food and the extraordinary beauty of the grounds. The new year's eve celebration was extraordinary in its creativity. Regards were sent to you by one of the owners, not sure whether it was the taller of the two, and 
unfortunately, I don't remember his name.  

We have never seen such color as we saw at the market in Otavalo. Blew our minds away as did the culture and color of everywhere we went.  

Unfortunately, we had to cancel the Machu Picchu part of our trip. Upon our return to Quito from La Mirage we consulted a physician at the American administered hospital about my cough, and Stanley was advised not to go to Cuzco where he would run the risk of a heart attack because he has a leaky heart valve. Instead, we went to Lima and Trujillo.( My money belt was stolen from our room at the Posada del Inca Olivar. Fortunately, I had removed my credit card holder when we went to dinner, and there was no money in it, nor my passport; only my eyeglasses and all the keys to our luggage.)  Even the latitude at Quito affected Stanley's breathing and energy.  

All in all, it was a most wonderful trip. I loved speaking whatever little Spanish I knew, and we enjoyed Quito immensely, especially La Carolina park, where we went on several Sundays to spend the afternoon watching families and lovers enjoy the foot paddle boats in the lagoon. (I held a boa constrictor at the reptile house and we also went to the botanic gardens) We did not get to see all that we wanted to in the old town. There was a riot on one of the days protesting the corruption of the legislature. We had planned to go on the first sunny day; that turned out to be the Monday before, and all of the museums there were closed. You had better believe we tried the best places in town to have our lunch, which was the main meal of the day. A wonderful fish soup at the Hilton Colon for five bucks! Where can you get that anywhere!  

Anyway, the time went quickly, and I, if not Stanley because of the altitude, would go back, yesterday, if I only could . We came home with the most beautiful colored scarves and alpaca ones, too, very cheaply bought, at the market in El Ejido park on Saturday, among other things, to give as gifts, and it was hard for me to part with anything. Also found a truly beautiful old necklace of silver filigree, in a shop opposite the Swiss Hotel, with a peacock suspended from it to remind me of La Mirage, with matching earrings.  

We were not in Ecuador long enough. No one can imagine the impact our trip, which included the Galapagos, and the cultural history in the churches and museums, had on us. I took over 1,200 digital pictures and am busy editing a second set to show to friends. Even though the best are for viewing I would not delete anything from the entire set. I plan to make a picture book for my two and a half year old grandson with some of the pictures, like the one of the peacock with tail fully open, peering in the dining room window where we were having breakfast at the Mirage!  

Please feel free to use this email in your advertising.  

Thanks to you, again.

Bernice and Stanley
[Last name withheld in compliance with the LARC privacy policy.]


LARC's Response:  




January 19, 2007

Our trip was fantastic. Every place we stayed was great and the guides were wonderful. We even sat next to Kevin Bacon, his wife Kyra Sedgewick and their kids at dinner at La Mirage. You really put together a 
memorable adventure.  

Lisa B.   [Last name withheld in compliance with the LARC privacy policy.]

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December 31, 2006


Here is another report from our vacation. I hope it's helpful and not too annoying.  

The flight to Guayaquil was easy and the airline was just fine. Even though it's six hours we thought of it as just a little longer than LA, so very doable. The Hilton Colon in Guayaquil is fine and our guide was great, took us to a nice restaurant etc. but Guayaquil is not a city worth hanging out in. I had heard nightmare stories about the flights to Galapagos but we found them, very efficient and easy.  

One note. We were never told of a $100 per person Galapagos entry tax. With six of us that's a lot of cash off the top so travelers should be warned. We were met by Rafael, our guide, who is very knowledgeable, calm, and serious. Strong accent, but we got used to it.  

We took a short bus ride to the harbor and took a dingy to the Sea Cloud. Our hearts sank when we saw the accommodations. Four rooms of the same size. 2 in front, 2 in back by the engine. Tiny cramped rooms with bunk beds, I had remembered pictures of the Rachel and remembered that it had 2 rooms with double beds and 2 rooms with bunks. In any event the Sea Cloud was just too small for even six of us and I can't imagine if we had brought 8.  

One suggestion, bring AS LITTLE LUGGAGE AS POSSIBLE. There is no storage space for bags etc. And don't come if sleeping with your wife or lover is an important part of your vacation. The crew seemed nice enough but we realized that there were 6 of them! Captain, first mate, engineer, cook, crewman and guide. So there were not enough beds for them. This meant that at any time of day or night we would find them sleeping on couches or on deck. This offered very little privacy and no chance to escape. Even the bow deck of the boat was not equipped with cushions for hanging out.  

The distances between the Islands are sometimes 6 or 8 hours so the plan was to sail, under motor, at night. But this made it impossible to sleep. Motoring in a sailboat is way more nauseating than sailing because of fumes etc. And sailboats can only motor at half the speed of a motor yacht and are much less stable. The girls all got sea sick and opted for sleeping on deck. We gave them the patch and told the captain that we would no longer be sailing at night.  

The bottom line is if you are not going to sail, don't take a sailboat. There are beautiful, fast, spacious motor yachts that get you between the islands in half the time.  

Now a few word about the Galapagos. AMAZING, INCREDIBLE, AWESOME, MIND BLOWING. We had some of the most memorable experiences of our lives. Encounters with animals unlike any other in the world. Everyone should go, but as Rafael put it, "the Galapagos is not an easy vacation" Up every day early to hike or snorkel, lunch and then back at it in the afternoon, but every outing was better than the last, and the memories will last forever. We tried to think of family members and friends that would have enjoyed the trip and they were few and far between. You have to be ready for boats and a lot of activity, but if you have the energy it's so worth it and very safe. The animals are very friendly because they are not threatened by humans. Even the SHARKS are friendly! We were very happy to have the Satellite phone as it enabled us to make calls as our plans changed. It worked very well considering that we were in the middle of the ocean in the middle of nowhere. We stayed in a cute hotel in town called Solymar. Brand new and inexpensive, but clean and comfortable and the owner, Renato, will do anything for you.  

So bottom line get a good boat, or stay on land and do day trips (although you will miss some amazing Islands) Get a good guide, because they know the secret places and how to avoid the crowds. Pack light and bring a good camera with an underwater housing if you can.  

We found the trip to Quito pretty easy but the landing in the Andes can be a bit bumpy. The drive to La Mirage really drives home the notion that you are in another world. La Mirage is a beautiful place. In a small town that specializes in leather goods. It has nice gardens and every room is different. Charming, cozy with fireplaces and hot water bottles in the foot of your bed at night. The food is fine, not great. The spa is OK. They try hard but they weren't the best treatments we ever had. Unfortunately the pool is indoor and the exercise equipment hasn't worked since the 80's.  

We went for a beautiful walk up into the mountains and found a little Indian village. The Indians are tiny. Barely 4 feet tall. But very friendly. It's great to explore Otavalo, the Indian market. They have beautiful handcrafts, rugs, scads, etc. for dirt cheep.  

Our guide Miguel was very knowledgeable about the area and took us to some out of the way villages. Guinea pig is the local delicacy but we passed on that one. The mountains are spectacular and we lucked out with the weather but either way tacking on an Andes visit to a Galapagos trip is definitely worth it.  

KB 12/31/06   [Name withheld in compliance with the LARC privacy policy.]

September 13, 2006


My husband, daughter and I would like to thank you for helping us to plan our trip to Ecuador.  The trip was truly memorable.  Everything went as planned, and we are safely home again, feeling we were privileged to see so much and such a variety of areas in Ecuador.  It was always wonderful to see Miguel waiting for us at the airport and hotel.  He was a great help and did a good job of coordinating everything.  The guide whom he arranged for us, Ricard Espinosa, was a delight.  La Mirage was a real treat, as you promised, and a lovely way to end our two weeks in Ecuador.  Our only regret is that Kevin Bacon didn't chose to come over Labor Day instead of Christmas!  (Miguel told us you are planning a trip for him.) 

Many, many thanks for your expert advice and suggestions.  We will call next time we plan a trip to South America, and we will, of course, recommend you to any friends, who express an interest.  I hope you have had a nice summer yourself!  

With thanks and best wishes, 

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


Judy's Response: 




January 26, 2006


I just wanted to let you know how wonderful both the Mirage and Del Angels were. We had a great time.

Sharyne & Mitchel W.  
[Last name withheld in compliance with the LARC privacy policy.]


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July 15, 2005

Dear Donna,

What a great trip.  All the arrangements you made came off with out a hitch.  Every time I arrived at the Quito Airport our car and driver were there to greet us.  Monica and Raphael were most gracious and brought two
vehicles to carry all the baggage.  They also arranged dinner for us one night at La Ronda.  Raphael drove us over and picked us up.  Was reasonable in his charges and always prompt and on time.  The hotels were clean comfortable and offered very personal service. 

Del Angel always had our rooms available and ready.  Our luggage that we did not take out to the Galapagos was left in our room and they stored it and put it back in our room when we returned. 

La Mirage was wonderful.  We had the spa to ourselves and used it extensively.  I did a lavender soak and massage, a Swedish massage, and a facial. All were wonderful.  We thoroughly enjoyed La Mirage.  The meals
were a treat in themselves.  The wine list was good and we have no complaints. 

The planning and reservations that LARC did for us were professional and crisply carried out.  We could not have ask anymore from you and Judy, the hotels, or the drivers. 

Thank you for making our trip such a success.

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

July 07, 2005

Correspondence between LARC and a happy customer: 


June 27, 2005 

Mr. F., 

I feel so ditzy.... think I neglected to inform you to look for the Mirage transfer person just outside of the airport, they will be holding a sign that says Mansion del Angel or your name.  All of the staff is very nice.



June 30, 2005

You may feel ditzy but the recommendations you gave me are not.  The plans have been running like a Swiss watch. La Mirage is everything you said and more.  It is beyond wonderful.

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


June 30, 2005


We are thrilled, knew deep down that you were the special kind of people who would appreciate La Mirage. After all a fellow scotch drinker always has impeccable taste.  I hope the rest of the trip is just as wonderful for all of you.

Donna / Judy

PS May we post this (we will of course omit your name and email address to protect the innocent) on our web site?


July 01, 2005

By all means please feel free to post. We are back at the [Mansion del] Angel and everything continues to run right on schedule. I had a facial and a Swedish massage yesterday afternoon and it was wonderful.

Tomorrow we are off to the [Galapagos] Islands and will let you know how that goes when I get back to the USA

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


January 10, 2005

Hi Judy

Thank you for helping me with Galapagos trip.

I thought [Mansion del Angel] was a gem and enjoyed the hotel, one I will definitely recommend to clients.

I liked La Mirage and thought it was an excellent location. The room and food were excellent. The spa left something to be desired and I expressed this to the person in charge. The staff was excellent.

The Eclipse was wonderful and the food was excellent. Better than I had on the Isabella II. The staff, the ship etc. were excellent.

So you can see I thoroughly enjoyed.

Thank you

Donna P.
  [Last name withheld in compliance with the LARC privacy policy.]

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April 16, 2004

Hi Matt - We are safely and happily back from Ecuador (actually it's been a week of readjustment). I wanted to let you know that it was an outstanding and very successful trip. The logistical arrangements were excellent and the stress level gratifyingly low. As you may know, the Galapagos cruise is quite busy with early wake up calls and twice daily expeditions, so it is more an active than restful event. The Explorer [Galapagos Explorer II] was a good choice. The cabins were indeed very comfortable and the guides excellent. (I gather the Metropolitan Touring boats may have a higher level of attention to service than Conodros, although we found it fine). In particular, the kids had a great time befriending one of the younger guides and will probably stay in touch with him. 

One of Alec's classmates was on the boat for the second part of the trip and we got to know her family, as well as a family from Florida with a girl Annabel's age and a number of other very nice people. The weather was great, the water warm for snorkeling, even at Isabella. I think the snorkeling, which literally included swimming with sea lions and turtles, was the high point. Lots of breeding activity among the boobies, frigate birds and iguanas made the shore visits very interesting. On the whole, I think this may be a better time to visit than the summer, when it's cooler and foggy.

The highland part of the visit was outstanding and we're very pleased to have done that as well. Mansion del Angel is a charming hotel in perhaps the best location for touring in Quito. They gave us the best rooms (as did La Mirage). The Metro Touring guide (Andrea) was very pleasant, knowledgeable and accommodating to our interests. The Old City has really been improved in the past few years and gives none of the impression of danger that the tour books suggest. We had plenty to see there on Sunday, including a procession complete with iconic statue and accompanying band. Two high school students introduced themselves to us and invited the kids to address their English class, which we did first thing Monday morning - 30 teenage girls who were very impressed
with Alec. It was a great opportunity to go beyond the normal tourist fare.

The Mitad del Mundo was definitely worthwhile despite our doubts. It came with a very nice lunch overlooking a volcanic crater and the ethnographic museum was worth seeing. Papallacta was a bit disappointing because of poor weather (it was of course the rainy season in the rain forest, but it was cold as well as rainy). The cabin was
charming and we enjoyed swimming the hot springs and a short hike. We left a few hours early given the weather and attractiveness of Quito.

La Mirage was outstanding. It really is one of the best hotels we've been to anywhere; very glad we arranged for three nights, which went very smoothly. We were the only guests on first night; some of our shipboard friends arrived the next two nights. The service was absolutely superb, the rooms and grounds were great, the food probably the best we had. Our shopping exploits were also a major success, topped off by Alec having a long leather "Matrix" coat (if you get the reference) custom made by an accommodating family shop in half a day for
$95. The hotel supplied another excellent guide/driver team and we all agreed this was the perfect end to the trip.

So thank you for all your efforts to pull it together for us on such short notice. I'm sure we'll continue to be in touch. Everyone sends best regards.  

D. [name withheld in compliance with the LARC privacy policy]

January 14, 2004

Read: On A Magical Journey to Ecuador
- Story and photos by Sheila Shalhevet
Reprinted by permission of and the author.  
Includes: La Mirage, Cotacachi, Otavalo, Mansion del Angel, and Quito.  

November 18, 2003 

Hi Judy,

Just a quick note to let you know that the trip that you arranged for me to Ecuador turned out to be fabulous.

Ernesto, the driver/guide from Turisvision was a delightful, charming companion for 3 days in the Cotopaxi volcano area and Latacunga.

I especially enjoyed the peaceful surroundings at Hosteria La Cienega.  The gardens were lovely, and the suites with a fireplace warm and comfortable.

Hotel de la Rabida in Quito met my needs for overnighting between transfers and on arrival and prior to departure. The staff were ready to help where needed and provided breakfasts and dinners at a reasonable price. I particularly enjoyed trading my paperbacks for a new supply in their library.

And La Mirage..., words cannot do it justice. I was sad to leave there. The elegance of the rooms and superb dining experiences were only a part of the picture. The staff, especially Rafael and Clemencia, were most gracious and kind. I enjoyed a Purification Treatment performed by the shaman, Esthela, at the spa (though, I acknowledge that it is not something that everyone might want to experience). The spa does offer a variety of more traditional options, and I highly recommend its services.

Cotacachi, the leather town; the Indian market at Otavalo; San Antonio, the wood carving town; and other points of interest made traveling this area most enjoyable. 

I can highly recommend this trip to others, including single woman who enjoy traveling alone.

Thanks again, Judy, for all your help!!!

[last name withheld in compliance with the LARC privacy policy]

October 11, 2003

[Comments from a Continental flight attendant.]

Dear Judy,

Just a note of appreciation for convincing us to visit La was incredible!  Every aspect of the Hoteleria...accomodations, cuisine, and spa were perfect, and we will be sure to recommend it to friends...and "full-fare" clients we meet on the flights. I put an "All-call" on our Voice Mail system to crew working those flights to recommend it to clients in conversations, and gave your contact # and web site. 

I hope it brings some business.
Thank you so much - and NEVER go via IAH (as you told me); till they upgrade the aircraft to a 757!  I did make it - due to my seniority of over 25 years...only 2 of us were so lucky.  I will be sure to help you in any of your travels on CO.  

V. B.
[name withheld in compliance with the LARC privacy policy]

June 23, 2003

The trip was great.  The only problem is that it rained every day.  La Mirage is beautiful although I do not think there were too many other guests.  Mansion Del Angel was equally beautiful.

We never went to the restaurants you suggested but rather walked to an Italian restaurant near the hotel recommended by the concierge.  I do not remember the name but it was an intimate quaint place and the cook was very bubbly. I had the best pasta with the most perfect sauce.  Again we were the only diners there.  I would recommend it and it is close to the hotel.

LanChile was great but i have to say the minute I walked into the terminal at JFK I felt as if I left American soil. Very weird feeling.

Thanks for everything.

F. (name withheld)

March 6, 2003


Just back from a fantastic trip. We very much appreciated your recommendations and attention to detail in the planning. As expected, the highlight of the trip was La Mirage-worth the trip for the rose sorbet in candied rose petals! We also thoroughly enjoyed Mansion del Angel-delightful, helpful staff in a beautiful house in a terrific location.

The other place I can't recommend highly enough is Hacienda San Agustin-built on top of old Incan ruins, near Cotopaxi, it is magical.

And finally, you were right about Guayaquil. The bad press is outdated. The people were friendly, we did not feel unsafe, and the Malencon should be the envy of city planners everywhere. It puts our waterfront in Washington DC to shame.

(By the way, we had lots of scuba gear going to the Galapagos. Our concerns about TAME were unfounded-we were charged $10 in overweight gear on the way over, and nothing on the way back.)

Thanks again, 
L. (name withheld)

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November 18, 2002

Dear Judy,

We are finally back home in Israel after nearly six months away from home.

I must thank you for sending us to La Mirage. It was absolutely perfect. We were the only ones there and George and Michelle treated us like royalty. They upgraded to a luxury suite and made us feel as if we were personal guest.  The accommodation and food was exquisite. We also totally enjoyed [Mansion del Angel] where we were also upgraded to a suite.  We stayed an extra two days in Quito.  In both places the service was impeccable and we have only you to thank for this.  Kevin and the other driver were wonderful.  Everything went as smoothly as we could want.  It was truly a dream vacation.  Unfortunately we then had to stay in a three star hotel that the University arranged and paid for us in Guayaquil where my husband was working.  Talk about making an adjustment.

So please accept our thanks for all your effort and know how much we appreciate it.  It was a truly memorable experience.


S. S. (Name withheld)

June 6, 2002

Just wanted to drop you a note to let you know the honeymoon was wonderful. Mansion del Angel was great, as were La Mirage and [a rainforest resort whose name we aren't allowed to post for legal reasons]. At most of the places we were just about the only guests there, so we got more than our fair share of attention. Also, Kevin from [Turisvision] was a great guide and we were always glad to see him on our several arrivals to Quito.

Thanks for all your recommendations!

D. (name withheld)

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   Received: June 6, 2001

Dear Sir, 
On Sunday May 13th, 2001 my wife and I had the opportunity to have lunch at La Mirage's gourmet restaurant. Is it necessary to point out that it was something out of this world? The food, the service, the reception, etc... were simply perfect with a touch of friendliness that makes you feel a very special guest.  

We were one couple among a group of ten Belgians traveling with Metropolitan Touring, guided by a very charming young lady, speaking perfect French, whose name is Florencia Chávez. Our travel agent here in Belgium, called All-Ways, can also be congratulated for choosing the right correspondent in Quito who picked out the very best north of the line and certainly south too.  

Our only regret was not to be able to stay at least one night in La Mirage as we had other appointments.  I hope you will transmit our warmest congratulations to the personnel of the restaurant. 

Very sincerely Yours.  

A P (name withheld)

April 27, 2001

Everything went exactly as (you) planned and we had a perfectly wonderful time. The La Mirage Spa was outstanding and the ship and guides were absolutely great. I think we were lucky to have the smaller ship. The group on the ship was very diverse - kids, young professionals, middle age people and a few older people. I think it is always more interesting to talk to people of all ages.

Everyone got along very well and really jelled after a while. Also, the guides were great - they were knowledgeable and funny and we could learn as much or as little as we wanted to from them.

We will certainly keep your company in mind for our next adventure. Thanks again.

 - Name withheld 

March 31, 2001

This was recently received at La Mirage Garden Hotel and Spa:

"The service outstanding 

The grounds breathtaking

The food impeccable

The spa heavenly...

Thank you for the most enjoyable 24 hours I have ever spent in my life, I will see you [again] very soon."

- S G (name withheld)


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Fall, 2000

"To Judy [Martin, LARC's president], Thanks for all your Help in Ecuador & [the] Galapagos - LARC's the best!" 

-- Rick Prebeg ( photographer for "Jungle" Jack Hanna)


"To Judy, Best wishes!"  --  Jack Hanna


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