Pikaia Lodge

The Proposition: Land-based luxury (with infinity pool, spa, and dining) has come to the Galápagos, a top destination for wildlife enthusiasts. The Pikaia Lodge is a sustainable, eco-friendly alternative to traditional regional cruises, with 14 accomodations and a private yacht for sightseeing at sea. All-inclusive exploration programs start at $7,560 per couple.

Their isolated location in the Pacific Ocean about 600 miles off the coast of South America make the remarkable Galápagos Islands, which are teeming with wildlife, a must-visit for naturalists. If you’ve always dreamed of visiting but you like your luxury, this exclusive resort, the first Ecuadoran member of the prestigious Small Luxury Hotels of the World, is for you.

Launched in September 2014, the resort is perched about a quarter-mile above sea level, which allows for astonishing, unobstructed views of the mountains, forests, volcanoes, and the Pacific Ocean. Explore the area’s unique natural heritage and get up close to native iguanas and giant tortoises while enjoying your own deluxe creature comforts back at the lodge. On offer are all-inclusive three-, four-, or seven-night programs that combine daily land and sea excursions led by knowledgeable multilingual tour guides with top Galápagos National Park credentials.

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Daily excursions take place on the Pikaia’s own 105-foot luxury yacht, and, depending on weather and tidal patterns, might include snorkeling with sea lions; photographing the famed blue-footed boobies, red-pouched frigate birds, tie-dyed-looking Sally Lightfoot crabs, and penguins; and hiking, kayaking, or visiting local beaches. Return each night to the property to enjoy the dramatic views from all public and private rooms, a dazzling infinity pool, gourmet cuisine, and superior spa services. Or on cooler nights, cuddle up to the fireplace in the lounge and watch DVDs on local science and evolutionary theory on a 3D HDTV. (www.pikaialodge.com)

Do: Exploration On Land

On-land itineraries in the lodge’s air-conditioned transport include such varied experiences as exploring volcanic craters or lava tunnels, viewing giant tortoises and other endemic wildlife, touring the Charles Darwin Scientific Research Center, visiting organic coffee farms, or browsing local shops.  

Dine: “Evolution” Restaurant

The lodge’s primary dining destination showcases stunning views and outstanding gourmet cuisine—namely fresh, locally sourced seafood and produce and the finest imported ingredients. Contemporary, international twists update traditional Ecuadoran and Peruvian specialties to delicious effect. 

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