Australian travel company Chimu Adventures announced in Sydney yesterday that it will invest more than AUD 5 million to transform a magnificent 1920s mansion in the buzzing Barranco District of Lima, Peru, into what it believes will be the city’s hottest boutique hotel.
Greg Carter, who co-founded Chimu in 2007 with travel buddy Chad Carey, outlined the development to travel media.
Lima is a fabulous city with some of South America’s finest dining, nightlife, galleries and beaches.
Chimu Adventures co-founder Greg Carter outside the Lima property
Converting a mansion into a brilliant hotel is a logical step for Chimu, which over the past decade has evolved into a market-leading South American and Antarctic tour operator with 70 staff.
“We’re very excited and believe it’s an excellent business opportunity that ties in perfectly with our retail and wholesale operations,” Carter said.
“The simple fact is that there’s a shortage of good hotels in Lima, especially for travellers who want to stay in non-chain properties with modern facilities and a sense of place, which is the market we are targeting.”
He added: “To our knowledge we’re the first Australian company to develop a hotel in South America.”
Barranco is the bohemian area of Lima, a fun place which was developed as a city beach resort back in the 1920s, similar to Bondi’s relationship with Sydney.
Interior shot of what will become Lima’s hottest boutique hotel
The new hotel hasn’t yet been named, but Casa Repubblica is a good bet, as the property dates from the city’s republican period. Casa means house or home.
Its prime location in the heart of Barranco, on one of the area’s best streets just 200 metres from the beach on Saenz Pena, was also a major plus.
“Barranco is a fantastic place – really buzzy, with lots of great restaurants, cafes and galleries,” Carter said.
Tourism to Peru is on a roll with visitor numbers more than doubling in the past decade, reaching an all-time high of 4.22 million in 2015, an increase of 9.3% over 2014. Momentum is continuing through this year.
Adding to the allure, Lima’s reputation as South America’s food and culture capital continues to grow, with the well-known eateries Central (#4), Astrid y Gaston (#14) and Maido (#44) all featuring in San Pellegrino’s top 50 restaurant awards for 2015.
Preliminary work on the hotel project has begun, and it’s scheduled for completion by the end of this year.
Rates haven’t been set, but Carter says USD 150 to 200 a night is a reasonable estimate. Being a tour operator, Chima knows when guests are arriving and departing, which makes check-in and check-out very easy.
“When you get there from the airport you’ll just walk to your room,” Carter said.
The 1920s Lima mansion, exterior
When complete, the former beach retreat of a wealthy Lima family will feature 17 stylish guest rooms, beautiful public areas, a restaurant and rooftop bar with views of the South Pacific. A rooftop bar is perfect because it very seldom rains.
“We want it to become a part of the community reflecting the best aspects of Lima and Peru.”
Chimu is an upmarket operator, with about 80% of its business consisting of tailor-made and FIT itineraries.
Carter said the new hotel may not be the company’s last. Already, it is eyeing another elsewhere in South America.
Carter says Central America, particularly Guatemala, is another region that’s great for exploring. Australians can fly directly to Central America from Los Angeles International Airport in four hours or so. The region is much easier than South America to explore in a limited time, being much more compact.
Written by Peter Needham