Australian travel entrepreneurs and founders of Chimu Adventures, Greg Carter and Chad Carey, gave Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull a tour of their latest venture in South America on Friday, boutique hotel Casa Republica in Lima, Peru.
Mr Turnbull is in Lima for the APEC Summit and took time out of his busy schedule to meet with Mr Carter and Mr Carey, who are investing more than $5m to transform a 1920s mansion in the buzzing Barranco District into what will be the city’s hottest boutique hotel when it opens next March.
In a nice twist, the pair first met Mr Turnbull in 2008 when the Federal Member for Wentworth called into their office, then located in Bondi Junction, to congratulate them on making the finals of both the Telstra Business Awards and the Commonwealth Bank Champions Awards.
Chimu has evolved rapidly since then and is now the market-leading Latin America and Antarctic tour operator with 70 staff.
“It’s a great privilege to meet Mr Turnbull and we’re very pleased to have the opportunity to show him around Casa Republica, which we believe is an excellent business opportunity,” Mr Carey 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, the market we are targeting.”
He added: “To our knowledge we’re the first Australian company to develop a hotel in South America”.
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, and momentum is continuing through this year.
Adding to the allure, Lima’s reputation as the food and culture capital of South America 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.
“There’s a lot happening in Lima at the moment – there’s a really good feel about the place – and when the opportunity came up to lease this amazing mansion and transform it into a hotel, we absolutely jumped at it,” Mr Carey said.
Its prime location in the heart of Barranco, just 200m from the beach on Saenz Pena, one of the area’s best streets, was also a major attraction. “Barranco is a fantastic place – really buzzy, with lots of great restaurants, cafes and galleries,” he said.
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.
“We want it to become a part of the community reflecting the best aspects of Lima and Peru.”