This is part 7 of a series of posts devoted to our whirlwind tour of Peru & Chile.
- Less than $1,000 per person all-in for our 11-day tour in Peru & Chile
- How you can use <75,000 points to replicate our itinerary to visit Machu Picchu, Easter Island, and more
- How to prepare for altitude sickness in Machu Picchu & Lake Titicaca
- What to bring for your trip to Machu Picchu, Lake Titicaca, and/or Easter Island
- How many different sets of tickets do you have to buy for that one-day visit to Machu Picchu?
- How to Create Your Own Machu Picchu “Inka Trail” Experience in One Day
- Using the Tambo del Inka, a Starwood Luxury Collection Resort, as Your Base for Your Visit to Machu Picchu
- Tour Guide #1 – Sabino for Cusco, Sacred Valley, Machu Picchu, Peru
- Tour Guide #2 – Silvia for Puno, Lake Titicaca, Sillustani, Peru
- How We Did Lima, Peru in One Day
- Tour Guide #3 – Sergio for Easter Island, Chile
- Taking Advantage of an Airport Hotel for Our Walking Tour of Santiago, Chile
- Airport Lounge Access + LAN International Business vs. Economy
- Budgeting for Your Next Big Dream Vacation
- You Won’t Believe What Happened on Our Way Home!
If you have been following this series, you probably already know that you need a few days to prepare yourself for possible altitude sickness. While many use Cusco as the base for a trip to Machu Picchu, TravelWhimsy and I believe that you should consider using your points to stay at the newest 5-star Starwood property, the Tambo del Inka (opened in 2010), for a fraction of the retail cost.
The Tambo del Inka is a Starwood Category 4 hotel, which normally goes for 10,000 Starpoints a night (or 4,000 Starpoints + $60). Our three-night stay in May 2012 would have cost over $500 a night (18% tax in Peru + 10% service charge on top of base rate), but we only spent ~$54 + 4,000 Starpoints per night. That translates into a redemption value of 11.15 cents per point!
The resort is about 30 minutes from the Ollantaytambo Peru Rail train station, an hour from the Cusco airport, and within 30-45 minutes of all the major Sacred Valley sites.
The resort was beautiful and had all the amenities we needed:
- Internet Access: As a Starwood gold member, you get free in-room WiFi. Without elite status, you can use the 24/7 business center (4 computers + 2 printers) for free.
- Breakfast: We spent ~$24 per person (including tax, service charge, and gratuity) for a scrumptious buffet (this means a lot coming from a Las Vegas local who’s tried almost every buffet in town). I also checked with restaurant staff for those of you who have Starwood platinum status – you get two restaurant buffets for free (not just the continental breakfast).
- Bottled Water (and Apples): The room is stocked with two free bottles of water, but you can get more (+apples) from the fitness center and/or the pool area.
- Coca Tea: The lobby tea station (24/7) is stocked with plenty of coca leaves & other tea options.
- Pool/Spa/Fitness: We tried the pool, sauna, but did not use the fitness center or book any spa appointments.
- Room Service: For about ~$18 (all-in), we ordered a continental breakfast for one (checked all items on the list), and it was enough food for 3 adults! For a few dollars more, we could have gotten an egg entree, too.
- ATM: It is located in the business center, and you can use your Schwab ATM card (truly fee-free) to withdraw Peruvian Soles (more on that in a later post).
- On-site Dining: Restaurant menu looks very interesting, and all prices include the 18% tax. We would have eaten dinner there, had we returned to the resort nightly at a reasonable hour.
- Off-site Dining: If you don’t mind chicken (pollo) and/or can speak some Spanish, you can take a 10-minute walk to town. Turn right at resort entrance, and turn left when you see the gas station. Or, if you have a driver/tour guide, he or she can take you to a locals’ favorite for some authentic Peruvian/Andean food. (Guinea pig or Cuy, anyone? Mom is vegetarian, and we are fishetarian, so our choices are limited to mixed veggies and trout.)
Book as early as you can: We made our reservation as soon as we could in November 2011. Had we waited, we would not have been able to score the Cash+Points nights. Should your plan change, you could always cancel without incurring any penalty.
For those of you who are unable to get a room at the Tambo del Inka and/or would like to be close to the train stations in Cusco (Poroy), Ollantaytambo, or Aguas Calientes, your might want to use a hostel search service, such as HostelWorld, to search for reasonable lodging options.
Other Starwood Redemption Options: If you plan to stay for 5 nights and have enough Starpoints, here are two better use of your points.
- 5th Night Free: You only need to use 40,000 points for 5 nights.
- Nights & Flights: You can redeem 70,000 points for 5 nights + 50,000 airline miles. This is a nice way to top off your AA account for your free plane tickets to Machu Picchu. [Normal conversion to 50,000 airline miles requires 40,000 points, so you are getting 5 nights for the price of 3!]
Let me know what you think! I respond to all comments.