What sort of hotel can you expect on a bargain-priced international trip? TravelingMom Founder Kim Orlando paid $1,600 for an 11-day Exoticca tour of Ecuador and the Galapagos. Read on to learn about the quality of hotels included in that super affordable price and what her traveling partner, a luxe traveler, thought of the Exoticca Tours hotels.
I am never 100% sure what a three- and four-star hotel rating means outside of the United States. So I did not know what to make of the “Charm” (cheapest) and “Superior” (upgraded) ratings Exoticca Tours attached to its hotel selections. Before booking, I researched the hotels separately from the Exoticca website and found most had a four-star rating. I would equate that to a DoubleTree or Hilton.
My traveling companion, a luxury traveler, was disappointed in our first night at the Mercure Hotel in Quito. The room was basic – a small plain room with two beds. But we were both pleased with the rest of the accommodations that followed. And we found something to love about the Mercure: an impressive spa experience at a bargain basement price.
TravelingMom Tip: Note that Exoticca reserves the right to change hotels at any time. So even if you choose a certain hotel, you may end up sleeping somewhere else.
Exoticca Tours Hotel in Ecuador
Mercure Alamedo Quito
Our first hotel was the Mercure in Quito. We stayed here for one night at the beginning and again for two nights in the middle of our trip. I would equate it to a Holiday Inn Express – the regular rooms are small, but clean and comfortable. On our second visit, we were assigned a suite. We liked that much better. It had a separate living room and more space in general.
Buffet breakfast is included and the options include local favorites (plantains, local fruits) and a selection of breads and an espresso coffee machine.
Impressive Spa at the Mercure Hotel in Quito.
There is one big exception to the Holiday Inn Express-like atmosphere: a gorgeous spa. And not just any spa, but a pristine penthouse spa with views of the city. Located through the gym, the spa offers a huge sauna and steam room, thermal showers, treatment rooms with showers, plunge pool, jacuzzi pool and locker room
The odd thing was that no one mentioned it at check-in. Tina and I found it by accident. And what a find! I had the best massage of my life – a 45-minute exfoliating massage with a salt/sugar scrub, followed by a shower, then a delicious 45-minute Swedish massage. The whole 90+ minute experience cost just $60. My masseuse was professional and attentive. Afterwards, I was invited to take a cold plunge, a steam or a Jacuzzi.
Suchipakari Lodge in the Amazon Jungle
The next morning, we boarded our comfortable coach bus after breakfast and began our 5-hour journey to Suchipakari Lodge in the Amazon jungle. The attendants at Suchipakari Lodge met us with wheelbarrows to take our luggage to our rooms. The Lodge is beautiful. It reminded me of Animal Kingdom Lodge at Disney World with its thatched roof bar and restaurant al fresco.
The rooms are large and comfortable, with modern bathrooms and a balcony facing the jungle. There is no air conditioning, but fans are available upon request. All meals were included and they were terrific.
Blue Marlin, Galapagos Hotel
On the island of San Cristobal, we stayed for three nights at the Blue Marlin, which is owned by a former Ecuador football star and 2023 political candidate. The rooms are spacious, the beds comfortable and the location is two blocks from the water and the main boardwalk.
We didn’t have time to use the pool or the hot tub, but we did enjoy a plated Ecuadorian breakfast each morning. I would stay here again just to spend more time at the spa.
Unipark Hotel in Guayaquil
We spent 2 nights at the Unipark Hotel in the center of Guayaquil, a modern city on the coast of Ecuador and the country’s largest port city. Across the street from the hotel is Parque Seminario, a park known for its iguana population. There are lots of stores and restaurants within walking distance of the hotel.
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The hotel room reminded me of a Doubletree. The breakfast that was included was decadent with a multitude of options such as yogurt parfaits, petit quiches, green juices, a variety of breads and eggs.
Birding, snorkeling, hiking are just a few of the activities that we did in Ecuador and the Galapagos. Here’s more info on the excursions that were included in the tour and some that we paid extra for.