PARK BOUTIQUE HOTEL * Visit Hotel del Parque´s website by clicking on the logo THE NEW PARK HOTEL IN GUAYAQUIL Neither the photos nor the articles about this new hotel render a proper coverage. This article is a tribute to the financial effort and successful management by the project´s promoters, which piqued our curiosity. This, then, is the tale of our marvelous experience. A few blocks away from the bustling and boisterous Samborondón Road is a peaceful green haven where the noise is that of the wind whistling through the trees and the cheerful songs of the local birds. A flagstone street transported us back in time. The hotel´s façade confirmed our expectations of a special experience. It was Guayaquil´s first health home, known as El Corazón de Jesús. This 1891 house exhibits Republican style architecture. Originally sited in downtown Guayaquil, it was transported in the 1980s to its current location, in front of the Historical Park, in order to be restored together with other heritage buildings. In 2012 it was acquired by the Oro Verde hotel chain. The old structure, once in danger of being demolished, was transformed into a luxury boutique hotel thanks to the vision of the new owners. The artistic sensibility and good taste of renowned designer Julio Vinueza masterfully managed to join past and present in a harmonious setting where every detail is perfect. The hotel staff´s graciousness and courteous service were the preamble to our stay. The entrance lobby, whose ceramic floors imported from Portugal were specially designed for the Park Hotel, is decorated in light fresh tones. Enormous paintings with vivid colors enliven the comfortable lobby spaces. A round mirror set in a carved wooden frame reflects the majestic scale of this space. Along exterior hallways, which cross two interior patios, we can appreciate the impeccable architecture and top quality interior design. Our host shared endless details about the history of these old walls and what benefits they can offer today´s guests. He emphasized there is no other hotel in Ecuador like Park Hotel. Was he ever right! One of the interior patios beckons us to relax in comfortable benches topped by large umbrellas. We are surrounded by natural orchids of indescribable beauty growing on century old trees. In the midst of silence, and among gorgeous views, we can savor a cup of delicious coffee. The other patio is furnished with tables and umbrellas perfectly arranged to cater to the whims of the guests. At breakfast time, as well as during lunch and dinner, there is plenty of activity, including exchanging experiences and recommendations for the day´s activities. Walking along the first floor we note design details that beg for attention. Vintage style lamps sit upon hand carved wooden tables, alongside ornaments that appear to have been kidnapped from ancient houses. The rooms are smartly aligned so that each guest can feel a sense of independence. On the other hand, the gym and massage salon areas go almost unnoticed, so as not to contrast with the Republican style throughout the hotel. The second floor houses more rooms. Yellow tones blend with greys, whites and blues in curtain prints and sofa upholstery, creating such perfect harmony that it asks to be studied. The bathrooms are ample and comfortable, carefully planned in order to obtain a functional space that is both luxurious and artsy. On this floor is the main meeting room. It´s in fact quite different from the standard image drawn from this name, since it resembles a room in a great mansion where friends gather to socialize. Champagne, wine and other spirits are arranged on a side table so that each guest, as in their own homes, can serve himself according to his wishes. Nevertheless, hotel staff is always alert to comply with any additional request. Our entire tour had surpassed expectations, but the grand surprise arrived when our host opened a door that led us to a completely unimagined place. A beautiful chapel was displayed in an almost mystical vision. This sight not only left us speechless, but thrilled us into a brief spiritual moment. We stood in the choir, along an upper balcony arranged along the back end of any church. From this vantage point we observed the marvelous setting of the altar and pews ready to host Sunday mass. The formal restaurant is outside the hotel, in another Republican style house only a few steps along a flagstone street, with the Historical Park on one side and the Daule River at the end of the street. While the sun sets, Guayaquil´s skyline is portrayed on the horizon. While we enjoy this privileged view, we start to ponder the menu that displays cuisine at the level expected by guests of the Park Hotel.