THE AMAZING CITY of Quito is the second-highest capital in South America, and at 9,350 feet above sea level, you may find it takes your breath away in more ways than one. Some business travelers visiting Ecuador head to the financial hub of Guayaquil in the south, but Quito remains the seat of political and cultural power. It’s not unusual for visitors arriving at the city’s Mariscal Sucre Airport to feel a touch of altitude sickness, although it’s nothing some coca leaf tea or Diamox can’t fix for most travelers.
After opening in 2013, about 25 miles east of the city center, the airport became one of the busiest in South America, accommodating a steady increase in visitors. The ride to city center takes one to two hours depending on traffic; taxis cost $25–40, depending on time of day and your destination. Another good option, the Aeroservicios coach, runs 24 hours a day to the Quito bus terminal and offers free onboard WiFi. Book online before you arrive for $8 each way.
Riding into town, you’ll notice the city is surrounded by imposing volcanic peaks which form part of the Ring of Fire that runs along the edge of the Pacific tectonic plate. Despite its small size, Ecuador features a wide range of landscapes and its own set of environmental issues. Perhaps its most challenging project is the Condor Bioreserve — 5.4 million acres of public protected areas, farms, ranches and indigenous territories that encompass snow-capped volcanoes, cloud forests, high-altitude grasslands, rain forests and waterways. The Bioreserve’s creeks and rivers supply Quito with drinkable water. In 2000 The Nature Conservancy teamed up with the U.S. Agency for International Development and local partners to create a water conservation fund to achieve sufficient water quantity and quality to meet the needs of the people of Quito and provide long-term protection of water sources in the Bioreserve.
Alongside the natural wonders, you’ll find plenty of evidence of human ingenuity. The biggest attraction in Quito is its Old Town, one of the first UNESCO World Heritage sites ever declared and the best-preserved colonial city in the whole of the Americas.
In the middle of the historic center, the Hotel Plaza Grande boasts one of the most distinguished addresses in Quito. The first building to be constructed by the Spanish conquistadors in the 16th century, it sits on Independence Square surrounded by the cathedral, city hall and government palace. It’s a truly sumptuous place to stay or invite clients to dine.
Make an impression over dinner at the hotel’s La Belle Époque restaurant, serving up French and international cuisine in a distinguished atmosphere. While the food is incredible, the live opera performances while you eat are bound to make the night a memorable one. What good is entertaining clients if you take them somewhere eminently forgettable?
If you need an early start, get proceedings under way with a power breakfast at Europa Café. Found inside the Hotel Dann Carlton, this charming spot provides everything you need to begin the day. Great coffee, a wide selection of baked treats and freshly pressed juices make this an ideal place to get off to a productive start.
For a private lunch meeting, book a table at Zazu. For more than 10 years this spot has carved out a reputation as one of the best restaurants in Latin America, serving up local dishes with a gourmet twist. Think stone crab ceviche washed down with one of the thousands of bottles of wine from what is touted as the largest wine cellar in town.
After a long day of meetings, take your clients for a few relaxing cocktails at La Naranjilla Mecanica. This trendy spot is packed with hip locals who come to listen to live music while enjoying drinks prepared by expert bartenders. After the old-world glamour of the Old Town, La Naranjilla Mecanica provides a window into what contemporary Quito is all about.
If you want to seal the deal over a few more drinks, head to famed jazz bar El Pobre Diablo. Here you can sip on a stiff drink, take in some of the best jazz Ecuador has to offer and let your hair down. Other options for late-night fun include the chic Oceana Club Lounge in the Mariscal district, where locals go to party.
To clear your head, take the time to ride the cable car to the top of Cruz Loma, from which you can take in views of the city and the valley beyond. It really puts everything in perspective when you’re looking down from 13,000 feet above sea level, and it’s a great way to experience the natural beauty of the area around Quito.
Show your clients your appreciation for history by leaving them a gift of a toquilla hat. While most people call them Panama hats, these elegant straw creations actually come from the town of Manabi on the Ecuadorean coast. The best examples are so fine they can be folded into your pocket, and the level of craftsmanship makes them a gift to remember. Head to Homero Ortega if you want to treat your contacts to the best that money can buy.
Nobu Barbuda is underway in the Caribbean, the newest installation to the Nobu Hospitality portfolio. The Nobu restaurant, all conceived by actor Robert DeNiro, debuted in 2021, and Nobu Barbuda’s first beach club opened this year.
ISN’T IT TIME? It's time to treat yourself to the vacation you deserve, and Celebrity Cruises® offers the perfect escapes. With an award-winning fleet of ships that sail to more than 300 destinations around the world, Celebrity will take you almost anywhere you want to go in style. Enjoy stunning staterooms and suites, culinary experiences imagined by Michelin-starred chefs and intuitive service. Celebrity makes sure your vacation is effortless from the start, which is why drinks, WiFi and tips are Always IncludedSM on every sailing.
Aimbridge Hospitality announced it will open two brand-new resorts at Frenchman’s Reef in St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands. The Westin Beach Resort & Spa at Frenchman’s Reef and The Seaborn at Frenchman’s Reef, Autograph Collection, are expected to open in fall 2022. The new properties are part of a $350 million rebuild project on Frenchman’s Reef.
Birds on the brain these days? Head to the Columbia Valley, located between the towering Rocky and Purcell mountains in southeast British Columbia. The newest addition to the BC Bird Trail is marked by friendly communities surrounded by wetlands, featuring a burgeoning avian population. In spring, watch for the striking plumage of horned grebes, as well as songbirds and Lewis’s woodpecker.
Whether you prefer a villa on the beach or an ultra-luxe suite downtown, you’ll find everything you’re looking for in Los Cabos.
Upon our triumphant in-person return to Los Angeles in December 2021 to celebrate our annual GT Tested Reader Survey awards, the FXExpress Publications, Inc. team also revisited one of our favorite city hot spots: Sofitel Los Angeles at Beverly Hills for dinner at the on-site Riviera 31 bar lounge.
Turkish Airlines offers premium travelers something new. After signing an agreement with fashion brands Coccinelle and Hackett, the carrier introduced redesigned premium amenity kits for its business-class passengers flying eight hours or more on long-distance flights. The new kits were introduced April 29.
THE MOST EXCLUSIVE TOURS OF EGYPT EVER OFFERED
Lisbon’s popularity has soared in recent years, but within an hour’s drive of Portugal’s capital city, lots of quiet towns and interesting regions that are still somewhat off-the-beaten path await.