Lima — always a different angle!

By Deanna Palić
This item appears on page 62 of the April 2011 issue.

by Deanna Palić (First of two parts)

I arrived in Lima for the Peru Travel Mart 2010, the most important annual event for the promotion of tourism in Peru, on Thanksgiving Day. Since 1987, the travel mart has been a meeting point for Peruvian promoters (hotels, airlines, etc.) and, from all over the world, buyers (your travel agents).

It was spring in the country’s capital, and during my four-day stay the weather never varied. Mornings were cool and overcast. By noon, however, a bright sun pushed the temperatures into the mid 70s. Evening temperatures, again cool, were in the mid 60s.

I was part of a press group invited by Canatur and PromPerú, the Peruvian tourism-promotion agencies. Our itinerary was jammed with nonstop activities well designed to showcase Lima as the vital metropolis it has become.

While a former tour manager for six major US-based tour wholesalers and as the US representative for FOPTUR, the forerunner of today’s PromPerú, from 1976 to 1986 I traveled every month to Lima. At the end of that stint, I settled in Lima for more than six months and thought I knew the city well.

On this trip, once again, and reminiscent of an onion being peeled back layer by layer, Lima revealed a kaleidoscope of new offerings.

Jetting there

From Los Angeles, it was an 8½-hour nonstop on LAN Airlines (866/435-9526). Known as LanChile back when I worked for them, the company has come a long way.

LAN Airlines and its affiliates have grown into the leading international airline alliance in South America. From the US and Europe, it provides nonstop and connecting flights to Chile, Peru, Argentina, Ecuador, Venezuela, Colombia, Brazil, Uruguay, the Dominican Republic and Bolivia.

Every member of the LAN alliance (LAN Airlines, LAN Peru, LAN Ecuador and LAN Argentina) is part of the international airline alliance oneworld, offering the most extensive network to every major city in South America.

In 2011, a new acquisition is in the works. Chile’s LAN and Brazil’s TAM have unveiled plans to merge. This merger would create a new regional powerhouse to help meet booming demand for air travel in Latin America. The company would fly to 115 destinations in 23 countries worldwide.

In LAN’s case, size has not diminished their in-flight service. During my round-trip economy-class flights, the service was great. (Comparing it to US carriers, I would boost my rating even higher.) Flight attendants were attentive and the food well above average. Pillows, blankets, soft drinks, wine and cocktails are still offered at no charge.


Our accommodations were in Miraflores, originally constructed in 1912 as a summer resort for middle-class Lima residents.

Downtown Lima is undergoing a transformation. Colonial buildings around Plaza San Martín are being hollowed out to their shells and turned into office/condo complexes. Although we were informed that many corporations and residents are slowly returning to downtown Lima, Miraflores is still the area where you want to stay.

My accommodations were at the four-star hotel Thunderbird Principal (Av. Benavides 415; phone 011 51 1 616 3141). In my double/single room (going for $149), the beds were the most comfortable that I have ever encountered in a hotel.

My recommendation would be to avoid a room on the 20th floor, as it is directly under the restaurant/nightclub and, as I found, can be quite noisy until the wee hours of the morning.

Use of the Internet from the two computers in the lobby area is free of charge for hotel guests.

The hotel’s location is terrific. Within walking distance are the Indian Market, for handicrafts, as well as good restaurants, shops and the supermarkets Metro and Vivanda, the latter open 24/7.

Just a few doors down, after leaving the hotel and turning left, there is a locutorio, where you can make long-distance calls very inexpensively. A 10-minute call home cost me less than $1.

Know before you go

Before finalizing your travel plans, you should check out the website The goal of Living in Peru is to promote the country all over the world and serve as the most authoritative and reliable English-language resource for those interested in living, working, traveling and investing in Peru.

Offering an array of information useful to travelers, this website is the most up to date on events that will be taking place during your stay.

Next — Lima from a culinary perspective.