Even though Guayaquil is Ecuador’s largest city with over 3.75 million people in the metropolitan area, most Americans are probably more familiar with the capital: Quito. However, Guayaquil is a logical stop and overnight stay for anyone planning a trip to the Galapagos, or for those who would like to take a few more days to experience the intimate charm of Guayaquil.
As one of the nicest hotels in the city, if not the best, Hotel Oro Verde is a member of The Leading Hotels of the World. It is a place where European standards converge seamlessly with Ecuadorian hospitality. Only a ten-minute drive from the airport, the hotel can arrange shuttle service as part of their full-service amenities. This is particularly convenient for those who are staying overnight for a flight to the Galapagos the next morning.
I was met at the airport by a gentleman dressed in freshly-pressed chauffeur attire along with an elegant placard bearing my name. Ten minutes later I was walking through the beautifully appointed marble lobby of the property, giving me my first glimpse of the elegance and luxury that are hallmarks of the hotel. I was reminded at check-in that my mini bar was complimentary and was stocked with sodas and water that could be replenished upon request. Upon entering my room, a basket of fresh fruit along awaited me and the room showcased a clean, contemporary décor that was sophisticated and comfortable.
Bathrooms are ultra-modern with marble and spacious showers that offer large rain showerheads as well as a hand-held one for those that prefer European comfort. I confess that the type of amenities in the bathroom often influence my opinion on the quality of the hotel. For example, if hair conditioner and hand lotion are not readily available in the bathroom, I automatically downgrade the establishment. Also, very important to me are the quality of amenities. Oro Verde outfits their guest rooms with a custom blend labeled Verbena & Romero. The shampoo, conditioner, bath gel, and hand cream carry distinctively clean and crisp citrus notes with a slight woody undertone leaving you feeling fresh and energetic. It is just right for the tropical savannah climate of Guayaquil.
The hotel has 236 guest rooms that feature luxurious bedding, flat-screen TVs with premium cable stations, alarm clock alarm compatible with iPhones and iPods, a complimentary mini bar, in-room safe, individual climate control with remote, and reading lights over the bed. However, my personal preference would have been for more overhead recessed lighting along with a brighter reading light.
An Executive Club Floor with five business suites and 11 business rooms are available for corporate travelers. The ground floor also offers a fully-equipped business center. As for relaxing or staying in shape while on vacation, they have an outdoor pool, spa, and workout facility (the spa and workout facility were under renovation during my stay).
For those who travel for taste, you can choose amongst three full-service restaurants, a gourmet deli, and the Lobby Bar for delectable. During my two-night stay, I experienced French haute fare in Le Gourmet, where local cuisine and international award-winning dishes equally compete for your palate. In El Patio, you can sample Ecuadorian specialties and a wonderful breakfast or brunch that is included with the room. For cocktails and wine, meet in their lobby bar located at the entrance of the French restaurant.
Though I didn’t have the opportunity to try the Swiss fondue, I caught a last-minute snack at the Gourmet deli before hopping on the shuttle to the airport. With a selection of sandwiches, pastries, and chocolate that will tempt any traveler, the food was tasty and satisfying. Be sure to try the Cronuts de Vain, a mix between a croissant and a donut with several varieties of custard-style fillings, it was sinful yet delightful. My only regret was not buying a second for the road.
Oro Verde is a hotel that exudes a sophistication and charm, appealing to both business and leisure travelers. With a convenient location downtown in the commercial and financial district, many cultural and historical attractions are within walking distance. An alternative is to ask the concierge to arrange for a personalized guided tour of the city. Since Hotel Oro Verde partners with Ecoventura—an expedition yacht offering one and two week tours of the Galapagos—this is a perfect bookend stay for those who choose Guayaquil as their home base.