“When you’re introduced to a country from the top down, when you get to know personally the people who make things happen in a place-your trip is a success,” our correspondent Gary Scott, said to me once. “I was lucky this way in Ecuador,” he explained. “When Merri and I first went there, invited guests of a well-connected friend, we ate at all the best restaurants, met all the right people, we were given the royal treatment. It made an impression. And it made Ecuador very easy and comfortable. We fell in love with the place.”
You’ll feel the same way when you travel with us to Ecuador May 3- May 11, 2001. The exquisite beauty of this tiny nation and its warm and wonderful people make any visit here special. But I’m working closely with Gary to make sure this trip is the most unforgettable, immensely enjoyable, and extremely valuable journey you’ve ever taken. You’ll come away relaxed and rejuvenated, to be sure. But you’ll also leave with a pocketful of business cards and all the contacts you’ll need if you decide that this is where you’d like to invest or to live.
We’ll begin our journey through this exotic country in its capital city of Quito which has bargains galore. High in the Andes, Quito has been called the most beautiful city in the world. Its colonial buildings give it a stately feel. And at 9,000 feet-nearly twice as high as Denver-the air is crisp. You’ll have a clear view to the ice-capped mountains that ring the city.
The Spanish had such a great European influence on the city’s culture Quito was known as the “Paris of South America” in colonial days. Much of this heritage remains.
Despite its sophistication, prices in Quito-and throughout the nation-are very affordable. International Living has long considered Ecuador a country with a high quality of life and a low cost of living. You’ll find that to be true when you investigate the local real-estate market with us in May. Yet you’ll find these bargain properties boast the kinds of workmanship and material you almost never find anymore in homes in North America: thick hardwood floors, cabinets, and doors, elaborate moldings, carved mantles on working fireplaces, and beautiful tile and marble throughout.
If you decide to live here, you’ll find you can hire hard-working, friendly labor for $150 a month. (Domestic labor like maids, cooks, gardeners often work for as little as $150 a month per couple.) You can dine at a restaurant on a gourmet meal of fresh-caught fish and a bottle of wine…and have trouble spending more than $10.
And we’ll take you to see the best properties available. For example one speaker at our last tour bought a 400-acre farm one hour from the Quito airport with 150 acres of virgin forest, a rushing river (excellent for trout farming), springs, a furnished farm house with a brick oven and a barbecue, three workers’ houses, and farm implements. It sold for $75,000 and the owner threw in a 1996 Chevy pickup with about 25,000 miles on it).
In the heart of Quito we’ll look at luxury condos near the American Embassy complete with shining hardwood and handmade tile. The views of the mountains surrounding the city are fabulous. Prices range from $20,000 into the hundreds of thousands and almost everything is highly negotiable.
Outside the city two IL readers just bought two story houses for $20,000 and we will look at houses that cost even less. You’ll also find huge, elegant three and four story houses in the colonial part of the city with asking prices that fall as low as $20,000.
Saturday morning May 4, after our evening arrival you値l enjoy an elaborate buffet breakfast at the Hotel Sebastian, including fresh fruit, wonderful fresh breads, hot food and delicious juices, teas and coffees. This charming five star hotel in the heart of Quito is one of Gary and Merri痴 favorites. They love the many details, of this intimate, boutique hotel, hand made furniture, finest Ecuadorian linens, and exquisite service that let you feel at home.
After breakfast we値l get right down to business and gain numerous contacts at an introductory seminar which will be held on the top floor of the Sebastian. As you soak in the panoramic views of Quito you will hear from leading businessmen, attorneys, accountants, real estate brokers and historians. This will take us right up to a buffet lunch we値l enjoy at the hotel before we travel by bus to visit Barrio Viejo, a team of architects just outside Quito (who have help the Scott痴 begin building their home). Here you will be able to inspect a small compound of homes they have built in exquisite styles.
You値l get ideas of the types of construction you can use if you decide to build. Plus you will see how inexpensive construction really is in Ecuador. Prices have been as low as $15 a square foot, but recently with dollarization they have risen though still very low by U.S. standards. After an early return to the Sebastian you will have the evening off to enjoy inexpensive shopping and to dine on your own.
Don稚 buy too many of the bargains on your first outing because early next morning after another sumptuous buffet breakfast we’ll take a wonderful day trip to the Equator and will explore the northern Sierras where you’ll see Ecuadorian farming in the traditional manner, fields plowed with oxen. The vistas here are dramatic, with views over exquisite snow-capped mountains. Llamas graze in the fields and friendly locals in their colorful dress will wave from the roadside. This is all on the way to the most important native market in South America, Otavalo.
You’ll find original Panama hats, alpaca blankets, llama sweaters…all beautifully handmade and selling at sinfully low prices. We’ll have lunch at Hosteria Cusin a 358 year old monastery now run as 17th century hacienda with extensive 200 year old gardens. Here you値l be steeped in historical lore of the colonial life and hear local musicians sing their haunting melodies on a variety of indigenous instruments such as pan pies, bamboo flutes and sheep skin drums. We値l return to the Sebastian in the late afternoon so you will have time to rest or go to dinner at a restaurant of your choice.
Sunday May 5, after a buffet breakfast at the Sebastian you’ll take an in depth real estate tour of new Quito. Quito has everything and creates a paradise situation for urban and suburban properties with really low prices.
We won稚 select the properties to view until the last moment, but will View an entire range of houses and apartments in both the new and old city. On our last tour we saw brand new three bedroom-three bathroom houses starting at US$70,000. Apartments were offered for as little as $28,000. Most of the property we viewed in the new city was nearly or brand new.
This will be a busy day, but you値l have time for a sumptuous lunch at one of the city痴 finer restaurants. After the tour we値l return to the hotel before dining this evening at 鏑a Cueva del Oso・one of the city痴 oldest restaurants that features Spanish guitar music and serenades.
The glamour of the night may carry you away but try not to get back to the hotel too Late as we’ll have another day touring real estate in the old city on Monday May 6. Last trip there was great enthusiasm for the ancient buildings in Quito痴 Old City. Quito痴 history goes back to pre Incan times before it became the capital of the northern part of the Incan empire. Colonial Quito was built by a lieutenant of Pizarro in 1534 on the ruins of the ancient Incan city of the Incan emperor, Atahualpa. The current Colonial (or Old) City began in the 18th century and became known as the Paris of South America. Many buildings of this former glory are still in use.
The properties delegates at our last tour saw were inspiring, ancient, like grand ladies in distress, still charming and beautiful, just waiting to be redressed. The group seemed optimistic about the quality, potential and price. The best building was a large (30,000 square feet-perfect for a small hotel) house on Varga Street patterned after a famous property in Paris. There are many important factors; a prime location next to the Basilica; extensive parking facilities; two principal floors that retain their original appointments; sound structure; important architectural perspective and a commanding view of the city that make this the finest development property in this area. Thus the asking price of US$450,000 did not seem all that stunningly high.
Other properties though were much less. One 16,000 square foot property, originally one of Quito痴 first universities, had a US$200,000 asking price. This building dating from 1860 has a long and important past with interesting architectural design and a commanding location and good views of the surrounding city.
Some buildings were just plain cheap such as one house on Oriente and Guayaquil Street with an asking price of US$45,000 for 6,000 square feet of building and central patios that allow light into the upper floors.
The old Colonial city is a World Cultural Heritage Site and hasn’t changed much in the last 450 years. You’ll walk through its narrow cobblestone streets and historic churches. We’ll lunch at a restaurant there and after enjoying the ambience will take the bus to the airport for our flight to Cuenca where upon arrival we will be taken to the luxurious Hotel Oro Verde. Oro Verde mean 敵reen Gold・and this intimate, low rise hotel is one of the finest hotels in Ecuador. You will be graciously served welcome drinks upon registration and can sit round the fireplace lobby and enjoy its polished tile floors and colonial charm. The hotel is built around a lake and every room has a waterfront view! The lake is ringed by tall eucalyptus and the Scotts tell us that the 1,200 plus people they have taken to Ecuador have always rated this hotel tops. You can enjoy its swimming pool overlooking the lake, steam room, sauna and stroll the extensive gardens along the River Tomebamba. We値l dine at the hotel.
Tuesday May 8 you値l be back to work in the morning at another seminar where you will hear from and gain valuable contacts for this wonderful colonial city.
Cuenca is Ecuador痴 third largest city and its most beautiful. Built around a huge cathedral the strong colonial influence of Spain is everywhere, yet its architectural hints also come from the Incans and still old whiffs of the works of the great Canaris, this area痴 original inhabitants.
After the seminar we値l dine at the hotel and then you値l enjoy a city tour where we’ll ride up high to the small indigenous village of Turi for a breathtaking overall view of the entire colonial city. Then you値l visit the plaza, the flower market, magnificent golden churches and cathedrals. We値l go to a Panama hat factory and see exactly how these handwoven hats are made.
Wednesday May 9 will be a day of inspecting country property as we enjoy a day trip to Ingapirca, the most historic and fascinating ruins of Ecuador with its observatory, temple, House of the Virgins. Ingapirca is the home of the Canari and translates from Quichua as “Walls of the Incans”. Long before the Incas, this was the sacred “Cashaloma,” the place where stars pour from the heavens. We’ll learn about the spiritual and cultural values of ancient Ecuador here. Lunch at a very sweet country inn at Ingapirca overlooking the verdant valleys filled with rosy cheeked children and sheep. After this full day you can relax or dine out at a restaurant of your choice.
Thursday morning May 10, we view more property in Cuenca before we ride to the country inn, Sustag. The Sustag Valley could be straight out of Norway or Switzerland. We’ll enjoy fireworks and hear a talk on all the tribes of Ecuador with a unique display of all their hats. We depart directly from Sustag to the airport for our return to flight to Quito.
The fun however will not be over as Thursday evening we will dine at La Ronda one of Quito痴 most historic dining establishments where you will enjoy a final Ecuadorian meal accompanied to local music and a folkloric ballet.
Friday May 11 we leave for the return flights to the U.S. unless you have booked an extended tour.
The Scotts have spent years investigating Ecuador learning ins and outs of living and investing here・iscovering the dead ends…finding the right people… the easy ways to buy land and get things done. They are eager to share with you all they have learned. And they’ve helped us line up an impressive group of speakers for you-valuable contacts that will help you gain immediate insights into this nation, its investment climate, and its culture.
* You’ll learn about the real-estate market-where to buy, the questions you should ask, what to avoid, and what to make sure you do-and you’ll meet an Ecuadorian real-estate agent who spent many years in the States. He specializes in bank-repossessed properties and will be an invaluable help to you as you look for a place to buy.
* We’ve invited lawyers, accountants, businessmen and brokers to speak with you about the investment climate and the property laws. And Gary Scott, of course, will talk to you about why he believes so strongly that Ecuador is a smart investment.
* You’ll meet other expatriates while you’re here, too. They’ll talk to you about how and why they’ve chosen Ecuador. And you’ll have plenty of time to ask them questions about day-to-day living and the practicalities of life.
* A special guest Andean healer will talk about the local culture and healing traditions.
This trip promises to be one of the best we’ve put together. You’ll come away knowing more about Ecuador than you thought possible and with a feel for whether you’d like to make it your next home. Whatever you decide, I promise you’ll have enjoyed a vacation like no other, in a warm, welcoming, beautiful country.
I hope you’ll take the time to travel with us this spring. We’ve already heard from many readers and can only take a limited number. For the last two years this tour has sold out so quickly we have had to book a second which also sold out. This year due to the Mother痴 Day holiday right after the tour this probably will not be possible so if you’re interested in joining us, please call today for all the details.
Barbara Perriello, Director, IL Discovery Tours
International Living Ecuador Discovery Tour
May 3-11 2001 Thursday, May 3: 10:00 p.m. Arrive Quito. Transfer from airport to Hotel. Overnight at Hotel Sebastian a charming five star hotel in the heart of Quito. This intimate, boutique hotel is distinctively decorated with hand made furniture, finest Ecuadorian linens, and offers exquisite service. Friday, May 4: 7:00 a.m. Breakfast buffet including tropical fruits, fresh juices, hot foods, European breads, coffees and teas. 9:00 a.m. Seminar begin at hotel. 1:00 p.m. Buffet lunch at hotel. 2:30 p.m. Departure for Barrio Viejo. 6:00 p.m. Return to hotel. Evening on own. Overnight at Hotel Sebastian. Saturday, May 5: 7:00 a.m. Breakfast buffet. 8:30 a.m. Depart for the Northern Sierras and equator monument. 10:30 a.m. Arrive Otavalo Indian Market for shopping. 1:00 p.m. Lunch at Hacienda Cusin, 390 year old Monastery, now run as a country inn. Historic tour and viewing of aparthotel concept. 3:00 p.m. Shopping at Cotacachi 鏑eather Village・ 4:30 p.m. Depart for hotel. 6:30 p.m. Arrive hotel. Evening on own. Overnight at Hotel Sebastian. Sunday, May 6: 7:00 a.m. Breakfast buffet. 9:00 a.m. Depart for Quito Property Tour, condominiums overlooking the modern city, luxury houses, incredibly inexpensive apartments. 12:00 noon Lunch at popular restaurant. 1:30 p.m. Resume property tour. 4:30 p.m. Return to hotel. 6:30 p.m. Depart for La Cueva del Oso for dinner and Spanish guitar music and serenades. Overnight in Hotel Sebastian. Monday, May 7: 7:00 a.m. Breakfast buffet. 9:00 a.m. Colonial City Property Tour. 1:00 p.m. Lunch at hotel. After lunch depart for airport and Cuenca flight at appropriate time. Dinner and Overnight in Hotel Oro Verde. Tuesday, May 8: 7:00 a.m. Breakfast buffet at hotel. 9:00 a.m. Cuenca seminar at hotel. 12:00 noon Lunch at hotel. 1:30 p.m. City tour visit Turi, colonial Cuenca, plaza, the flower market, cathedrals and Panama hat factory. 6:30 p.m. Return to hotel. Evening on own. Overnight in Hotel Oro Verde. Wednesday, May 9: 7:00 a.m. Breakfast buffet at hotel. 8:30 a.m. Depart for day trip to Ingapirca. 5:00 p.m. Return to Oro Verde. Evening free-Dinner on own. Overnight in oro Verde. Thursday, May 10: 7:00 a.m. Breakfast buffet at hotel. 8:30 a.m. Depart for real estate tour. 12:00 noon Lunch at Sustag and airport to Quito. 7:00 p.m. Dinner La Ronda with folkloric ballet. Overnight in Hotel Sebastian. Friday, May 11: Departures for U.S.