Many tourists visiting Cusco do so because they are en route to Macchu Picchu. At just 50 miles but a three-hour-plus Belmond Hiram Bingham luxurious train ride away, Cusco is the heavenly archeology wonder’s closest city. And while taking in the views of the ruins of a seemingly impossible Incan village and UNESCO World Heritage Site could never disappoint, it is the pleasant surprise of Cusco that will draw your heart back. The city, steep in its history, romance and splendor, is a true testament to Ralph Waldo Emerson’s adage, “Life is a journey, not a destination.”
The JW Marriott El Convento Cusco, reveling in the center of town just steps from Plaza del Armas, may just be the world’s hidden wedding venue gemstone. Built amongst the ruins of a 16th century San Augustin Convent, the hotel is a rich blend of ancient and modern, Incan and Spanish, seamlessly blending authentic pre-Incan walls throughout the hotel with magnificent newer décor. The Colonial Spanish courtyard is a perfect place for a wedding and reception, and boasts a generous guest capacity of 400. The courtyard’s arches, taken apart brick by brick and reassembled to its original stature during construction, offer a beautiful authentic backdrop for photos. Interior event spaces are plentiful and offer a brilliant backup, as the average monthly high temperature lies around 70 degrees year-round, with rainier months being November through March.
If you’re a foodie couple, Executive Chef Heivel Bedoya is at the helm of the hotel’s innovative menus, combining culture, local ingredients, nutritious qualities and flavor. Not only will you and your guests enjoy delectable fare on your wedding day, but Chef Heivel and his crew offer fun walking tours of the local market, ceviche making classes, and Pisco Sour “learn, make and drink” events.
If you’d rather leave the drink-making to the mixologists, Freddy is a must-meet. Every cocktail is thoughtful and detailed and crafted with pride. If you’re not in a rush, the making of the Old Fashioned Smoked Bomb at just over 8 minutes is a show in itself that will wow your guests!
Last mentioned, but certainly not least, is the hotel’s house resident Panchita, a darling little llama as impeccably dressed as a happy bride on her wedding day. Could there be a sweeter selfie than Panchita with a couple on their wedding day? While Panchita’s caretaker lovingly brings her daily to the lobby for brief meet-and-greet photo opportunities and does not accept tips, it is polite and expected to tip if wanting a photo of or with llamas belonging to Peruvian women throughout the town and countryside.
Step out of the hotel and stroll into the bumpy-stoned, narrow and sometimes steep streets of Cusco where quaint restaurants, bars and shops abound and Incan history is around every corner. Or take the adventure a little further and tour out to the countryside where indigenous Incans enthusiastically show their craft such as making and dying yarn or weaving blankets.
Wherever your Peruvian adventure takes you, sometimes the journey becomes the destination. Cusco is the quintessential locale for a destination wedding, and The JW Marriott Cusco is the perfect place to begin your married journey! –A.H.
All images courtesy of JW Marriott El Convento Cusco.