By Susan Burke March
If you’ve not yet visited Vilcabamba, now is the time. While Cuenca’s weather reflects the few degrees cooler temperatures during these “winter” months (June, July and August), in Vilcabamba, it’s eternal spring. Located at 5,000 feet elevation, it’s warmer and more tropically lush in these mountain foothills of Southern Ecuador.
A few months back I wrote a column about staying at Madre Tierra, a resort nestled in the hills just outside the main square of ancient and fascinating Vilcabamba. This full-service resort and spa is our favorite place to visit — tranquil and well-tended, but within walking distance to town — just a fifteen-minute walk.
Has buying a hotel been a lifelong dream of yours? Hosting guests and interesting travelers from all over the world? Want to live in a climate described as “year round Spring”?
Living in Vilcabamba includes a wonderful climate, low cost of living and proximity to the large town of Loja, its airport as well as Podocarpus National Park.
You may have been dreaming of this opportunity, but you weren’t sure that you had the expertise to make it successful. Or you’re a seasoned hotelier but don’t want to start from scratch. As experienced as you might be, buying some land and building a hotel from the bottom up can be problematic, especially if you’re not fluent in Spanish. You’ll need to negotiate building permits, find builders and source staff…not to mention training, marketing and publicizing all from nothing. It’s going to take a mighty long time to create any sort of positive cash flow.
Therefore, I’m pleased to be able to revisit Madre Tierra to talk about a special opportunity for a special someone, group or family. It’s not every day that an opportunity appears that’s so unique and turn-key.
Madre Tierra Resort and Spa is an established hotel, with 20 rooms, a full-service spa, restaurant, pool, bars and a conference complex that can accommodate more than 100 people. Renovated in 2014, for the past five years it has been rated the #1 hotel in Vilcabamba and has been nominated for five consecutive years as the Best Hotel & Spa in Ecuador by world Travel Awards, London.
The owners, Peter and Gail, moved here with their young daughter five years ago to take over Madre Tierra and make it into the first-class resort that has earned it accolades from TripAdvisor.com and other travel sites and experts. Immediately they set about renovating the rooms and public spaces, and today, financed entirely from revenue, the resort has been and currently is fully profitable. This has been accomplished without spending anything on advertising — only “word of mouth”, their website and strong TripAdvisor.com guest ratings. Check out the reviews here.
Madre Tierra Facts & Details
Located just a mile from the charming main square of Vilcabamba and 45 minutes south of the city of Loja.
Set on nearly 5 acres of lush, landscaped property, offering 20 guest rooms and accommodating up to 60 guests, ranging from single rooms starting at $29 to Deluxe King suites at $79 per night. Click here to see a video of the property.
The conference center seats 150, making it a perfect location/destination for groups, seminars, retreats, and meetings, combining business with pleasure.
All staff are exceptionally well-trained, many are bilingual and have an average employee tenure of more than 9 years.
The restaurant is highly ranked, serving breakfast, lunch and dinner including nightly specials. The chef has been with the Resort for more than 27 years. They source all of their produce locally and use organic products as much as possible. Click here to view the restaurant and menus.
Fresh fruit and herbs from the resort’s orchards and gardens are served daily. As much as possible the fare is “Home made” including jams, salsas and even mayonnaise.
The Bakery produces all their breads and desserts.
The spa is set in a tropical paradise and is consistently rated as the Best Spa Treatment in Latin America. Guests can enjoy a Turkish Steam Bath, detoxifying treatments, massage and facial, hair and nail treatments.
They recently opened a Library and Information Center beside the Restaurant.
There is a beautiful pool surrounded by gardens. Nearby are two separate bars, not currently staffed, but with great potential for revenue.
A security wall surrounds the property and there is a parking lot and guard station.
The property has large water reserves serviced by a well with public water backup.
There’s a backup generator and transfer switch in case of emergencies. In the years since Peter and Gail have made improvements it has rarely been needed or used as the infrastructure is now fully dependable.
On site is a fully equipped workshop. Their master carpenter has been with the resort for more than four years, keeping the resort in top shape. Their dedicated groundskeeper keeps the five acres beautiful and has been a valued employee for more than eight years.
Staff and volunteer living quarters are also available.
They recently constructed a new website with a full Reservation System included.
For ease of transition to a new owner, their current Manager, Doug, has agreed to stay on for as long as required to assist. Peter and Gail live in the neighborhood and are willing to help the new owners if desired.
Besides this turn-key operation, there are 44 acres available adjacent to Madre Tierra, which could be incorporated into the resort or developed separately. This property is on riverfront and includes two houses plus a care-takers house and is currently being farmed organically.
The resort’s opportunities for expanded revenue are exciting, especially for attracting groups for workshops, retreats, weddings, and more. Receipts could easily be doubled and possibly tripled with target marketing to groups and spa vacations. The property itself is ideally situated, and without doing any formal advertising, the hotel is currently profitable. It’s poised to do even more.
Madre Tierra Resort & Spa: an Investment In Your Future: Click here for a video of Madre Tierra — and get a better idea of the beauty of the place.