One fine Thursday, we visited La Mirage Garden Hotel & Spa in Cotacachi, Ecuador for their weekly tea. La Mirage is a 5-star hotel on the grounds of a 200-year-old Andean hacienda. The afternoon tea takes place in the Pandora Lounge. It is decorated with carved furniture, Victorian paintings, art nouveau lamps, knick-knacks, and even a carousel horse.
Servers bring course after course of fine tea, coffee, crust-less sandwiches, and one dessert after another. Gary and I were amazed every time they delivered another course on a silver platter.
Not a Mirage – La Mirage for Only $20 US
We spent several hours lounging, eating, then walking the lawns to watch the many peacocks strolling and displaying their feathers. All this cost us $20 – a pittance in the US, but a fortune in Ecuador.
The spa manager noticed us and offered us a tour of the spa. It literally left me breathless with surprise and delight, to see the beauty they have created!
They have a variety of rooms for different services, each decorated with different fragrances to create a specific ambiance. There’s the Lavender Room, in all purples, with bouquets of fragrant lavender.
The Greek Room has Grecian urns and decor, the Egyptian Room has a mural of Egyptian art and astonishing sculptures, the swimming pool room has draped cabanas, sculptures, and a bas-relief carving of figures in tunics.
There’s a special room for the shamanic limpias or cleansing treatments and more… each room is its own world.
A Wonderful Splurge
We decided to splurge on our last day in Ecuador and have a couple’s massage. Booking one spa treatment gives permission to use all the facilities.
First, we dipped into a small pool filled with rose petals and rose essential oil. We soaked for a while before being taken to our side-by-side massage tables.
The massage treatment included being wrapped in a far-infrared mat.
A Garden View
Our two massage therapists were highly skilled. We both felt like a million dollars afterward. Next, we sat in a warm jacuzzi in a windowed alcove, looking out on the garden.
The jacuzzi was surrounded by bowls of large roses. I floated a few minutes in our jacuzzi and felt deeply relaxed. Through the window, we saw the spa manager gather an armful of eucalyptus branches from the garden. When we got to the steam room, we found that she’d put the eucalyptus in the water, so we would inhale the fresh healing herbal steam into our lungs. It’s a wonderful decongestant and skin soother, and a killer of airborne viruses and bacteria.
It was uplifting to spend two different afternoons outside of the poverty zone and in the realm of beauty and health. For those who consider retiring in Ecuador, it’s good to know that every town has areas of simplicity and areas of elegance. We have truly enjoyed both.
Had any luxury experiences while traveling you’d like to share? We’d love to hear from you.
by: Bonnie Willow