Exoticca Tours Hotels: What to Expect

Kim Orlando Avatar
exoticca tours hotel - Mercure Hotel view

What sort of hotel can you expect on a bargain-priced international trip? As SheBuysTravel Founder, I felt it was my duty to know.  I paid $1,600 for an 11-day Exoticca tour of Ecuador and the Galapagos. Read on to learn about the quality of hotels included in that super affordable price and what my traveling partners, both luxe travelers, thought of the hotels on the Exoticca Tour to Ecuador.

I am never 100% sure what a three- and four-star hotel rating means outside of the United States. So I did not know what to make of the “Charm” (cheapest) and “Superior” (upgraded) ratings Exoticca Tours attached to its hotel selections. Before booking, I researched the hotels separately from the Exoticca website and found most had a four-star rating. I would equate that to a DoubleTree or Hilton.

My traveling companion, a luxury traveler, was disappointed in our first night at the Mercure Hotel in Quito. The room was basic – a small plain room with two beds. But we were both pleased with the rest of the accommodations that followed. And we found something to love about the Mercure: an impressive spa experience.

SheBuysTravel Tip: Note that Exoticca reserves the right to change hotels at any time. So even if you choose a certain hotel, you may end up sleeping somewhere else.

exoticca tours hotel - spa at the Mercure Hotel
Spa at the Mercure Hotel. Photo credit: Kim Orlando

Exoticca Tours Hotel in Ecuador

Mercure Alameda Hotel in Quito, Ecuador

Our first hotel was the Mercure in Quito. We stayed here for one night at the beginning and again for two nights in the middle of our trip. I would equate it to a Holiday Inn Express – the regular rooms are small, but clean and comfortable. On our second visit, we were assigned a suite which we liked much better. It had a separate living room and more space in general.

Buffet breakfast is included and the options include local favorites (plantains, local fruits) and a selection of breads and an espresso coffee machine.

Impressive Spa at the Mercure Hotel in Quito.

There is one big exception to the Holiday Inn Express-like atmosphere: a gorgeous spa. And not just any spa, but a pristine penthouse spa with views of the city. Located through the gym, the spa offers a huge sauna and steam room, thermal showers, treatment rooms with showers, plunge pool, jacuzzi pool and locker room

The odd thing was that no one mentioned it when we checked-in. Tina and I found it by accident. And what a find! I had the best massage of my life – a 45-minute exfoliating massage with a salt/sugar scrub, followed by a shower, then a delicious 45-minute Swedish massage. The whole 90+ minute experience cost just $60. My masseuse was professional and attentive. Afterwards, I was invited to take a cold plunge, a steam or a Jacuzzi.

exoticca tours hotel - Suchipakari Lodge
Suchipakari Lodge in the Amazon jungle. Photo credit: Kim Orlando

Suchipakari Lodge in the Amazon Jungle

The next morning, we boarded our comfortable coach bus after breakfast and began our 5-hour journey to Suchipakari Lodge in the Amazon jungle. The attendants at Suchipakari Lodge met us with wheelbarrows to take our luggage to our rooms. The Lodge is beautiful. It reminded me of Animal Kingdom Lodge at Disney World with its thatched roof bar and restaurant al fresco.

The rooms are large and comfortable, with modern bathrooms and a balcony facing the jungle. There is no air conditioning, but fans are available upon request. All meals were included and they were terrific.  We ate fresh fish, fruits and vegetables. The Exoticca tour guide held an impromptu fruit tasting and most of us opted in to tube down the nearby river.

exoticca tours hotel - Hotel Blue Marlin
Photo courtesy of Hotel Blue Marlin

Blue Marlin, Galapagos Hotel

On the island of San Cristobal, we stayed for three nights at the Blue Marlin, which is owned by a former Ecuador football star and 2023 political candidate. The rooms are spacious, the beds comfortable and the location is two blocks from the water and the main boardwalk.

We didn’t have time to use the pool or the hot tub, but we did enjoy a plated Ecuadorian breakfast each morning. It is right in the heart of everything; I would definitely stay here again .

exoticca tours hotel- UniPark
Photo courtesy of UniPark Hotel

Unipark Hotel in Guayaquil

We spent 2 nights at the Unipark Hotel in the center of Guayaquil, a modern city on the coast of Ecuador and the country’s largest port city. Across the street from the hotel is Parque Seminario, a park known for its large iguana population. There are lots of stores and restaurants within walking distance of the hotel.

The hotel room reminded me of a Doubletree. The breakfast that was included was decadent with a multitude of options such as yogurt parfaits, petit quiches, green juices, a variety of breads and eggs.

Birding, snorkeling, hiking are just a few of the activities that we did in Ecuador and the Galapagos. Here’s more info on the excursions that were included in the tour and some that we paid extra for.

Kim Orlando, founder of SheBuysTravel, is a lifelong traveler, an entrepreneur and a sought-after social media and marketing consultant. She has made hundreds of appearances on TV and in digital and print media, sharing advice and tips built on decades of travel experiences. Hailing from the hills of Kentucky and taking her story to New York, Los Angeles, and beyond, Kim built an online platform, the original TravelingMom, that has reached millions of moms and empowered them to explore the world with their families. Today, TravelingMom has evolved into SheBuysTravel. Kim has been featured on “News Nation,” “Today,” “Good Morning America” and on numerous satellite media tours. She has contributed travel guidance to outlets including The Washington Post, Good Housekeeping, Forbes, the Wall Street Journal and more. (Read more about Kim’s media appearances here) Her travel mantra is simple: All travel counts. “You don’t have to go far. Leaving your home is travel,” Kim says. “Wherever you go, even just to the next town over, you can learn something new, see someone and something you haven’t seen before. “It’s good for the brain and good for the soul.” An epiphany in early parenthood started Kim on the journey that led to SheBuysTravel. She’d been a fan of a newsletter for women travelers, and she saw an opportunity. “I thought something like that for moms could be extraordinarily helpful,” she said. “I was traveling for work, traveling for fun, and I was looking for support.” That seed grew into the award-winning website TravelingMom, created as a resource for traveling families of all stripes. Today, TravelingMom has evolved into SheBuysTravel, with an expanded mission to serve women travelers at any stage of life. Millions of readers have visited the site for trip planning help, travel secrets, destination information and gear recommendations. What sets SheBuysTravel’s content apart, Kim says, is its foundation in real-world experience. “Our writers and editors have actually gone out there and done this stuff,” she says. “They’ve booked the flights, tried the tour, tested travel clothing, visited that new hot spot to see if it’s worth the hype. It’s all real.” Memorable Adventures A 2022 tour Kim guided to Bhutan was a particularly standout experience. “Bhutan sounds so exotic, of course,” she said. “But the part where my heart just glows and warms is thinking of the people we met – amazing women doing amazing things in Bhutan.” Their ranks included a former police officer whose ventures into food science helped mitigate food insecurity for residents of Bhutan’s highlands. Top Tips Planning for travel can be daunting, Kim acknowledges. “I always say: Go anyway. No trip is going to be perfect. There’s always going to be something you didn’t expect, something that doesn’t go the way you pictured or planned it. And that something is what’s going to make it a great trip.” And on a practical note: “Go early! Getting to the airport or hitting the road just an hour earlier relieves so much stress.” Kim’s Background Kim, a graduate of the University of Arizona’s Eller College of Management, holds degrees in finance and entrepreneurship and has deep experience in developing and running businesses. Her previous work includes developing and running communications workshops and overseeing document management for corporations. SheBuysTravel hits a sweet spot where Kim’s two loves of travel and entrepreneurship meet. “The longer I work in this field, I only want to do more,” she says. “I find the travel world so exciting – not just the trips, but the whole online world of travel. There are still so many opportunities.” The World Awaits “The ‘best trip ever’ probably won’t be the same for an empty-nester or mom of three versus a single woman celebrating a bachelorette party with her friends,” Kim says. “We want to keep it real for traveling women, no matter what their age, life stage, where they came from or where they’re going. “We want to inspire women to travel in any shape or form.” In her free time, Kim enjoys visiting her adult kids, creating trips and traveling with her BFFs to explore the world. Her most recent adventures can be found on InstagramFacebook and LinkedIn.
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