Peru’s capital offers modern meeting facilities ensconced in history
Lima is the natural starting point for a meeting or incentive group venturing into Peru. One third of the country’s population lives in city, which represents a convergence of past and present. Among its modern features is the fully renovated Jorge Chavez International Airport, where more than 100 flights on a weekly basis connect to 10 gateway cities in the United States and Canada. That logistical advantage complements Lima’s new convention center. Opened in October 2015, the Centro de Convenciones de Lima puts the destination at the forefront of the global meetings market. Housing more than 160,000 sq. ft. of meeting space and accommodating nearly 10,000 attendees, the facility has already hosted international meetings including the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation forums that brought in world leaders such as former U.S. President Barack Obama and Russian Federation President Vladimir Putin. The Centro de Convenciones offers 18 conference rooms that can be divided into 22, two onsite restaurants and the capacity for 10,000 simultaneous Wi-Fi connections.
Even small groups, however, can find superb facilities in Lima that support their event objectives. Last August, the Silver Spring, MD-based International Leadership Association (ILA) brought about 120 delegates to Lima for a conference themed “Exploring Leadership in Latin America.” One of the organization’s associate members, who is affiliated with Universidad del Pacifico in Lima, facilitated the ILA’s partnering with the university to host the event. The group convened in the 277-capacity theater and used several breakout rooms. Peruvian tradition was well represented in both the meals, catered by the university, and in the entertainment. Folkloric dance groups from the Universidad del Pacifico performed at the conference’s opening and closing events, which was “the highlight for all of our attendees,” remarks Bridget Chisholm, Director of Conferences, ILA. “We will continue to hold our topical event in Latin America every other year as we continue to grow our membership.” Based on the positive experience last year, the ILA has opted to return to Lima for its 2018 conference.
PLAZA DE ARMAS
The historic center of Lima dates to the times of the conquistadors, and at its core is the Plaza de Armas — the central square — which branches out to create the modern city that Peru has become. The district recently earned UNESCO World Heritage status and is in the midst of a revitalization as a result. Among the notable structures surrounding the plaza are the Government Palace, which is the official residence of the President; the Cathedral of Lima, where Pizarro’s remains were laid to rest; and the Palace of the Archbishop. Honor guard soldiers on horses can be seen regularly trotting around the square, which also contains homes of some of the original settlers of the city.
History, architecture and culture are present throughout the entire district, which is home to museums and national ministries. Hotels in the area near San Martin square — which honors a general who played a key role helping Peru gaining its independence from Spain — include the 431-room Sheraton Hotel and Convention Center.
The Starwood-affiliated property, built in 1978 and refurbished in 2012, contains extensive meeting and event facilities, its largest space spanning over 15,800 sq. ft.
A short drive from Lima’s convention center district, delegates will find the more modern district of San Isidro, which has developed into a business center and is home to international companies as well as embassies. Modern parks such as San Isidro’s Parque el Olivar (Olive Grove Park) contain rows of olive trees that date back hundreds of years to Spanish colonial times. Within the park are stone presses used to produce olive oil, a staple of the Spanish diet.
Area hotels with meeting facilities include an offering from Spanish hotelier Melia and Swissotel, as well as the Country Club Hotel located directly across from Lima’s golf course. Affiliated with Luxury Hotels of the World, the Country Club Hotel, built in 1927, is considered a cultural heritage site landmark as a result of its architecture, design and historical significance.
Situated south of the San Isidro district along the Pacific coast, Miraflores once served as a resort area. Its beaches are still an attraction, but today the district is better known as an upscale neighborhood with hotels, dining and shopping. Steps away from the beaches that rest below the nearby cliffs is the 300-room JW Marriott Lima. The hotel’s 14,000 sq. ft. of event space includes its San Martin ballroom (5,921 sq. ft.) and six breakout rooms. Smaller groups can consider the 89-suite Belmond Miraflores Park, a luxury property with views of the Pacific coast. Among its meeting spaces are the Observatory, which faces a terrace with a view of the ocean. Its larger Sala Copacabana ballroom can accommodate up to 400 guests. Nearby, the 149-room Courtyard Lima Miraflores has limited function space that could be ideal for classroom-style meetings at a lower price point.
While much of Peru’s history is popularly associated with the Incas and the Machu Picchu fortress, visitors may be surprised to find that Lima is rich in history that predates not only the Spanish but the Incas as well. Huacas — pyramid-like ramps and adobe structures — are located throughout the city. The Huaca Pucllana, in the Miraflores District, is estimated to date as far back as 200 AD. The site is believed to have been important for communal and religious life and has yielded a wealth of information about the culture of the early inhabitants. At the site, groups can dine at the eponymous Huaca Pucllana restaurant, whose award-winning cuisine is known for its use of the finest local products.
Experiences in Lima range from the indigenous meal to the well-known amenities of an global upscale hotel brand. Toward assisting planners to design their program, the Ministry of Foreign Trade and Tourism and PROMPERÚ offer a multitude of resource at www.peru.travel/en-us/. —D.K.
Look for a sequel on Peru with a feature on Cusco, the Sacred Valley and Machu Picchu in the F&D 2017 SuperBook.