Mainland Ecuador
Hacienda Zuleta

Considered by many to be the best hacienda-hotel in Ecuador, the charming 16th Century Hacienda Zuleta is an experience in its own right, with numerous attractions and activities in and around the farm, as well as being a base for exploring the wider region.

The Plaza family with their natural warmth and hospitality welcome you to their country house and invite you to share life at an authentic hacienda in the foothills of the Andes. The lovely gardens and cosy living and reading rooms offer a peaceful atmosphere after returning from a horse ride to the Condor project perhaps, or a bike ride to the waterfall.  Delicious Ecuadorian and international food is freshly prepared with organic vegetables, trout and dairy products produced on the Hacienda whilst the beautifully decorated bedrooms all feature their own fireplace, extending the cosy feel of the property.

Facilities & Activities

At Zuleta you are very much a guest of the family and welcomed as such. You will be invited to relax at your leisure in the cosy reading and living rooms, which have in the past entertained famous visitors. Satellite television, movies and games are available at any time in one of the living rooms, as well as coffee, soft drinks, and bar service.

Miles of meandering roads through lush pastureland, pine trees and eucalyptus forest, make the valley of Zuleta a paradise for outdoor activities such as hiking. There are also mountain bikes giving you chance to explore the area on two wheels – staff will even drive guests to the top of a nearby hill so you can enjoy the descent back to Zuleta without the uphill struggle! A visit to the Condor conservation project is also highly recommended if you want to learn more about (and see) the endangered Andean condors and learn more about the local spectacled bears.

Horse-riding has been a Plaza family tradition for over one hundred years, and today Zuleta boasts one of the most exclusive stables in Ecuador, known for its Zuleteño horse, a unique mixture of Andalusian, English, and Quarter horses.  The South American saddle has a pommel, deep seat and is covered with a cosy sheep skin pad ensuring a comfortable ride whilst the hotel also provides half chaps, helmets, rain ponchos and a saddle bag.  Each day’s ride has its beauty and charm; ride through valleys surrounded by mountains, past green lakes on mountain tops, snow-capped Cayambe, ancient pre-Incan earth mounds and waterfalls.

Foodies might like to visit the cheese museum to learn how Zuleta’s fresh and aged, handmade cheeses are produced. Or explore the organic gardens – within three hectares, the Hacienda grow seventeen different kinds of vegetables, five different kinds of fruit, several herbs, spices and medical plants. The lovingly tendered gardens are a real feature and the ideal place to see birds; especially the sword-billed hummingbird that feeds from the trumpet flower.

The Hacienda has over 300 cows that support Zuleta’s milk production. Milking takes place at 4pm in the afternoon (and 4am in the morning!) and children are welcome to visit the milking sheds to see how it’s done, feed a little calf, see giant bulls and talk to the vaqueros (local cowboys). This milk is then used to make cheese and other products served fresh for you to enjoy.

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Dining

Virtually everything gracing the table comes fresh from Zuleta’s organic garden and is carefully prepared by hand. Fresh milk and cream from Zuleta’s dairy cows are offered daily. Handmade Ecuadorian cheeses are produced from the farm’s fresh milk and carefully crafted in the small factory near the guesthouse.  Fresh organic fruit and vegetables are picked from the expansive garden, to make exquisite salads and freshly squeezed juices whilst rainbow trout caught moment before being cooked.

Each day the menu will be discussed with you, to ensure you eat heartily after your day of activity and fresh air and is often served ‘family style’!

Rooms

All the guestrooms are in the main building of the Hacienda that dates back to 1691. As the structure of the colonial building has to be retained, every room has a unique shape and charm. Individually decorated with antiques, authentic family pictures and hand-embroidered linens, it feels very much like a private home. There are 21 beautifully decorated rustic bedrooms, all with their own fireplace.

The rooms have beautiful garden and mountain views, and some provide access to a private garden, terrace, or courtyard where hummingbirds feed. Beds are queen or king size, with four pillows and anti-allergic bedding. While guests are enjoying their dinner, room service staff put hot water bottles in every bed. All rooms have a fireplace (with security glass) and a private bathroom with bath or shower.

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Family

The Ecuadorians love children and they are given a warm welcome at Hacienda Zuleta. Suites for families and adjoining rooms are available and 3 rooms can be equipped for triple occupancy and 1 as quadruple.

The local countryside ensures plentiful fun activities for children. Enjoying the outdoors, the animals, gardening, farming, and local traditions make Hacienda Zuleta the ideal place for a family holiday with school-aged children. If you prefer to unwind or take advantage of an activity that is less child-friendly the hotel can arrange a fun, supervised itinerary for your children.

A popular activity is the hand-milking or perhaps a bit of dressing up is in order? Dress like a chagra cowboy with a warm poncho, special chaps and cowboy hat and learn how to use the lasso. Called a huasca by the locals, the leather lassos of the Ecuadorian Andes are used to herd free-range cattle in the mountains.

Hidden throughout the Hacienda house are 7 treasures – children will love the challenge of seeking them out with a GPS and a cell phone, messaging friends and family along the way to share clues. For avid den builders, construct your own straw hut. You will even be provided with windows, a door, a roof and furniture for your new home.

In the evenings, sit by the fire and enjoy some stargazing, sing songs, listen to ghost stories, toast marshmallows, and make super-delicious s’mores!

Sustainability

Zuleta offers a unique experience for birdwatching in Ecuador by making sure that many species natural habitats are conserved through their Condor Huasi Project. This history of Ecuadorian conservation has made Zuleta a preferred sanctuary for wild condors, spectacled bears, various owls, pumas, and many other species.

Next to the main entrance, you will find Zuleta library which offers free cultural and educational activities for the community. In the morning hours it is used as a childcare centre, and in the afternoon, many children from the community arrive for help with homework. There are also extracurricular activities and workshops. You are more than welcome to visit the library and meet Zuleta’s children and it can a fantastic way to educate your own children about other ways of life.

Location

Located between 2870m and 3050m above sea level in the Andean Mountains of Northern Ecuador and 110 km North of Quito, Hacienda Zuleta is a 2-hour drive from the capital. Blessed with an equatorial location, there is a temperate climate year-round.

 

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