Situated right in the heart of the Galápagos archipelago, the island of Santa Cruz is a gateway to one of the most fascinating destinations in the world: home to a patchwork of geological landscapes and some of the most diverse and abundant wildlife on the planet. Sheltered in a valley between two extinct cinder cone volcanoes, the Royal Palm Galapagos hotel has become the first Hilton property in the Galapagos and the latest member of the company’s independent Curio Collection.
Originally opened in 2000, the hotel is situated on a 160-hectare estate in the Miconia Highland Forest, just outside Galapagos National Park, which is dotted with craters, lush hillsides and otherworldly lava tunnels. The boutique eco-retreat will undergo a light renovation over the next few months, including the 21 private villas and casitas scattered across the estate, the lobby, spa and dining outlets, before reopening as Royal Palm Galapagos, Curio Collection by Hilton, in July.
Community engagement and sustainability programmes are at the heart of the guest experience. Visitors can get involved with programmes such as reforestation of the Mocino Reserve and learn about the hotel’s rain harvesting programme: two of the initiatives designed to reduce its impact on the islands. Nearby, Tortuga Bay is home to a collection of Galapagos Giant Tortoise and the nearby Charles Darwin Research Station provides visitors with insights into the unique ecology of the islands.
Guests don’t have to travel far to discover unique experiences: the hotel’s fine dining restaurant is located in a cavern in one of the lava tunnels below the estate, affording the chance to sample a tasting menu inspired by local culture and ingredients – many of which are grown on the estate – in the bowels of the earth.