As the only brand-name hotel on the island of San Cristobal and one of only two hotels in the archipelago where travelers can earn and redeem loyalty points, the new Hotel Indigo Galapagos is a showstopper. Not only is it a modern and design-filled property on the island, but it has quickly become an example of what IHG Hotels & Resorts wants for this boutique brand. Inspired by each destination and demonstrating a true connection with the community, Hotel Indigo properties are far from cookie cutter.
The beachfront location, small size and colorful design make this hotel one worthy of a visit in this South American bucket list destination. It also makes this hotel somewhat of a showpiece for the brand in general. Here are five top reasons to visit Hotel Indigo Galapagos.
Each Indigo around the world is different, and its design is a key factor in what sets it apart from other hotels. This property is a perfect example of that. When guests step inside, they discover a bright and welcoming space that has colorful and natural elements reflecting its island environment. Look up and you’ll see cone-shaped structures surrounding the lights meant to mimic the volcanoes that form part of the islands.
Around the reception desk is the same local stone from the famous Kicker Rock, a natural formation jutting out of the water to the north of the island and famous for its marine life that flocks there. The island’s greenery is visible everywhere in the hotel along the walls and ceiling.
Each floor of the hotel has a different design theme, too, representing various animals from the Galapagos and a color scheme. With most guests beginning or ending a Galapagos cruise here, it’s a fun introduction or conclusion to the wildlife you will see.
In the rooms, the focus on nature continues with floor-to-ceiling windows surveying the ocean and surrounding island. The sea lions lying on the beach provide plenty of entertainment, but architects were savvy enough to assure that noise does not seep inside.
Natural light fills the rooms. Wicker lamp fixtures hanging from the ceiling look like the shell of the famous tortoises that have lived here for centuries. The color scheme mirrors nature, and even in the bathrooms, you’ll feel as if you’re outside. That’s because a glass panel lines the shower allowing you to enjoy the views while bathing. If you need privacy from the eclectic bird life and sea lions (or the person you’re sharing a room with), a touch of a button lowers privacy shades.
Just five minutes from the airport via free transfer, guests can land and be in their room in less than 30 minutes. Once here, the hotel is in the middle of town making it easy to walk along the renewed waterfront, which is packed with local shops, restaurants and even wildlife. The sea lions somehow make their way to the sidewalk where they lounge all day. Crabs, pelicans and other birds follow making this an entertaining way to see the animals without leaving dry land.
The boardwalk along the water is where many local tours and shuttles depart so it’s an active and entertaining place. Since this is such a convenient and active spot, it makes San Cristobal the perfect jumping-off point for pre or post-cruise excursions.
In front of the hotel is Playa del Oro where sea lions come to relax all day with their babies. The hotel’s location is so ideal that tourists come from around town to snap pictures. Coming soon, a new waterfront bar and café will open with the best seats in the house.
With only 35 rooms, this is perhaps the smallest Hotel Indigo in the world. The room number is capped due to local government restrictions designed to not overwhelm the community with visitors. With so few rooms, it feels as if the entire hotel is just for you with staffers remembering special preferences and showing great attention to detail.
This is the only hotel on the island to have an elevator, giving it the best accessibility for those with mobility issues. Guest rooms are also designed for the needs of wheelchair users. Several suites are also available adding a separate living room plus full bathroom with shower. These come with sofa beds in the living room making them great for families.
Each floor also has a small sitting area where guests can relax and read a book or plan their next day’s adventure. There is also a meditation area where guests can do yoga or relax in the sunlight without any noise from the waterfront.
The main restaurant, dubbed Darwin’s Secret in honor of Charles Darwin who famously spent time here, serves a variety of Ecuadorian and international cuisine. A masterful chef knows his way around the kitchen and can handle special dietary requests on the spot.
Breakfast includes a mix of creative dishes including a Mediterranean brioche sandwich with eggs and avocado or shakshuka with local cheese. Later in the day, the ceviche is market-fresh, the salads use local veggies and the dinner menu showcases an array of exotic flavors.
As one of the only options in the Galapagos where travelers can earn or redeem points, IHG One Rewards has unlocked a new opportunity for travelers. High-season rates in this bucket-list destination can reach four digits. The ability to use points for a luxury stay here gives IHG loyalty program members an edge.
IHG One Rewards uses a dynamic pricing model, which means the cost for a room in points is often tied to the cash cost. But, saving hefty amounts of cash in favor of using points, easily accrued by using IHG-branded credit cards or others that allow you to transfer points to IHG, makes it easy to save money when you travel.
Ramsey Qubein is a freelance travel journalist covering hotels, cruises, airlines, and loyalty programs from around the globe.