How to Enjoy Your Business Trip to Lima
There are dozens of US companies with bases in Peru and many more are looking to the country as a place to do business. If you happen to be in Peru on business, what should you do? Dan Clarke shares his insights.
Lima is one of the largest cities in the Americas, with an estimated population of over 10 million people, and as Peru’s economy sprints into the 21st century, so more and more business travellers find themselves flying into the city’s Jorge Chavez airport, perhaps having spoken to a colleague who went there once ten years ago, and wondering: just how am I going to kill time between those meetings?
The airport is a shining example of how things have changed recently in Lima, however. Ten years ago, Jorge Chavez gave off strong whiffs of banana republic – and I don’t mean the clothing brand – with huge queues to the one or two half-asleep immigration officials, mind-numbing paperwork and a rather seedy-looking arrivals lounge. Today, you fly in to one of two brand-new terminals that would grace any city in the world, everything works, and you step through into arrivals feeling like you’ve arrived in a city that’s looking to get things done!
Open for Business
The change is emblematic of the city as a whole: while Lima is still the capital of a developing country, and the traffic as you drive out of the airport still can be a rude awakening for US and European visitors, the roads are now good and the vehicles – increasingly – are new and well-maintained. If you had visions of Havana-style 50s Cadillacs belching smoke then the Limeño guy looking down at your taxi from his BMW X5 might make you think again… It’s a similar story with hotels, where a new generation of top-quality business hotels has almost completely supplanted the old guard. The Marriott is still a decent choice, but new contenders like the Casa Andina Private Collection and the Westin now top most people’s list.
Eating Out in Lima
Once you’ve checked into your hotel on that first night, you’ll probably start thinking about dinner and this is where Lima is really in its element. Peruvian food has been a well-kept secret for decades, but it’s now poised to break out and strut its stuff on the world stage. High class Peruvian restaurants are opening in LA, New York and London, and you’re going to start seeing it featured in all the newspapers and food magazines this year. However, it’s all about ingredients, and so you’re going to find the very best of it right here in Lima, of course. A new breed of chefs means that Lima is rapidly becoming one of the fine-dining capitals of the world, with restaurants such as Central and Astrid y Gaston winning worldwide plaudits for their exciting and adventurous cuisine. Make sure you enjoy at least one great meal out – it’s a case of Michelin stars for (relative) peanuts so don’t just stick to room service!
Exploring the City
If you do have time to kill between meetings then you should certainly get out and explore a bit as well. One of the main attractions is the historic centre, which has been beautifully restored in recent years so that you can wander around and enjoy the grand squares and avenues, lined with colonial mansions, stunning churches and great pavement cafes. Take the time to sit down, enjoy a great Peruvian coffee and watch a bit of Limeño life go by…
You’ll also find some of the continent’s great museums in the centre, such as the award-winning Larco museum and the incredible Gold Museum, both of which contain some of the most precious pre-Columbian artefacts still in existence. Both are well-curated and although you could spend all day in either, even a quick visit is well worth your while.
If you don’t fancy the quick taxi ride downtown, however, then the best hotels are almost all just a short stroll from the beaches and cliffs of the Pacific coast, and areas like Miraflores are also blessed with lovely parks and some of South America’s best shopping so there’s plenty to keep you busy here, quite apart from the many bars that serve what is hands-down South America’s best beer – the award-winning Cuzqueña – as well as some of the world’s best sushi. It might take the guide books a little while to catch up, and your colleague might sound dubious, but Lima changed a while ago, so get out there and enjoy it!
Dan Clarke works for Real Peru Holidays – the UK’s specialists in tailor-made travel to Lima and holidays in Peru. He lived in Lima for a year and counts the days until he can get back there and enjoy the freshest ceviche and pisco sours in the world. (Image: Nathan Hughes Hamilton)
Planning a trip to Lima this summer? Check out Park Ride Fly USA’s latest discount airport parking coupon for big summer savings on off airport parking.