I have been amazingly lucky to visit Ica twice this year.
It was an area I had been wanting to visit for a while now and this year was finally the time. I went in April when my brother came to stay and more recently for my birthday at the end of August.
This first post is actually all about the latter stay and the beautiful resort we stayed in to celebrate my 30th.
So, without further ado….
Las Dunas is a family resort in Ica around 3-4 hours south of Lima (we set off at about 5.30am to avoid any road problems). It is backed by high sand dunes and feels like a little oasis surrounded by desert.
Ica is in summer for the majority of the year, so it makes it an extremely safe bet for holiday travels at any time!
Aside from the main reception area, restaurant, bars and rooms, the resort has a number of different areas and activities to keep you and your family occupied.
There are 5 swimming pools, one especially for children and another with a water slide, the latter of which is an absolute blast. I may or may not have ridden the slide 5 or more times back to back.
There’s table tennis, tennis courts, an explorable castle, sapo (read more about this amazing game in my ARO lodge post), giant chess…. plus a clubhouse where you can hire all kinds of board games and sporting equipment.
The board games are especially great if you want to keep yourselves occupied in the bar or you just want to keep out of the sun.
There is also a schedule of organised activities such as sand boarding, archery, dance classes, water basketball, paintball and so much more! There are even classes about the different kinds of pisco and how to tell the difference between the grapes.
The largest area is taken up by the farm (?) area.
There are horses, geese, peacocks, chickens and llamas (or alpacas….I can’t remember which!!)
There’s a path that goes all the way around where you can walk or cycle through the trees and grasses.
See if you can spot the goose….
It’s very peaceful and not many people spend a lot of time there so it’s a nice escape from all of the excited children around the pool.
My favourite thing was to walk to the top of their sand dune in the morning, after breakfast before it was too hot, and sit in the warm sand to look at the view of the resort, Ica and beyond, and watch the sun come over the dunes.
Also available at the resort is a gym, spa and planetarium which we didn’t use, so I can’t go in to any detail about those.
One thing we did take advantage of was their concierge/tour booking service to book our trip to the Islas Ballestas for one of the mornings. There are many different tours we could have booked but I wanted desperately to see the Humboldt penguins, so the trip from Paracas was the one we chose!
By the way, if you’re into Pokemon Go (like me) then there are plenty of Pokemon to be found around Las Dunas, and they even do a Pokemon catching tour if your kids would enjoy that!!
The accommodation is comprised of a large number of rooms that when walking through looks like a small Mediterranean village with houses all huddled together around little courtyards. It reminded me so much of the convent in Arequipa.
The buildings are only two stories high with a balcony or terrace for each one. Some run alongside the beautiful little ponds filled with fish and some looked out over the farm area or mini golf course.
Our room was comprised of a bedroom area (with a table, chairs and dressing table), a dressing area (with fridge, double sink and open wardrobe) and a bathroom. Stone floors, white walls and dark wood went alongside the deep red and white colour scheme favoured by the resort. The rooms were lovely and bright and really comfortable, although the balcony did get very hot in the afternoon.
THE FOOD AND DRINKS
Breakfast is always a buffet in the restaurant and then lunch and dinner both a la carte.
The buffet is served mainly outside but under shade from the sun and then dinner is inside the main restaurant building.
I would recommend getting to the buffet early for the widest ranges of food, plus the freshest!
There are a variety of breads, croissants, cereals and fruit on offer alongside hot dishes such as sausages, bacon and pancakes. There’s also freshly sliced meat and a station for made to order eggs and omelettes. Drinks include a few different juices, milk, coffee, tea and Milo.
Dinner as I said is served from the menu and we dined in the restaurant twice during our stay, so here’s a little taster of what we tried!
Asparagus and jamón with a parmesan gratin.
Risotto with duck, pecans and sauco sauce.
Risotto with scallops in an orange sauce.
Beef (I think!) stew with rice and mashed beans.
We also had fresh bread, pork with sweet potato, and roasted chicken with mushrooms!
The main dishes all tasted extremely delicious (especially the duck risotto which was beautiful) but there were only a few desserts on offer. We tried a pecan one, seeing as pecans are an Ica specialty, which was nice but nothing mind blowing. Service was a little low on our first night, and by that I mean that we were the only table in the restaurant and no one seemed to come and check on us even when we called out. However, the next night we had no problems at all!
The bar area by the pools is really beautiful, comfortable and fully stocked.
They specialise in pisco cocktails, which is not surprising since the Ica area appears to produce the majority of the country’s pisco.
They also have many other drink options if pisco isn’t your thing!
Maybe try a fruity frozen daiquiri!
For the afternoons we stayed by the pool and bar area where we were also able to order food alongside our celebratory drinks….
Fried calamari, carpaccio of beef, mini causa, ceviche and tequeños were just a small selection of options that we tried from their menu.
We absolutely loved it here. You can come alone, as a group, as a couple or as a family and have a fabulous time, doing the activities that you want to do, or even none at all. It’s a space to be as active, or as inactive as you please! We chose to just relax, eat, drink and do a couple of activities when the mood struck.
I would absolutely love to come back again although the prices are not cheap so I’ll have to wait for another special occasion to visit. It was a fabulous end to a fabulous month of birthday celebrations, and I wish I could go back and do it all again!
Ica and the surrounding area is a must visit when in Peru, and I will be exploring a bit more of it in my upcoming posts. If you want to find out more about Ica, be sure to subscribe at the top of the page to get an email when my next post comes out and you won’t miss a thing! We had some great experiences and I can’t wait to share them.
Las Dunas Resort // Av. La Angostura 400, Ica