Skip to main content

14 coolest hotel perks across Latin America

By Jill Becker, for CNN
updated 10:51 AM EST, Tue December 10, 2013
Legend has it they'll take away your worries as you sleep -- provided you're not weirded out having a set of slightly eerie dolls beneath your pillows all night. Legend has it they'll take away your worries as you sleep -- provided you're not weirded out having a set of slightly eerie dolls beneath your pillows all night.
Worry dolls (Casa Palopó, Guatemala)
Treehouse (Pacuare Lodge, Costa Rica)
Warrior dogs (Sandos Caracol, Mexico)
Pole-dancing (Paradisus Playa del Carmen, Mexico)
Observatory (Hotel de Larache, Chile)
Fender guitar (Hard Rock Hotel, Panama City)
History Lessons (JW Marriott Cusco, Peru)
Fountain of Youth (UXUA Casa, Brazil)
Hermes swag (Alvear Palace, Buenos Aires)
Polo (Estancia Vik Jose Ignacio, Uruguay)
Oxygen (Palacio Nazarenas, Peru)
Tree planting (Los Suenos Marriott, Costa Rica)
Rum (Mukul Beach, Golf & Spa, Nicaragua)
Business cards (Bristol Panama, Panama City)
  • From warrior dogs to worry dolls, these hotels deliver unique extras
  • Chile's Hotel de Larache has its own observatory, with a powerful, advanced-optics Meade telescope
  • The Hard Rock Hotel Panama Megapolis provides guests with a Fender guitar and amp

(CNN) -- Pillow menus, Wi-Fi included in room charge, made-to-order omelets at the breakfast buffet -- these are the ho-hum trappings hotels are offering these days to get your business.

Hotels across Latin America, however, offer the kind of unique and memorable perks that actually might get you to book a stay.

MORE: Most amazing hotel pools in U.S.

Worry dolls (Casa Palopó, Santa Catarina Palopó, Guatemala)

This stylish seven-bedroom property overlooking Lake Atitlán adds a twist to turn-down service.

On the night of check-in, staff place a pouch containing a set of traditional Guatemalan worry dolls atop your bed.

Local lore holds that if you place the dolls under your pillow at night, they'll take your worries away as you sleep.

Casa Palopó, Km. 6.8 Santa Catarina Palopó, Solola, Guatemala; +502 7762 2270; contact hotel for rates

MORE: Hidden beauty of Garifuna Belize

At Palacio Nazarenas, they help you breathe it all in.
At Palacio Nazarenas, they help you breathe it all in.

Oxygen enrichment (Palacio Nazarenas, Cusco, Peru)

Housed in a former convent, this cozy retreat takes your breath away -- literally.

Because the hotel is located 11,152 feet above sea level, the lungs take some time to adjust, leaving some guests gasping.

To combat altitude sickness, the hotel pumps extra oxygen into rooms through the air-conditioning system.

Palacio Nazarenas, Plaza Nazarenas 144, Cusco, Peru; +51 8 458 2222; from $375 per night

Business cards (Bristol Panama, Panama City)

Located in Panama City's bustling financial district, the Bristol is a biz travel standby.

You don't have to be a CEO to appreciate the free business cards the hotel prints up for guests, which include their name, personal telephone number and hotel's fax line.

Bristol Panama, Avda. Aquilino de la Guardia, Panama City; +507 264 0000; from $189 per night

MORE: Postcards vs. The Future: 10 endangered travel items

Fountain of Youth (UXUA Casa Hotel & Spa, Trancoso, Brazil)

Who doesn't love a good hotel pool?

Especially one with healing powers.

UXUA's supposed fountain of youth is constructed of 40,000 local luminescent-green aventurine quartz stones that are believed to have the most potent healing properties of any gem.

Uxua Casa Hotel & Spa, Quadrado Trancoso, Bahia, Brazil; +55 73 3668 2277; from $425

MORE: 8 of Brazil's best beaches

Hermés swag (Alvear Palace Hotel, Buenos Aires)

If you're one of those travelers who socks away the stash of hotel toiletries, you'll waste no time pilfering the luxe lotions at this elegant hotel.

They're made by Hermés, and include the popular Eau d'Orange Verte unisex fragrance created by famed perfumer Françoise Caron back in 1979.

Alvear Palace Hotel, Avda. Alvear 1891, Buenos Aires; +54 11 4808 2100; from $480 per night

MORE: 23 reasons it's great to be a tourist

At the Hard Rock Panama City, all you need to supply are three chords to become a rock god. For a night.
At the Hard Rock Panama City, all you need to supply are three chords to become a rock god. For a night.

Fender guitar and amp (Hard Rock Hotel Panama Megapolis, Panama City)

With Hard Rock's exclusive Sound of Your Stay program, you can pretend to be anyone from Keef to Coldplay on world tour.

Upon request, digital music-mixing software is loaded on your in-room laptop, and you can borrow one of 20 Fender guitars, complete with amp and headphones -- all you need to supply are three chords and some world-weary lyrics and you're set to record the next "On the Road Again" travel anthem.

For the ultimate rocker-like stay, you can tell people you coptered in via the hotel's helipad.

Hard Rock Hotel Panama, Ave. Balboa al lado de Multicentro, Panama City; +507 380 1111; from $159 per night

MORE: 12 best travel songs of all-time

History lessons (JW Marriott Cusco, Cusco, Peru)

Surrounded by magnificent archaeological sites, this landmark hotel has its own history worth exploring.

It's built on the grounds of a 16th-century San Agustin convent, and has been meticulously restored to showcase original Incan architectural details, some of which are located in select guestrooms.

Free guided tours exploring the ancient remains and artifacts are offered nightly.

JW Marriott Cusco, Esquina de la Calle Ruinas 432 y San Agustin, Cusco, Peru; +51 84 582 200; from $225 per night

Treehouse meals (Pacuare Lodge, Limón, Costa Rica)

An eco-friendly retreat surrounded by lush jungle, the Pacuare Lodge offers guests a unique eating experience.

Located 60 feet up in the branches of a Ceiba tree, The Nest is a canopied perch that holds up to four people -- it can be reserved for breakfast, lunch or dinner (complete with candles).

There's action even before you sit down. To access The Nest you must slide down a 400-foot cable.

Pacuare Lodge, 2½ hours east of San José airport on Pacuare River, Limón, Costa Rica, hotel arranges transportation; +506 2225 3939; rates from $377 per night

MORE: World's most amazing hotel restaurants

Polo lessons (Estancia Vik Jose Ignacio, Punta del Este, Uruguay)

Among this resort's 4,000 acres you'll find a full-size, world-class polo field that plays host to professional matches featuring some of the game's biggest names.

So what if you can't name any of them? If you want to get out there and swing a mallet yourself, the hotel offers private polo lessons.

Estancia Vik Jose Ignacio, Camino Eugenio Saiz Martinez, Km. 8, Punta del Este, Uruguay; +5989 4 605 212; rates from $385 per night

At Hotel de Larache, guests search for a different kind of nightlife.
At Hotel de Larache, guests search for a different kind of nightlife.

Observatory (Hotel de Larache, San Pedro de Atacama, Chile)

Chile's Altiplano region may have the driest desert on earth, but there's nothing barren about its night skies.

The area is a center for serious astronomy, and this luxury lodge from the Explora travel company has taken advantage of its location by opening its own observatory, with a powerful, 16-inch, advanced-optics Meade telescope that allows guests to marvel at the wild black yonder.

Hotel de Larache, Domingo Atienza s/n, Ayllu de Larache, San Pedro de Atacama, Chile; +56 2 2395 2800; from $2,790 (three-night minimum)

MORE: Underwater hotel room opens in Africa

Pole-dancing classes (Paradisus Playa del Carmen La Perla, Playa del Carmen, Mexico)

Lots of hotels offer free fitness classes, but this all-inclusive may be the only one with gratis pole-dancing lessons.

The 60-minute classes are held twice a week in an outdoor palapa, and are more about strengthening and stretching than stripping. So we're told.

Guest experience manager Sadri Alexander admits when he first suggested the idea, people thought he was nuts. But the classes have become so popular that the hotel has had to add more poles.

Paradisus Playa del Carmen La Perla, 5ª Av. Esq Calle 112, Col. Luis Donaldo Colosio, Playa del Carmen, Mexico; +52 984 877 3900; from $462 a night (all-inclusive)

A chance to make Costa Rica even greener.
A chance to make Costa Rica even greener.

Tree planting (Los Suenos Marriott Ocean & Golf Resort, Herradura, Costa Rica)

If you like green travel, you might appreciate Los Suenos' Reforest the Rainforest initiative.

Situated amid a 1,100-acre rainforest that's home to more than 150 animal species, including the increasingly scarce scarlet macaw, the hotel has set aside an area along the La Iguana Golf Course where guests can plant a tropical almond sapling, a native tree donated to the hotel by a nearby national park.

Los Suenos Marriott Ocean & Golf Resort, 60 miles southwest of San José airport in Herradura, Costa Rica, contact hotel for directions; +506 2630 9000; from $309 per night

Rum ... lots (Mukul Beach, Golf & Spa, Rivas, Nicaragua)

The family that owns this gorgeous property on Nicaragua's Emerald Coast is responsible for the 100-year-old Flor de Caña Rum company.

Guests not only receive a complimentary bottle of five-year-old Flor de Caña rum in their room each day (along with mixers, snacks and juice), they can order free cocktails made with Flor de Caña at the bar or pool until 5 p.m.

They're also privy to a rum tasting with the hotel's official rum connoisseur.

Mukul Beach, Golf & Spa, Km. 10 Carretera Tola-Las Salinas, Rivas, Nicaragua; +505 2563-7100; from $550 a night

MORE: World's 10 best drinking nations

Warrior dogs (Sandos Caracol Eco-Resort & Spa, Playa del Carmen, Mexico)

You won't feel as bad leaving Fido behind during your stay at this sprawling beachfront resort. That's because the hotel has Mayan "warrior" dogs -- a breed known as Xoloitzcuintle that dates back 3,000 years -- that you can take for a walk around the property.

Along the way, you might encounter some of the numerous critters roaming the grounds, including spider monkeys and sea turtles.

There's also an onsite zoo with donkeys, deer, peacocks and more.

Sandos Caracol Eco-Resort & Spa, Carretera Chetumal Puerto Juarez Km. 295, Solidaridad, Playa del Carmen, Mexico; +52 984 873 4444; from $294 a night

Some of the perks listed above require an extra charge, including polo lessons at Estancia Vik Jose Ignacio and meal charges at The Nest at Pacuare Lodge. We list them as "perks" because a hotel stay provides what can otherwise be difficult to obtain access.

Part of complete coverage on
updated 8:49 PM EDT, Wed April 2, 2014
As the new season of "Game of Thrones" approaches, we pick out 20 stunning spots in one of its most oft-used locations.
updated 5:40 AM EDT, Thu April 10, 2014
They're hot, they're popular, they're stylish. Now they're your tour guides to Italy's fashion capital.
updated 12:10 AM EDT, Tue April 8, 2014
A quarter of the year's flown by, it's time to plan a vacation. TripAdvisor's list of Top Destinations should help.
updated 1:23 AM EDT, Tue April 8, 2014
You may not have those $10 Heinekens and $6 bags of M&M's to kick around anymore. Happy now?
updated 3:25 AM EDT, Mon April 7, 2014
Japan isn't a country to which you just show up and wing it. Here's how to arrive prepared.
updated 10:02 AM EDT, Thu April 3, 2014
The Economist is latest to dogpile on the reputation of U.S. airports; one industry leader says he knows why.
updated 2:23 AM EDT, Fri April 4, 2014
Laojun Mountain Natural Reserve gave out bags of mountain air to Chinese residents. After seeing these photos, you'll want some too.
updated 9:04 AM EDT, Wed April 2, 2014
Forget space. Our very own planet is ripe for investigation. Here are some of the spots we know least about.
updated 2:51 AM EDT, Mon March 31, 2014
A colossal empire of little houses stacked on top of each other, connected by staircases snaking under dangling wires -- Kowloon Walled City in Hong Kong.
updated 9:41 PM EDT, Tue April 1, 2014
Move to squeeze in extra passengers brings dose of economic reality to dreams of luxuriously pimped aircraft.
updated 4:03 AM EDT, Tue April 1, 2014
British sound engineer wants you to ditch the camera and open your ears to "sound tourism."
updated 6:56 PM EDT, Sun March 30, 2014
Think bouncing on the end of an elastic rope is tough? Try jumping off a wooden tower with only a vine tied to your ankle.
updated 1:38 AM EDT, Fri March 28, 2014
Decimated by poaching, black rhino numbers are starting to increase again, thanks, in part, to on-foot tracking tours for tourists.
updated 10:59 PM EDT, Thu March 27, 2014
Singapore Changi Airport has been crowned the best in the world for the second year in a row at the World Airport Awards.
updated 6:02 PM EDT, Mon March 24, 2014
What do you get when you combine 60,000 photos, eight-hour cliff treks and months of patient processing? One of the year's great time-lapse videos.