The Galapagos’ first points hotel features a restaurant in a lava cave.

When it comes to seeing one of the most diverse ecosystems on the planet, searching for Darwin’s famous finches, and getting up up and personal with a lethargic but (possibly) loving sea lion, it’s time to arrange a trip to Ecuador’s Galapagos Islands.

Even better, guests will soon be able to go there and stay for free using just their points and miles when Hilton opens the world’s first point hotel in one of the world’s most biodiverse locations, making the journey even more worthwhile.

Following an announcement this week, Hilton revealed its intention to transform the Royal Palm Galapagos, a 21-room eco-friendly boutique hotel in the Galapagos Islands, into a Curio Collection by Hilton property. In order to complete the conversion by July, the resort is now undergoing improvements to a number of different sections, including the lobby, the spa, the guest rooms, and the eating spaces.

The fact that the hotel, which debuted in 2000, was already doing things that would entice visitors to make the trip to South America — and why Hilton wanted to join in on the Galapagos activity — is more interesting than the fact that it is being renovated.

First and foremost, let’s talk about the setting. The hotel is situated on the island of Santa Cruz, which is part of the Galapagos. It is simple to go to Baltra since there are direct flights from Guayaquil’s José Joaqun de Olmedo International Airport (GYE) and Mariscal Sucre Quito International Airport (UIO) to Seymour Galapagos Ecological Airport (GPS) on the island of Santa Cruz. From there, you’ll need to take a water taxi or a bus to Santa Cruz, but it’ll all be worth it once you get at the approximately 400-acre estate nestled in the Miconia Highland forest close to Galapagos National Park, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

True or not, the hotel is located in a valley between two extinct cinder cone volcanoes, which is rather unusual. If that isn’t enough, there are also craters, lava tunnels, and seven more geologically significant locations to explore in the surrounding region as well.

Guests can expect to be treated to an unforgettable experience that represents the peak of ecotourism combined with exceptional service at the hotel itself. Travelers may choose from a limited number of different kinds of accommodations spread over the hotel’s 21 casitas and villas. Many of them include an interior Jacuzzi or wet room, as well as a front porch or terrace with views of the grounds and pool. For a more luxurious experience, consider a bigger Super Villa or even the Prince of Wales Super Villa, which has an open fireplace and a private garden and was previously used by Prince Charles and Camilla during their visit.

Outside of their rooms, visitors may enjoy a variety of activities on the resort, such as resting by the pool, working out at the gym, or being pampered at the spa. To dine, make a reservation at the fine dining restaurant, which is housed inside a cover within one of the property’s volcanic lava tunnels — the only one of its type in the world — for the “extra immersive eating experience.” With a “glimpse of the enormous forces that produced the archipelago,” together with a tasting meal influenced by local culture and foods, the experience is really unforgettable.

The fact that the hotel is genuinely beautiful does not overshadow the fact that it is what is out and about in nature that brings people to this place — and the hotel is there to assist with that. Travelers may plan unique excursions that will enable them to see the finest of the Galapagos Islands from both land and water perspectives. Guests may enjoy self-guided tours as well as boat trips, where they can witness animals such as giant tortoises, sea lions, sea iguanas, and blue-footed boobies. All-inclusive events, guided excursions, and other activities are available as additional package choices.

Other activities in the neighborhood, many of which may be arranged by the hotel, include a bike trip to the Tortoise Ranch, where you can try to locate a Galapagos giant tortoise, which can be found on the island of Santa Cruz. Visit the Charles Darwin Research Station, which is committed to safeguarding the natural marvels and biodiversity of the islands, and kayak along the shoreline where boats are allowed. Guests may also surf and snorkel through “volcanic fissures filled with warm, crystal-clear, green water.”

The protection of the aforementioned natural treasures and biodiversity is a top priority for Hilton and Royal Palm International. The hotel is the only one in the area that has a replanting program for Miconia and the islands’ native Scalesia trees, as well as a rainwater collecting system in place. In fact, the hotel’s water reduction system gathers and recycles rainfall, as well as over 90 percent of its wastes, while an on-site farm produces fresh, sustainable vegetables for the hotel’s restaurants and other facilities.

As part of Travel with Purpose, the hotel will adhere to Hilton’s “global environmental, social, and governance plan,” which seeks to quadruple the brand’s commitment in social impact while cutting its environmental footprint in half worldwide by 2030. Meanwhile, the Hilton Effect Foundation, the charitable arm of the corporation, is collaborating with local groups to work on programs to safeguard native Ecuadorian fish species as well as to feed and protect the critically endangered Floreana tortoise, which is on the endangered species list.

While the Royal Palm will officially become a Curio Collection hotel later this year, there is currently no information available on how many points it will cost to reserve a night at the hotel or if ordinary room prices will alter once it becomes a Curio Collection hotel. According to the Royal Palm’s website, tourists may still book rooms beginning at $415 per night through the end of the month.

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