Bolivia Hotel Review: Laguna Volcan Golf Eco Resort

by David Boldt
(Santa Cruz, Bolivia)

This is NOT a hotel to consider as a place to stay while in Santa Cruz. For starters, it is two hours of bad (sometimes spectacularly bad) roads outside the city. Instead, it needs to be considered as a destination in and of itself.

It is tucked away in a fantastically beautiful red-walled canyon in the foothills of the Andes in (or near) Bermejo, Bolivia. It is a location to die for, every bit as glorious as it looks in the website pictures, with a duck-filled lake, magnificent pool, and what must be the world's most challenging seven hole pitch-and-putt golf course, reminiscent of those humorous posters that showed people playing golf atop a high-rise building. (Instead of a rough, the course, which is being expanded, is edged with vertiginous drop-offs from which no ball is ever likely to be recovered.)

For non-golfers, there is hiking, swimming, some nearby attractions, and a mangy, unlined grass tennis court. But this is a place one goes to just to be there, not necessarily to do anything. It's other-worldly.

My 12-year-old daughter thought it looked like a landing base and headquarters for extraterrestrials, possibly still in use. Indeed, she noted that you can see what must be their architectural carvings in the red cliffs.

On the down side it is so ineptly run that it is hard to make a reservation. Phones aren't answered. E-mails bounce back. Persistence and patience are required. But if you can get someone on the phone, and negotiate the heart-stopping access road, it's like finding a piece of Heaven. The staff is courteous and attentive (once you get there).

The ambitious nouvelle cuisine menu offers pretty fine dining (though one wonders if they might do better by sticking to a few exquisitely done specialties.) The newly constructed rooms and cabanas are fully amenitized and very comfortable, all offering great views. And it's not crowded. The facility was operating at less than half capacity the weekend we were there (which admittedly started out chilly and cloudy). And the prices are reasonable.

Our advice: rush up to experience this uniquely beautiful resort -- before it gets discovered or goes out of business.

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