My Sacha Ji

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My Sacha Ji – Wellness in every dish

“Imbabura is a very healing region. There’s something special here. And the people have great gifts for healing.” With this sentiment as her guiding star, María Teresa Ponce sought out the perfect place to start a business which, she admits, she knew little to nothing about: a hotel-retreat. She chose the spot well. My Sacha Ji is set amid the rolling countryside to the south of Imbabura, up on a hillside that offers a stunning, inspiring view of the shining Lago San Pablo and the Volcán Imbabura in all its hulking glory.

Inspired by this view, by the special qualities of the people and of the land around her, the business has grown in stature and in reputation over the years. It is now part of the Healing Hotels of the World group, a seal of quality that reflects María Teresa’s idea of creating a locus that will no doubt become a reference for other similar businesses in Ecuador into the future.

A trained architect, María Teresa is happy to admit that the project started a bit back to front. She laid out the gardens and vegetables and fruit trees before she set about building the actual 11-room hotel. But this, in a way, reflects the holistic approach that encapsulates her project: the culinary aspect of the experience here was as important as the architecture or the comfort. Thus the garden, with its energy-flowing curves and organic precepts, was never a secondary consideration in her vision. It was always key.

Guests staying at the hotel come to find a place to escape their busy worlds, to reconnect with something more essential, and even to seek healing – whether physical or mental. They can benefit from amazing reiki therapy, or opt for the more traditionally-Andean limpia treatments at the hands of Doña Rosita, who hails from the local village of Angla. Increasingly, guests come as part of groups who stay for weekends or longer stays under a wide gamut of themes: from yoga and photography through to mandala-creating and sculpture. But again, “staying” doesn’t really encompass the whole experience, with the garden, the kitchen, the chefs, the ingredients, the recipes and the dishes all playing a role. So much so, on some retreats, the Ayurveda masters will cook themselves and share their methods.

The result is that the gastronomic experience at Sacha Ji is very much part of the whole. Although the emphasis is very much on vegetarian dishes (a rarity in Ecuador), guests can also enjoy chicken and fish, but no red meat. María Teresa mentions how people rave about the uvilla (goldenberry) juices, and the basil-flavored lemonade. The team have developed “thousands of soups”, many based on the highly-nutritious quinoa and amaranth cereals that are such important ingredients in traditional Andean cooking. Salads emerge from the kitchen, run by chef Daniel and his wife Aída (both of whom grew up in nearby local communities), looking like impressionist masterpieces, full of color and vibrant, healthy ingredients. And then there’s the “famous” chocolate mousse, made with Pacari’s 70% “raw” chocolate and some secret ingredients, producing a dessert which is so “delicious, rich but not heavy” even yoga masters ask for a second helping!

SACHA JI

www.mysachaji.com

San Pablo del Lago. Imbabura – Ecuador.

(+593-9) 9-810-5855

(+593-9) 8-456-5012

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