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All reviewsowners and stafftile worka lovely staythe entire staffother gueststake homethe kitchen staffsights and soundswhole wheat breadthoroughly enjoyed our staysurrounding mountainsawesome placein townpiece of paradisebeautiful groundsfull body massageamazing views
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Reviewed December 19, 2011

I decided to stay at Madre Tierra when I came to the Raw Food Festival in May, 2011, partly because that was the “hub” of all the events, but mainly because Peter [--], one of the owners, was very helpful to me, even though at the time, he was still living in the USA. In fact, Peter offered me a good rate as I was staying for 6 weeks and he also offered to help me book my airflight on Tame, with which I was having some challenges.

I had a wonderful stay, first of all with all the people attending and presenting at the festival and, later, socializing with the guests, many of whom only came for a few days, but all were very friendly and often invited me to join them at breakfast and dinner. Also, Nathan, Peter’s brother, and his wife and family, who are co-owners were really great and, as time went on, I began to feel like “family” also.

The staff are all lovely people and the meals are all made from scratch. Also, they use no microwaves or aluminum pans and all these things are important to me, even though I eat mainly raw food. Because of this, I didn’t try many dishes, but their salads and guacamole are really good and I had a lot of delicious fruit for breakfast. Also, I was allowed to make almond milk for myself on a few occasions and Beatrice, Nathan’s wife, made me green smoothies, for which I was very grateful. And, now, the owners are following up on their plan to grow organic vegetables and fruit on their land, which they will use in the restaurant. And there will probably be sufficient for a CSA for some of the local inhabitants.

I had a couple of sessions in the spa and the people working there are very gracious and friendly. I took advantage of their really great deal for $55, which included 3 different facials, a steam bath with cold showers, a full body mud pack and a foot massage. The only negative was that the jacuzzi that I had on another occasion wasn’t very hot. They tried to increase the heat, but it didn’t work. They told me that they were working on fixing that.

Because of my total very positive experience in May and June, I returned to Vilcabamba to live in September and stayed for my first 2 nights in Madre Tierra, where I was welcomed with open arms, even though it was very late in the evening.

I now visit my “family” often, especially on Friday evenings, when they recently have had guest chefs who prepare international meals such as Indian and Chinese food and, currently, a combination of raw and cooked meals, such as Mexican and Thai food. There are consistently “full houses” at these events as they are so popular. They also have a really nice conference centre, where they hold various interesting events, to which the guests of the hotel are welcome to participate.

I wholeheartedly recommend this hotel and have already recommended it to friends.

Room Tip: All rooms are set in the hillside and are very nice and clean. The honeymoon suite is beautiful, but, of course, more expensive. The rooms around the Conference Centre could be a bit noisy if there is an event on.
  • Stayed: May 2011, traveled solo
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2  Thank ann K
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed December 14, 2011

I stayed at the Madre Tierra Hotel for about a month and couldn't of been more pleased. The food was great, the rooms were very clean, and the owners and help were fantastic. I Took one of the horse back riding tours and had a great time. The room had a wonderful view of the Andes Mountains that was just breath taking to wake up to every morning. You get to meet so many wonderful people from across the world.

Thanks to the owners for a wonderful and relaxing stay.

  • Stayed: October 2011, traveled with family
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3  Thank Lari J
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed December 13, 2011

My Sister and I spent nearly a month in Vilcabamba Ecuador at the Hotel Madre Tierra.
I chose this hotel after doing much research. Our experience there was a very positive one. First off the owners Peter and his Brother Nathan were very kind and caring as was the rest of their family. They were always willing to make sure our stay was a pleasant one. The rooms were very nice and the food and service was excellent. The two wonderful women who worked in the spa were beautiful souls. You could tell their hearts and energy were into the work they did. I would highly recommend the Hotel Madre Tierra if you are planning a trip to beautiful Vilcabamba Ecuador.

Room Tip: If you are elderly ask for a room at the lowest level.
  • Stayed: October 2011, traveled with family
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3  Thank Douglas S
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed December 12, 2011

I visited Ecuador for a few weeks in late October. I knew that I had to add Vilcabamba, aka "The Valley of Longevity", to my places to see. I expected to stay a few days and then move on because I was seeing the entire country. However, I felt so at home at Madre Tierra that I ended up staying there for ten days. I thoroughly enjoyed my time there. My only complaint was a neighbor's dog that barked at night, but I always travel with earplugs which easily took care of the problem for me. My boyfriend didn't have any and bought some from the front desk.
The staff and owners were genuinely friendly and were always pleasantly busy, as though they were happy to be there. They even had Permaculture Gardeners on Staff growing an Organic Garden!
The grounds were eco-friendly and well kept. I loved how the buildings were built out of natural building materials with a classy sense of design. My room was spacious and very comfortable. The interior design was natural plaster, beautifully crafted stone and tile work. It had a private balcony with railings made from natural branches. It had a very earthy and natural design that overall, left me feeling peaceful and very relaxed. The grounds were beautiful, with a wide variety of tropical plants growing densely through the entire property...lots of palms, bamboo, ferns, etc. Looking out from my private balcony I could even see papaya and lemon trees with fruit on them. The grounds were tranquil with paths leading through the foliage to the separate buildings that housed only a few rooms per building. I loved how private this made it feel. Also, their crescent shaped pool was refreshing for a morning swim.
The Restaurant there was great! ...I am a picky eater and figured I would stick to eating the local fresh fruit, because I knew it was delicious and fresh; but as I slowly tried more things on their menu, I was delightfully surprised! It was all fresh and delicious! Breakfast for me was usually a whole food green smoothie or farm fresh eggs with toast made from whole wheat sourdough bread.They also have delicious homemade granola, which along with their pure yogurt and huge bowl of tropical fruit made for the best Meusley I have ever had. Sadly, I only discovered the granola on my last day there. All their ingredients were pure and fresh down to the Organic local sugar they call Panella (it has a slight molasses flavor) ...I fell in Love with it and ended up bringing some back to the states with me.
On the weekends, they had specialty dinners (Indian Food Night was one). It was quite a social event as the whole town and people from nearby Loja must have gotten word of how great it was. I paid only $8 for an amazing meal that would go for at least $25 in the states. Every meal I ate there was very delicious and a great value.
They had several events in their conference center while I was there. I was impressed with the talent I saw, from local bands to poetry readings and workshops.
Every day for Lunch, I would drink straight from a fresh coconut while lounging in one of about 20 hammocks that they have throughout the property.
...Sorry to go on so about the food, but I am picky and will only eat quality food.
The Spa services they offered were wellness focused, which was also a pleasant surprise for me. I indulged in some of their services, as I had just finished a very busy season of work and needed some R&R. It was Great!!!

  • Stayed: October 2011, traveled as a couple
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3  Thank Granola Girl D
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed December 11, 2011

My wife and I decided to spend four nights at Madre Tierra on our honeymoon after reading some of the older post on trip advisor. Unfortunately, it seems as though the new owners who took up residence a month ago are doing their best to ruin the place. We left after two nights and would have gotten out of there sooner if we could have. There are lots of things wrong with the place, including:

1. The Spa. I have never had a worse experience at a spa. Instead of a normal exfoliation and sea salt rub, they glopped huge pools of salt all over our bodies and rubbed hard. Instead of rubbing the salt off with a warm cloth, they left it on us for 10 minutes and then had us wrap ourselves in our dirty towels and walk over to the room with the mud bath. There, we stood up, naked with salt all over us in 2 inches of water and had a woman apply burning mud to our backs. Then we were told to spend 30 minutes in the bath with 2 inches of hot water and apply the mud to each other. It was unclear if we were supposed to wash it off. The spa treatment ended with a shower with some of the cheapest soap I've ever used, which left me itchy. The only silver lining is that the women who work in the spa are nice, they just haven't been trained.

2. The Owners. The place is owned by a family, and they were home schooling their kids/hanging out in all of the communal spaces. If I'm on my honeymoon, I'd like the communal spaces to be for the guests, not the owners. Moreover, the man who owns the place yelled at my wife and I when we told him why we were cutting our stay short (see below)

3. The Staff. The expats they've hired are nice, but seemed to forget that they were working. Instead of getting us the towel we asked for, the guy continued playing chess with the owners son and never got it for us. Worse, one of the people at reception "booked" as a tour to the national park for 8am two days from them. Come 8:15 that morning, the guide hadn't arrived. Turned out that no one actually booked the tour. They scrambled to get us something last minute, and they did -- a tour that would have cost us $90 that we were able to do with a free map from other places in town, no guide and $8 in cab fares.

4. The Food. It is not delicious, all organic communal meals. The pizza tasted like it came out of a freezer and the only way to get the local food the staff ate was to know to ask for the local stuff in Spanish.

5. The Grounds. The gardens were not nice, the best view was of the parking lot and the pool was cold and murky.

6. The rooms. No privacy, no fans and tin roofs. Hot in the day, not too cool at night and not nice at all.

The night before we left, the owner of the Madre Tierra sat down at our table as we eat a very sub-par pizza. He asked why we were leaving and, after giving the reasons listed above, he started yelling at us! He was rude and condescending, which shocked us as we were nice enough to give him the feedback he asked for while we were on our honeymoon without blowing out tops.

My wife and I have traveled to 25 countries each and stayed in lots of hotels. When you get to a place that feels wrong, it probably means that it's wrong. This place had everything wrong, and I would strongly urge you to avoid the Madre Tierra at all costs!

  • Stayed: November 2011, traveled as a couple
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10  Thank JR S
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
eldueno, Owner at Madre Tierra Resort & Spa, responded to this reviewResponded December 12, 2011

In a weird way I am thankful for this review as it motivates me to personally highlight many aspects of Madre Tierra. This review reminds me of some of the political ads that are aired in the USA and will take a discerning reader only a few minutes to sort out fact from fiction. It is the second promotion in two days (on OUR review page) of our main competitor in the area. Madre Tierra is the industry standard in Southern Ecuador for an Eco Resort/Spa experience. See the reviews, look at the pictures, look at our website and you will see that this just doesn’t add up. This “reviewer” has a total of three reviews in his history with 2 of three promoting this competitor here in Vilcabamba. His account was just activated so let the reader beware. I wish our competitor well as I know that when they do well, we do well. We are not threatened by them prospering. They have a great property filling a need in our area that we do not fill. There is plenty of business for both of us. As for specific inaccuracies I will address them below.
We have great Spa personal and services. We are known for being a spa that specializes in detoxification, relaxation, and restoration. Our staff is well trained by some of the best practitioners in Ecuador and the USA. One possible challenge is that they do not speak English so it can be confusing when people are using sign language for communication. In most of Ecuador it is more functional if you know some Spanish.
We do have children (four over the age of 9) at Madre Tierra. This is our home. It is a family friendly and family operated business. You can see in the prior reviews that a lot of guests like this environment although it is not for everybody. We host a lot of honeymooners by the way. The “Owner’s Suite” is the favorite choice for them.
We have not hired any expats. All of our employees are locals and do not play chess with anyone.
Our food is mostly organic, fresh, made from scratch and prepared with love. We’re working on improving the pizza recipe however many locals come here specifically for the pizza. Unlike most Ecuadorian restaurants we do not use fluoridated salt, aluminum cookware, or microwave ovens (which are all toxic and harmful to living things). We are health minded so you can expect a higher standard of quality and safety here because that is who we are and what we want to put in our bodies.
A simple look at our public information will illustrate that our gardens, property and views are phenomenal. If you would like to view a private online photo album of more photos, send us an email.
We have no tin roofs on the premises for any of our guest rooms. They are either tile, thatch or a local composite material that looks like tile. All of our rooms have a private bathroom and 24 hour hot water. No shared baths or toilets.
We are not a tour operator but are a resource to connect guests with tours such as horse back, bicycles, birding and hikes. My nephew who speaks English, German, Spanish and some French may even be willing to lead a hike for you without charge. Madre Tierra can not guarantee the performance of any other business or operator although we would not knowingly refer guests to a bad or expensive experience. Many guests have stated in prior reviews that our front desk staff is exceptional in this area. $90 for a local hike isn’t even available in this area. Travelers should be aware of “gringo pricing” but this is ridiculous.
As stated in my response to the review before this, there was one time with a drunk about 18 months ago when I raised my voice. His lack of sobriety seemed to have an effect on his hearing.
I am thankful for all the reviews I receive, whether they are legitimate or not as it gives me an opportunity to engage on the world wide web. Ancient scripture says that we will reap what we sow (what goes around comes around). I embrace the opportunity to sow a good experience to most of our guests. When we invested in Madre Tierra over 18 months ago I had a goal to bring this property up to standards that my wife and daughters would be happy with. In so doing we should be able to satisfy 95% of the guests that adventure to Ecuador. We’re not quite at the destination yet but as we say down here: “poco a poco” (little by little). We are hosting yoga retreats, raw food conferences, permaculture workshops, sustainability workshops, and on and on. We were the host of the 2011 Raw Food World International Conference. We must be doing something right. Come and see for yourself! Thanks.
Peter

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