This is a trip you never expected to take. It’s not because you didn’t want to. You’ve been dreaming about it for years. It just didn’t seem possible. Your safety and security had to take priority over traveling to a unique part of the world. But that all changed in the last decade or so. So you started treading lightly. The coast, which was never really a problem, was first. Then the cities surprised you by how normal they felt. You gained confidence and began planning the big trip. Now you can finally go.
The country is Colombia. Cartagena was your first foray. Bogotá and Medellín followed. It’s a rural area in between the South American country’s three largest cities (add Cali to the mix) upon which your heart is set, though. This spot is known as the Coffee Triangle. It’s where the majority of Colombia’s coffee is grown. Many consider it the best coffee in the world. It’s become a slight obsession for you.
Colombia started growing coffea plants in the 17th or 18th century after the Jesuits arrived. Coffee plantations quickly followed. The beans became the country’s primary export within a few decades. The “Coffee Cultural Landscape” is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site that spans across four of Colombia’s departments. You have your eye on Quindío.
Quindío is the second-smallest department in Colombia. That doesn’t mean it should be overlooked. The landscape is beautiful. Fertile valleys. Tropical rainforests. Guadua bamboo forests. Snowcapped volcanic peaks. Small cities are full of colorful architecture. Armenia. Salento. Adventure activities abound. Birdwatching. Hiking. Horseback riding. Mountain biking. Plus there’s an ecolodge you have to see to believe.
Bio Habitat Hotel lies 30 minutes northeast of Armenia’s El Edén International Airport, which has frequent connections to Bogotá and Medellín. The hotel, which sits atop a mountain, took over an old coffee farm that’s surrounded by orchards and unspoiled native forests. Beyond that, there’s nothing traditional about the property. The main building is a glass lounge with retractable walls. That’s where you’ll find Basto—the restaurant and bar that adheres to the Slow Food movement—and the Wellness Spa. It overlooks a long infinity pool and a large natural living room, where log benches encircle a wide fire pit.
The lounge is impressive, but the habitats (those would be the rooms) are the real stars. There are 13 habitats in three styles from which to choose. Suites are modernist cubes with vast picture windows, chill-out rooms, and views of the mountains. Master Suites add stone jacuzzis outside. Aviaries are elevated structures tucked in the forest. They feature wooden floors, thatched ceilings, and complete immersion in nature. Master Aviaries include bathtubs on the decks outside. There’s also a Snowcapped Mountain Cabin. The traditional cabin, which has two bedrooms and lots of hammocks, is great for families. Deciding between the Suites and the Aviaries might be the hardest part of your entire trip. A cup of coffee might help you make your decision.