A luxury hotel might feel like an oasis, but it should never become an island so far removed from its surrounding community that it is not an active part of the neighborhood. For a decade, Casa Gangotenahas welcomed guests to Quito, Ecuador, with its inviting ambiance that makes them feel entirely at ease as if they belong within the historic neighborhood beyond its doors. The 31-room historic mansion-turned-boutique hotel is located along the cobbled square of Plaza San Francisco and within walking distance of everything in Old Town Quito, a UNESCO World Heritage Site city with rows of colonial houses, parks, churches, and local businesses. An active supporter and member of Old Town Quito, the hotel leans into its role as a vecino, a neighbor who actively engages with its community.
One of the many great things about being the largest, best-restored city in the Americas is the immediate cultural immersion in Quito’s vibrant historic center. The neighborhood surrounding Casa Gangotena brims with souvenir shops, cafeterias, street food, churches, and monasteries. There are countless small local businesses, such as the seamstress who makes the clothes for dozens of baby Jesuses, the local milliner and his shop of multifarious and multi-colored hats, the café serving traditional Ecuadorian filter coffee, shops selling natural remedies and “agua de vida” infusions, sculptors, and traditional sweet-makers – they all play a crucial role in Old Town Quito’s vibrancy and its economy. Few neighbors, however, have had a chance to meet each other, and Casa Gangotena decided to change that.
This fall, the hotel has invited its neighbors for an open-house visit intending that Casa Gangotena would the place to connect with one other. For many, it is the first time they set foot within the hotel’s doors. The neighbors experience a tour around the premises, where they learn about the mansion’s rich history and hotel services. A favorite stop is Casa Gangotena’s rooftop terrace overlooking Plaza San Francisco, the very heart of Old Town Quito, where they enjoy panoramic views of all of the city’s iconic churches, including Santa Clara, La Merced, San Agustin, Santo Domingo, La Compañía, and the neo-Gothic Basilica.
Eight delightful group gatherings with about a dozen participants have taken place. The neighbors have the opportunity to consider and discuss how to collaborate more in the future. Each meeting ends with a stroll around the block, visiting each neighbor’s shop and learning about the places and people around them. Casa Gangotena has been the connector and neighbor, further blurring the walls between the hotel and its neighbors.