At Sol y Luna, guests not only enjoy the advantage of luxury in the Sacred Valley; they also get the benefit of seeing how their stay directly impacts the lives of the local community. By Elizabeth Frels

When Petit Miribel was a little girl, she dreamed of becoming a humanitarian.

It’s an unusual dream for a child so young, but she did everything in her power to pursue it. Sure, she followed the traditional path of secondary schooling and high-paying corporate jobs, but she eventually left it all behind as soon as she stepped foot in Peru’s Sacred valley.

It is here where Petit and her husband Franz arrived 20 years ago and where they immediately fulfilled Petit’s childhood dream with the establishment of their Asociación Sol y Luna, an institution dedicated to improving the lives of underprivileged children in the Sacred Valley.

Their funding model is both revolutionary and rare in the travel industry. To finance their mission, Petit and Franz built Sol y Luna and pledged that 100% of the hotel’s profits be funneled directly into the non-profit foundation.

This is no ordinary hotel with heart, though. Sol y Luna is lauded worldwide for its style, hospitality, and setting. A Relais & Chateaux property and a Ker & Downey favorite for travelers visiting Peru’s Sacred Valley, the resort consists of 43 stand–alone casitas spread across 37 acres of winding stone pathways, flowering gardens, and enough hummingbirds to fill a fairytale.

Here at Sol y Luna, guests not only enjoy the advantage of absolute luxury in the Sacred Valley; they also get the benefit of seeing how their stay directly impacts the lives of the local children, their families, and future generations.

The most visible place to witness this impact is the Sol y Luna School, which stands adjacent to the property. This private intercultural institution seeks to strengthen its children’s local identity and transform them into citizens of the world through education, art, sports, and most importantly, joy. This is no easy task, as many students come from backgrounds unfit for childhood, from working in the fields to suffering at the hands of violence, abuse, and alcoholism at home.

To combat their situation, the Sol y Luna School works to instill in their children a sense of self-esteem. Students are encouraged to embrace their native Quechua language and culture (many children live very close to Machu Picchu but few even know it exists or the rich history associated with it), as well as adopt a sense of internationalism through the English language and hospitality classes. The statistics are clear: if they can speak English, their employment opportunities—no matter their aspirations—are greater.

The foundation’s most recent undertaking focuses on children with disabilities. Starting in 2015, the school began welcoming special needs children and providing them with personalized assistance alongside a professional team of caretakers, therapists, and educators. The hope is not only to promote training and awareness of children with disabilities, but also to ensure these children have a shot at a dignified life within their communities. 

As Petit is apt to say, “If you can walk, you have to walk for the one who cannot”—which is exactly what the Asociación Sol y Luna, through the support of visitors to Sol y Luna, aims to do, one child at a time.