Lakefront Lodge Nestled in Mountainous Nature Reserve
The K'iche' people—who count the ancient Mayans among their ancestors—call Guatemala's Lake Atitlán "the lake of the south," one of four sacred lakes bordering their homeland in the western highlands. Along with a trio of volcanoes and smaller cliffs, the lake forms the spectacular backdrop to Laguna Lodge Eco-Resort & Nature Reserve. It’s a scene that convinced CNNGo to name the resort one of the world’s best eco lodges, saying, “the sublime views . . . are worth the stay alone.” More than just a hotel, the resort stretches from a lakefront lodge to a high-altitude tropical dry forest and about 100 acres of old Mayan nature trails. And the scenery is complemented with an excellent staff—in 2013, TripAdvisor named the resort one of the best hotels for service in Guatemala.
The lodge's design was inspired by its surroundings: volcanic stone, adobe, and palm all went into its construction. The resort’s suites have beds hand-hewn from Guatemalan hardwoods and draped in linens woven at a nearby village. Most of the furnishings are hand-carved antiques, and marble-topped night tables add touches of luxury. Each suite also has a large, private lakeside balcony outfitted with either an exposed pole ceiling or palm roof.
With its own nature reserve alongside Lake Atitlán, Laguna Lodge also has a variety of activities available, ranging from hikes through the volcanic Sierra Madre mountains to day trips to ancient ruins. Take a horseback ride through the surrounding coffee fields, or boat around the lake.
As part of Laguna Lodge's conservation measures, the onsite Zotz Restaurant offers an all-vegetarian menu with ingredients sourced from local farmers or the hotel's gardens. The restaurant overlooks the lake and surrounding volcanoes, and you can dine alfresco in outdoor pavilions. In the dining room, antique candelabras and a large stone fireplace bathe diners in warmth.
Lake Atitlán, Guatemala: Diverse Villages Around Volcanic Waterfront
Twelve villages line the shores of Lake Atitlán, including the quiet Santa Cruz La Laguna on the northwest shore, not far from La Laguna Lodge Eco-Resort & Nature Reserve. The town is perched atop tall hills amid biodiverse land that’s popular with hikers and backpackers. From the waterfront, you can embark on scuba-diving tours into the more than 1,000-foot-deep lake to see underwater rock formations and areas of hot volcanic mud.
Public water taxis regularly stop at Laguna Lodge's dock, making it easy to visit other lakefront villages. Just a 10-minute boat ride can take you to Panajachel—the largest town on the lake, with about 10,000 residents. Lively shopping and nightlife districts make Panajachel the area's main tourist town. Another popular draw is Santa Catarina Palopó, where you’ll find a collection of thatch-roofed adobe houses, onion fields, and hot springs.
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