Guatemala Three Ways: Part 2 — Lake Atitlan and Casa Palopo

From last week’s exploration of Antigua, we move on to the serene and beautiful Lake Atitlan of Guatemala. The word means “at the water” in Nahuatl — and indeed, this body of water in the Guatemalan Highlands of the Sierra Madre mountain range sustains much of the life around it. From walking the streets of the charming and colorful villages that dot the lake, full of weavers and ceramics studios; to boating across the water; to rejuvenating with Mayan Shaman rituals and a massage invoking indigenous traditions — Lake Atitlan was a place of restoration for me.
I stayed at Casa Palopo, a luxury boutique hotel where celebrities such as Padma Lakshmi have vacationed. The destination’s incredible views from a helicopter flight are the first thing you fall in love with, and the nine individually decorated rooms offer lush, comfortable amenities and locally inspired decor against a backdrop of three volcanoes across the water. My stay here was nothing short of magical — I mean, look at the introductory view I had arriving at the hotel:
Casa Palopo at Lake Atitlan, Guatemala

The hotel at Lake Atitlan

Casa Palopo is a former private estate turned exclusive hotel. This retreat for sophisticated travelers offers both a boutique hotel experience as well as a detached, private villa. Rich Guatemalan colors, art, furnishings and heirlooms surround guests with the unique Mayan culture of Guatemala.
Casa Palopo at Lake Atitlan, Guatemala

Stucco walls painted in deep, jewel tones of blue and orange, combined with the spectacular location and views make this a place that simply would not be found anywhere else in the world. Casa Palopo embraces the local culture and history, while at the same time providing a level of discreet, upscale service that makes guests feel as if they are staying in a private home.The living area of the main hotel building provide a comfortable place for guests to relax and peruse the amazing collection of photographs, artisan work and antiques that fill the space. This area opens up with wide glass doors to the terrace and restaurant, with stunning views of Lake Atitlan below and three volcanoes on the horizon; and allows the breezes and sunshine to flow in. To the left of this area is a cozy bar with an authentic, old-fashioned jukebox and small seating area to enjoy a handcrafted cocktail created just for you.

Guest Rooms

Casa Palopo at Lake Atitlan, Guatemala15 private guest rooms evoke Mayan heritage with their furnishings, indigenous artifacts and decor. Wooden beams overhead and polished wooden floors complement the vibrant walls and furniture. Comfortable beds are made with top-quality Italian linens. Private terraces are furnished with small tables and cushioned lounge chairs to soak up the amazing views.

Perched 150 cobblestone steps above the main hotel is Villa Palopo, a private villa with three guest rooms, along with a large living area with fireplace and full kitchen with open dining room. More contemporary in decor, the villa is decorated with African tribal relics and Indonesian wood furniture. Floor-to-ceiling windows and huge open terraces showcase both the views and the villa’s infinity pool. Golf cart service is available within minutes to whisk guests between the villa and main building. Guests can rent a room here individually, or book the entire villa — in which case, butler service is provided.

Restaurant and Onsite Amenities

Casa Palopo at Lake Atitlan, GuatemalaThe 6.8 Palopó restaurant is helmed by Executive Chef Mario Miralles, who creates a menu based on traditional Guatemalan dishes, infused with his classic French techniques and an international influence. One example of his inventiveness is the honey-cherry tomato, which he cooks in chalk in historical Mayan fashion — but the finesse and plating are pure contemporary whimsy. Other specialties include Cannelloni stuffed with hilachas (a local beef/tomato stew), and Miralles’ take on typical Guatemalan breakfast. All of this can be enjoyed on the stunning restaurant terrace, or the terrace of your own room, with incredible views of Lake Atitlan below.

There are two solar-heated pools: one at the main building, and another (with an infinity edge) above at the villa. Both pools feature oversized lounge chairs and Jacuzzi tubs. A small fitness gym is available. Spa treatments can be booked in the privacy of the guest rooms or a small onsite treatment room. A unique and calming touch of the massage therapists is the brief Mayan prayer that is whispered at the beginning of the treatment, setting the perfect tone for healing and relaxation in this unique environment.


Km 6.8, Santa Catarina Palopó, Solola
(502) 7762.2270
Rates $200-800

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