CASA PALOPÓ, GUATEMALA
(Our preferred hotel in Lake Atitlán, Guatemala)
By Ian Robert Knight
Guatemala is Central America’s most diverse country. With its Mayan heritage, Pacific and Caribbean coasts, active volcanoes and coffee plantations, it has it all. Because of this, and more, Guatemala should be on everyone’s visitation list. The old capital city of Antigua, in the central highlands, is loaded with colonial relics. And Lake Atitlán, a massive crater lake at the foot of three active volcanoes, is simply beautiful. It is here that we encounter our hotel of choice in Guatemala — the Casa Palopó.
Originally a private residence on the shore of Lake Atitlán, Casa Palopó is now a 15-room luxury hotel. It’s part of the exclusive Relais & Châteaux group of hotels — and the only one in Guatemala. Since it is perched on a steep hill, it boasts spectacular views of the lake and three active volcanoes.
The hotel was partially damaged by a cyclone in 2005. As a result, this prompted the owner to rebuild the property and add anther villa. Eventually, it reopened as a 9-room boutique resort, and further grew to 15 rooms by 2017. It was recognized by Conde Nast Traveler as a Top Hotel in Central America in their 2018 Reader’s Choice Awards. And Travel & Leisure ranked it as the third best resort hotel in Central America in 2016.
The resort is designed to make you relax. There are no TV’s to be found, but WiFi exists in case you feel the need to post to Instagram. The two pools with lake views will definitely enable the relaxation. Comfortable lounge chairs by the pools and on the room terraces are especially inviting. Spa treatments can be arranged in-room, or at the on-site treatment room. Of course, the Martini Bar will also help soothe away any further stresses you may have.
The word Atitlán is Mayan for “the place where the rainbow gets its colours”. With this in mind, the Casa Palopó bathes the rooms with bright and bold colours. The whole resort is filled with Mayan artefacts, traditional textiles, and antiques from the region. Original art covers the walls, and fresh calla lilies are everywhere.
Apart from the main house, there is a private 3-suite Villa. The Villa is perched a little further uphill, reached via a 150 step cobblestone pathway. You can walk the route or be ferried by golf cart. Villa suites can be booked individually, or as a set. Each suite is decorated in more subdued modern tones, with large terraces. The Villa has a full kitchen, private infinity pool and hot tub. When booked as a set of 3 rooms, it comes with a butler. Of course it has its own helicopter pad too. Yes, helicopter pad.
Local Food, International Flavours
Food is served in the on-site restaurant, called 6.8 Palapó. The executive chef prepares Guatemalan-inspired dishes infused with an international twist. Naturally, ingredients are sourced locally from farms surrounding the lake. Be sure to try the Santiago salad, followed by the Santa Catarina scallops, and finish with the crème brûlée with chilacayote.
We visit Lake Atitlán in Guatemala twice each year, in March and November. Join us for a Central American Adventure, and experience this wonderful property. Come see why we love this resort, and share an evening with us as we stargaze poolside.