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The Five-Point Weekend Escape Plan

Discover Your Spiritual Side in Lago Atitlán, Guatemala

Surrounded by three volcanoes, the blissfully blue lake is home to numerous Mayan villages that take their relaxation seriously.

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1. Where to Stay


With a postcard view of the lake, verdant grounds and just six suites, Laguna Lodge offers a very high-end brand of solitude.  

Find true luxury at Laguna Lodge, nestled in a nature reserve in Santa Cruz on the lake. The six suites (from $240) feature hand-hewn wooden beds, intricately woven textiles, fresh floral arrangements, and oversize towels and bathrobes. Wake up with a cup of organic coffee, grown in the surrounding gardens and roasted on site, then unwind with a nature walk in the adjacent 100-acre reserve, a dip in the lake, or a yoga class in a palm-thatched pavilion overlooking the water. Even the more indulgent amenities here have an eye toward ecofriendliness: The Hummingbird Spa’s hot river rock pool is perfect for a post-hike soak, and on-site vegetarian restaurant Zotz’s menu features produce and eggs harvested from Laguna’s garden or procured from local farmers. Try the Molten Lava cocktail with your meal—Guatemalan rum and carrot and apple juices ($6.50).

Stay above the azure waters at La Casa del Mundo, located on a secluded cliff in the tiny village of El Jaibolito (from $37). It’s only reachable by boat, followed by walking up several dozen steps—a tiring climb rewarded with an excellent view of the lake and volcanoes from most rooms. The 17 Mayan-decorated rooms—think embroidered and woven textiles and wood-carved furniture—were built one by one into the cliff sides over the past 20 years and range from shared-bathroom rooms to large suites with private balconies and hammocks. Reserve a kayak and the hot tub for a perfectly peaceful morning. Three meals a day are available in the restaurant for a reasonable fee—go for the nightly communal multi-course dinner (roughly $12), featuring dishes like corn soup, fish or tofu teriyaki, and coconut-crispy bananas for dessert.

Conserve your carbon footprint at La Fortuna at Atitlán, a 100 percent off-grid solar-powered spot, constructed using sustainably harvested local materials (from $66). This “nano boutique hotel” has just four individual bungalows, each equipped with handcrafted wood furniture, fresh fruit and nuts, plush robes, and soaking tubs. Explore the hotel’s private cove on Patzisotz Bay and relax in the lush jungle gardens; then steam your cares away in the wood-fire-heated lakefront hot tub with a glass of wine. Even dinner feels like a private escape here: The hotel’s chef will deliver dishes like artichoke-stuffed chicken ($15) or miso-citrus tilapia ($15) to your room.


Published on May 15, 2014 as a web exclusive.

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