Casa Palopó: Living the High Life in Guatemala

Tikal Maya ruins Guatemala -  SimonDannhauer/iStock/Getty Images Plus/Getty Images
Tikal Maya ruins Guatemala - Photo by SimonDannhauer/iStock/Getty Images Plus/Getty Images

The Villa Pool affords full 180-degree views of Lake Atitlan and three dormant volcanoes.

THE VILLA POOL affords full 180-degree views of Lake Atitlan and three dormant volcanoes.

 

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We just visited this luxury resort in Central America that effectively mixes a classic, colonial vibe with subtle modern touches. 

We thought we had visited Guatemala once before, but after our most recent visit to this growingly popular Central American destination, we realized that we had seen nothing during our first trip. Of course, we’d seen the streets of Antigua and the hustle and bustle of

Guatemala City when we first visited the country three years ago. But our first trip didn’t include a resort that had its own helipad on property, nor did we sip on fine wine from a Jacuzzi overlooking a gorgeous lake and three volcanoes—until our second trip, when we met Casa Palopó, Lake Atitlan.

Ninety miles from Guatemala City, Casa Palopó, Lake Atitlan is a gorgeous, modern chic villa resort on the hills surrounding Santa Catarina Palopó village, on the shores of Lake Atitlan.
There are only nine rooms here. Seven of the rooms are in one building while a two-bedroom villa is in the hills. The rooms all come with either a patio or a balcony, depending on where the room is located.

Helpful Hint: Tell your A-listers that the sliding doors to the balcony actually lock from the outside, so be sure to remind them not to completely shut the doors or they could be locked in. Having said that, this happened to us and all it took was a simple call for help before someone came quickly. 

The Terrace has a covered sitting area where VIPs can enjoy the view while sipping cocktails.

THE TERRACE has a covered sitting area where VIPs can enjoy the view while sipping cocktails.

 

We stayed in room no. 3. All of the seven first-floor rooms are excellent and separate themselves with subtle differences. For example, room no. 2 had polished hardwood floors while our room was tile. Undercover Luxury: Perhaps our favorite feature of room no. 3 was a beautiful painting above the king-sized bed. At first glance, it’s a simple, modest painting of a woman holding flowers. But after we asked around, we learned it was the original “Sueños de Izote,” the first painting by renowned Guatemalan artist Maria Dolores Castellanos.
Nice Touch: Everyone gets a hot water pillow during turndown service. It resembles and feels somewhat like a whoopee cushion, but it’s basically a rubber bag that holds scalding hot water to warm your mattress in the event that it gets really cool at night, something quite common in the lake area of Guatemala.

The remaining two rooms are in Villa Palopo, which is located high above the first floor of the hotel and deep into the hills. Villa Palopo is a villa in every sense of the word. It is very tastefully designed with a very chic overtone. There’s marble everywhere, lots of blacks and whites and very simple, yet effective decoration. The highlight of the villa however is the full length, lap pool that affords full 180-degree views of Lake Atitlan as well as three dormant volcanoes. 

A Jacuzzi sits just next to the pool, and a covered-up sitting area where VIPs can enjoy some cocktails, rain or shine. 

Best Feature: There’s a helipad literally a few short steps below Villa Palopo. Note: Booking a helicopter ride one week in advance will ensure your VIPs’ transfer, but rides can also be reserved 24 hours in advance, depending on availability.

A small, one-treatment room spa has just opened at the resort; we hear as well that five more guest rooms could be added by the end of 2015.

Note: Restaurant 6.8 Palopo is the hotel’s signature and only restaurant. The cuisine includes a lot of local food with a twist. But the menu could be changing soon. In fact, we, along with other media, were a part of an exclusive group that was invited to take part in a wine pairing dinner that was used to decide the new menu. We can tell you there wasn’t one dish we didn’t like, so it’s safe to say the new menu is going to be excellent. Tip: A lounge area next to the restaurant affords incredible views of the volcanoes. 

Casa Palopó also offers boat excursions for VIPs looking to get out of seclusion for a bit and into some of the nearly 12 nearby towns. This is the perfect way for VIPs to get their experiential travel fix. Any of these towns offer glimpses into the everyday life of a Guatemalan, from watching locals make pottery in their shops to children playing soccer in the school yard with volcanoes in the background, to watching women using the Mayan traditional treadle loom to weave colorful fabric. We took a tour to San Antonio Palopo, a village on the eastern shore of the lake known for ceramics, textiles and the Saint Anthony Cathedral.

Rooms in Casa Palopó, Lake Atitlan, have subtle differences, making each one unique.

ROOMS in Casa Palopó, Lake Atitlan, have subtle differences, making each one unique.

 

Casa Palopó, Antigua

Casa Palopó Antigua should be considered more of an extension of Casa Palopó, Lake Atitlan than anything. 

Formerly a private colonial house, this three-bedroom hotel is on a quiet residential street in Antigua and makes for the perfect resting spot for VIPs who have just flown into Antigua and who don’t want to make the full trek to Lake Atitlan in one day.

Each room is named after the famous local churches of Santa Clara, La Union and San Pedro and all accommodation is spacious with a blend of colonial and contemporary furnishings. Guatemalan rugs are strewn across dark hardwood floors, and each queen or king-size bed, fronted by an enormous wooden headboard, is between two bedside cabinets and a comfortably plump armchair and footstool.

Breakfast is served on the terrace overlooking a beautifully maintained garden with an intricate stone-carved fountain. The courtyard has a lap pool and cushioned teak sun lounges set atop large stone tiles bordered by neat grass verges. In the evenings, VIPs can sip cocktails from the bar and relax in the comfortable lounge area.

Note: It takes about 45 minutes to get from the airport to Antigua and about three hours to drive to Lake Atitlan. The better option is staying at Casa Palopo, Antigua for a night, unwinding a bit over some wine and great food, and taking a 20-minute helicopter ride from Guatemala City to Lake Atitlan the following morning.

In fact, the helicopter rides to and from Lake Atitlan may easily be your vacation highlight as they offer some incredible aerial views of volcanoes, farms and more. Note: Casa Palopo, Antigua, prefers to only do property takeovers because it’s so small. Taking over the property for a night, however, costs less than $600, and there is no minimum night stay since the purpose of this hotel is for a one-night retreat before the real fun begins at Lake Atitlan.

Celebrity Service: VIPs looking to go all out during their one-night retreat at Casa Palopo, Antigua can arrange for an exclusive wine pairing dinner with famed Guatemalan Chef Mirciny Moliviatis, who specializes in molecular gastronomy. One of the dishes she prepared for us, for example, during a four-course meal was whipped meringue frozen with liquid nitrogen.

For all inquiries, luxury travel advisors should contact Isabelle Torchut ([email protected]
palopo.com; 011-888-479-6026), co-general manager and reservations manager of Casa Palopó, Lake Atitlan.   

The Villa Antigua has a courtyard pool where guests can spend evenings relaxing in the lounge area.

THE VILLA ANTIGUA has a courtyard pool where guests can spend evenings relaxing in the lounge area.

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