La Lancha

El Remate, Peten, Guatemala Book from Book from £115 per night

Overlooking beautiful Lake Peten Itzá and close to the wonders of Tikal, Francis Ford Coppola's jungle lodge is a real winner
Francis Ford Coppola clearly loves the wild corners of the earth. After filming Apocalypse Now in the Philippine rainforests, he opened his first lodge, Blancaneaux, in the mist-soaked highlands of Belize, and coastal Turtle Inn soon after. Then came La Lancha, on the shores of one of Guatemala's most stunning lakes, just 90 minutes' drive from the world-famous Maya ruins at Tikal.

Like its brethren, this place is cool, civilised and classy. Within moments of our arrival from dusty Flores, we were sipping cocktails by the 2-tiered pool and gazing out at the turquoise mirror of Lake Peten Itzá. Perched on a hillside and enveloped by a forestful of parakeets and howler monkeys, the lodge unfurls down the hill: open-sided restaurant and bar at the top, pool and sunbathing terrace on the next level down, and 12 charming and comfortable casitas below. Paths lead to the water's edge, where we swam and kayaked across the lake. The ever-efficient staff arrange excellent tours and activities.

Highs

  • There's excellent friendly service and a convivial atmosphere
  • It's a great base for exploring Tikal and Yaxha
  • The refreshing swimming pool has a tinkling waterfall, as well as lake frontage
  • The Guatemalan-Italian menu, with Coppola's own wine list
  • High-quality tours and activities can be arranged through the front desk

Lows

  • It's a remote location, far from any village, which ensures dependency on the hotel; and tours and extras aren't cheap
  • The standards aren't quite as high as at the other 2 Coppola resorts
  • There are steep stone steps up and down the resort - it's not for the unfit
  • The La Lancha monogram on everything from plates to bathrobes may not be to your taste

Best time to go

It can be pretty hot and sticky all year round, although there's a welcome breeze from the lake. The busiest time to travel is December to March, when temperatures are 5 degrees cooler; July and August see the summer holiday crowd. Temperatures and humidity mount during the rainy season (June-October), but afternoon showers can bring respite, and Mayan sites are far less busy. However, try and avoid September-October, when the rains and humidity are at their worst.

Our top tips

Explore one of the archaeological wonders of the world - the spectactular Mayan ruins and temples of Tikal, surrounded by miles of unspoiled jungle full of wildlife. An hour north from Tikal is jungle-clad Uaxactun, where the Mayan calendar originated, and the solstice and equinox were first accurately observed.

Great for...

Family
Foodie
Great Outdoors
  • Boutique Resort
  • 12
  • Restaurant and bar (open daily)
  • All ages welcome
  • Open all year
  • Outdoor Pool
  • Spa Treatments
  • WiFi
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Beach Nearby
  • Off-street Parking
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym
  • Concierge Service
  • Bicycles Available
Room: Lakeview Suite

Rooms

Spread across various buildings, the casitas all share tranquil, bright interiors: white walls and floors, Indonesian furniture and comfy beds adorned with colourful Mayan textiles. Lakeview Suites are larger, with marble bathrooms and panoramic views towards the lake; the smaller Rainforest Casitas have tiled bathrooms and face the jungle, with a partial lake view. Rainforest Junior Suites are in the middle, set back from the lake, but with good watery views.

Your terrace is shared with the casita occupying the other half of your building; each has its own Indonesian coffee table and wicker chairs, and a carved parrot or banana bunch hanging from the thatched roof. Bathrooms have spacious showers, hairdryers and bathrobes; towels are embellished with a flower decoration on arrival.

Eleanor Coppola's penchant for Mayan art is evident in decorative huipile (blouses), carved masks and colourful Guatemalan rugs and cushions. Candles and fresh flowers add to the welcome. High arched wooden ceilings and fans keep the rooms cool. There's no telephone, although you can make calls (with a surcharge) at the office.

Features include:

  • Air conditioning
  • Bathrobes
  • Cots Available
  • Extra beds
  • Fan
  • Hairdryer
  • Safe box
  • Terrace
  • WiFi

Eating

One of the delights of staying here is dining in the high-roofed restaurant-bar, open on 3 sides to the jungle and lake.

At breakfast , choose between beautifully presented fresh fruit platters, eggs cooked to order, or the tipica breakfast of eggs, plantains and refried beans. Juices, coffee and chocolate are all plentiful. Room service can be arranged if you're departing early for your tour.

Lunch begins with soup of the day, ceviche or salsa and guacamole. Mains include enchiladas, tacos, grilled marinated vegetables, fish or pork on rice and beans, and a simple range of sandwiches (grilled chicken, ham and cheese, BLT) and salads (tuna, chicken, mixed vegetables). A packed lunch can be made up if you're on a tour all day; let the staff know the night before.

There's an excellent and daily changing menu of Guatemalan and Italian-influenced dinner dishes. Certainly, we enjoyed our tamales (traditional beef and vegetables with baked corn dough) and roasted whole fish with a sea salt crust; and, on another night, charcoal-grilled pork chops with fennel, and a delicious seafood spaghetti. Other staples include grilled chicken topped with pumpkin seed dressing, and freshwater fish with chamula sauce, all served with tortillas, rice and refried beans. Try and leave room for desserts: the tiramisu and pannacotta are as good as any in Rome, while the banana or pineapple flambé with sugar rum is as juicy as it sounds.

There's an extensive (and expensive) house wine list, as well as beers, liqueurs and cocktails, all of which can be enjoyed at your table, or in the courtyard beside the fountain.

Features include:

  • Bar
  • Children meals
  • Restaurant
  • Room service
  • Vegetarian menu
Eating:
Activity:

Activities

La Lancha can arrange all manner of tours and excursions; book the night before with Lucy or Ernesto, and be prepared for some early starts...

  • Lake Peten Itzá and its lakeshore villages are best explored by boat - shop for local wood carvings and textiles. Staff organise an excellent early morning bird-watching tour, with parrots, toucans, motmots, kingfishers, hummingbirds, falcons and vultures all on the agenda
  • Go fishing on the lake with a local fisherman or horse riding in the beautiful rainforest around the it; you can also borrow kayaks and mountain bikes to explore independently.
  • Sites worth seeing include atmospheric Yaxha, set on a pretty forest lagoon, and nearby Topoxte, the only post-classic Maya site in Peten. Further afield is Ceibal, considered the 'Mayan Art Gallery' with its well-preserved carvings - this is a long day trip
  • Laid-back Flores, the island city, is used mostly as a transit point, with useful internet cafes, banks, tour operators and restaurants, but it also has pretty colonial buildings and native architecture; shop here for hand-woven blankets
  • Near Flores is Skyway, a complex network of 6 suspension bridges joined by winding forest pathways, providing vantage points into different levels of the rainforest
  • Ten minutes' drive away is Cerro Cahui National Reserve, which has several walking trails through the jungle. One leads up to a stunning lookout over Lake Peten Itzá
  • Spanish language courses can be arranged; there are also several good schools on the north shore of the lake in the villages of San Andres and San José
  • Swim in the lake or the hotel's pool

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Birdwatching
  • Cycling
  • Fishing
  • Hiking
  • Historical sites
  • Horse-riding
  • Kayaking
  • Language courses
  • Plantlife / flora
  • Shopping / markets
  • Swimming
  • Traditional cultures
  • Trekking
  • Wildlife

Kids

Although this isn't a dedicated family hotel, adventurous children will relish the wilderness setting and wealth of outdoor activities.

Best for:

Teens (over 12)

Family friendly accommodation:

All rooms can hold an extra bed or baby cot. Lakeview Suites are the most spacious, with a double bedroom, a separate lounge with sofabed (sleeps 2) and two bathrooms.

Babysitting:

Babysitting is available by arrangement.

Baby equipment:

Baby cots are available on request.

Remember  baby and child equipment may be limited or need pre-booking

Children's meals:

Child menus are available.

Kid Friendly:

Our guests' ratings...

Based on 3 independent reviews from i-escape guests

10/10
Rooms
8/10
Food
9/10
Service
9/10
Value
9/10
Overall

Room: Lovely room, private balcony overlooking the tree canopy. Lots of monkeys to look at! Clean, comfortable. <br>Food: Food was OK, not great. A bit similar every night and not much choice, but we were only there for a few days so not quite long enough to get sick of it! <br>Service: Excellent, very polite and friendly. For our liking it was a bit “stiff”, but I guess that is what is expected in a luxury resort. <br>Overall Value: Reasonable value. We got an extra night free for a 2 night stay (through i-escape). <br>Additional comments: <br>Pool was lovely. Attentive poolside drinks service. <br>The only way out and in is by the resort’s organised transport (minivan); similarly the only way to do any tours is through them realistically, so the price was relatively high. Excellent tours though and guides were very good. <br>We stayed for a few nights but would have been quite bored if we had stayed longer! There’s not much to do and its nigh on impossible to get anywhere in the evening- far distance to town over a very very bumpy track! <br>There was a fab jetty on the river which we swam from and sunbathed on during the day and were alone there most of the time. That was a highlight for us.

9/10, , August 2014

Room was great although small for 2 adults 2 children. Howler monkeys and the veranda can't be beaten. Food was OK but I doubt whether you can get much better in that area (food quality deteriorated once we left Oaxaca and entered Chiapas and subsequently El Peten). Service was fine. Expensive but well worth it!

10/10, , August 2014

Very nice and beautiful place to stay. The rooms are beautiful and very comfortable and the pool is very nice. Some lows however for this expensive hotel: its isolated location: you have to drive on a very bad road from the town of El Remate for more than 12Km (which takes you 40 minutes just for that isolated road). The huge prices of the restaurant (European high prices) for a modest quality of food and of course, considering the isolated location, you are blocked to eat at the hotel at nights. The included breakfast is quite basic (coffee, some toasts and jam & fruits). For the high price of the rooms, they could at least offer some eggs. The staff is friendly & the view is fantastic.

7/10, , August 2014

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Rates for La Lancha