“Four luxury villas (sleeping 2-6) with stunning views, top-notch furnishings and a hammock-strewn gazebo on the shore of Lake Atitlán”
Jade House and Villa B’alam Ya are set right on the lakeshore; the newer Villa Mirador and Villa Bambu are higher up the slope, with wonderful views (and lots of steps). We’ve not seen the latter 2 yet, but feedback has been good.
Bold and elegant Villa B’alam Ya (formerly called the Grand Villa) has 2 double bedrooms and sleeps up to 4. The cedar-wood floors, exposed thatched roof and floor-to-ceiling windows blur the boundary between indoors and outdoors, and there’s a spacious wooden deck. The romantic top-floor room has a canopied queensize bed, shell lamps that softly illuminate the room, a small ensuite and a wraparound balcony. The master bedroom comes with a kingsize bed and a luxurious bathroom with a walk-in shower and a Jacuzzi tub. The sitting room has a wood-burning stove and contemporary leather sofas, with owner Laurel’s bright canvasses and a more decorative than comfortable high-back chair, carved from a single piece of wood, adding dramatic touches.
Jade House (sleeps 2) has a simple modern-classic feel. After opening the floor-to-ceiling doors from its small balcony, you can leap straight into the queensize bed in the bedroom. The bathroom has a jade-tiled shower and an old-fashioned clawfoot tub. Glass doors open up from the kitchen to a side patio with wrought-iron chairs and a table.
Of all the villas, the 2-bedroom Villa Mirador (sleeps 6) has perhaps the most spectacular views. The master bedroom has a kingsize bed (which can be converted into twin beds if required), a curved wall of windows overlooking the lake, an ensuite and a dressing area. The second bedroom has a queensize bed, a bathroom and a spacious private terrace. There’s also a living area with high ceilings, 2 sofabeds and a wood-burning fire, a dining area with floor-to-ceiling windows, and a large terrace.
Villa Bambu (sleeps 5) has a cosier feel, with an open-plan sitting and dining area, again with a fireplace, and doors onto a covered terrace overlooking the bamboo grove below. The main bedroom comes with a kingsize bed (again, this can be converted into twin beds) and an ensuite with a large marble tub; the second bedroom has a queensize bed, an ensuite shower room and a sofabed.
All villas have stylish Kohler fixtures and come with hairdryers, bathrobes, TVs, DVD players, iPod docking stations, copious music databases and reliable WiFi.
Breakfast is included in the rates; for other meals you can choose between cooking or being cooked for by smiling local ladies (an aunt and her niece who can prepare meals in your kitchen).
Breakfast options range from yoghurt topped with fresh fruit and granola to hearty omelettes, accompanied by refried beans, tortillas and fried plantains. For lunch and dinner there's a set menu of 7 main dishes, but they're happy to accommodate any requests. Choices include fettucine alfredo, tenderloin with mustard sauce, steamed fish in foil, and the traditional Guatemalan dish of chicken pepián, made with a flavourful spicy tomato sauce called recado. Desserts are seasonal and usually fruit based.
All villas have kitchens with plates, glasses, cups, knifes, pots, pans and coffee makers if you want self-cater. Cupboards are pre-stocked with basic cooking ingredients such as herbs and spices, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, sugar and ketchup, and other groceries can be arranged on request. There's also a minibar in each villa stocked with an assortment of snacks (granola bars, peanuts, corn chips and candy), and the refrigerator has local beers, non-alcoholic drinks and water. Wine is available on request - let them know in advance if you'd like a selection to choose from. Guests keep track of consumed items.
If you need something from the store, Panajachel (the largest town on the lake) is a 4km drive or ride in a public tuk-tuk taxi.
If you're eating out, try the delicious curry or wood-fired pizza at Restaurante Paco Real in the new-age enclave of San Marcos. For spontaneous dining, head to the restaurant-lined calle Santander in Panajachel.