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“A scenic gem of a hotel” 5 of 5 stars
Review of Laguna Lodge Eco-Resort & Nature Reserve

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Laguna Lodge Eco-Resort & Nature Reserve
Tzantizotz, Santa Cruz La Laguna, Guatemala   |  
Hotel amenities
Atlanta
Reviewer
4 reviews 4 reviews
3 hotel reviews
Reviews in 3 cities Reviews in 3 cities
3 helpful votes 3 helpful votes
“A scenic gem of a hotel”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed January 23, 2010

My boyfriend and I recently traveled to Guatemala on vacation. We wanted adventure and sightseeing interspersed with luxury accomodations. We couldn't have been more pleased with our stay at the Laguna Lodge in Santa Cruz on gorgeous Lake Atitlan. We arrived by boat and were greeted by the gracious hosts Mayah and Jeffro who lovingly built their gem of a hotel over a three year period. After being served a welcome cocktail we were escorted to our lovely room with some of the most spectacular views we have ever seen of a deep blue lake ringed by volcanos. As we watched the sunset from our beautiful thatch-roofed balcony, we enjoyed a glass of wine. After a dip in the private jacuzzi, we enjoyed a delicious gourmet vegetarian feast complete with organic wine. The hotel accomodates just six couples which keeps the atmosphere warm but intimate, and the staff which is comprised of Mayan locals are friendly and attentive. The next morning after a hearty breakfast we hiked up their private nature trail which is part of the 100 acre property. The views from the top of the trail were even more spectacular than those from our room. We plan to return and spend more time luxuriating on the property and touring the charming towns around the lake. This is the perfect place for a romantic getaway for two with a sense of adventure, a love of nature, and an appreciation for people who have created an accomodation that exists completely one with nature.

  • Stayed December 2009, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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309 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Location
    5 of 5 stars
  • Sleep Quality
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    5 of 5 stars
  • Service
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Value
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    5 of 5 stars
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (77)
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English first
New York City
1 review
5 of 5 stars Reviewed January 20, 2010

I travel quite a bit and have never felt inclined to write a review, but after staying at the Laguna Lodge and having an incredible experience and getting to know the people who worked at the lodge and also the couple who owned the lodge, I would like to see this place succeed. Each person cared about the guests and did their best to make our stay enjoyable. It's a small hotel so they are able to cater to their guests' needs and make you feel very welcome.

The lodge was beautiful. I have never seen such attention to detail throughout the common areas and the individual rooms; each room had something unique to offer and you instantly felt at home and comfortable in the surroundings. There was a media room where you could watch movies (we never did as sitting and having a glass of wine while talking with new friends was much more enjoyable) and an open air common area that had hammocks and comfy seats that allowed you to enjoy the view of the lake and mountains/volcanoes.

Our room was the only room with two double beds and it was quite spacious with a beautiful deck that overlooked the lake. My friend and I had in-room massages twice and they were given to us on the deck so you could hear the water gently lapping against the dock. It was quite peaceful. The concept of a "spa" in Guatemala isn't quite the same as the American concept, but if you can let go of that and just enjoy the in-room massage, it's a wonderful experience. The lodge had just gotten a new water system so they were still working out some kinks. The water pressure and hot water were sometimes spotty, but if you took your shower at times other than when everyone else was taking theirs, it was fine. They are working to resolve this issue and it is an eco-lodge, so it's not unusual to have this kind of issue.

Understand that this is a small hotel in a place surrounded by small villages; it's not a bustling city with nightlife and tons of restaurant choices. There are other restaurants nearby, but you're more likely to try them during the day and enjoy the hotel's restaurant in the evening as it's more convenient and it's also an excellent choice. The atmosphere in the restaurant each evening was very romantic as the view was beautiful, candles lit each table and a fire danced in the fireplace. The restaurant at the lodge is vegetarian. My friend and I aren't vegetarian but enjoyed every meal offered and didn't miss meat at all. The dinner menu is a set menu that changes each evening (you can order off the lunch menu if you prefer -- you just need to let them know in advance) with most of the vegetables coming from their own garden. If there is something you don't like, they will make substitutions for you. I am not a fan of eggplant but decided to give it a try and it was one of my favorite dinners at the lodge. Their staff is made up of people from the surrounding villages, but the owners of the lodge brought in a chef to train each of the kitchen staff. The food is incredible and we enjoyed a glass of wine with each meal. We were at the lodge over New Year's Eve and the hotel provided each table with a complimentary bottle of champagne to toast the New Year.

You have to try the cheesecake as it was possibly the best cheesecake I've ever had; they even saved our leftovers for us so we could enjoy it with our tea the next day. The wait staff was very sweet. If ever there was a miscommunication due to a language barrier, they quickly fixed the problem and were eager to make sure you were happy. Each day, they would check to see if we would like our tea served in our room, in the restaurant or elsewhere throughout the hotel; they were very accommodating to our requests.

The hotel is on a beautiful nature reserve so you can walk out the back and hike either easy or longer trails. The owners let me take their puppy on a hike to a lookout with hammocks where we were able to enjoy an incredible view of the lake and surrounding mountains. You could go kayaking, swimming (cold water), ziplining, hiking and explore the multitude of villages surrounding the lake area. The people were friendly and it was a relaxing, wonderful vacation. I highly recommend experiencing the public transportation (boat) as it makes you feel like you're part of the community and is much less expensive than a private boat.

Take time to talk with the owners of the hotel as they have wonderful stories about building the place and getting to know the surrounding area. Juan, their hotel manager, will do everything in his power to make sure you have everything you need and provide you with information on activities while making all arrangements for you.

When we were there, it wasn't crowded or hectic and that was the beauty of the place.

  • Stayed December 2009, traveled with friends
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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Rehoboth Beach,DE
Senior Contributor
21 reviews 21 reviews
16 hotel reviews
Reviews in 18 cities Reviews in 18 cities
27 helpful votes 27 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed January 2, 2010

I am a photographer, and travel domestically throughout the US every week for business. I've stayed from the Ritz to the Pitts and everything in between. Sometimes, a hotel doesn't live up to it's hype, and you think, "I don't get it."

This lived up to my expectations -- which were high -- and then went so far beyond them that I'm afraid of (if it's not at Laguna Lodge) how my next vacation may compare.

I was worried about the food -- I'm NOT a vegetarian. However, I do LIKE vegetables. I AM a "foodie". I NEVER MISSED MEAT THE ENTIRE STAY. In fact, if I had the talent to cook half as well at home, I'd never eat meat again. But I don't.

Let me start from the beginning. If you are still reading this, I have to say: I almost NEVER take the time to write a review.

I knew you had to get to the hotel by boat. What I wasn't prepared for is to feel like I was in the opening of the movie "Momma Mia!", under a star filled sky, floating on 1500 feet of crystal clear water, being privately shuttled across the lake, around the cove, to the exclusive resort which is built into the side of the mountain, pulling up onto the dock, stone and adobe buidling rising above me, light glowing from the flickering candles.

MOMMA MIA!

We stayed in the "Jaguar Suite", a room opening onto the lake with a private terrace, four poster bed, and sweeping views of the volcanoe. Everything was natural, tasteful, and exquisite. It was a room of Zen, as is the rest of the hotel.

We arrived later than planned, but an amazing dinner was ready for us.

The next morning dawned with the sound of water lapping at the dock, breeze billowing into the sun drenched room.

The rest of the week was as exquisite as the first moments. Oh, I should mention the hot tub. Built from natural rock and filled with water from the lake, it's heated by solar cover during the day. But if you request it about an hour in advance, they are happy to turn on the gas heater, and the spa heats quickly to the perfect temperature. They don't leave it on -- it's a huge waste of energy and this is an eco resort.

Same with the shower. Don't be mad if the hot water conks out when everyone is up and taking showers -- again, it's an eco spa -- but plan your showers when the rest of the hotel is quiet and you'll have no issues.

This resort is NOT for you if you think catchup is a vegetable. It's probably not for you if you want a swinging bar scene, or the roller coasters of Disney World, or planned and scripted entertainment, as on a cruise ship.

If, however, you want the perfect place to spend time with the person you love, if your idea of a great time is hiking through shade grown coffee plantations to the top (or in my case 1/3 the way to the top....) of a Volcanoe, if you like the shows "Top Chef" or Matthew Bourdain's "No Reservations", if you don't WANT to share the spa with six screaming kids in Micky Mouse Hats, if the journey is just as important to you as the destination, if you love authentic villages and are comfortable riding on a water taxi with the most friendly people in the world, if you want to feel like you are the richest person in body and soul, you should think about this off the beaten track jewel of a spot.

A few hints: 1) The lake is very, very deep: if you don't like to swim in cool water, bring a wet suit or borrow one from the hotel. We brought ours, and wore them. 2) It's a good 3 hours from the airport -- spend the money on their service to pick you up and drop you off. It's worth it. 3) Even if you are not wild about a particular vegetable -- say egg plant -- give it a shot at this resort. I hate all egg plant in the world except what they serve. 4) Bring a book. 5) bring hiking shoes, light sweaters, pants. 6) In this culture, almost no one wears shorts. 7) There are almost no bugs.

If there were ten little circles for the ratings, I'd of filled up all ten.

  • Stayed January 2010, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
LagunaLodge, manager at Laguna Lodge Eco-Resort & Nature Reserve, responded to this review, February 22, 2010
Thank you for your kind review. We apologise for any inconvenience caused while our solar hot water system with gas and electric backup was being modified. It was our pleasure serving you! Kind Regards, Juan Manuel, Manager
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Florida, USA
Senior Reviewer
6 reviews 6 reviews
6 hotel reviews
Reviews in 6 cities Reviews in 6 cities
18 helpful votes 18 helpful votes
3 of 5 stars Reviewed December 27, 2009

There are many things to love about Laguna Lodge; however we were not comfortable with their business model. Specifically, the Lodge is sufficiently isolated that you are captive to many of their services and food offerings and their a la carte pricing structure takes advantage of your situation. When we have stayed at other luxurious and remote lodges they have been all-inclusive which allows you to know your costs upfront and allows you to enjoy yourself without being constantly irritated by the surprise of above market pricing.

What we liked about Laguna Lodge
1. The accommodations are the nicest on Lake Atilan. The Lodge is gorgeous. The views are outstanding. The rooms (we highly recommend the rooms on the third level and would avoid the rooms on the ground floor) are quite nice.
2. The location is serene and away from the noise and traffic of Panajachel (Pana). The boat ride to Pana is relatively short and easy during the day.
3. The owners are quite friendly. The staff is very nice. They even offered us a third room free of charge for the first 2 nights of our stay because they were not fully booked.

What we did not like
1. The menu options were extremely limited and all vegetarian (albeit quite tasty vegetarian). We were not informed prior to our booking and arrival that the hotel was all vegetarian - they had labeled it only as 'eco-cuisine'. We were shocked to learn this upon arrival and the General Manager informed us that this was disclosed on their website; however, I pulled up their website and showed him that there was no mention of the vegetarian nature of the lodge on the website and he seemed puzzled by this. By the way, we made our booking directly with the Lodge and this information was never conveyed to us. We respect their decision to be vegetarian; however, our family (especially husband and the two boys) do not like this type of food and it really ruined our time at the Lodge. Furthermore, the dinner menu only had one option each night (although admittedly you could order off their lunch menu for dinner). We were not the only guests surprised by this, and I would assume that by the time you read this their website should be updated to reflect their vegetarian status.

2. The food prices were quite high by normal standards and ludicrous by Guatemala standards. For instance, the first night two of us decided to eat off the dinner menu and the staff amicably offered to make plain cheese pizza for the kids. The fixed price was around $40 per person for the vegetarian meal. We were aghast when we were informed the cost of the medium/large size pizza would be $22.50 each. Plain cheese!!! This compares to our fine dining experience at the Santo Domingo in Antigua (The nicest hotels in Antigua) for $20 per person or our dining at other fine locations around the lake for a fraction of the price. Beverage prices were similarly high.

3. Breakfast and afternoon tea were included in our rate; however, despite our paying an extra $50 per night for a third person (our 11 year old son) in one of our rooms the lodge made it clear that this extra person would not receive the "free" breakfast or afternoon tea and would be charged if they consumed breakfast or tea. Keep in mind the afternoon tea consisted of one cup of generic tea with a small muffin and one butter pat. We thought this decision by management and the manner in which they made it clear was very small minded.

4. The lodge's boat (basically a skiff) used to get from the lodge to other towns is very small and has almost no cover in the event of rain. Upon arrival we and our bags were rained upon during our transfer. The boat is fine for use in the morning when the lake is calm; however, it is inadequate in the afternoon and evening when the lake conditions are rougher. Keep in mind, the lodge charges guests for transportation in the boat (except arrival and departure) and thus to leave the lodge to visit other towns on the lake you will be charged.

5. They charge for everything. Upon arrival they informed us that if we want to use the outside jacuzzi there would be a charge (although we later re-read our booking confirmation and it clearly stated that it was included), use the sauna and there is a charge, use their kayaks and there is a charge, etc.

We will anticipate the Lodge response on food offering and pricing. They told us (after arrival and upon learning about the vegetarian only fare) that there were other restaurants nearby that we could walk to and that other restaurants that we could take the boat to. First, walking at night along the lake is a bit treacherous. Even during the day sneakers or hiking shoes are recommended - stinging red ants and slippery ups and downs abound. Second, I doubt you will find a "restaurant" within walking distance that is satisfactory. Third, their boat is inadequate for use at night and general boat service on the lake ends at 6pm. Fourth, even if you used their boat it will cost you, it will not be convenient for return, you will likely be cold, uncomfortable and get very wet during your ride.

In conclusion, the Lodge is absolutely beautiful and a wonderful location. However, they should clearly and unambiguously inform prospective guests that they are all vegetarian with a limited menu. They should also post their restaurant menu and drink prices on their website so there are no surprises or misunderstandings and they should be more candid and realistic with the dining options available to guests.

  • Stayed December 2009, traveled with family
    • 2 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
California
Reviewer
3 reviews 3 reviews
Reviews in 3 cities Reviews in 3 cities
2 helpful votes 2 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed December 23, 2009

We spent ten days at this luxury lodge in November/December. What a peaceful, serene, thoughtful space. We wanted a home base to stay where we could get a good cultural sense of Guatemala. This lodge fit the bill. The rooms are spacious, clean, and comfortable. The owners seem to go out of the way to anticipate what you might need. Around the lodge is artful spots to rest, read a book, or just enjoy the view of the lake. It is located on the lake and boat transportation to the surrounding villages is easy. We had breakfast everyday in the cafe. Wow! We tried everything on the menu and repeated a couple of things. Make sure you get to the french toast and the corn cakes! Yum! We found hiking on the reserve at the lodge was a fun experience. We saw beautiful wild flowers and vista's that a camera could not do justice to. For too hard working professionals who are picky and wanting the right mix of get away, cultural experience, rest, great food...this is the place! The owners and staff are very accomodating regarding local information. We do not speak spanish and needed some help. This place is the most eco-sound places we have stayed yet it is definitely a luxury boutique. If you have thought of going to Guatemala this place is your excuse to go.

  • Stayed November 2009, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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Dubai, United Arab Emirates
2 reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
7 helpful votes 7 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed December 14, 2009

I traveled to Laguna Lodge, Lake Atitlan as a surprise early Christmas present for my girlfriend. I can't say enough about how wonderful this experience was. The property is overwhelming. From the moment you set foot on the dock, its immediately apparent that you've happened across someplace special. The lodge is meticulously maintained. While its just under 1 year old, it looks brand new, and never before have I been witness to such care and attention to every last finishing touch.

The rooms are simple, rustic, and elegant all at the same time. The views from the spacious balconies are breathtaking. The lodge's restaurant is excellent with most selections extremely tasty. Meals can be pricey for dinner, but its worth it to splurge for a few evenings. On other nights one can order from the lunch menu for a less expensive but still very satisfying vegetarian meal.

The staff caters to your every need. The small number of rooms (8 I believe) ensure that you receive the utmost personal attention. We were continuously impressed by the 5 star treatment we received from the lodge's staff which has been sourced from the local villages. While these are folks that may not have extensive hospitality backgrounds, they have been exceptionally trained and are genuinely concerned with meeting the high expectations of their guests. As an example, we would order a bottle of wine, carry our glasses to the hot tub, and 20 mins later the staff tracked us down to fill our glasses without us ever having to ask. When we asked for sandwiches to go so we had some food for an afternoon hike, the staff gave them to us in the hotel's own tupperware w/ cloth napkins, whole fruit in big ziplock bags, etc. As we left the resort the whole staff came out to the docks to wave us off. Its these little touches that made us feel like royalty and gave us lasting memories that we'll never forget.

The lodge is located a short walk from Santa Cruz which provides a fun short excursion and is worth visiting for an authentic local experience of life on the lake. The lodge's own nature reserve is beautiful and worth the few hour hike. Its not exceptionally difficult but it provides beautiful views of the lake and makes for a nice morning or afternoon excursion. Being up in the highlands means no annoying mosquitoes in the dry season and makes things so much more enjoyable.

We arranged all our transport through the lodge and while pricier than something one could have arranged themselves, it was flawlessly executed and on-time each step of the way.

In conclusion, go to Laguna Lodge and give it 5 days of your time. Not only will you fall in love with the splendor of the lake, but also the warm hospitality and quaintness that is Laguna Lodge.

P.S - My girlfriend is now my fiance, and we couldn't have become engaged in a more peaceful and serene setting than the balcony of our room during sunset at Laguna Lodge.

  • Stayed December 2009, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Washington DC
Reviewer
3 reviews 3 reviews
3 hotel reviews
Reviews in 3 cities Reviews in 3 cities
12 helpful votes 12 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed September 21, 2009

We happened on Laguna Lodge in the last moments of planning our trip to Guatemala over the summer and it quickly became a highlight of the trip. Ever been to a hotel that winds up the destination? This is one of those places. Our room overlooking the exquisite Lake Atitlan and two of its three volcanos was filled with original art and artifacts: bedspreads, carvings, furniture all made by hand by indigenous Mayan artisans in the area. The balcony of the room overlooks the lake as well as the volcanos and became a spectacular addition during a lightning storm hovering in the distance one evening. The small seven room hotel crawls up a hillside (and is topped by the Lodge's own nature and hiking preserve) and is perfectly intimate. As it's less than a year old, everything is in a lovely state of repair, both luxurious and surprisingly homey at once. The owners, Mayah and Jeffro, are a warm, congenial presence - their love of craft, honed by many years sojourn in Bali, is evident by their understated sense of design. Truly, the only places I can compare this place to is the upper end of hotels in southeast Asia, particularly Bali. The food, all vegetarian and much organic, is imaginative and just plain delicious. Pricey, but worth the splurge. The restaurant and hotel itself is staffed entirely by well-trained and delightfully earnest men and women from the neighboring village. Frankly, if you don't fall in love with this hotel, I'd be amazed!

  • Stayed August 2009, traveled with family
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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Additional Information about Laguna Lodge Eco-Resort & Nature Reserve

Address: Tzantizotz, Santa Cruz La Laguna, Guatemala
Location: Guatemala > Western Highlands > Solola Department > Lake Atitlan > Santa Cruz La Laguna
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Fitness Center with Gym / Workout Room Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Restaurant Room Service Suites Swimming Pool
Hotel Style:
Ranked #4 of 6 Hotels in Santa Cruz La Laguna
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$$
Number of rooms: 6
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
The Laguna Lodge is on the lakeshore of the legendary Lake Atitlan and exclusively nestled in its own nature reserve. Entry into this Mayan world begins by boat. In a privileged setting our luxuriously natural 5 star boutique hotel commands sweeping views over azure waters to a trio of dramatic volcanoes. Inspired by nature and created from volcanic stone, adobe and palm our spacious lakeside suites are individually appointed with comfortable hand hewn king beds, fine linens, intricate woven textiles and indigenous antiques. In the evenings our award winning Zotz restaurant is bathed in golden hues from a large stone fireplace and antique candelabras, a romantic ambiance for a fine dining experience. After the days tours and adventures enjoy a dip in the hot river rock spa pool and be pampered with a relaxing body treatment offered at our Hummingbird spa. Relax at the lava bar or lakeside pavilion and watch the surreal sunset turn into a star studded night. The Mayan highlands are rich in culture and the lodge’s indigenous staff look forward to offering you a unique and memorable experience! - Utz Ipetik! Welcome! Come and explore, discover and experience with us and see why Time magazine says – Laguna Lodge is pure Maya magic! ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Laguna Lodge Eco-Resort And Nature Reserve
Laguna Lodge Eco-Resort & Nature Reserve Hotel Santa Cruz La Laguna
Laguna Hotel Eco Nature Reserve
Laguna Lodge Eco-Resort & Nature Reserve Guatemala/Lake Atitlan

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