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“Beautiful, tropical experience!” 5 of 5 stars
Review of Villa Sumaya

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Villa Sumaya
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Santa Cruz La Laguna, Guatemala   |  
Hotel amenities
Certificate of Excellence 2014
Fairfield, Connecticut
2 reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
1 helpful vote 1 helpful vote
“Beautiful, tropical experience!”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed May 7, 2013

Truly a place to escape from it all!. Lizzie and staff made our family vacation very memorable. We were returning to Guatemala with our two adopted daughters to show them their home country. Food and service were very good. You will not want to leave! A little slice of paradise.

Room Tip: We had adjoining rooms which is a big plus!
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  • Stayed April 2013, traveled with family
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 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.
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176 reviews from our community

Traveler rating
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Rating summary
  • Location
    5 of 5 stars
  • Sleep Quality
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    4.5 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 (45)
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • French first
  • German first
  • Spanish first
  • Any
English first
Ulceby, United Kingdom
Contributor
11 reviews 11 reviews
4 hotel reviews
Reviews in 6 cities Reviews in 6 cities
10 helpful votes 10 helpful votes
3 of 5 stars Reviewed May 1, 2013

Villa Sumaya is in a beautiful location and the property is nicely laid out with plenty of trees, hammocks and places to chill. The rooms are clean and pleasant, but some are possibly over priced (see recommendation below). The food is absolutely first class and the hot tub was very welcome every evening. From the outside, my main observation would be that I think that as a Yoga Retreat this place probably has it all - relaxation, lovely studios, good food and a beautiful situation (and possibly a better package deal than we could muster?), but unfortunately we weren't staying for the yoga, and found it a little restricting and expensive as a consequence. There seemed to be no allowances for people not on the daily yoga schedule and we found it difficult to be regulated by the strict eating times - especially breakfast (at 9am) when we'd have liked to have been able to eat earlier, and dinner (at 6pm) when we'd liked to have been able to eat later! Overall we also found it expensive given the general standard of accommodation and costs of relative places elsewhere - particularly when little things like the use of the internet was an added extra, and massages/treatments are substantially more than elsewhere on the lake. We also found the initial booking process to be somewhat unprofessional, with irregular contact from the management which meant that rooms we'd originally requested went to a bigger group that was coming in, and a lot of general confusion which had to be sorted out with an expensive overseas call. It was especially strange and inconvenient being asked to put a deposit into a US bank account that seemed to have very little to do with the business and which was actually so peculiar, our bank was unable to do it. Apart from a few individuals the staff seemed pretty unhappy to be here too! Not many smiles in this yogic idyll - which is a shame as it is a beautiful place with so much potential.

Room Tip: Our party were in two Lotus rooms and one Bungalow, and I'd say the Bungalow was a much more fun...
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  • Stayed April 2013, traveled with family
    • 2 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 4
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
VillaSumaya, Manager at Villa Sumaya, responded to this review, May 20, 2013
This is in response to the reviews "Mix Feelings" and "Good in Theory, but not in Practice" as they were the same party.

We appreciate you pointing out our good points and are always open to feedback. We are taking your commentary to heart and will make necessary changes based on it.

I am not quite sure about the reference to difficulty in booking. According to my email records, within the first couple of days of the inquiry we had let the guest know what rooms we had (two of the rooms they requested were not available but we were able to offer other rooms). Four friendly emails went back and forth. We put a courtesy hold on the reservation and the guest finalized it. There was trouble with the wire transfer and I ended up accepting a credit card to hold the room. We always try to work with our guests and do realize that it can be difficult sometimes with European reservations. We apologize that our deposit process is not as efficient as we would like - we are working to improve it.

I am not sure what the reviewer is referring to that the staff is unhappy. Most of our staff have been with us for many years. We provide a nice working environment and pay a fair wage. Other reviewers have not had the same impression, so it could have just been a bad day for some of us.

Meals - during group retreats we do have designated meal times. This is stated 3 times in our website. Food serving times are one hour in length, hopefully giving everyone a chance to eat at their leisure. Guests can also order snacks or smoothies in between meals. I do not believe this party asked to have breakfast early - I am sure we could have offered a simple meal before the breakfast buffet. However, I do get the point and will be more diligent to point this out to guests not associated with a group. The additional $7 for chicken or fish is stated on our website. Based on your comments however, we will be lowering price as we want our clients to be happy and satisfied.

The cost of the sauna is $30 for a two-hour session and we frequently offer one complimentary sauna during the week. Our hot tub is solar powered and is complimentary. We usually open it around 3:30-5:30 and most nights it is still hot well after dark. When the tub is used a lot during the day, however, sometimes it is not as hot as desired in the evening. In cases like these, if guests would like for the tub to be heated with gas there is a $40 charge for a two hour tub. Most nights, however, it is still hot and there is no need for additional heating, so there is no charge. All these prices are clearly listed on our website and in the rooms. Many hotels in Guatemala charge for internet ($10 per day at an equivalent establishments). Again based on your feedback we will adjust our internet pricing.

This review feels like we were not the right fit. We are not a youth hostel or a standard hotel. In Guatemala, we are considered a luxury hotel and our prices are in alignment with the services we offer and the kind of care we provide. I do want to point out that we offer complimentary beverage service (unlimited organic teas, coffee and purified water) 24/7, a service that all our guests use and enjoy. We also accommodate pets - this group had a dog with them. We do strive to meet the needs of each guest. One of the people in your party did mention the internet charge and we waved the fee for them. Again I’m sorry that we were not your ideal location.
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Antigua, Guatemala
Reviewer
3 reviews 3 reviews
Reviews in 3 cities Reviews in 3 cities
3 helpful votes 3 helpful votes
2 of 5 stars Reviewed April 12, 2013

I'll start with the positive points - the location is beautiful, the food is fantastic and the Guatemalan staff are helpful. Sadly there are considerably more negatives.

If you intend to visit Villa Sumaya for the yoga retreat, and plan to spend all your time at the hotel, then the experience wont be a bad one. If however, you have any intention of doing your own thing i.e. seeing a bit more of the lake, then I strongly suggest staying at one of the other great hotels in Santa Cruz or in the other lakeside towns.

Points to be aware of:

- You can only eat at the set times of 9am, 1pm and 6pm, and there is only one option. Given that the boats between towns stop running at 6, their fixed schedule makes eating difficult. You are also summoned for dinner by a bell which feels too much like being at school again.

- The vegetarian cuisine is graet but if you want to add chicken to a meal you are asked to pay $7!!! Chicken doesn't cost that much in England.

- If you want to use the Mayan sauna you'll have to pay $40 for 2 hours - this pretty much involves lighting a fire!

- If you want to use the hot tub after dark you have to pay $40 for 2 hours.

- Although the hotel requires an internet connection to operate, guests are expected to pay $7 per day for the privilege. Given that you're already paying some $100 per night this is just cheap!

My advice is to look elsewhere.

Stayed March 2013, traveled with friends
Was this review helpful? Yes 3
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
VillaSumaya, Manager at Villa Sumaya, responded to this review, May 20, 2013
This is in response to the reviews "Mix Feelings" and "Good in Theory, but not in Practice" as they were the same party.

We appreciate you pointing out our good points and are always open to feedback. We are taking your commentary to heart and will make necessary changes based on it.

I am not quite sure about the reference to difficulty in booking. According to my email records, within the first couple of days of the inquiry we had let the guest know what rooms we had (two of the rooms they requested were not available but we were able to offer other rooms). Four friendly emails went back and forth. We put a courtesy hold on the reservation and the guest finalized it. There was trouble with the wire transfer and I ended up accepting a credit card to hold the room. We always try to work with our guests and do realize that it can be difficult sometimes with European reservations. We apologize that our deposit process is not as efficient as we would like - we are working to improve it.

I am not sure what the reviewer is referring to that the staff is unhappy. Most of our staff have been with us for many years. We provide a nice working environment and pay a fair wage. Other reviewers have not had the same impression, so it could have just been a bad day for some of us.

Meals - during group retreats we do have designated meal times. This is stated 3 times in our website. Food serving times are one hour in length, hopefully giving everyone a chance to eat at their leisure. Guests can also order snacks or smoothies in between meals. I do not believe this party asked to have breakfast early - I am sure we could have offered a simple meal before the breakfast buffet. However, I do get the point and will be more diligent to point this out to guests not associated with a group. The additional $7 for chicken or fish is stated on our website. Based on your comments however, we will be lowering price as we want our clients to be happy and satisfied.

The cost of the sauna is $30 for a two-hour session and we frequently offer one complimentary sauna during the week. Our hot tub is solar powered and is complimentary. We usually open it around 3:30-5:30 and most nights it is still hot well after dark. When the tub is used a lot during the day, however, sometimes it is not as hot as desired in the evening. In cases like these, if guests would like for the tub to be heated with gas there is a $40 charge for a two hour tub. Most nights, however, it is still hot and there is no need for additional heating, so there is no charge. All these prices are clearly listed on our website and in the rooms. Many hotels in Guatemala charge for internet ($10 per day at an equivalent establishments). Again based on your feedback we will adjust our internet pricing.

This review feels like we were not the right fit. We are not a youth hostel or a standard hotel. In Guatemala, we are considered a luxury hotel and our prices are in alignment with the services we offer and the kind of care we provide. I do want to point out that we offer complimentary beverage service (unlimited organic teas, coffee and purified water) 24/7, a service that all our guests use and enjoy. We also accommodate pets - this group had a dog with them. We do strive to meet the needs of each guest. One of the people in your party did mention the internet charge and we waved the fee for them. Again I’m sorry that we were not your ideal location.
Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Ottawa, Canada
1 review
5 of 5 stars Reviewed March 29, 2013

Students and teacher alike, we agree that Villa Sumaya made our retreat a beautiful experience. We enjoyed all of it. The wonderful practices in the Tiger Temple, the lovely meals prepared by the great and joyous people in the kitchen, and the sweet quite times in hammocs or by the lake. We are coming back in November 2013!

  • Stayed November 2012, traveled on business
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Sydney, Australia
Senior Reviewer
9 reviews 9 reviews
5 hotel reviews
Reviews in 6 cities Reviews in 6 cities
11 helpful votes 11 helpful votes
2 of 5 stars Reviewed March 23, 2013

I held my wedding at Villa Sumaya in the format of a 6-day retreat for my closest friends and family members. I had picked the location because I had several pleasant day-trip experiences on the grounds of Villa Sumaya during prior stays on Lake Atitlan. As the group leader, I had an unfortunate experience working with Villa Sumaya. Thankfully my wedding guests, who did not have to interact much with management, did not notice the issues and had a pleasant stay.
But the behind-the-scenes chaos was a nightmare.

The on-site retreat manager (Caela) was incredibly rude and unprofessional. I don't think I've ever been treated so poorly in any business interaction, which is astonishing given that I was hosting my own wedding and filling up over half their resort with guests during a historically low tourist season. The American-based manager (Lizzy) whom you deal with during the months of preparations leading up to your event is a pleasure to work with, however, all her work and care is undermined once you arrive on the location. Several decisions that were made in conjunction with Lizzy months before the wedding were reversed upon my arrival when it was too late to really do anything about it. Prices for food and drinks mysteriously changed the week my guests arrived and I was told (with a straight face) by the on-site manager that guests of the previous retreat had been knowingly overcharged. They claimed that the menus were old and should have been updated with higher prices “months ago,” and that they had been charging guests the higher prices despite what was listed on the menu. Well, if a menu price needs changing, it needs to be changed right away so guests know what they are being charged. There’s no excuse for not printing updated prices when you have a printer at your disposal and can update things at any time. Even marking correct prices with a sharpie would have been preferable.

The worst part was, after I confronted them about these problems, the on-site retreat manager made a decision to disappear and no manager was around during our retreat to oversee operations. Some of my guests even booked a private Yoga session specifically with Caela, who decided to call in "sick" and sent a terrible replacement on her behalf. (Unfortunately we saw her hanging out with a friend at another town on the lake during the same day). My guests said it was the worst yoga class they've ever attended in their life and at times the teacher didn't appear to know what she was doing and would ever ask the students, "So what do you want to do next?" It was DEEPLY embarrassing to me that 7 of my guests had to endure this sort of experience at a Yoga Retreat center that I, myself, had recommended.

There was no manager on staff during our rehearsal dinner. Instead of being able to relax and enjoy ourselves the night before our wedding, my husband and I, as well as our parents, had to coordinate simple things with staff (such as seated table service, champagne toasts, etc.), which the staff was not prepared for. I understand that this is primarily a yoga retreat center – and it should remain that way – but do not say you offer weddings and wedding services if it cannot be successfully coordinated. We aren’t terribly fussy people and didn’t want (or expect) a formal wedding, but when basic and simply services can’t be provided, we had to go elsewhere. We ended up having our ceremony at Villa Sumaya but our wedding reception next door at Laguna Lodge. Working with them was a dream from day one and we experienced none of the same problems.

In terms of the months of planning leading up to the wedding, it was stressful, and at times impossible, to coordinate. Several things they listed on their website as being part of the wedding package was outdated, incorrect, unspecified, or simply not offered. An example is that their website explained that they have an on-site wedding coordinator to help you with decisions, but in the first contact I had with Villa Sumaya via email, I was told that there was no such person and that I had to hire an outside consultant (which I did). This person turned out to be lovely and a wonderful coordinator, and she helped me try to navigate the ‘gaps’ in what Villa Sumaya could offer. I believe they updated their website in the month after my wedding, but I have not reviewed these changes for accuracy and cannot offer any advice.

It is my opinion that Villa Sumaya’s business relies on the fact that people who stay there have typically never visited another place on the Lake. If they did, they would notice that you pay on average about half as much for services such as tours and massages if you do not book through Villa Sumaya. I agree with another reviewer that the owner's plastic personality is a mere cover-up for her outrageous business practices. When I addressed my disappointment with the agreements that were made in the months before the wedding versus what happened in practice upon our arrival, the on-site retreat manager laughed in my face and said “This is just how business is done here, this isn’t the United States.” I informed her I know about how business is done here because I have done business with other establishments here and I have never received this kind of treatment or manipulation.

Unfortunately, this whole experienced ruined my long-held idyllic and Utopian opinion of Villa Sumaya. I cannot recommend Villa Sumaya, especially for weddings. It is a beautiful place for yoga retreats, if you're having someone else coordinate it for you - but be aware that it is best to have some knowledge about who you can hire (directly) for trips and services outside the grounds of Villa Sumaya if you want the best Lake Atitlan experience.

P.S. - We even had a problem months after we left with the donations my guest brought to Guatemala for a local NGO working with school children. We coordinated our efforts with the NGO and my guests left the school supplies they brought in their luggage from the United States with the staff at Villa Sumaya. Months later, I received an email from the leader of the NGO, asking why these items were never delivered. Turns out the front desk staff at Villa Sumaya who accepted these items never made sure they were delivered. I was hurt that to learn that so many of my guests, who put in much time and effort to bring down needed items (some of which were special-ordered online), almost did so for nothing. Thankfully, we were able to coordinate the eventual delivery of these items to the school children.

Room Tip: Jaguar Room in Maya Rose house is quite romantic.
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  • Stayed May 2012, traveled with family
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 3 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 1 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
VillaSumaya, Manager at Villa Sumaya, responded to this review, May 20, 2013
First, I want to publicly apologize to the bride (I have written her a personal note) for not meeting her expectations for her wedding in April 2012. In the year since her wedding we have changed our website and clearly defined what we are able to offer as well as recommending a wedding planner to help with the details. We thank her for her feedback which has helped us get very clear about our offerings.

I would like to clarify a few points that you raised. Caela is no longer with us however most guests did not have negative experiences with her and she was generally extremely well liked. I’m very sorry that this was not your experience.
I do apologize for the yoga class and the replacement yoga teacher who stood in for Caela if you felt she was not up to par. Currently, we have three very talented and gifted teachers who get rave reviews.

Wendy (the owner) mentioned to me as well as to your wedding coordinator and to Diana (your officiant), that she felt sorry that her attempt to appease your frustration by attempting to speak with you personally before the wedding was met by your refusal to speak with her. She did immediately react to Caela’s report that she was finding it challenging to work with you. Wendy offered to lower the price in contention and earnestly asked to discuss the issues at hand in order to reach mutually beneficial conclusions. Again she was surprised and somewhat disempowered to help since you refused her offer to discuss any inconveniences you may have felt. In our recollection we made a special menu for your wedding in order to create a more formal and beautiful offering. The owner personally created the floral arch and the 100 calla lilly flowers buckets as well as attended to the setting and arranging of the tables and flowers in the dining room for the rehearsal dinner. Our senior manager, Alberto, was put on duty to attend to the details of the evening. Both Alberto and Wendy attended to your family and friends by opening the bar early and opening the temple in the middle of an ongoing meditation to help you take your special wedding photos. She also checked with the wedding coordinator and the master of ceremonies several time to see how things were going for you. We are sorry that you did not perceive the intention of these efforts as supportive.

In regards to the PS comment about the donation to the non-profit, we are happy to accept donations and call the NGO to pick them up as a courtesy. We are not, however, responsible for delivering them. It is up to the NGO and the person donating them to be sure they get to the right place. In the end, it all worked out.

As a final note, I really do want to make this response about the apology. We know that a wedding day is one of the most special days of someone's life and we we sincerely are sorry that this bride had a bad experience at our center.
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arenal
2 reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
1 helpful vote 1 helpful vote
5 of 5 stars Reviewed March 14, 2013

This was my second time coming to Villa Sumaya. It is such an amazing place. I spent three weeks here this time and loved every minute of it. Wendy, the owner, truly puts her love and energy into making it be a truly healing, relaxing place. The Guatemalan staff were always so helpful and it felt like they really loved what they do. The food was amazing. The view overlooking the lake and volcanoes is breathtaking.
I would recommend this place to anyone who would like to chill, relax, and bliss out. I left feeling like I had released so much stress.

  • Stayed January 2013
    • 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
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Top Contributor
69 reviews 69 reviews
41 hotel reviews
Reviews in 39 cities Reviews in 39 cities
57 helpful votes 57 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed March 9, 2013 via mobile

This is an exceptional place with excellent staff. Expect fresh, locally produced food cooked to perfection by caring team members that take pride in their work and the satisfaction of their guests. I stayed here more than a week and felt completely at home in Villa Sumaya. Massage, swimming and decompressing are all possible any time of the day. Our group walked to the next village, took trips across the lake and had a most amazing trip.

When you arrive you'll be amazed at how big the property is and how much you can just fall into a routine of relaxation. I recommend asking for a room near the dining room. They have lovely verandas overlooking the lake.

Stayed December 2012, traveled with friends
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Villa Sumaya

Address: Santa Cruz La Laguna, Guatemala
Location: Guatemala > Western Highlands > Solola Department > Lake Atitlan > Santa Cruz La Laguna
Hotel Style:
Ranked #2 of 6 Hotels in Santa Cruz La Laguna
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $
Number of rooms: 15
Also Known As:
Villa Sumaya Hotel Santa Cruz La Laguna
Villa Sumaya Guatemala/Lake Atitlan

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